South Padre: December 2014

South Padre: December 2014
My top wintertime fishing recommendation: Simms waders!
It's hard to believe December is already here and I couldn't be happier. Looking back, I would say we have enjoyed a decent year overall, size and numbers of fish have been respectable, although not often easy. If I were to be allowed only two words to describe the recent status of our fishery and fishing success, they would be nomadic and inconsistent. Nomadic because our fish are just not staying in any one place very long, and inconsistent because it has been like a game show contestant trying to solve a riddle–finding the right place at the right time, and then the bait that gets their attention.

Trout have been our most consistent species, even if we've had to do a lot of sorting. You can look at this two ways; I like to think the fishery is in good shape so long as we handle the small fish carefully. Shallow flats near the ICW continue to be very "fishy" for us. If you take notice, some of these flats have plentiful grass with potholes while others don't. The harder sandy-bottom stretches can often be just as productive and here lately it's a guessing game as to where the fish will be. One thing is for sure, our better catching days have always been on a moving tide. As the weather turns cooler, expect trout to move to softer bottoms and areas with quick deep-water access or simply remaining in deeper water during cold spells.

Paul Brown's Fat Boys and Devils are go-to baits during colder periods. The KWiggler Ball Tail Shad in plum/chartreuse and FloMingo on 1/8 jigs are a must-have as well for me. Never rule out topwaters during the warmer days between fronts.

Lower Laguna tides are back to normal and starting in December we will see a general drop in water levels–extremely low tides when powerful northers sweep through later in the month. Chances are if you find guts or other natural drains where the water empties from the flats you will probably find a good concentration of fish. A big plus will be not having to deal with lots of floating grass clogging our lures on a daily basis.

Starting this month and throughout winter, I highly suggest paying close attention to bird activity. They will give you signs as to where the bait is holding even if it's in deeper water. We will get periods of cold weather where nothing rises to the upper part of the water column; this makes locating bait concentrations pretty tricky. Birds have to eat too, so keep an eye on the pelicans and ospreys.

Redfish continue to be a daily puzzle for me. The best thing I can say about the reds right now is that when you find them they have been taking topwaters very aggressively. Even when you have to search long and hard for a school, experiencing a few of their signature surface crashes when they inhale the plug makes it more than worth the time invested. I wish I could say it has been easier but that would not be truthful.

When pursuing redfish, I find that tidal movement and targeting solunar feeding periods is a great help in getting on a decent bite. Over the last couple of months it has been my observation that we have actually done better in late-afternoon and the evenings when specifically targeting them. This month, I expect the late afternoon and evening hours will likely be very productive as the water warms up better later in the day. The bright side of this is that the redfish we are catching have really packed on the weight and their fighting attitude has been phenomenal. Redfish will also begin their trek to softer bottoms, and their noticeable mud puffs will become more common and also show their whereabouts. I'm hoping this colder weather will bring some better redfish action.

In closing, I would like to mention that a quality pair of waders this time of the year play a big part in staying comfortable and will definitely maximize your time on the water. I would go as far as saying if you have never tried a pair of Simms waders, you have not taken full advantage of today's technology in cold weather fishing gear. I'm betting that once you try Simms you will never consider any other brand.

Pay close attention to the weather, tides and solunar. Fish patiently and watch the birds. When water temps are chilly remember to slow down your retrieves. May the fish of a lifetime come your way this winter.