Fishing is once again fin-tastic here on the Lower Laguna. Water temps running in the 65-70 range have made catching more predictable and we have been enjoying some outstanding days. The water is cool enough to spark steady feeding activity but not so cold yet that you have to crawl bottom to get strikes.
With cooler weather in general, feeds are lasting hours rather than minutes and a crack-of-dawn start is not nearly as important as it was in late-summer and early-fall. Adjusting our schedules to take advantage of late-afternoon feeding has really been paying off, and in general, allowing the sun to climb over the horizon and begin warming the shallows is often a good strategy in cooler months. If youre longing to catch a trophy redfish, a sow trout or perhaps a giant snook, the next couple of chilly months are certainly prime times to do it but you cannot lay on the couch and dream about it you have to get there and fish!
Our weather has not be been wintry yet but that could change any day as the northers will become more frequent and carrying a bigger bite. Water temperatures will soon descend into the 60s and upper 50s, but dont rule out warmer water during a string of sunny days. Conditions will deteriorate for a day or two following most fronts but recovery is usually quick on the Laguna Madre.
To find the new pattern following a front, I like to hit the water as soon as the north winds begin to subside, swinging around to the east. Its during these light east wind days that our waters become slick and calm. Thats when I use these conditions to my advantage. Ill pick a flat that I think may be holding fish and make a run from the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway and all the way across to the sand flats on the east side. As Im running, Im looking at several things depth, bait availability, mud boils, bird activity, bottom structure, and of course schools of fish. Any of these can give a sign of where to start but remember just because we found them does not mean they are ready to eat. This is called angling and its a whole different story.
You usually have to be very patient to catch post-front fish and quite often it takes a good tide current to get them going again. Keep in mind, the direction of the current will always dictate how we should approach any structure they might be holding on. Casting from the wrong angle will probably only turn out to be casting practice.
Sadly, we are no longer finding redfish in the shallow back lakes as we were last month. They have moved toward deeper water and the most productive depth is now thigh to waist deep and trout green is the water color to key on.
Limits of keeper trout have been fairly easy in three to four feet of water and we are still seeing lots of undersized. Please remember to handle with care when releasing as they are tomorrows trophies. Top baits have been dark plastics such as the Kelley Wiggler plum/blue metal flake on 1/8 ounce jigs. I am once again inserting a short piece of solder wire in my plastic baits (right where the point of the hook comes out) to give it a slight weight increase and keep my bait nearer bottom. This technique has worked wonders especially with all the surface grass this winter that our record numbers of redhead ducks have uprooted.
Baitfish have been the best key to finding steady trout also and also redfish. You can tell the fish are healthier and more active in the cooler water as they are now fighting much harder. The only thing that could bring more excitement to our days would be more topwater bites but the plastics are really the way to go right now topwater action has not been nearly as steady. Never pass up diving birds or even a few just sitting on the water for that matter they are there for a reason.
Dress in layers and be prepared to fish long and hard; your trophy is only one cast away. I would like to close in saying Happy New Year to everyone and enjoy the great outdoors while you can.