South Padre: February 2011

South Padre: February 2011
A family affair is always fun - Cindy, Jacob, and Matt.

Speaking of weather, February is the coldest and least predictable month, with the fewest heating days, and the greatest difference between peak and low atmospheric pressure, (those who keep detailed fishing logs can verify.) Last February's average air temperature was a chilly 57 on the Lower Laguna. What does all this mean? To me it means we have lots of opportunity! Quite often, even a slight change in the weather can spark the fish into feeding aggressively. Cooler weather will certainly bring colder water, so start thinking warm to find the fish.

The coldest water temperature so far this winter occurred during the holidays when it dipped to 55 for two days, and that change brought some great results in muddy guts off the ICW. Those guts contained some deeper potholes I call them fish saunas. Pulling out multiple fish from a single pocket was normal on that pattern. Keep in mind, fish will seek protection from the elements, and the change in depth that those holes provided was enough to attract them.

Right before I started writing this article, a perfect winter scenario came up. The water was a cool 62 and the barometer was dropping as a cold front approached. The skies were only partly cloudy, so the flats were warming up right before the front. I got off the boat to wade a flat along the ICW and was soon disappointed. I could feel nothing but grass under my feet; not even a subtle change in the bottom structure or depth. I continued casting and wading uncommonly quickly for a winter wade. Bait was surely present, but it seemed to be concentrated about eighty yards the other side of the boat. Changing direction and getting closer to the bait my feet told me the bottom was changing, softer, and the water was becoming slightly deeper. Suddenly I came to a gut that I could not cross and in it I found all the four to five pound trout one could ever want to catch. The depth and warmth in that gut made all the difference in the world, a perfect example of a fish sauna.

Currently, the fishing is as good as it gets on the Lower Laguna Madre. Thirty to eighty fish per day has been the rule. Our trout have really bulked up and in a couple months they will have bellies full of roe. We have had no trouble finding four to five pound trout mixed in with lots of smaller keepers, and they haven't had any trouble finding our Corky Devils, Fatboys, or Kelly Wiggler ball tail shads. Many of the redfish we are catching have been in the upper slot to oversize range. They have schooled up in their usual winter holes, and it seems more of them showed up for the party this year. When the conditions have been right, their locations have been very predictable.

When we have not been targeting redfish or trout, snook have been fraying our leaders, and some really good ones have come into our hands this winter. In fishing, there aren't too many experiences that will top catching a snook at night while wading under a full moon. We have been having great success throwing Corky Devils and Kelly Wigglers. As an added bonus to our winter snook fishing, trout in the six to eight pound class have been showing in the same general area. This winter, nothing has let us down.

Like in any other body of Texas saltwater, a moving tide in the Lower Laguna usually equals an excellent bite. The best bite days have been around the full and new moon phases when the tides are at their strongest flows. The incoming tide has given us the best bite of the two, but never rule out an outgoing tide. As I mentioned above, it tends to stack up fish in the deeper holes.

When February weather does allow you to hit the water, and you've done your homework during your downtime, your day can turn into a world-class experience, not only in the size of fish but also in numbers. This month, fronts will become more frequent, so keep an eye out for the weather and dress warm! Remember to work it slow, look for changes in the bottom that can attract fish (saunas), find the bait, and think big. Good luck in your chase!