Mid-Coast Bays: February 2017

Mid-Coast Bays: February 2017

Old Man Winter kept me guessing whether to write about extended fall fishing conditions (again) or normal February patterns. With this latest front that arrived a few days ago, with sub-freezing temperatures two nights in a row, I guess I will go with normal February.

As for extended fall conditions, I'll just throw a day out there that everyone should remember Christmas 2016. Our first Christmas in the new house, Shellie and I invited our whole clan in to celebrate. Hopes were to have a roaring fire in the fireplace as the children opened presents, and then move the adults outside to the big fire pit as the sun was setting for refreshments and more celebrating.

Wrong. Old Man Winter must have been on vacation somewhere in the tropics. So much for roaring fires, we had an 80 Christmas. But, the Old Man finally showed up and winter has officially arrived on the Middle-Coast.

Don't get me wrong, the mild weather with prolonged warm water temps and higher tides made for some great fishing. We could hit any area we wanted to fish and fish it the way we wanted. For once the wind didn't dictate where or how and that was a blessing.

OK, back to our February forecast and the patterns we expect to see. For starters, I am predicting the water temps and tides should drop a little closer to what they should be this time of year. Baitfish will leave main bay shorelines and stage in cozier confines of back lakes. Gamefish will follow.

My game plan for February will focus on deeper drains leading to the many backwater areas off San Antonio, Espiritu Santo and Mesquite bays. We will be concentrating our efforts wherever the baitfish (mullet) tell us to go.

Go-to lures for extremely cold water will be any of the Corky family. My favorites are the floaters, mostly the Fat Boy and Original. When the water is deeper than four feet I will switch to the Original Corky sinker. Another great MirrOlure product is the Softdine XL. This lure seems to be a little easier for anglers to get a handle on when learning to fish suspending twitchbaits slowly.

Another tried and true number for wintertime is the 4" Bass Assassin Sea Shad paddletail rigged on a 1/16 Bass Assassin jig or, if we really need it to sink slowly, we will opt for an un-weighted worm hook. When fishing the Sea Shad weightless, just like the Corkys, you need to really slow your twitches and retrieve speed to keep it low in the water column. It is amazing the difference a 1/16 ounce can make.

Bass Assassin also makes the Die Dapper, another excellent plastic for rigging weightless and working slowly in cold water. They come in 3.5 and 5-inch versions with belly slits to aid weedless rigging.

Some anglers ask, "What about scented lures. Do they work better in winter than unscented? Tricky question but here are my thoughts...

Under certain conditions, I would say yes, but to get the most benefit you almost need to run a dead-stick presentation think dragging a dead shrimp on bottom. Saying that, I would also say that scented baits really come into their own when targeting flounder in deeper drains and along channel edges. They seem to hold on longer when they pick it up. But if scented lures are your confidence baits, use them! I use them when I deem it necessary to catch fish. I may be hardheaded but not stupid.

Let's discuss fishing line. Wintertime bites are often only a soft tap and I believe braided line lends a distinct advantage in detecting them. I was slow to convert and tried many brands. My current favorite for year-round fishing is Mustad 30-pound.

Another component you need to have in your fishing arsenal, and definitely one of the most important in feeling the subtle strike of a frigid trout, is a high-quality fishing rod. There is only one name you need to know when speaking of high-quality fishing rods Waterloo. Waterloo offers the best actions for the different situations and scenarios we encounter on a daily basis here on the Texas coast.

Think about it, do you want to use a rod designed and built by guys in California or the East Coast–for wade-fishing in Texas? I certainly would not. Give me a locally built rod, built by guys that fish the same waters I fish, for the same the species I chase every day. That's what Jimmy and Carson at Waterloo do.

Fish hard, fish smart!