South Padre: December 2019

South Padre: December 2019
Dan is holding a sample of what we hope is coming in larger packages!

Here we go, about to close out another year of fishing and it has been a good one. It seems the older I get and the more fun I'm having, the faster time flies. As water temperatures dipped below 70° recently our fishing success improved from good to excellent. Reduced boat traffic also contributed positively as many folks began to focus more on hunting than fishing.

Tide levels will be generally declining through the weeks ahead, common for this time of the year. Fish should feed more often and for longer periods – almost as if they know winter is coming. Weather will present challenges, though, especially as fronts approach and pass through.

I'm going to step out on a limb and say that pre-front conditions are overrated. While we have done well fishing an approaching front, my experience says it can go both ways, and quite often it works against us. A good example is when the wind is strong from the west as the front approaches. Nothing puts the kibosh on a good bite quicker than west wind here in the Lower Laguna.

North or northeast wind can be okay, so long as they do not blow all the water out or turn everything muddy. Fishing typically improves after a front passes through and everything, including the barometer, begins to settle down.

East wind often prevails behind a front and this too can be favorable, provided it does not bring lingering high atmospheric pressure with it. My strategy for high pressure days has always been to wait patiently for the fish to acclimate and began feeding again.

Last but not least in weather possibilities is southeast wind. Southeast brings a steady barometer that tends to encourage fish to feed more aggressively. I guess that’s why they call it sweet southeast.  

Redfish have suddenly shown up in numbers I haven’t seen in quite some time. There are lots of singles, small groups, and even larger schools roaming the shallow grass and sand flats. They bail off quickly to deeper water on colder days but, like clockwork, they come right back to the flats as soon as it warms up. Locating large schools of mullet has been the surest way to find the reds. KWiggler Ball Tails on 1/8-ounce jigs in Mansfield Margarita and Plum-Chartreuse have been our best redfish baits.

Looking back over the past eleven months, I can say we have enjoyed an excellent year of trout fishing. My clients and I landed some real beauties, and even when the bite was tough we could grind out limits, if that’s what they came to do. Looking forward, with the shape this fishery is in, my outlook for another successful winter trophy season and excellent spring fishing is very bright.

Trout are definitely more weather sensitive than redfish, quicker to fall off into deeper water during a cold snap and slower to return to the flats as it begins to warm. Grass flats littered with potholes near the ICW and other channels are great places to look for them as soon as the water temperature begins to rise. Bait concentrations become increasingly difficult to locate as we go deeper into winter and this is when my attention turns to seagulls, ospreys, and brown pelicans. It doesn’t matter whether they’re diving or just sitting on the water; they are way better fishermen than we are and they are most likely eyeing something to eat. 

Trout often become picky eaters during periods of unstable weather and the best way to get them to take a lure is with a slower retrieve. Some fishermen believe you cannot catch big trout on soft plastics as well as slow-sinkers in winter but I do not find this to be true. Believe what you will, I’ll stick with my KWiggler Ball Tails and Willow Tails. I have fooled too many trophy fish over the years to believe otherwise.  

December is one of my favorite months, if for no other reason than the sheer numbers we catch. The weather down here remains pleasant enough to spend the majority of the days on the water. The fish are hungry, the fishing pressure is light, and our water quality takes a turn for the better compared to the warmer months.  

With Christmas right around the corner, if you're stumped for a great gift for the angler in your family, you need look no further than Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s three Houston locations. You can also shop their online store. If you need more clues; think Shimano, Simms, AFTCO, Costa del Mar, and FTU Green Rod.

Merry Christmas to all and thanks for being a loyal reader!