Mid-Coast Bays: January 2016

Mid-Coast Bays: January 2016
Family is what's important. Charlotte Grindstaff catching reds with her mom, Vicky.

Here on the middle-coast we are blessed with mostly mild winters, considering what our neighbors on the upper-coast have to deal with. When Mother Nature decides to blast us with one of her bone-chilling blue northers it is usually short-lived. Once it passes we are left with some very fishable weather.

Fishing of late has been some of the best I have seen in a while. With all the rain and the opening of Cedar Bayou, San Antonio and surrounding bays got a much-needed flushing this past year.

Common during winter, trout are holding over shell at the time of this writing. We will continue concentrating our efforts over shell with deeper water nearby. However, when seeking larger specks, you would do well to focus on mud-grass bottomed back lakes. The larger fish I am speaking of are those in the personal-best category.

If you are an impatient type bent on rushing quickly through an area making quick casts to only a few zones and targets, you are probably going to miss out. When fishing in colder weather you have to slow it down, fish a slower retrieve, and fish your areas more thoroughly. Make long casts and work your lures closer to bottom. Fish still have to eat in cold water but they are usually reluctant to give much of a chase to accomplish it.

I will not bore you with a long discussion of monofilament versus braided line because I honestly feel they each have their place in various scenarios and it is definitely a personal preference. However, if you are one of those anglers that have been considering trying braided line then this is a "scenario" when this stuff shines. Trout tend to make subtle strikes when they are cold and while I do love the stretch of monofilament I will admit you "feel" more with braided line. Sometimes all you will feel from a cold trout is a slight tick–a bite that would probably go unnoticed with mono.

The Bass Assassin 3-1/2 inch Die Dapper in the "Houdini" color is first on my go-to list of soft plastics this time of year. This bait has built-in effortless action and doesn't get stiff in colder water like some other lures.

Why the Houdini color? Our water tends to be quite clear on average in winter due to less plankton and other organisms in the water that cause it become somewhat murky in warmer seasons. I feel the fish relate better to natural-colored lures while this is going on. The fact that the Die Dapper is impregnated with a scent attractant is an added bonus for cold, sometimes finicky, feeders. While I prefer to rig plastics on 1/16 ounce jigs it can also be advantageous to run them under a small cork this time of year. Bass Assassins' Kwik Cork with about 18" of leader (depending on depth of water) is a good way to allow it to hang enticingly just above bottom without catching grass and shell. The "hang time" along with the popping sound of the cork usually doesn't go unnoticed if hungry fish are in the area.

Look for redfish to remain in our back lakes. Most of these marshy environs are shallow but can be motored into safely with boats made for shallow water. But, if a strong cold front moves through our area you should always expect our water levels to drop as the wind forces water out of the bays. It is during these times when every boat operator should use caution when venturing into some of the shallower areas. If you ever have doubts whether or not your boat is able to make it, it is probably better to take a deeper and safer route or park on the bay shoreline and walk in–if the area you want to fish can be reached this way.

With most of the bait moving out to deeper water during this cold time, look for redfish to eat about anything that is put in front of them. Smaller soft plastics and 1/2 ounce weedless spoons are good choices. Sunny afternoons that usually come a couple of days after a front paired with lower water levels can make for some awesome sight-casting opportunity.

The New Year marks a new beginning. New people to meet, new adventures to enjoy, new memories to create. Try to surround yourself with positive people, love your family and friends like there's no tomorrow and, if life just gets to be too much, pick up your rod and go fishing.

Here's wishing you the Happiest and Healthiest New Year ever!