By now, many anglers have winterized their boats and tackle is tucked it in the corner of the closet, locked away until the first buds of spring. That bodes well for winter waders wanting a bout with a large speckled trout. Quiet is good. Fewer boats burning shorelines is good. January’s serenity is good.
Corkys are premier wintertime baits, but topwaters often get the nod on those warm, clear afternoons. By January, shrimp have left the bays and speckled trout adapt their diet to finfish. That’s when slow-sinking mullet imitation plugs like Soft-Dines and Texas Custom Corkys go to work.
Flipping mullet are tell-tale signs that specks could be in the area; however, even though you don’t see active baitfish, that doesn’t mean the fish are not there. Work baits slowly with multiple casts to the same piece of structure; cold weather turns fish in to methodical creatures.
Locales receiving the most tidal flow often hold the majority of schools – that means reefs and mud flats adjacent to the Intracoastal in East Matagorda Bay. Brown Cedar Flats, Chinquapin Reefs, Bird Island, Half Moon Reef and The Log are all proven winter spots holding healthy specks.
Drifting is also an option, especially with low-tide winter water levels. East Bay is often 2-3 feet below normal in January, depending how hard the north wind blows.
Raymond Shoals, Boiler Bayou, Pipeline Reef and Cleveland Reef hold good fish during the winter; and, when tides are extremely low, shoreline redfish move off the flats to these reefs in the middle of the bay.
When the wind really blows, never discount the Colorado River. Trout congregate in the deep, warm waters of the Colorado and if we remain in a dry spell the entire river all the way to Bay City has potential.
Low tides in West Bay drain the delta at the mouth of the Diversion Channel and funnel all fish to the deep channel. Anglers drift across the channel with Down South Lures, MirrOlure Lil’ Johns or Bass Assassins.
I'll be honest, some days they bite, some days they don’t. But when they do, it doesn't take long to score a limit.
Most of the time we toss to the shore and work the drop. But when we have trouble finding fish, we troll the middle of the river and bump the bottom until we find a school. The river drops from two, to five, to nine feet along the bank and the trout hang close to the drops, depending on the water temperature.
We have fitted Haynie Magnums with Minn Kota trolling motors for this type of fishing. The rivers and channels give us a place of refuge when the wind blows our hats off in the bays
Night fishing in January is very popular. Piers along the river turn their lights on at night to draw mullet, shad and shrimp. Often, some of the largest trout of the year are caught on the coldest nights.
Corkys, MirrOlures, Soft-Dines and night-glow plastics worked gingerly through the water column can excite lethargic fish.
If you don’t have access to a pier, set up lights along the bank of the Diversion Channel and go to work. Catch the Diversion Channel on a falling tide and expect redfish as well.
Duck hunting continues through Jan.26 and, if past campaigns are any indication, we will have a strong finish. The first two months have been nothing short of fabulous.
Our marsh holds lots of gadwalls and full-plumaged blue-winged teal. If you are looking for a cobalt-headed bluewing for a mount, our marsh gives you plenty of opportunities.Follow us @matagordasunriselodge on Instagram or Bink Grimes on Facebook.