South Padre: January 2017

South Padre: January 2017
Joe Meyer field testing tackle under perfect conditions, excellent weather and the fish cooperated nicely.

Another year has zoomed by. Seems the older I get the faster time passes. Looking back at 2016, I can say many great memories were made and numerous career-best fish were landed by my clients. Best of all, lots of fish were released to fight another day.

If I had to single out only one day as the greatest fishing experience this past year, it would be with Jeremy Rhodes and his girlfriend Christian landing twenty-four snook, most of them over the coveted 30-inch mark. It was a day we will all remember for a very long time.

I am look forward to what 2017 will bring. If the last two months are any indication I would say we are in for a treat. High tides that prevailed several months are finally beginning to drop, and while the fish were scattered at times during that high tide period it was nice to fish areas that are normally too shallow. Wading that hard eastside sand will definitely spoil you. Now, with the tides diminishing, we will be adjusting game plans, but so far the fish have been moving to areas we expected to find them. Key areas for January will be drops-offs, locations with plentiful bait, bird activity and generally softer bottoms during cooler weather.

Our trout situation is currently booming. If we go by what has been occurring the last three weeks I would say we are in for an outstanding winter trout season with lots of heavy fish coming to hand. Already we are catching multiple trout per charter in the 5- to 6.5-pound class. They are not yet at their heaviest weight, but they could easily add a pound or more gorging on mullet as they do this time of year.

The most important element in finding heavyweight winter trout lies in finding concentrations of mullet. On colder days with cloud cover, we cannot always see the bait at the surface. That's when we rely on birds to point the way. Brown pelicans huddled in a tight group or diving regularly in a particular area is a very strong indicator. Swirls made by large fish feeding below the surface are another good indicator. During colder periods, look for trout close to the ICW where greater depth yields more stable water temps. The sun breaking the cloud cover in late-afternoon can really trigger a feed on flats adjacent to deep water.

From experience, I've noticed the third day after a truly cold snap usually gives us a strong bite. Head for potholes on the edge of the ICW and old oil field cuts. Slow-retrieved KWiggler Ball Tail Shads in plum-chartreuse and bone diamond will produce strikes as the warming trend emerges. Other effective baits for this pattern are the MirrOlure Paul Brown Fat Boys, Originals, and Devils.

Just recently we got a pleasant surprise fishing a drain where water was dumping off a flat. Having never fished this area before we didn't know quite what to expect. However, having targeted flounder successfully under the same conditions we thought it worth a try. Long story short, we found redfish stacked beyond our imagination and the action was almost nonstop for an hour and a half. That experience reminded me of the importance of thinking outside the box and always paying careful attention to the conditions at hand.

Redfish have been plentiful for us this past month and colder weather will concentrate them even more. This time of the year I look for mud puffs while running on plane to give away the location of redfish. When spooked, they kick up a cloud of mud. The more mud puffs the bigger the concentration. But remember, seeing them is only part of catching them. You are targeting fish in cold water and this usually requires a slow bottom-bumping presentation.

In closing I would like to encourage anybody shopping for a new reel to keep an eye out for the new Concept TX Limited Edition baitcaster from 13 Fishing. I just received my first sample and I'm excited to use it and give you an update in my next article. I will say this; it was designed for the extreme saltwater angler. On another note, Empty Stringers Catch and Release Program is gathering lots of momentum. Visit Empty Stringers Catch and Release Program on Facebook and feel free to post your releases.

Best fishing to you in the new year.