Colder weather alerts tactics
“Is this the same drain we caught those flounder and reds out of last week?” asked Sam Perrin in a dubious tone of voice. The drain that he was pointing at with the tip of his rod was shallow even last week, but it was still fifteen to twenty feet wide at that time. It was now little more than a mud flat with a small trickle of stained water struggling to reach the bayou.
A couple of days of howling north winds was all it took to roll the decoys in the shallow marsh lakes over on their sides and force the resident baitfish, shrimp and game fish into the nearest deep water. While exposed skin yielded any sense of feel as the temperature dropped, Sam had just released his third over sized red and had no intention of calling it a day. As a matter of fact, as miserable as it all sounds, we had been eagerly anticipating this frigid game changer!
You have to be mad at the fish or getting paid (possibly both) to warrant dealing with the wet and cold in late November and December, but the catching can be nothing short of phenomenal provided you dress right and can feel the reel handles when you detect a strike at the end of the line. We will still get our fair share of brief warm-ups that generally yield the most user-friendly days of winter fishing, but they seem to seldom coincide with the weekend or a day off from work.
We will also continue to get a little help from gulls ratting out mixed schools of trout and reds when the conditions permit, but lots of local anglers prefer to anchor up on deep structure and dupe the redfish and larger trout with both live and fresh dead bait in the colder weather. Because live shad and mullet will become increasingly harder to net as it gets colder, many of the veteran bait fishermen freeze a portion of the bait they catch after each trip.
I enjoy targeting those same fish holding on deep structure in both the river and Intracoastal, but my approach is a little different in that I prefer to vertical jig that water with artificial lures. Even if you are very familiar with a particular spot, your depth finder can make a big difference in this type fishing. If suspended schools of bait don’t light up the screen there is no good reason to beat a dead horse.It could all change in less than an hour or following a tide change.
The Hoginar is a great lure to drop straight over the side, but as a rule the redfish like it much better than the big trout that frequent these same haunts. I do much better on the larger trout bouncing a five inch Diedapper rigged on a quarter ounce head or a plastic mullet imitation like the Corky or Maniac Mullet off the bottom.
Several years back, prior to the MirrOlure folks buying out Paul Brown, Corkies were all but extinct and I gave the Maniac Mullet its first honest shot. I was using the Corky Devil at the time, but the Maniac Mullet, because it was much the same shape, seemed to be a viable option. It was and I haven’t used the Devil for this application since!
I have even had some great days offering the larger Usual Suspect to these same fish, but regardless of which soft plastic lure I use, I doctor it up with a dab of Pro Cure scent. The folks over at Daleys Hunt N Fish recently experimented with the popular gel in an attempt to make it a little easier to inject into lures and in the process came up with a mixture of their own that even includes glitter that disperses in the water. They sold every bottle the first week so I would call them before driving over there to purchase one!
As much as I enjoy locating and sitting on top of big trout this time of the year, when I am not wading it is usually only because my clients would rather stay in the boat.And, while that is understandable, if you are determined to spend the majority of your trip targeting the most active bragging size trout there is no more effective approach than wading.
There are those days when a five inch tail rigged on an 1/8^th ounce head will catch better numbers wading the skinny water, but I could climb out of the boat with a Corky Fat Boy, MirrOdine XL and a topwater lure or two and consider myself well armed the majority of the time. Pink and chartreuse-pearl combinations are hard to beat in the mullet imitations and on most occasions the larger Spook works a little better than the She Dog if for no other reason than the fact that you can cast it farther.
Unlike the mullet imitations, I would never dare to suggest the best color in a topwater lure. I can say that based on my own experiences that black-chartreuse, bone-silver and pink-silver combinations are very hard to beat on Sabine. I would like to have a dollar for every hard core wader that reads this and thinks,” Man…. if he knew about this color. ”Winter time wade fishermen earn the right to be tight lipped!
If you can physically and mentally handle the cold you will find winter fishing to be very rewarding. Dress warm, pack lots of snacks and let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back!