The View: January 2015

The View: January 2015
Nippy, wet weather is normally the forecast this time of year. Gray skies and low tides provide a dreary backdrop, but the sun does shine in January.

It may take you leaving your fishing comfort zone, but winter fishing can be productive.

By now you have read it countless times how dark, soggy bay floors hold the warmest winter waters. It's true. One degree of difference is often the only variable in an area holding schools of fish.

Look for bait. It probably is scarce, as frigid waters turn baitfish lethargic; however, if you see one mullet flip, give the area a chance.

Sometimes all you see are a handful of mullet all day. That's okay. Trout don't need a whole lot of mullet this time of year they may only eat a few times a week.

We normally don't worry about getting an early start. We make long drifts and catch most of our fish around late-morning. When the sun comes out it seems like the fish bite better.

One day specks will want Chicken on a Chain Bass Assassins and the next day they want plum. One day they want pumpkinseed/chartreuse and the next they want Morning Glory or Opening Night.

Trout and redfish are readily available in guts and bayous up and down the coast. Some of the lowest tides of the year occur during the next 30 days, 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 now.

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, Tidal Surges, Gamblers, Bass Assassins and Norton Bull Minnows work as well.

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.

A great winter fish that rarely gets rave reviews is the sheepshead. Most sheepies hang just below the surface and dine on crustaceans and organisms clinging against rocks and pilings. Live shrimp under a popping cork is the most effective bait; and, once you get past its motley mug, the sheepshead's white meat pleases the palate.

Winter low tides reveal reefs, flats and other structures you never knew were there. Take advantage of the free look and mark all of these fish magnets, then hit 'em again when tides return this spring.

Those oyster boats dredging in the middle of the bay have a story to tell. Their captains are not dragging blind, they are using years and years of established coordinates.

To many charter captains' chagrin, we often see boats pulling next to ours on drifts with heads down marking points on their GPS. Use that same pattern with oyster boats and mark their spots and come back and fish that valuable structure when the boats are gone.

We will still be duck hunting on January mornings and fishing the afternoons. Don't let the cold wind keep you by the fire; there are always a few trout and redfish eating somewhere.