Mid-Coast Bays: January 2008

Mid-Coast Bays: January 2008
Here is what Big Boy Bob (as Judith says) was gorging on the morning he was caught. Talk about a holiday feast!
The month of January is typically not the time of year when your average anglers are keen to venture out due to the less than desirable weather conditions; however, there can be many advantages to fishing during this first month of the year. Not only will there be fewer fishermen on the water, but another advantage to fishing this time of year is the lack of bait due to the colder climate.

Most baitfish can't survive the colder water temperatures, unlike redfish, trout and flounder, so they are forced to deeper water in the winter months leaving their predators to feed on what is readily obtainable. This means if you haven't fished with artificial lures in the past this is a good time to start.

With the lack of bait in the colder water I find that feeding fish aren't too finicky about their meals. I have had good success with Bass Assassin's Texas Shad in the salt and pepper silver phantom and pumpkinseed with a chartreuse tail. These two colors almost always produce for me so I make sure to keep them on hand at all times.
When it comes to fishing in January I usually target back lakes. These back lakes offer protection from the blistering winds for anglers and fish. The muddier bottoms that tend to cover these lakes absorb more sun because of their darker coloration. You will notice that these backwaters tend to be anywhere from 1 to 5 degrees warmer than the sandier shorelines. This may not sound like much of a difference to us, but to fish this is substantial when they have no other means of warming their bodies.

Wading the muddier bottoms can be somewhat exhausting and down right impossible for some anglers. If you are not able to wade these areas drifting can be just as productive and a lot easier on the back. Even though these back lakes offer some protection from the wind there are times when it is blowing so hard that even protected areas are not so protected. In this situation I highly recommend investing in a drift anchor to help slow down the speed of your drifting boat.

When the water temperature hovers in the fifties fish move slowly and feed the same way as well. Not only is it key to move through these areas at a slow pace, but you also need to be able to fish the area thoroughly. Most of our lakes are not large in size so you want your drift to be as productive as possible and using a drift anchor can help you achieve that stealthy pace.

My lures of choice are soft plastics and spoons. Like I said earlier I prefer Bass Assassin's Texas shad in the salt and pepper silver phantom and pumpkinseed with a chartreuse tail, and I want to stress this. These two colors have always produced for me no matter the color of water. I rig them on a 1/16 oz assassin jighead and work them in a slow yo-yo fashion, sometimes letting them fall to the bottom before retrieving them back up. This yo-yo method works particularly well, because it allows the lure to travel through the entire water column. The 1/16 oz jig gives it the slow fall the fish prefer in cold water.

When fishing for winter redfish my first lure choice is a spoon. I prefer to throw a 1/2 oz gold weedless. I rig a split ring through the eye of the spoon and then add a size-10 or smaller barrel swivel. The swivel prevents the line from twisting as the spoon flutters through the water. The spoon is a great choice of bait this time of year because it makes a favorable presentation in the water for the somewhat lethargic cold redfish. It works best if it is retrieved at a slow pace allowing it to brush the bottom from time to time. Since redfish tend to sit still during the colder weather it is important to present your bait at a slower rate so as to not spook them and the spoon allows this with almost little effort. Using a spoon is practically foolproof in that there is really no wrong way to retrieve it. A nice slow retrieve, bumping it off the bottom occasionally, usually works best. The weight of the spoon also allows for easier and longer casting.

Not only is a spoon easy to use it but is lethal for redfish. There is no other shallow water fish that comes close to the strength and beauty than that of a redfish. I choose to fish for reds when fishing with beginners for this reason. If you are not a believer in the productivity of a spoon I challenge you to try one your next shallow water trip. I have sent many customers racing out to the local tackle stores to buy spoons after showing them what they have been missing by not using them.

Good luck and Happy New Years to all!