The View: February 2014

The View: February 2014
February is my least favorite month of the year for obvious reasons. The last football game has been played, the last duck has been shot and dreary gray weather normally persists.

Except for the diehards, it is hard to get people excited about coastal fishing. I don't enjoy bundling beyond motion just to survive the chilling boat ride, yet, if you choose your days and fish between cold blasts, truth of the matter is February is quite productive.

The water was cold and dead and I was stiff with layers of neoprene and down. I did not have the highest of hopes. Ray Sexton and I looked for just one jumping mullet, but only saw a few redheads buzzing. We should have stayed in bed.

Sexton parked the boat along a bar in close proximity to a deeper gut. When I say deeper, I mean like knee to thigh deeper, a foot deeper at the most.

We worked toward the gut with Chicken on a Chain Bass Assassin Sea Shads and crawled the bait on the bottom. The slightest twinge of the line signaled the first bite. It was more like a peck, but the sharp lead head found lips.

That's what I look for this time of year - the slightest sign of life. One mullet in February is like an acre of mullet during the summer. Though, many times it's hard to find one mullet.

We like the water temperature around at least 53 at the coldest. It seems the trout bite a little better. Anything lower and it's 50/50.

The middle of East Matagorda Bay is where we like to drift, but you have to pick your days. A typical February sees a good bite every other day. The key is choosing the right "other" or "every other." Really, we guides have tried to figure out why, but I can't answer that question. We just go fishing.

If speckled trout don't cooperate, redfish are readily available in guts and bayous up and down the coast. Some of the lowest tides of the year occur this month, so you can eliminate lots of water. Concentrate on the areas that fall from waist to chest deep during the summer those same areas are probably shin to waist deep in February.

Find points of sloughs and bayous and anchor within casting distance. These points normally hold the deepest water as outgoing and incoming tidal flow provide depressions. Live shrimp under a popping cork works every time, but plastics like Gulps and Bass Assassins draw plenty of attention.

A great winter fish that rarely gets rave reviews is the sheepshead. Sure, it is not the sexiest of inshore marine species, but the convict-looking fish with human-esque teeth is a winter staple along reefs, pilings, walls and granite.

Most sheepies hang just below the surface and dine on crustaceans and organisms clinging to hard structure and substrate. Live shrimp under a popping cork is the most effective bait; and, once you get past its motley mug, the sheepshead's white meat is not bad.

Sand trout are another winter option that requires minimal skills. Channels and bayous with ardent tidal flow to and from the Gulf holds plenty of sandies. Carolina-rigged fresh shrimp and squid gets plenty of pulls.

Large drum and redfish will begin to hang around the jetty as well. Finger mullet or crabs bend poles for hours.

The best way to figure out February is to keep fishing.