Hooked Up: December 2018

Hooked Up: December 2018

Zach Mendelson is one of the reasons I promote Catch and Release. The recruitment of young anglers and a bountiful fishery for them to enjoy in the future is high on my "to-do" list.

Excuse the shameless plug but if you are looking to catch a giant trout in Baffin or the Upper Laguna, now is the time to get on the books with me. I can't guarantee everyone will stick a lifetime trout but I can guarantee you will be guided to where they live and have a better than good shot at her. Let's go! 

Wow, December got here quick! I'll have to admit that I have been stomping through muddy pastures, chasing blue quail in the West Texas, arrowhead hunting, and chasing Hill Country deer with my bow more than fishing lately. My extracurricular pursuits have left me feeling guiltless as the combination of high fall tides, excessive runoff, and a surge from Hurricane Michael left us with some pretty uncomfortable wading and fishing conditions. In addition, high water just scattered the hell out of the fish. It  was a good time to get out and enjoy God's wonderful creations he blessed us with in Texas. As December rolls in, I'm already back in business building up close and personal relationships with big trout.

Water temperatures are now in the mid-60s, great for productive fall/winter fishing. I really like those numbers after cold wind has arrived and dropped the temps in the lower 50s. The trout just seem to like that range and have a tendency to be especially active.  That's all great, but not enough to make the larger ones congregate. 

I am often asked about water temperatures and what I consider ideal for trout. That is a bit of a loaded question as it depends on your goals and/or what you are looking to accomplish. Low to mid-60s is probably my favorite range for productivity, while mid-50s would be my top choice for focusing solely, on big, big trout. Reminder to readers, I am speaking only of this area, and have caught big trout in every water temperature imaginable down here. These numbers are only personal preferences. 

Writing the preceding paragraph I flashed back on an old memory. I was maybe 23 at the time and had read an article by one of my heroes, Capt. Jay Watkins. It must have been about this time of year as Jay's whole article discussed water temps and the importance of monitoring them during the cooler months. I immediately hit the pool store and found a thermometer I could attach to a stringer. For years I checked that thing like a new guide on Facebook. Turns out, Jay was spot on. Finding areas that were just a degree or two warmer in winter was a game changer. One of the best tips I ever received and one that I still use every day on the water. 

More on cold water – As I have grown into my late 40s something odd has started to occur within my once youthful body. I get cold much easier than I did just a few years ago. Obviously, I can't let that slow me down so I have become smarter about layering my clothing and Simms products are top of the line in this category. They have tons of options but a few must-haves for me are the Ultra-Wool Core top and bottom (very light, warm, and wicking), Midstream Insulated Pant w/PrimaLoft, and the Downstream Insulated Jacket. These items have made once-cold days very comfortable again. Another tip I learned from some north Louisiana duck hunters years ago was to wear boots two sizes larger than normal. This allows for additional layering and more importantly the ability to wiggle your toes to increase circulation. Makes a huge difference! 

Enough about keeping warm in cold water, let's talk wintertime lures and presentation.  Not a day goes by that I am not asked about the widely-famous Corkys, now Paul Brown Originals by MirrOlure. Like most of you grinders, these are go-to lures for me, especially the Fat Boy. The ability to rip this lure through the water or run a slow “walk the dog” is always enhanced with its slow descent into the strike zone. This is a serious confidence lure for me and many other large trout enthusiasts during the cooler months. 

The MirrOdine XL and XXL work similarly to the Fat Boy; however these are hard baits that offer lots of flash. I tend to use the “dine” mostly in off-color water where the flash can shine. Last but not least is my favorite 5" Bass Assassin. By far my meat and potatoes lure, year ‘round. When trout are cold and have their heads buried in mud and grass, this lure on a Pro Elite 1/16-ounce jighead will get in their face like no other. 

Remember the buffalo!  -Capt. David Rowsey