By now we have all felt the need to pull out the jacket to take the edge off of the morning chill. After a long and hot summer the passing fronts have put me in a much better place. I know I speak for many of us when I say I much prefer winter over any other time of year. It just feels good to be outside again, especially on a boat and on my way to find what Santa has left me in a pothole.
I am so often asked, "David, if you could only pick one month to fish?" In my view, that is a loaded question, and there is just no correct way to answer it. If I have learned anything about being on the water over the years, it is to expect the unexpected. The question to the answer though would have to be, "December through May for giant trout." The first "big time" day I ever had on a topwater occurred in December, and the best two consecutive days I ever put together were also in the Christmas month, with stringers that would have went eighty pounds for the best ten trout (all released). While many are wrapping up the rut of deer season in South Texas, some of us saltier types have already begun to catch good numbers of our own version of Boone & Crockett…big trout.
As we get into the colder months, the first thing we have to realize is that winter fishing down here is much different than warm weather fishing. The largest part of the food supply, primarily mullet, have vacated the bay. The sight of any flipping bait will now mean a whole lot more than it did in the warmer months. A little bit goes a long way here. Do you hate and cuss catching dink trout? You shouldn't have that problem now! Many times those small, pesky little male trout are what the trout of your dreams has been eating. Yes, trout are very opportunistic and not the least bit bashful to engage in cannibalism this time of year. They are not going to pass up any easy meals.
Most of you that read these articles are savvy enough to know that we professionals are leaning more towards the mud versus the hard-packed and comfortable wading areas as the water temperature drops. Just in case you have been living under a rock like the guy on the insurance commercial, the wading mud in the winter time has been beaten to death, again and again. Without elaborating too much, the softer bay bottom retains more heat, and makes it much more comfortable for baitfish, and trout to survive. If you want to up your chances for that lifetime hookup, that muddy, sinking feeling needs to be part of the recipe. Hard sand and shallow flats will still come into play throughout the winter and spring; however, these areas are usually on the warming trends following the fronts. Bottom line is that you need to consider the conditions, when the fronts have arrived, when the next one is expected, and use your eyes to identify a food supply before you ever get your Simms wet.
Areas that always make the top of the list for consideration during these cool months are the King Ranch shoreline, the muddy flats between Penascal Point and White Bluff, Rocky Slough, the Badlands, the ICW side of the spoil islands in the Upper Laguna, behind the Tide Gauge Bar, and certain areas in Yarbrough. Any one of these areas, and countless others, have the potential to get hot, and stay hot, but there is no silver bullet. I will be all over the place this month trying to figure the pattern as the trout go from transitioning mode to full-on winter mode. No two years are ever alike down here, so I expect this one to take some good old-fashioned work like the rest. I just hope you are with me when it happens.
The first cast of the morning for me from my Waterloo and Daiwa will have a dark-colored 5" Bass Assassin or Vapor Shad at the end of the line. I use these lures to sweep through areas quickly and establish whether any big girls are ready to play. Once we locate the trout, a combination of Bass Assassins, MirrOlure She Dogs, and Paul Brown Originals (Corky) will be utilized to entice the biggest fish from the crowd.
Set 'em loose. -Capt. David Rowsey