Scarlet earlobes and numb extremities are not exactly what I call fishing weather. I'll take temps in the 60s and a light jacket. Nevertheless, if you plan to fish in January, you could experience both climates.
If we continue to see a mild winter, January may be no different than December. However, we know cold weather is coming and with each passing front and the colder it gets the more water that is blown out of the bay. That spells redfish–the lower the tide the better.
Waders brave the frigid winds of winter and make the hour-long boat ride to the friendly confines of the western reaches of West Matagorda Bay. Donning Iditarod-like togs, seasoned Matagorda captains work all the deep guts in proven locales around Cotton's Bayou, Middle Grounds and Green's Bayou.
More times than not, the redfish are there. You may have to park a long ways away and walk across exposed sand bars to get to them, but when you get there it is usually easy limits.
These sand bars are normally covered by tides. During low tide winter days the bars are exposed and the guts between them hold the only water. These reds can get landlocked, so to speak, and will eat just about anything from a swimbait to a gold spoon.
When cold north winds blow, a short ride to the Colorado River is in order. At the time of this writing the river is still running muddy from early-November rains, but it doesn't take long to clean up. And, it doesn't take long for trout to find refuge in its warmer waters.
I'll be honest on the river program, some days they bite, some days they don't. But when they do, it doesn't take long to score a limit on Bass Assassins, MirrOlures, Down South Lures and Norton Sand Shads.
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. It's not the sexiest fishing but it sure beats the alternative.
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.
Never dismiss the night. Piers along the river turn on lights 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, ED Lures, Soft-Dines and glow plastics worked gingerly through the water column 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.
Of course, when the weather allows, we choose drifting and wading in East Bay over deep shell for large trout. Waders work the north shoreline on an incoming tide, choosing to hang close to deep water and shell. But don't think you can't catch a gator trout out of the boat. Some of the largest trout of the year are caught on a calm January afternoon after a cold front has pushed through the day before.
We will still be hunting ducks, geese and sandhill cranes in January and fishing mornings and afternoons. You can follow our daily plight on Instagram @matagordasunriselodge.