by Capt. Chris Martin
"Coldwater Trout Tactics"
by Capt. Chris Martin
December 7, 2011
I was doing a little scouting throughout a three day period of rain that we had here at the beginning of December. The first day of this rainy spell brought with it no changes in weather other than that of precipitation falling from the sky, as air and water temperatures remained unchanged. During the second and the third days of the rain, however, things were different. The winds changed from the south and increased out of the north, the tides began to fall, and air and water temperatures suddenly dropped to levels that one would generally expect for a wintertime month. I fished briefly during each of these three days, but the constant changes made for lousy success. Up until this particular drop in temperature, our fishing endeavors so far this year have been supported by some pretty mild spring-like weather. In fact, I previously had been catching most all of my trout above sandy shallows, as the waters covering these sandy areas had remained warm enough to keep the trout there. But now that we've had more than a few days of constant daytime high temperatures in the 50's and 60's, and nighttime low temperatures in the 30's and 40's, I'll now be changing from that of my old fall strategies to that my new wintertime strategies. Instead of searching for the trout bite solely above sandy bottoms, I'll now be looking for trout also above mud and grass. And instead of anticipating lots of action along the bayside shorelines, I'll instead now begin expanding my explorations to include the secluded back areas of marsh where the fish shall begin to dwell during the earlier part of the winter months as the air and water temperatures continue to remain cooler.
Today marked the third day following the passage of the latest cold front, and the sky above our area was in the process of clearing from being overcast to that of becoming partly cloudy. Three of the past four days had consisted of rain and today's forecast was calling for temperatures to be in the high 40's to low 50's, and there currently was very little wind blowing. My first stop on this morning's outing put me upon a concealed shoreline that's somewhat removed from the openness of San Antonio Bay. This stretch of shoreline is a particular favorite of mine at the beginning of winter each year simply due to the fact that it offers a gradual change in bay bottom formats which is especially good for those of us who have been wading comfortable and hard-packed sand for the past six months. I anchored and moments later made my way over the side of the boat and into the water in a place where the depth was in excess of four feet and where the bottom was made-up of hard sand covered with grass. Colder temperatures and north winds had helped to make the water gin clear, and I could often see my feet beneath me. At the point in which I had entered the water, I was still some 60-70 yards (or more) off the bank of the shoreline which is entirely lined with tall marsh grass. My first casts of the morning consisted of offerings of the nearly five-inch long Killer Flats Minnow XL (manufactured by Texas Tackle Factory) in the Morning Glory and Texas Roach colors. Doing so is a tactic of mine that I like to practice whenever the water turns cold and once the larger natural bait fish, mainly mullet, have disappeared from the bay systems for the winter. Anyhow, I continued making my way down the shoreline at the same depth that I had started in earlier, but had not had more than an occasional "bump" along the bottom for more than thirty minutes now, so I slowly began making way into shallower water. As I reached thigh-deep water, there was a noticeable transition to mud beneath my wading boots. From where I stood I was now within casting distance of the grass-lined bank, so I planted my feet and began casting in a rotational pattern from the shallow water against the grass all the way out to the deeper water from which I had come earlier. I was still throwing the large plastic minnow bait, and was looking for any signs of trout willing to compromise their concealment due to hunger pains. It was another thirty minutes before I had made my way another 50 yards down the shoreline at the same depth. The sun was shining a little bit now as I casted my plastic lure into the shallows with the mud-laden bottom. Suddenly, my retrieve was met with fierce resistance, and the battle was on. My bait had found its way into the mouth of a beautiful 7-pounder and I was experiencing the thrill of the day. I stayed in that general area for the remainder of the morning, never relocating my position more than 5-10 steps at a time, and managed what could possibly be one of my heaviest stringers over the past several years (all of which were released, of course). Fishing has been remarkable for me since the recent turn in the weather, and I look for the months ahead to be no different. Dark-colored plastics should continue to pay off, and I won't shy away from keying in on soft, warm mud with some dark grass mix as well. P.S. --- Don't forget that this time of the year is when it's so very important to use a slow retrieve if you're working soft plastics or slow-sinking plugs.
With the second-half of this year's waterfowl season almost completely booked-up, Bay Flats Lodge is already booking spring fishing trips. This is a great time to pick your favorite fishing dates, so give us a call whenever you're ready. All of us here at Bay Flats Lodge wish you nothing but happiness and prosperity this Holiday Season. Our sincerest thanks go out to all of our customers, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationships in the coming year. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region. www.BayFlatsLodge.com …1-888-677-4868.