South Padre: December 2012

South Padre: December 2012
Redfish are back – hungry and hard fighting, as Lee Ludwig found out.
I wish I could be fishing today instead of writing. This is my favorite season to fish and already we have received enough cold weather to make a noticeable and positive impact on our fishery the Lower Laguna is turning on!

During or right after a frontal passage, the bite has been phenomenal, so good in fact that it makes me forget the struggles we endured during late summer. As soon as the water temperatures began to decline we began to see redfish invading the flats. Its no secret that redfish were hard to find in summer and early fall, but I am happy to report our success on reds has taken a welcome turn.

The trout bite through late summer had us hoping that our fishery was still world class. Now with the onset of true late fall weather and water conditions, the trout bite has vastly improved. The most noticeable difference is the size and weight of the trout we are presently catching. By no means are we hooking up on giants yet, but Im confident we will see them as soon as the winter pattern emerges. Weve had a few pushing the six and seven pound marks and limits of solid keepers are once again common in traditional locations.

On a recent day, my clients admitted later during our trip that they feared catching would be a bust, especially since a norther had just ripped through. It turned out to be by far their best day on the water and the trip certainly exceeded my expectations. We didnt do anything magical, during the cooler morning hours we worked the edges of spoil banks, flats near the ICW, and areas near deeper depressions. It turned out we caught fish in every spot we visited.

The reason my clients were skeptical was the forecast of north wind, chilly temps, and overcast skies. Based on my knowledge of post-front fishing I went out on a limb and said Be ready for plenty of opportunities and a shot at a big one.

During winter I keep a close eye on weather studying three weather web sites. Ill also make a call to a local meteorologist before deciding whether to fish or cancel, and also where to try. My guys are not as experienced and were simply going on what we heard.

I quickly responded that, Air temperature 55 to 63, water temp low to mid-60s, north wind 10 to 12 mph, overcast and light drizzle, sounded about perfect!

We cant pre-order our fishing weather, but I am quick to welcome opportunities as I described above. Some of my best winter catches have come when most fishermen would rather stay home and watch fishing shows. To me it means we can hit all my hot spots with no competition.

Diving birds or the just the presence of birds in an area becomes of great importance in winter. I also pay close attention to the dolphin activity. Aquatic birds and dolphins do not fish for fun, they do it to survive, and they can teach you to be a better fisherman if you will follow their signals.

During winter, fish tend to congregate over deeper, softer bottoms - literally stacked on really cold days. Tides will be lower in December, especially following northers and during new and full moon. If youve done your homework you know of deep holes, drop-offs, or edges of channels where fish find refuge during cold periods. I usually take a later start and head straight to deeper spots with soft bottom or muddy waist-deep soft-bottom flats close to deep water. As the day warms I follow the fish back toward shallower places. You will notice the bait doing the same.

Your retrieve will have to be slowed down to get the bait in their face and this is where a baitcast reel, in my opinion, has a distinct advantage over a spinning reel. Having used spinning gear for many years I have found a baitcaster far superior and naturally more applicable to finesse presentations plus you have the reel cradled in your hand and that increases your ability to feel those sensitive taps we get so often this time of year. Whether your preference is spinning or baitcast tackle, dont catch yourself watching too many fishing shows this winter. Instead, participate in some world-class fishing that our Lower Laguna Madre has to offer.