Happy New Year to all my grinder friends! I sincerely hope your New Year’s resolutions lean more toward the passion of catching big trout versus sitting behind Facebook and daydreaming about it. My salty bones have been right in the middle of it, with great success I might add. From the bottom of my heart, I just want to say thank you to all the old and new customers who have booked trips with me from December into May. Y'all are my heroes and I promise to always continue to work my butt off for you in the pursuit of lifetime best trout. If you have been thinking about booking a charter in Baffin and been a little lazy about it, I still have some great days available. Contact me!
January is just an awesome month to be on the water if you are a big trout enthusiast, and from what I know from other hardcore types, it's pretty much the same all along the Texas coast. Saying that, I truly believe that Baffin and the Upper Laguna Madre offer up a better chance for big trout than anywhere along the coast during January.
I have kept extensive records of my fishing trips since the late 80s. I'll admit that it is sometimes fun to flip back twenty years or so and read up on a random week. The memories and details of a great trip just flood your mind to the point of almost remembering what you were wearing that day. January has always had a special place in my heart and has continued to produce some of the biggest trout of my career, including my personal best of 11.5# many moons ago. Since then, I started guiding and have had the pleasure to put clients on trout over ten pounds during the same month. Catching big trout is what I live for, but guiding someone to the area, coaching them on lures and presentation, and watching them pull off the giant catch is now my biggest rush in fishing. God has blessed me with so many big fish over the years and I thank him for each and every one, but I give special thanks to him for giving me the compassion to find greater joy in watching others do it with my guidance.
Anticipating colder weather and water temperatures in January, techniques will vary a little for myself and clients. Cold mornings are going to have us fishing slower and closer to the bottom, regardless of whatever water depth we are wading in. I think trout spend 80% of their time sulking and 20% actively feeding when it gets winter-cold. Saying that, in that sulking mode, they will absolutely still eat if you can get the proper presentation in front of them, close, and they do not have to expend a huge amount of energy to eat it. The 5" Bass Assassin is far and away my go-to lure for making trout eat when they are not really in the mood. In this grassy area I fish in, I rig the lure on a 1/16 Pro Elite jighead and work the structure methodically from all angles. Varying speeds of hops, pauses, and slow straight pulls until I find what they like. This is something I relearn every day on the water (Seeing the same old food does not make you want to eat it every single day does it? Change it up!).
Now that the prep work of finding and grinding out the sulkers is done, this is when I will get onto the Corky (Paul Brown Original by MirrOlure) and try to get even bigger bites. The Corky is such a wonderful big trout lure, and so effective when you have good water to work it in. (By good I mean free of floating grass, etc.). Without doubt, the Corky Fat Boy is the lure I want tied on in January during that 20% window. I have also become a huge believer in the MirrOdine XL series during that same window of opportunity, especially in off-colored water (rattle and flash).
In closing, please hear me out on taking care in handling and releasing big trout. There will be many who will be blessed to be in the presence of a large trout, maybe even a personal best this year. Do your best to handle with as little touching as possible. Land them on a Boga Grip or similar device, take a great photo, and get them back in the water ASAP. Dragging them around in nets and on stringers is almost a guaranteed death sentence. If you want a fresh meal, keep some small ones for the table. Filleting four pounders is only shooting the future in the foot if you seriously want to have a trophy fishery to enjoy.
Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey