Capt. Chris Martin proudly owns and operates Bay Flats Lodge in Seadrift, TX, overlooking San Antonio Bay. Chris has been fishing Texas Gulf Coast waters, from the Galveston Bay system to the San Antonio Bay system, since he was eight years old.
January 25, 2012
Wading Through Winter
by Chris Martin
"Wading Through Winter"
Guide Lines, by Capt. Chris Martin
Even on the coldest of days, if given the choice, I'll choose to wade a shoreline instead of drifting it. I don't want to risk spooking a trophy with a lot of hull slap and heavily placed marker buoys. And I'm also thinking that firing-up the big black Mercury to make another drift probably isn't a wise and effective method of sneaking up on one of the "big gals" this time of the year. I can cover a lot of real estate quite rapidly by drifting, but that's not what it's all about when chasing large trout in the wintertime. Instead, I prefer the ability of stealth that's provided to me by me walking in waist-deep water while wearing a good pair of chest waders and a warm wading jacket. There's just something special about being afoot out in the water amongst that which you treasure the most. After all, where else can you go to face your rival in such a beautiful, peaceful, and serene setting? Nowhere else that I can think of…!
Because it's colder right now, I like to wade mud/grass or mud/shell areas, as mud is darker than sand which allows the mud to soak up and hold the heat from the sun much better. Creeks exiting the marsh flow mud and silt outward and onto the floor of the bay, forming nutrient-rich channels that may only be a foot or two deeper than surrounding waters, giving the trout a somewhat sense of security of deeper water during cold weather. These small tidal channels also serve as a highway in and out of the marshy backcountry for baitfish and predators alike. But a wintertime factor that often has an even greater effect on baitfish and trout is often the wind. I prefer wind over no wind at all. Why? Well, in my opinion, windy is better because I believe wind provides more oxygenated water for the fish, therefore the fish are more lively and active due to increased oxygen levels. I sometimes compare it to today's live-bait anglers who use pure oxygen to keep their bait livelier and living for longer periods of time – shrimp, croaker, etc. And when speaking of wind, especially in the winter, I like to remember to always make it a point to setup as many wading sessions as possible each day along windward shorelines. Windward shorelines are better because the wind blows the baitfish up against the shallows along the windward shore. And where there's bait, the trout will not be long to follow.
Now then, cold weather also usually means there will be a lull in the tides, so as I search for large trout in February I'll be focusing on working my baits very slow at these low-tide times. Some such favorite spots of mine will be among mud and grass in shoreline coves, protected bayous, narrow channels, and slight drains that I find leading out of the neighboring back lake areas. During a high tide, however, I'll be found searching for bait in some of the more remote regions of the back lakes – fishing along the windward shorelines of the lakes during high tides. Higher tides usually result in off-colored waters in the backcountry, but again, there will typically be a lot of bait that has been driven against the shoreline. In going after big winter trout, the first bait of the day will be a soft plastic that I'll hug close to bottom as I bounce it slowly back to where I'm standing in the water. I prefer plastics along the bottom first thing in the morning in an attempt to locate a bite. Top water baits are also big producers at this time in the year, and you'll find me throwing a wide variety of patterns, but in smaller sizes, as I've found it to be a lot easier to work the smaller surface baits in winter's sometime high-wind conditions. But regardless of whatever bait I happen to choose on any given day during the winter, it seems as though I've always proven to myself the importance of me choosing the bait which I have the most confidence in. I'll rig that lure and will sometimes stick with it throughout the whole day. I've found that throwing the same lure all day minimizes the number of times I change lures, and that I (in turn) maximize my comfort level that I have with my pre-selected bait.
In closing, don't forget about the 2012 WINTER FISHING SPECIAL at Bay Flats Lodge during February and March when you and your guests can fish each day of the week at tremendously discounted rates. Additionally, Texas Tackle Factory (TTF) has teamed with Bay Flats Lodge (BFL) to bring you the BFL & TTF FEBRUARY / MARCH BIG TROUT CONTEST, where catching the biggest trout (while fishing with BFL during the months of Feb. and Mar.) will win you and three of your guests 2-nights of lodging and meals, and 2-days of guided fishing (a $2600.00 value). But that's not all, if the winning trout is landing using a TTF lure, the winning angler will also receive a $200.00 gift certificate to shop the TTF web store, a quantity of 36 TTF Gun Dog Top waters (1 of each color - Flush, Flush Jr., Dummy, Little Dummy), 2 Bags of each color KFM Jive 45 Soft Plastic Baits, and 2 Bags of each color of the Gun Dog Shock collar. Furthermore, TTF is also sponsoring various daily prizes (too numerous to list here) for the biggest trout of each day, so please phone or email me to learn more about these special BFL events. Also, keep in mind that you can always stay informed as to the latest that Bay Flats Lodge has to offer by simply signing-up on the website to receive your daily newsletter. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.
Video by guests Paul B. all the way from Clevleland, Ohio 2nd year to hunt ducks at Bay Flats Lodge with Captain Haroldhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GLoRAFYIU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
January 04, 2012
"Get Ready to get Muddy"
by Chris Martin
"Plan on Getting Muddy"
by Capt. Chris Martin
January 3, 2011
At the end of December the water temperatures in and around the San Antonio Bay region were already hovering around the fifty-five degree mark, and we should probably plan on things getting even colder by mid-to-late January. We could be experiencing true wintertime conditions by then which would, in turn, bring out avid trophy trout hunters all along the Texas coast. That's right! When the bay waters turn cold, coastal anglers from Sabine Lake to the Lower Laguna Madre will be "hog" hunting out of their boats. Their weapon of choice is usually one of their favorite six or seven foot fishing rods, and their arsenal normally contains a mixture of artificial baits to include dark-colored soft plastics, slow-sinkers, shallow running crank baits, and maybe even an occasional top water lure. It's a passion that's shared by many, and I'll be right out there next to them as they venture out in January. I love looking for cold water trout so much that I don't even mind having to deal with what can be sometimes harsh conditions associated with this time of the year. Some of the days might be long and gloomy with bitter winds and long periods of time between strikes, while other days might be bright and calm with relatively good action. But there will always be a couple common denominators affiliated with whatever type of winter day scenario I happen to be facing. The first is that I know I'm going to get a little bit dirty throughout my day of fishing, and the second is that I can probably count on being tired at the end of the day and maybe even a little sore the next morning. Why? Because wintertime wading means I'll be wading in mud that's anywhere from just a few inches to what may become waist-deep in depth while I search for these big winter fish. Needless to say, my equipment and I aren't always real clean when each day is done, and I realize it's a labor of love to hose-off my waders, all my gear, and my boat during periods of extremely cold temperatures. However, these tasks are all well worth the effort while knowing all the time that I've had an opportunity to chase what very well could turn out to be one of my career-best catches. All of a sudden, getting really muddy doesn't seem too bad to me anymore!
Where do all the different bait fish and the trout go when the weather gets really cold? Well, I'm told that all but maybe just a few of the baitfish and shrimp species often tend to get swept out of the confines of the immediate bay system during colder weather generally due to stronger frontal passages and because of a strong tidal flows (especially low tide) that are often related to wintertime months. It's for this very reason that I will sometimes spend quite a bit of time during winter months scanning an area before anchoring and exiting the boat. Because the heavy bait action of summer won't be visible, I look for small signs like a surface swirl or a tail swirl, a bird or duck sitting on the water's surface, or even a flying bird that happens to set its wings while looking for food below. Other signs I'm sometimes forced to look for are those which can't be seen above the surface of the water. A good example of this would be me spotting large numbers of baitfish swimming beneath the surface once I'm out of the boat and already wading. Now then, as for what the trout do when it gets cold? Well, I truly believe that anyone who has fished our coastal waters for any fair amount of time probably knows by now that the trout seek the protection of deep water during prolonged cold spells. Keep in mind, however, that the use of the word "deep" here is a relative term – "deep" in one bay system will normally mean something altogether different for any other bay system. For example, deep water in some of our upper Texas coast bays might mean water depths from 10 to 20 feet, whereas in some of the middle and lower Texas coast bays deep water may be defined as being anywhere from 5 to 10 feet. Regardless, the trout look for deeper water when it's cold outside, and they'll be looking for that deeper water to be lined with some dark, sediment-rich, soft mud that will naturally retain the warmth of the sun's rays much longer over that of sand. When I begin working these areas with baits, I'll start by throwing soft-plastic baits and will slightly bump them across the mud bottom at the deepest point as I barely retrieve them. During brief warming trends between frontal passages, the trout will often venture to adjacent shallows located near the deeper water, so if I don't entice any strikes while tossing into the really deep water, I'll slowly begin working my bait across the drop-off or edge. Water clarity is another matter of importance for wintertime fishing. If the water is gin-clear and shallower, I often prefer bright-colored plastics attached to a very lightweight jig-head. If the water is off-color, I'll rig darker lures attached to jig-heads weighted accordingly based upon the depth of the water that I happen to be fishing in at the time. In any case, I'm more than looking forward to fishing during this upcoming winter, and can't help but think this may be one for the record books. I hope to see you out there!
We hoping everyone had a safe and happy Christmas holiday and we want you to remember that it will soon be time to clean and store the guns as we rapidly approach the end of yet another fun-filled and successful waterfowl season. All of us here at Bay Flats Lodge wish you and yours a Happy New Year and an even better 2012 fishing season. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.