South Padre: January 2021

South Padre: January 2021
Jeremy Perez shows off an upper-slot red on a recent charter.
Hello 2021! The older we get; I've noticed that the faster the years seem to pass. The past year was hard on everyone, but I noticed that many took to the water to relax and escape the sad reality of dealing with the Covid situation. The bays were largely empty the first few weeks of the pandemic but as restrictions were lifted we saw more boats on the water than I can ever recall. Boat builders, tackle and bait shops, and eventually fishing guides, became busier than ever. We are hoping for a complete turnaround and return to normalcy in the coming year.

I gave a seminar last month at Fishing Tackle Unlimited's Shallow Water Expo and one of my topics was how long should you stay in a spot before moving to another. I typically allow fifteen to twenty minutes but there are many other factors that influence my decision to leave or to stay. One of the essential factors is the amount of bait in the area and how the bait is acting. Other factors include the amount of fishing pressure in the area at the time, the frequency of bites, and how our effort fits with the day’s solunar feeding periods. Of course, nothing beats experience, but keep in mind that every day is different and, undoubtedly, the more aware you are of your surroundings the more accomplished angler you can become. Last but not least is to always fish with purpose, as though that next cast could produce a trophy.  

Water temperatures and tide levels here on the Lower Laguna have both begun to decline. These two factors cause fish to congregate in the shallows near deeper water or in the deeper water itself. Perhaps more than any other season is the importance of bait presence and bait activity. Your patience is equally important and it will be tested. If you’re seeing plenty of bait and getting occasional strikes, then hang in there. The results can be worthwhile.

Our redfish are growing fatter by the day on a diet of mostly finger-sized mullet and pinfish. Our best catches have been coming during solunar feeding periods on days with lower tides during warming trends. Feeding activity has been best toward the afternoon of the second day and definitely the third day after a cold front. Locating schools of mullet has certainly helped us find the reds. Redfish are hearty creatures and will begin venturing back onto the grass flats as soon as the front goes through and the sun pops out. Check out the accompanying video to pick up some winter pointers.

Redfish aren’t the only ones getting fat these past few weeks; we have also been seeing trout of 22-inches weighing as much as five pounds! Inspection of stomach contents at the cleaning table shows that they’re primary forage is mullet, and some of pretty substantial size at that. My prediction for trout fishing in the coming months is that the fishery is in decent shape and all we need are the right weather patterns to develop for fish to begin staging reliably on prime winter habitat.

Over the years, I have seen the trophy-class trout liking the shallows to absorb the sun’s energy and feed in between fronts. Targeting and catching wintertime trophy-size trout in shallow water is never easy but some of my clients manage to get it done each year. It's usually not about how many spots we visit but more about knowing they are there and waiting on them to begin feeding. One of our best lures in these grassy and muddy shallows the past several years has been the KWiggler Willow Tail Shad in Mansfield Margarita and Turtle Grass, very natural colors for our waters. The Paul Brown Fat Boy and Original are also proven producers when conditions call for slow-sinking and suspending baits.

What do I call ideal conditions? I prefer fishing during a front and also two to three days after a front. Keeping an eye on the barometer definitely helps. In general, fish do not like high atmospheric pressure. A steady or falling barometer usually produces a more consistent bite.

Wintertime fishing is all about dressing appropriately. I highly recommend layering in quality cold-weather gear from AFTCO and Simms Fishing Products. I sincerely wish everyone a happy and successful New Year filled with excellent fishing!

Tips for fishing slower in colder water.