by Capt Mullet
The glory days of November are in the past and the onset of winter has roared in like a lion these first few weeks of December. It seems like every weekend we get some type of major weather event that is keeping a large percentage of the outdoorsman off the water and in the tree stands and blinds. The winter patterns have set in already and it is time to adjust or be left behind at the cleaning tables.BIG REDS MAKE FOR HAPPY KIDS!
We have a lot of good fishing to look forward to these next few months. At the jetties you can expect to catch sheepshead and flounder. Everyone's favorite fish the speckled trout will be feeding and cruising near shallow flats, marshes and river systems. Bruiser redfish will be plentiful at the jetties and on shallow muddy flats cruising along or in the same locations as speckled trout. The opportunities for properly dressed anglers that can withstand the elements of nasty weather is better than at any time of year. Cold conditions make for hungry fish so don't be left sitting on the couch when you could be on the water chasing bronze backs and large yellow mouths. NICE TROUT YOUNG MAN!
Winter time patterns are the same from year to year. The resident bay fish typically feed based on weather conditions attributed with frontal systems that move thru the area. The optimum conditions are close to or during frontal systems when light rain, low cloud ceilings and low pressure prevail. Lockjaw conditions would be the day or 2 after a front when high pressure blue bird skies and no wind dominate the conditions. That is not to say that you cant catch a few fish (in the late afternoon usually) but they definitely will not be jumping voluntarily on your lines during the day. That is why nasty sticky rainy days are for hardcore fishermen while bright sunny days are for other duties. I SMELL A FISH FRY SOON!!
The tackle I use for throwing live shrimp during colder months is exactly the same for the rest of the year except I like to use longer leaders in wintertime. A Midcoast Cork (Evolution) with a 30 lb. Ande line leader at 3-5 ft. in depth and a #6 treble (3X strong) is my standard set up. I do add on a 1/8 oz barrel on to my line near the hook for holding that bait down in the strike zone. This set up is perfect for fishing heavy shell in 3-5 ft of water where plastics might have a tendency to become hung on shell. A smaller sized shrimp hand picked from the net is usually the preferred bait for hungry predators. Make sure you let your cork completely submerge underwater for 1-2 seconds before reeling up and setting the hook. Most of the time redfish, black drum and sheepshead will play with the bait before swallowing it so that extra few seconds will mean the difference between a hook up and a lost fish. Specks will most likely hit it on the run and there is no waiting for them since your cork will be long gone when you take that split second to react. CPR FOR THIS 6+ LB BEAUTY!
When using artificial I am throwing plastics like the bass assassin, big nasty and TTF's Killer Flats Minnow. I prefer darker colors like plum, pumpkinseed and red shad as my go to colors. Another great bait for the upcoming season is the Corky Devil which has always worked well this time of year when fishing from a boat over shallow flats so give that a try if you have not done so before. I like to fish it over heavy shell in 3-5 ft of water. It is easy to work with just slow twitches while trying to keep it in the middle column of the water table. Because of the single hook on the Devil you will miss a few bites that is OK because of the ability of this bait to produce fish. MEAT HAUL
The walk-in wader has multiple options around our bay system to encounter excellent fishing during our winter season with places like Galveston Island State Park, Sea Wolf park, Anahuac National wildlife Refuge and McCollum Park. Our bay system here in Galveston offers miles of pristine wading flats for everyone from the walk-in wader to the angler lucky enough to have access to a boat. A pair of good waders and stingray guards are a must for comfort and safety. It is corky season so you better have a few of those in your wading box along with a few soft plastics with 1/8, 1/16 and maybe even a 1/32 oz. jighead inside. A couple of topwaters and a mirrodine or mirrloure and you are ready to do battle with some head thrashing yellow mouthed specks. JUST LIKE PULLING IN AN ANCHOR!
The anglers that love getting their feet wet by jumping out of the boat and in to the mud to do some wadefishing are extremely happy at this time of year. Shallow water fishing is a must for the serious angler looking for that once in a lifetime fish. There is just something special about getting in their environment and stalking your prey like the alpha predators that we are. When you are hooked up with a fish of a lifetime don't forget to keep those legs squeezed together when playing your catch. Having a large angry redfish or trout running between your legs with waders on can be a problem so don't be that guy! Unless you want your buddies making fun of you for the next few months.AWESOME FLATFISH!
This years flounder season was mediocre at best. The anticipation of a run like we had last year really crushed my spirits this year. The slow run this fall makes me wonder if this 2 fish limit in November will be an effective conservation method in years to come.
Don't forget to take a kid fishing!!!