South Padre: December 2015

South Padre: December 2015
A day on the water with best friends and lots of trout and redfish; does it get any better? Capt. Wayne Davis and the author teamed up to guide this eight-man group.

Here we are about to close 2015; a year that passed so quickly I cannot help but wonder where it went. Overall I'd say we have enjoyed better fishing than last year. I traditionally offer a prediction of the coming year's fishing prospects in my December column but this time I'm going to take it month by month and hope for the best.

I reported last month that I did not believe the red tide would be too severe but after submitting that article we experienced a series of weak northers and sustained north wind that caused it to linger and spread. It was terribly sad to see the large number of fish of so many species floating dead in the bay and stacked along the Gulf beaches. We can only hope and pray the effect was not too devastating to our fishery.

Despite the red tide we continued to catch fish throughout that month-long ordeal. The key to our success was running farther to avoid the tainted areas and fishing harder for our bites. Many of our traditional fall fishing spots were taken completely out of play and when we found fish they did not seem as concentrated as in the weeks leading up to the event.

Redfish have been playing hide and seek and I blame the abnormally high tides we have been experiencing. The bronze bullies just have so much space to roam when it gets like this. Back-bay shorelines have been our best producers lately and we have also had some productive wades on eastside sand flats. Redfish are like Houdini, just when you think you have them figured out they disappear. Hopefully December's cooler water temps will concentrate them along ICW spoils and deeper potholes on the flats.

As for redfish baits, K-Wigglers Ball Tail Shad will definitely be in the lineup along with MirrOlure's Paul Brown Fat Boys and Devils when the water cools down. One of the benefits in using the suspending/slow-sink baits is that are equally effective on both big wintertime trout and reds, and the ICW spoil areas are prime habitat for both species.

Our trout population continues to show healthy benefits of the five-fish limit. Trout have been less tricky to pattern and have been found more plentiful and in more areas than redfish. Our trout populations always seem to be more concentrated in winter and getting on a steady bite this time of the year is very possible. Fishing the drop-offs of guts, channels, and the ICW are hot spots as fish spend cold nights in deep water and then slide up on the adjunct shallower to feed as the day warms. Muddy bottoms along remnants of grass lines with good current flow will hold good numbers of trout and also give you a good chance of catching solid specimens in the four to six pound category.

This is the month when tides will drop below normal low levels during the new and full moon phases. The drop in tide will aid you because it shortens the playing field for these fish to roam; therefore concentrating them in ideal locales. Finding bait is critical this time of the year, and the colder it gets the more important it becomes. Bait will not be as active on the surface during our winter months, so looking for other signs becomes necessary. Pelicans and osprey see more bait than we do and that is why we need to pay careful attention to their activities. Swirls, mud boils and slicks are also valuable signs when seeking bait concentrations in your search for gamefish.

Our trout will begin adding weight and will soon begin to exhibit those sagging wintertime bellies. Feeding activity may not be as frequent or last as long as during fall but post-front feeds can be pretty amazing. The bite will become generally softer as water temperatures drop and it will become necessary to work lures deeper and slower.

December is the beginning of my favorite time to fish. How I love brisk mornings when all the pelicans are sitting idle in the water. There will be days when we can count all the boats we see on our fingers. Seeing the clouds of ducks filling the Lower Laguna sky is always a treat. The awesome trout-green water that prevails during much of winter is another great part of the experience. The warmth and comfort of my Simms gear makes enjoying long winter days on the water possible. Remember this: It's the chase and anticipation of what the next cast might bring that count the most.

Merry Christmas to all!