by Captain John Havens
Fishing this time of year can be a true test. A test of our patience, confidence and our drive to get the task done. There are times when we begin to question ourselves, wondering are we doing the right things and is this really worth it? Once you have actually seen the rewards yourself, you will understand in the end it is much worth the time and effort. Recently we have seen fishing trips from both ends of the spectrum, days that were nearing epic, and then those that it seemed nearly impossible to get a bite.
Some of the best days recently have been extremely cloudy days with a strong southerly flow, coupled with rain and low barometric pressure these days can be unreal. Many times these days are followed by an approaching front, but that does not always have to be the case. This fishing is not for everyone, but those willing to make the sacrifices may see a day they will never forget. My preference on days like these is to be standing waist deep, wading always helps to keep me a little more in tune with what is going on around me. While also allowing me to feel the subtle changes such as small drops and ledges, or transitions such as mostly shell to soft mud with scattered shell. Which can be so important this time of year. Wading also allows us to stand in one spot to thoroughly cover an area while disturbing it in the least way possible. Don't be afraid to fish shallow during these conditions, big trout love little muddy depressions in knee deep or less water. Topwaters and Corky Fatboys are my two favorite choices for these conditions, with a black SuperSpook and pink Skitter walk topping the list. Mostly I work topwaters at a slow steady pace with pauses of about 5 seconds every 10-15 feet. Many times the fish will hit on the pause or when the lure begins to move again. But again this is fishing and there is not just one way to do it, so varying up your retrieve and trying different speeds and angles will help show what is producing on a particular day and time.
On the days following the fronts we have had to work a bit harder for our fish recently. As the pressure rises and the skies clear we have focused on wading drops and ledges closer to deep water. Fish are still catchable on the flats, but the best bite has been on the outside drops, especially on low tides. The afternoon bite has been best, with 4:30 till dark being one of the best bites nearly everyday. It is not always necessary to cover a ton of water this time of year, pick an area you have confidence in and cover it thoroughly.
Drift fishing has been the most consistent bite, drifting mud and scattered shell in 4-7' has been best. Drifting allows us to cover a lot of area in a small amount of time. Do not be afraid to continue your drift shallow, some of the biggest trout we catch each year at this time come from drifting 2-4', especially in areas that are too soft for wading. An important thing is to be as quiet as possible, use you big motor as little as possible when repositioning for another drift. Also be respectful of others fishing the same area. Most of the time it only takes a few extra minutes to do the right thing and go around a productive area, instead of motoring right back through the prime area. As hard as it is to understand, we see it everyday. A little courtesy can go along way when showing respect to our fellow fisherman.
With the approaching fronts expected over the next few days we should see a decent drop in temperature. Hopefully our temperatures will get closer to where they should be for this time of year. This is when we can use the high salinity level to our advantage. Many of the rivers are full of fish right now. Like the Colorado, San Bernard, San Jacinto, Trinity, Sabine and Neches river. These areas are fishable in strong winds, low temperatures and extremely low tides. Recently they have all been producing consistent catches of both trout and redfish. My best baits lately while drifting have been a Texas trout killer in white/chartreuse, or a "chicken on a chain" assassin, I prefer to rig both on a 1/4 ounce screw lock jig head. This blog is meant to be both informative and helpful, feel free to leave a comment if there is something you would like me to address or discuss more thoroughly. Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.