Even though I prefer warm summer days to the chill of winter, there are some great bites happening right now that make getting out on the water worthwhile.
As the water temperature plummets and food resources disappear from the flats, speckled trout work their way back towards deeper bayous where they can escape the cold and mullet are abundant. They’ll stay there until spring when the water temperature rises and the bait fish return. Seven of my 10 personal best speckled trout were caught in early December.
Winter fishing can be both frustrating and rewarding. It’s common for these winter staging areas to get loaded with a lot of smaller fish that can be, oddly enough, quite annoying. The giants are nearby but don’t usually mix with small trout, preferring to hang out in groups close to big mullet schools. Small, suspending plugs fished slowly have produced my biggest trout.
Redfish are not as put off by the cold and you can find them on the flats throughout the year. Redfish have a more varied diet and will root around in the sand and mud for buried shrimp, crabs, sand eels and marine worms. Target them in clear, shallow water on the outside edges of grass in slightly deeper sand troughs and on points outside bayous and creeks.
The water in most of the bay is so clear that I recommend downsizing every aspect of your gear, from the rod/reel to the size of the lure and especially the size of your leader. There are only a handful of locations in the bays with structure, so eight-to-ten pound leader is enough to provoke a lot of bites. Small hair and soft plastic jigs, spoons, plugs and live baits are all good choices.
The flounder bite is still going strong as they work their way toward the Gulf of Mexico. A lot of anglers are having success fishing nearshore structures but I prefer to target flounder in shallow water as I’m fishing for other species. They like to lay up in the same spots that redfish cruise through – potholes, edges where sand or mud meets grass, sandy drop-offs and around oyster bars and inshore structures. Once you catch one, slow down and fish the area thoroughly because there are likely more flounder concentrated in that area. Bouncing jigs off the bottom is my preferred technique, but live shrimp or bait fish on a split shot rig works very well, too. Be sure to give the fish a few seconds to get a good hold on live bait before setting the hook or you’re liable to lose a few.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email.