Hooked Up: December 2016

Hooked Up: December 2016
December can be epic. This big trout loved the wobble of a white/chartreuse back Fat Boy. One of many on this day.

Merry Christmas to all from Baffin Bay. Hopefully this finds you on the backside of a Thanksgiving food hangover, with a clear mind, and a daunting passion for more of God's wonderful creations.

As Texans, we are so blessed when it comes to outdoor opportunities winter brings us. As I sit down to write this article, I'm thinking about a big trout I put a client on yesterday and the excitement it created for both of us. With a day off I'm getting an early jump on keeping the editor happy, so I can get packed for a week long quail hunting trip that is about to come to fruition (one of many on the books). A big bowl of bent rods, lots of bird hunting, spiced with some deer, and a side of Mississippi hardwoods is a great recipe for a full belly of life. There is just no better time to be a Texas outdoorsman. From the bottom of my heart, I hope all of you get to enjoy it as I am so blessed to do.

Things are looking very promising from the wading side of the water. As all the hunting seasons have kicked off, I have been spending as much time in the water as I have the field. You never really know what cards you will be dealt during the Fall fishing this far south, but I'm glad to say that we have already had some big catches and some legit giants fighting at the other end of the line. High tides have not always made it easy to fish some of my favorite areas, but we have adjusted our plan of attack and been rewarded greatly. Every front that pushes through brings us a little bit closer to the perfect storm of sustained water temperatures, lower water levels, and congregations of big trout.

Most of you know of the water conditions Baffin has been plagued with, on and off, over the years. Fortunately, this is not one of those years. Water quality throughout the bay system is just short of amazing. The clear waters have widened my eyes to catch a picture of the bottom structure I have not seen in a while. There is bay floor diversity in areas that have been matted with either grass too tall or giant mats of dead grass for many seasons. From the Upper Laguna to far reaches into Baffin, that scenario continually plays out. The big upside to so many potholes and bottom diversity is that it gives fish and fishermen so many places to hunt–them for food, and us for them. With the popularity of winter fishing continually growing, more places to spread out is a big bonus to obtain a bit of privacy on a long wade.

It's not so cold that every lure action has to be slowed down to a crawl, so fishing all lure types is a go right now. As water temperatures start to decline, the presence of bait and how it is acting will dictate what lure will work best for the situation at hand. If you do not have a water temperature gauge on your boat, you need to get one. Even if it's a handheld version you can carry in your waders. A couple of degrees difference from warm to cold can, and will, make the difference between catching and casting. Some areas of Baffin and the Laguna can have as much as 4-6 degrees difference during the same hour of the day. That may not mean much to us as we are so warm and comfy in our Simms gear, but to a thinned-skin trout it is the difference between actively feeding or sulking on the bottom. Quoting my buddy Jay Watkins, "Fish smarter, not harder."

In closing, everything looks right to be a banner winter season for hunting big trout. With that being said, the word spreads fast via social media, and winter days that use to have no one on the water will now have plenty jockeying for position–chasing Facebook reports more than fish. Regardless what has led any of us to the water, there is no excuse for not being courteous and respectful to others on the bay that are established in a area. Burning shorelines, idling through waders, and anchoring up just downwind is all in BAD FORM. Let's all try to not be that guy everyone is cussing at the end of the day.

Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey