by Captain John Havens
Fishing remains about the same as it has been over the last month, and should remain to be consistent with that for the next month or so. We are continuing to see unreal days, and we are still having days that are extremely tough. I feel it is only fair and honest that I speak of both type of days, I also believe it to be most beneficial if I focus my discussion on the tougher days rather than the really good days. The good days are producing numerous trout in the 25" class and bigger, the tough days are hour after hour searching and grinding to get a bite or find a pattern. For every 1 or 2 great days we are faced with 2-3 days of grinding, putting our confidence and patience to the test. The most consistent days for wading have still been days that are overcast or foggy accompanied with a light or southerly wind, usually the 2nd or 3rd day after the frontal passage or the days leading up to the next approaching front. Many of the tougher days lately have been clear skies with higher pressure and gin clear water, usually the day of and the first day or two after the front passes . If you can pick and choose your days to fish right now I suggest the overcast days, rather than the bright sunny clear ones, but that is not always an option so we have to go when we can. To me no day on the water is ever wasted, there is always something to be learned and there is always time and opportunity to get better. One thing we must understand is we will never be able to control the weather so we must learn to adapt and over come.
Since Christmas I have spent time in Galveston, Sabine and Lake Calcasieu. What I have been seeing in all three bay systems is pretty much the same. The most consistent bite has definitely been drifting, especially when the water on the shorelines is holding really clear. In some areas the water has been so clear you can still see the bottom when in 5' of water, when this is the case I prefer to find the depth or area where I can no longer see the bottom and begin fishing. I also focus on mud streaks or stirred up water when possible. Many of the most consistent areas at this time are close to deep water, areas that are still holding a decent amount of water when the tides are extremely low. Many of the flats areas that normally hold good numbers of fish this time of year are really good one day and then tough the next. These fish are being pulled in and out with the tides, when the tides pull way out so are most of the fish, as the tide finally comes back in only a small percentage of fish are coming back at first. As the tides get back to normal and the temperature rises, more and more fish make their way back onto the flat, until the next change causes them to retreat again.
On the days when the tide is extremely low it is best to concentrate on the outside areas of the flats where the water is still holding around 4-5'. In other words find the nearest deep water, or any close by gut or channel that holds a good amount of water during the lowest tides. Fish and bait will both be finding the nearest safest deep area to seek refuge from both dropping temperatures and dropping tides. Even as the temperature and tide get back to normal there will still be a good number of fish and bait hanging in the area described, as they have everything they need during these colder months. Many time these are some of the most catchable fish day in and day out.
When wading we have still been catching the majority of our fish on fatboys and soft plastics, with a decent topwater bite every now and then. While drifting our best baits have been rat tailed jigs, either assassins or Texas Trout killers, mostly in darker colors such as plum and redshad.
In the comments area of my last blog I was asked to "share techniques for fishing the rivers". Since my last blog we have experienced a good rain, thus slowing down the fishing in many of the nearby rivers and creeks from what it was. Many fish are still being caught, it is just not as good as it had been. Mainly due to the fresh water influx, which we much needed. A portion of the fish have made their way back into the bay and lakes, a good portion still remain in the rivers, but are a bit harder to catch at the moment due to the water clarity and fresh water that has been coming down the rivers. When fishing the rivers I prefer to focus on things out of the ordinary like, flats, deep holes, ridges, rocks, pipelines and concrete walls. Concrete walls on the banks with deep water nearby can hold lots of fish, especially at really cold times. The sun and ground heat up the concrete and the heat radiates into the mud below creating a little warmer water than in other areas. Many times pipelines are covered both with rock and shell, which both create good fish holding areas. The Flats can be very good on the warming trends and many times are stacked with bait. Also always pay attention to shell on the bank, in many areas the shell continues in a much bigger area than visible. Outfalls and drains hold lots of bait and normally feeding fish nearby. Till next time, good luck and be safe.