Hooked Up: January 2010

Hooked Up: January 2010

By the time this article reaches your hands I will have landed four trout over ten pounds. Not really, but that is what I was wishing for this Christmas. Since Santa does not much care for forty year olds, I'll just have to stick with the rest of you in breaking New Year resolutions and putting on winter fat. I hope this finds y'all enjoying the holiday season, eating too much, and getting prepared for the opening of big trout season.

The first part of December was a vast improvement over November, as the exceptionally high tides receded and gave us some room to get out of the boat in those new Simms waders we found under the tree.

January can be one of the most glorious months of the year for the actual catching of giant trout in the Baffin and Upper Laguna region. Yes, it gets down right nasty at times when you consider the weather, but the rewards can be worth it. January will bring us some of the coldest water temperatures of the season, and along with that the large trout will be seeking out the warmest winter spots available that have a sufficient bait supply.

Traditional spots will certainly produce some fish, but with the growing numbers of boats and fishermen on the bay every winter, "traditional" implies no guarantee. In fact, some of these areas see so much pressure that the trout will relocate to deeper structure within a relatively close proximity, and only utilize the wadeable water during the cover of darkness. I have found this to be increasingly true over the past two years. I am not recommending or trying to encourage anyone to fish at night. It can be very dangerous if you are not intimately familiar with the bay.

Locating trophy quality fish, that no one else is aware of, takes time. A willingness to venture outside of your comfort zone, and sacrificing bites is essential when exploring new areas in the winter time. As long as I have been doing this down here, I am still amazed at how much water I have failed to utilize. Remembering some little muddy area that you found in the summer that was spotted with grass beds, and where you caught a few dinks may pay great dividends when the water temperatures sustain in the 50's without pumping southeast winds. By trial and error, I have learned to try and retry these fishy areas in different conditions until something big happens. They will not all produce, but every year I will find that two or three of them will produce under certain weather patterns. Multiply that two or three over many years in a bay system, and you will soon have a serious winter fall back plan that keeps you away from community holes, and outside of peering eyes and guys chasing the bent pole pattern. Jay Watkins said it best to me many years ago, way before I was guiding, "Show me a guide that fishes the same spots everyday, and I'll show you one who will be selling encyclopedias by next year." He's right! Grinders need to read between the lines. That statement was made about guides but applies to anyone who has a passion to be a better fisherman.

Key strategies for January will be mud and grass. I prefer areas of Baffin or the King Ranch shoreline that offer broken bottoms, exposing a mixture of the two. Some of the coldest mornings will find heavy trout within a few feet of the shorelines trying their best to absorb some warmth that the exposed ground has absorbed. Of course, boats running too close to the shorelines can spoil miles of fishing water for all of us, so be aware of traffic flow, and plan on moving offshore to similar structure if you have the unfortunate luck to be sharing the bay with these inconsiderate morons. Yes, I feel strongly about the subject. There is simply no need for any boat to be within 200 yards of the shoreline except for dangerous weather conditions or a couple of safe routes to make it into Baffin to avoid damaging your boat on the rocks.

The next part of being successful in the January weather is slowing everything down. Not only your lure, but your feet too. Unless you luck into a mad feeding frenzy, the trout are going to be cold and slow. If you present a 5" Bass Assassin or a Corky in such a way that that mimics an easy meal, that they do not have to expend a lot of energy for, you will be able to get them to commit.

"If you have the money, you can guarantee yourself a Boone & Crockett class buckbut trophy trout cannot be bought, they must be earned." DR

Set 'em Loose,

Capt. David Rowsey