Hooked Up: January 2018

Hooked Up: January 2018
Donald Smith getting us kicked off into Corky season.
I would like to thank all of you that have already booked charters with me throughout the winter, spring, and on into the summer. Your confidence in what I do is humbling and your business is appreciated more than I can express. For those of you who are considering a trip to Baffin, there are still some great dates available and I would be honored to take you for the chance at a monster trout with artificial lures.  

Big trout fishing was, let's say, hit and miss throughout November and December. As far as I am concerned, it has everything to do with warmer than average water temperatures. The fish just never went into full-on winter mode, but everyday gets them closer, and I expect it to be outstanding by the time this article reaches your Corky-stained fingers.  

We have been fortunate and picked off some healthy "scout" trout that are leading the way towards winter patterns for the masses, but the biggest push will start in January. When it happens, you can expect some big days on the salty old bay. Pre-front, and a few days after the fronts have come through, will be my favorite days to be on the water. In some cases, depending on the air and water temperature, we may find ourselves leaving at midmorning and fishing until dark. This is something that I like to do when the coldest fronts make their presence felt. The afternoon bite of a sunny post-front day can be unbelievable if you are willing to change up the routine a bit. Seriously, who doesn't want to sleep in on a super cold morning? I know the trout and I do.

We have all heard the stories and theories about fishing the softer, muddy bay bottoms during the coldest parts of the year. Unlike so many fishing myths, this one is true, although not perfect. When I head out daily during cooler weather, you can bet there is some mud in my game plan, but I am typically not hitting it until the sun gets well up.

We are blessed with mile after mile of undeveloped shoreline that has knee-deep water right up the bank; some of it is soft, but the majority is firm. That bank has been absorbing the sun's rays all day, and as the night cools off it is radiating that warmth back into the water, or at least not letting the water cool off so fast.

Early morning shallow water wades in the cold of the winter seem implausible and go against mythical wisdom; however, it is no longer myth if you have proven it to yourself and clients again, and again, and again. Just to make sure we understand each other, I am not saying that this is the only way to pull a giant from under the surface in cooler water temperatures, but it is one that is greatly overlooked by the masses. The greatest attribute of this strategy is enjoyed by those of us who have no desire to fish within casting distance of a stranger on some community hole that has been made instantly famous via social media.

I am back to using my slow-sinkers and mullet imitations this month. The MirrOlure Paul Brown Original Series (Corkys here in Texas) gets top dibs out of my wading box. I am especially fond of the Fat Boy when fishing shallow to crotch-deep. The old original Corky moves into first position as the water gets a little deeper in front of me. The original also prevails during windier conditions (faster sink rate).  

My number one “find 'em and catch ‘em big and quick” lure is my trusty 5" Bass Assassin, rigged on a light, short-shank jighead. Others might disagree but, my opinion is that if you can't catch them on this nothing short of an explosion is going to work any better. Topwater enthusiasts need not waste too much space in their box with surface plugs. One big and one small will be plenty. Carry more Corkys!

There are a lot more of us utilizing the bay in 2018 than 1998, or even 2008, for that matter. Please take all precautions when running in the dark of the morning and be alert to fishermen that may be out on a shoreline, already wading. And a note to the "dark waders," don't be out there in the dark without a light clipped to your hat to warn an approaching boat. Much of this could be eliminated if all boaters just stayed a couple hundred yards off the shoreline while running, but that is a whole other article in itself.  

Remember the buffalo!  -Capt David Rowsey