The View: January 2017

The View: January 2017

Cold water, north winds, gray clouds and low tides are pictures of January. By now, many anglers have winterized their boats and tackle, tucking it in the corner of the closet and locking it away in storage until the first buds of spring.

Good for you, but January can be just as productive as its autumn predecessors. It is all weather-dependent. If the weather allows you to fish fish. If not hunt. That has become the plight of many outdoorsmen; and, because of the hunting option, the bays are often quiet from the lack of boats.

The lack of boat traffic allows you to work whatever shoreline you want without worry. Muddy bottoms on the south shoreline of East Bay are an obvious player since mud is a few degrees warmer in the winter.

Corkys are premiere winter baits, but topwaters 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 imitating plugs like Soft-Dines, MirrOlure 51Ms, 52Ms and 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 ultra-slow since 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 plum, black or glow soft plastics or troll with heavy-headed jigs. Many boaters Power Pole down along the dropoff and fish Gulps for trout and redfish; and, live-baiters toss Carolina-rigged mullet or fresh table shrimp for redfish. Again, never discount a topwater. Heavy trout hold on the edges of the bank and will bang a plug when the sun warms the shallows.

If you can't get out during the day, find a pier with lights or take your own in a boat and toss a glow soft plastic. Normally, the colder the weather, the better the bite at night.

Duck action continues to impress. More rice on the prairie and a good hatch of young geese has made a difference in decoying action for specks and snows. Duck season runs through the end of the month so we will be hunting the mornings. Expect good goose and sandhill crane weather on the backside of a cold front when the weather warms and fog forms.

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