There are very few steps that feel better to a wade fisherman than those last ones you take before crawling back into the boat after a long wade. To have a stable bottom to walk on or a place to sit down are rare amenities not often afforded while waist deep in water chasing fish. As I shed my wading belt and empty stringer I rummaged around the cooler in search of some lunch and another idea for the afternoon.

A very promising flat had not been kind to my fellow fishermen and myself so now the question “do we stay or do we go” is on everyone’s mind and I can’t blame them for the that. We had just spent a considerable amount of the morning looking for a really big fish only to be rewarded with a few small redfish for our efforts. Was it worth leaving to go in search of more active fish or should we sit tight and wait out the bite that we all hoped would happen? A difficult choice for sure but one that often happens during this time of year.

When an angler goes in search of a big trout there are a few things to consider before you even make the first cast. Perhaps the most important being “am I willing to go all day without a bite to find that one fish?’ Chasing big fish will test your patience and your stamina on a regular basis and I will freely admit I go through my share of tough times just like any other angler. Some folks are cut out for just this style of fishing, they are patient and intent to a fault. Others are not quite as dedicated and often resolve to just go find anything that will bite instead of sticking to the plan.

Sometimes the ones who leave and take the easier route stumble into a great situation and find the fish while the angler who stays and patiently waits and works goes empty handed, that’s just fishing. More often than not the one angler or group of anglers who stay in an area that they truly believe will produce a big fish gets rewarded with exactly that, a trophy fish that made all the struggle worth while.

Now most of us don’t fall into that category where we are willing to spend 8 or 10 hours in cold water for only a hand full of bites. It takes a special person to endure that type of fishing so for arguments sake we will just deal with the average guy who wants to get bit and have a good day on the water. More times than I care to remember I have been faced with the question “do you stay or do you go” while out on the water. I’m sure the phrase “don’t leave fish to find fish” comes to mind when thinking about this subject and it should, especially during this time of the year.

During colder months the window of opportunity is usually much smaller than during the warmer periods of the year. Fish are lethargic in the winter and don’t eat quite as often or with as much energy as they tend to do in the summer or warmer months. But on occasion when all the factors line up the bite during the winter can be as aggressive as anytime during the year and that’s what drives fishermen out onto the bay in such miserable conditions, the hope that they can encounter just such a bite.

Here is a classic example of how this all works. Take a prime area of Sabine or Calcasieu, add in the presence of baitfish, good tide movement, decent water clarity and temperature, along with an angler who enters the area quietly and you have the recipe for a great day on the water. Now like all good recipes they can go bad if one of the ingredients is not right and the same can be said for fishing. But when all the factors line up and an angler is willing to wait for everything to happen the reward can be incredible.

I can’t stress enough the importance of putting as many of the key factors in your favor as possible, this will greatly increase your odds of running into a great fish. If you reach an area that fit’s the description don’t be afraid to hang around and wait for the bite to happen because when it does the results are more than worth the effort.

Now I’m not saying that every time a fisherman does all these thing they will be rewarded because that just doesn’t happen. What does happen is that the fishermen greatly increases their odds and that’s all we can ask for. It usually happens in just a matter of minutes, an area that seemed lifeless will all of a sudden turn on as if someone flipped a switch and it will stay that way for a while only to leave the angler begging for more. How terrible would it be to be running in your boat in search of another to spot to fish when this “window of opportunity” was open?

It’s times like these that make you forget about all the fruitless hours you spent getting to this point. There is a lot to be said for sticking around an area and waiting for the bite to happen because more often than not the patient are rewarded.