by Capt Craig Lambert
Yes it is cold and yes it is a little rainy but that doesn't mean the fish stop biting. Hardcore anglers willing to brave the wet and cold and harshness of the Texas winter are coming up with some decent action on both live shrimp and artificials. The fish are hungry and if you aren't on the water you are definitely missing out on some good action.Cold Weather Trout!
Finding cold water trout is no different than at any other time of year. Habitat and food will be the primary focus for fish looking to survive the colder months. Areas where fresh water flows in to our bay system are key areas to target. The Trinity River, San Jacinto River, Chocolate Bayou, Clear Lake, Double Bayou and Dickinson Bayou are all areas where fresh water enters our bay system and will be areas to target this winter. These freshwater environments will deposit thick layers of muddy sediments setting up ideal conditions for creating thermal zones for the fish to seek out. Fat Redfish!
If you do not know what the bottom is like in the area you are fishing then you need to be learning the bottom with a rod tip, your net or even better yet a piece of PVC. Spending the time to understand the bottom will not only help you find those wintertime fishing spots but it will also be a big help the rest of the year. Finding soft mud and either freshwater clams and/or oysters in clumps will be the area where bait fish congregate and of course the predators will follow.
Freshwater cat and Speck caught on consecutive casts.
I definitely prefer artificials at this time of year because you can cover more area and search. As metabolisms of gamefish slow down their willingness to chase a meal slows down also. That does not mean they will not chase a bait it just means they will not chase it as far. So making casts covering a zone of area in front of you like a radar throwing left then right is ideal. Having the ability to work all sections of the water column with a soft plastic bait is another advantage of throwing artificials and just adds to its overall effectiveness. I always see other articles telling you to slow your bait down in colder weather but I disagree with this philosophy. I tend to work lures the same way in winter as I do in summer. Basically let the fish tell you what they want. Fast, slow, whatever they want that day is the answer and that is not always slow.There is nothing like the pull of a big redfish!
Live shrimp can be harder to get during this time of year but its effectiveness is unmatched. The only thing I change for this colder weather is to use a little longer leader under my popping cork. In 6 ft of water, typically, I will start with a 3 ft. leader and if that doesn't work then try a 5 ft. leader. Having a weight attached to hold your bait down in the water column is critical when using longer leaders like this. I use a 1/8 oz barrel attached to my leader near the hook and that seems to work very well. When water temperatures go down presenting your bait lower in the water column is definitely better. Awesome black drum!
I always hear complaints from my warm weather customers about how cold it is in winter and how it is just too cold too fish during January. They couldn't be more wrong! The best fishing of the year will happen during the colder months and the key to success and enjoying your self on a cold day is to "BE PROPERLY DRESSED." That means dressing in layers from head to toe. In my opinion, the very best protection is offered by wearing warm hunting bibs or waterproof fishing bibs. Waterproof bibs are best of course but on those colder days when no rain is expected any type of warm weather bib will be perfect. Be prepared. Dress smart and your fishing in wintertime will be better than you ever expected.
Take a kid fishing!!!!