Wow - can you believe December has crept up on us already? It seems like this year just flew by. I guess I was so busy watering everything in my yard all year to keep it alive that I just lost track of time. The new year will be here before you know it and we'll see what's in store for our bays and fishery.
Last December saw fishermen with daily full limits of trout and reds up to around the 18th of the month. But - last year was fairly normal compared to this year. Looking back through 2011 to the February freeze followed by continuous drought, you could say I need my head examined for even attempting to predict what might be in store for coastal fishermen. So - it's probably best that we take it one day at a time and make the best of what comes our way.
With that said, I'm planning to stick to my typical routines from previous years which includes fishing shell and mud over in East Matagorda Bay for the most part during the coming colder months. By this time, our water temperatures generally will have dropped, pushing our fish into their winter pattern. What this means is that they will become sluggish to bite on colder days and then feeding like tigers when it warms nicely between fronts. Crazy as it has been I doubt anybody could guess it right so I'm just going to run with what has worked for me in the past and hope for the best. I have been known to pick fresh, ripe tomatoes out of the garden in the middle of December and it may happen again this year.
Needless to say, I will adjust my fishing strategies based on weather and water conditions as they develop. If we have a cold December, typically your bait presentation should be slowed down making adjustment for colder water temperatures and the coldblooded nature of the fish.
MirrOlure Corkys, Saltwater Assassins, and the Eddie Douglas Broken Back Special are my usual wintertime favorite lures. As I've said above, fish a bit slower and try to remember exactly what you were doing to get that first bite of the day so that you can repeat it.
Some years we have plenty of shrimp in the bays and it is not until the middle of December when our trout begin to feed primarily on finfish. Due to the currently poor shrimp crop I'm betting it will happen a lot earlier this year. Last year, I saw catches of trout and reds on Corkys in October so I'm confident this bait will be working very well by the time December rolls around.
December is also a great month to fish the Colorado River and Diversion Channel, especially if a front blows in. West Matagorda anglers should find an abundant redfish population on the south shoreline in between guts and sandbars on low tides after cold fronts. Sometimes, you can even sightcast to them, depending on water clarity of course.
Just a tidbit for all you fishermen/hunter types that are putting your boats in storage until spring; do not forget to have your outboard winterized properly! I know I'm like the Energizer Bunny and keep repeating this year after year but it's a lesson I've personally learned the hard way. Best practice is to take your boat and outboard to your dealership and let them do all the work so that when spring rolls around and you decide to go fishing your engine will crank like a charm and purr like a kitten. If this advice doesn't suit you, at least put fuel stabilizer in your gas tank and make sure it is full when it goes into storage. A little preventive maintenance goes a long way.
Have a safe and blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Until next time…God Bless. -Capt. Bill