I really hate to see our winter season ending so quickly. It seems just yesterday I brought out my Simms waders and cold weather gear. In the next two and a half months we'll see some of the windiest days of the year, and I dislike nothing more than wind howling 25-40 mph churning the flats into chocolate slush. We deal with it though. I expect to see big trout coming out of winter lairs and migrating into the shallow grass flats for spawning.
March, April, and first weeks of May are known for yielding trophy trout on the Lower Laguna Madre. During these months they are still heavy from winter with a sizeable weight gain from the roe they carry. Every big trout fisherman knows though, with changing feeding patterns that spring brings, even when you are able to locate these extraordinary fish, it's no guarantee they will be caught. It will take lots of determination, patience and skill, but it can be done.
I find that when targeting big fish you can swing the odds in your favor by fishing during peak periods of tidal flow. Also, be observant of lunar activity. In past years we have done better the few days before, during, and a couple of days after the new moon. Don't shy away from the full moon during their spring spawn because traditionally we have also done very well on big fish in the late afternoons and into the evenings.
Bigger trout are always wary and usually feed selectively, so your presentation is critical. When they are active on top, my choice of baits varies greatly in size from the 3-inch Heddon Zara Puppy (shallow-clear water with little or no wind), Super Spook Jr, or the Skitter Walk. The floating Corky is also a good choice. Our color selection will depend on water clarity. The norm is lighter colors in clearer water and darker baits in off-colored water. A bait that has recently been extremely effective for us in shallow-clear water has been a clear Spook Jr with Gamakatsu live bait single hooks size 1/0.
When the trout are preferring something down in the water column, our go-to bait has been Kelley Wigglers Ball Tail Shad in the new colors; Lagunaflauge and Flomingo on weightless 4/0 worm hooks. These new colors have already tricked multiple 29-30+ trout.
Our current winter fishing season started off as average in relation to the size of fish we were catching, but in the month of February it really picked up and we have been catching some exceptional trout. Right now the excitement builds daily with multiple fish per trip in the seven to heavy-nine pound range. From what we've seen the last ten days, I'd say our prospects for spring are excellent.
Recently we experienced the lowest tides I have ever witnessed. This extremely low water allowed us to see structure and dangerous obstructions we never knew existed. I noticed many deeper holes, depth changes, bars, etc. Exploring and actually walking over this structure was interesting, and it helped me gain a great deal of information that will aid me in the months to come. I encourage you to be watchful and take full advantage to see stuff you generally don't see the next time our waters drop to lower than normal conditions.
Redfish have been showing up in their typical winter locales, concentrated because of the cold weather. Starting this month we will begin to see redfish scattered on the shallow grass flats and back lakes on a more consistent basis as the water rises and floods areas that were once too shallow to fish. Redfish action on topwaters should become more steady and sight-casting should be lots of fun when the conditions allow. As always, I'm certain they'll take Kelley Wigglers on 1/8 ounce heads in the new colors I mentioned when they refuse to feed on the surface
The Houston Fishing Show is always a lot of fun. I look forward to meeting new people and seeing old friends. I will be alternating my time at the Fishing Tackle Unlimited booth in the Simms, Kelley Wigglers, and Green Rod sections. If you have any questions about these products there will be pro-staff available to help you. FTU runs a show special on Green Rods and I'll be happy to explain the lengths and actions of each, especially the split grip version I have come to really love.
Fishing is awesome on the Laguna Madre!