by Chris Martin
"Wading Through Winter"
Guide Lines, by Capt. Chris Martin
Even on the coldest of days, if given the choice, I'll choose to wade a shoreline instead of drifting it. I don't want to risk spooking a trophy with a lot of hull slap and heavily placed marker buoys. And I'm also thinking that firing-up the big black Mercury to make another drift probably isn't a wise and effective method of sneaking up on one of the "big gals" this time of the year. I can cover a lot of real estate quite rapidly by drifting, but that's not what it's all about when chasing large trout in the wintertime. Instead, I prefer the ability of stealth that's provided to me by me walking in waist-deep water while wearing a good pair of chest waders and a warm wading jacket. There's just something special about being afoot out in the water amongst that which you treasure the most. After all, where else can you go to face your rival in such a beautiful, peaceful, and serene setting? Nowhere else that I can think of…!
Because it's colder right now, I like to wade mud/grass or mud/shell areas, as mud is darker than sand which allows the mud to soak up and hold the heat from the sun much better. Creeks exiting the marsh flow mud and silt outward and onto the floor of the bay, forming nutrient-rich channels that may only be a foot or two deeper than surrounding waters, giving the trout a somewhat sense of security of deeper water during cold weather. These small tidal channels also serve as a highway in and out of the marshy backcountry for baitfish and predators alike. But a wintertime factor that often has an even greater effect on baitfish and trout is often the wind. I prefer wind over no wind at all. Why? Well, in my opinion, windy is better because I believe wind provides more oxygenated water for the fish, therefore the fish are more lively and active due to increased oxygen levels. I sometimes compare it to today's live-bait anglers who use pure oxygen to keep their bait livelier and living for longer periods of time – shrimp, croaker, etc. And when speaking of wind, especially in the winter, I like to remember to always make it a point to setup as many wading sessions as possible each day along windward shorelines. Windward shorelines are better because the wind blows the baitfish up against the shallows along the windward shore. And where there's bait, the trout will not be long to follow.
Now then, cold weather also usually means there will be a lull in the tides, so as I search for large trout in February I'll be focusing on working my baits very slow at these low-tide times. Some such favorite spots of mine will be among mud and grass in shoreline coves, protected bayous, narrow channels, and slight drains that I find leading out of the neighboring back lake areas. During a high tide, however, I'll be found searching for bait in some of the more remote regions of the back lakes – fishing along the windward shorelines of the lakes during high tides. Higher tides usually result in off-colored waters in the backcountry, but again, there will typically be a lot of bait that has been driven against the shoreline. In going after big winter trout, the first bait of the day will be a soft plastic that I'll hug close to bottom as I bounce it slowly back to where I'm standing in the water. I prefer plastics along the bottom first thing in the morning in an attempt to locate a bite. Top water baits are also big producers at this time in the year, and you'll find me throwing a wide variety of patterns, but in smaller sizes, as I've found it to be a lot easier to work the smaller surface baits in winter's sometime high-wind conditions. But regardless of whatever bait I happen to choose on any given day during the winter, it seems as though I've always proven to myself the importance of me choosing the bait which I have the most confidence in. I'll rig that lure and will sometimes stick with it throughout the whole day. I've found that throwing the same lure all day minimizes the number of times I change lures, and that I (in turn) maximize my comfort level that I have with my pre-selected bait.
In closing, don't forget about the 2012 WINTER FISHING SPECIAL at Bay Flats Lodge during February and March when you and your guests can fish each day of the week at tremendously discounted rates. Additionally, Texas Tackle Factory (TTF) has teamed with Bay Flats Lodge (BFL) to bring you the BFL & TTF FEBRUARY / MARCH BIG TROUT CONTEST, where catching the biggest trout (while fishing with BFL during the months of Feb. and Mar.) will win you and three of your guests 2-nights of lodging and meals, and 2-days of guided fishing (a $2600.00 value). But that's not all, if the winning trout is landing using a TTF lure, the winning angler will also receive a $200.00 gift certificate to shop the TTF web store, a quantity of 36 TTF Gun Dog Top waters (1 of each color - Flush, Flush Jr., Dummy, Little Dummy), 2 Bags of each color KFM Jive 45 Soft Plastic Baits, and 2 Bags of each color of the Gun Dog Shock collar. Furthermore, TTF is also sponsoring various daily prizes (too numerous to list here) for the biggest trout of each day, so please phone or email me to learn more about these special BFL events. Also, keep in mind that you can always stay informed as to the latest that Bay Flats Lodge has to offer by simply signing-up on the website to receive your daily newsletter. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.
Video by guests Paul B. all the way from Clevleland, Ohio 2nd year to hunt ducks at Bay Flats Lodge with Captain Haroldhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GLoRAFYIU&feature=youtube_gdata_player