by Capt Craig Lambert
I have always thought of February as the true beginning of the fishing calendar year. The water temperatures slowly start to rise this month and as the days get noticeably longer things can really start to heat up for several species. As of these past few weeks, the outgoing tide has been producing the best bite but that will change by the end of this month and you can expect the incoming tide to be the preferred tide for gamefish. Be especially ready for those trophy sized speckled trout to pull up on the flats and feed. And there is no doubt that this is the absolute best month to catch a giant yellow mouthed, head thrashin, lure spittin speckled trout! WOW!
Yes, November and December are my favorites months for catching the "Big 3" but February will produce better days and bigger fish than fall but just not as many days since the feeding patterns of our gamefish are mostly weather dependent. This current weather pattern we are experiencing is optimal fishing conditions. A lot of low pressure and low light, cloudy, soupy days with warm air temperatures equals darn good fishing. My tip for those anglers looking for trophy specks this month is to try to fish a few hours after the sun goes down. Those 8 and 10 pound female specks grow that size because they know how to avoid anglers. They didn't get that big by accident in a bay with this much fishing pressure on a daily basis. They feed nocturnally to avoid human pressure just like a lot of game animals do such as deer coyotes and feral hogs. Very Nice Speck!!
As spring slowly arrives the oversized black drum will begin their annual migration to the inshore waters to breed. These gigantic brutes are a blast to catch on trout tackle but need to be released properly so that they can spawn and produce us more fish to catch in the future. The current size regulation for black drum are a 14-30 inch slot. The bigger a black drum gets the wormier and nastier the meat gets so typically any black drum over 20 inches we release. Smaller drum are excellent table fare and are great for cooking on the half shell. Listening to one of the bigger black drum make his "drumming" sound is really cool. The bigger they are the more bass you hear and I have actually heard them drumming across a flat while fishing an area. Just like a loud "GONG!!!!!!"Eating Size!!
Look to areas of heavy shell anywhere along the ship channel and its spoils and flats. The bigger fish will even migrate all the way up in to the Trinity and San Jacinto rivers. They are constantly looking for big beds of oyster and or clams which is one of their favorite meals. Just a few "big brutes" aka "Big Uglies" can eat up a whole reef in just a few hours to days. This makes them easy targets while fishing for specks and reds over shallow thick shell. They will eat anything you throw in front of them. But they are lazy and wont move far away from their path to go chasing lures so you really have to hit them on the nose. They will, however, move a little closer to the sound of your popping cork and the smell of your shrimp as they lazily swim across the reef.35 Pounder!
Get out there now because it doesn't get much better than this as far as timing and weather. And like always don't forget to take a kid fishing!!!