Ninety-nine percent of the fresh and saltwater fishing addicts logging the most time on the water over the course of the next two months will be there for one reason only…..the opportunity to catch a double digit bass or trout.

Waterfowl hunters rightfully garner the most double takes from sane folks that can’t figure out why anyone would subject themselves to the to the worst weather Mother Nature has to offer for an opportunity to shoot at a duck, but winter time fishermen warrant that same incredulous glance.Duck hunters will, however, forever claim the top spot simply because they not only endure those miserable conditions….they pray for them!

While duck hunters have relied on the warming properties of neoprene, goretex and thinsulate for years, their fishing counterparts have learned to follow their lead in attempting to endure the coldest of days.In spite of that, the fishermen should, however, still vault to the top of that “What the heck are you thinking” list when it comes to adequately coping with the elements. .

Duck hunters at least have the good sense to hunt out of a blind or kneel down in a stand of roseau cane, both of which offer some protection from a biting wind.Not those bass fishermen…..No sir, they put on their insulated overalls, gloves, ski mask and racing helmet only to climb in their boat and roar off across the lake in excess of fifty miles per hour.Nothing like cranking up the wind chill factor an additional thirty miles per hour!

At the same time, while they usually cruise at a more bearable pace to their chosen spot, many bay fishermen in search of the trout of their dreams still leave you questioning the wisdom of their game plan. .After going to the trouble of dressing in several layers of clothing and foul weather gear they then wrestle their way into a pair of waders and abandon a perfectly dry boat to walk around in waist deep water all day long!

Having doggedly pursued both species on both venues for the better part of five decades I am no less passionate today, but I am much more appreciative of the advances in foul weather gear.I still don’t know what you can do to avoid numb fingers, but it is now possible to stay remotely dry and warm with the proper clothing in some pretty miserable weather.

The Holy Grail for those bay fishermen is the thirty inch double digit speckled trout.Ironically enough, because a large number of upper coast fishermen are also bass fishermen or were bass fishermen at one time, they are more concerned with the weight of a trout rather than the length.In defense of that position, because of our incredibly rich ecosystem it is indeed possible for them to catch a ten pound trout that might measure a hair short of the coveted thirty inch mark.

Without a doubt, the odds of ever even seeing a trout that size are not favorable for even the most persistent and determined fishermen.While we are seeing more nine pound fish each year than we used to, I personally know only a handful of fishermen that have ever caught a ten pound trout off Sabine Lake.It is a monumental challenge and unfortunately the best time to get it done is during the coldest time of the year.

Local bass fishermen, however, are blessed to have two trophy bass impoundments less than ninety minutes away and it isn’t simply because of their close proximity that the possibility of catching their double digit fish is much greater.It can happen any time of the year and does, but pre-spawn bass are at their heaviest between now and early March.

Both Rayburn and Toledo Bend have yielded unbelievable numbers of ten pound bass over the past fifteen years and 2014 was just crazy good…..especially on Toledo Bend.The first ten years I guided on Toledo Bend I never personally saw a nine pound bass and I guided out of Marinas from Converse to Indian Creek.

Florida bass were later stocked, they fared better than ever expected and I know several youngsters still in high school that have already caught ten pound bass.So many fishermen practice catch and release today that it is impossible to even guestimate how many double digit bass are caught each year, but 2014 had to be the best of all.

I have a very good friend that I once guided with that now resides in the Negreet Creek area tell me at a Christmas party that he and friends that fished with him last year caught and released a total of fourteen bass over ten pounds between the third of August and the second week of December.That number is even more astounding when you consider the fact that this same man caught just one nine pound bass in his first fourteen years of guiding!

Not all of the duck hunters will put their cold weather gear away in a couple of weeks as many of them simply lock up their guns and break out the fishing tackle. Joey Suire best explained that mind set while cleaning ducks one day last week when he stated with justifiable anticipation, “Cuz, isn’t it nice of the bass to wait until duck season closes to start spawning!”

Photo – The Osborne’s took advantage of the winter bite last week!