Rainfall has been no stranger around these parts! Beginning in 2015, and every year since, the Galveston Bay region and Trinity River watershed have been absolutely inundated with local rain and incredible runoff reaching the bay system. Although what we’re experiencing right now isn’t near what we have seen in the past, these timely flushes are still keeping us on our toes.
Fishing in Trinity Bay proper has been on hold for some time now and it doesn’t look like we will be back in there anytime soon. However, fishing around Baytown and the northern stretches of the Ship Channel has been fairly consistent for much of the fall and winter. Although each slug of rain will dirty the surface water, the Ship Channels current brings in saltier waters from the gulf daily – enough to clean it up in fairly short order. As a whole, Galveston Bay is salty in most places, so rebounds don’t take too long.
The back of East Galveston Bay has been another good player for most of the fall and winter. Each rain event will mix things up a little bit but with some good tide movement and enough wind, the salinity recovers in due time. West Galveston Bay has been the most consistent as far as catching numbers and quality, which is not abnormal for this time of year.
The February pattern is most always going to be focusing around mud flats that are adjacent to deepwater getaways. The cold fronts are far from being over and in all honesty; February is still a very cold month for us. These fish are going to need to be somewhere close to a deep hole, channel or inlet that will keep them warm and safe whenever the tide drops out behind a front. The rule of thumb is always to wait two days after a front to allow the high barometric pressure dome to pass and the fish to get hungry enough to feed predictably. Once the tide comes back up on the flats, it will generally take 12 hours for the bait to fully make their way back. When that happens the predator fish we seek will be there too.
Lure selection can be more important in February than other months. This time of year the fish are feeding mostly on mullet as the shad and shrimp are all long gone, which means that your best mullet imitators will likely outperform other lure types. For me, it’s Corkys and suspending hardbaits.
Angler confidence becomes a significant piece of the fishing puzzle with these baits. A lot of guys ask me how to work a Corky and I find that question difficult to answer because most everyone I know works them a little differently. The best piece of advice I can give you is to experiment each day and discover how long it takes your Corky to get to the bottom and how long it takes to slowly sink back near bottom after each twitch. When you get out of the boat, let the Corky sink right beside you and count it down until it reaches bottom. Then, with each cast, continue the counting and pay attention to how hard you’re twitching it. The harder you twitch the longer it takes to settle. I usually get more bites when I’m running it near the bottom.Also remember that twitching a Corky effectively does not necessarily mean vigorous vertical motion with the rod tip. Try a series of short hops or swoops with the rod lying almost parallel to the water’s surface. Imagine trying to jiggle the bait enough to get the internal rattles clicking but not rising more than a foot or so above bottom.
Topwaters can also be deadly during warm ups between fronts, but mostly during short windows of the warmer afternoons. Here again lure selection and the cadence of the retrieve is very important. Under calm February conditions, I like a slow-walked Top Dog Jr or Pup. If you have enough wind to put some chop on the surface, try a full-size Top Dog or maybe a She Dog, but keep the rhythm tight and speed slow.
All in all, the fishing hasn’t been too bad lately and it seems most everybody is catching a few fish on good weather days. Back-to-back fronts hardly allow enough of a warming period for everything to settle down before the next one hits. But keep an eye on the long range weather forecast. Anytime you see at least four to five days between fronts being forecast, you can pretty near bank on several days of decent opportunity. Get out there and enjoy it!