by Capt Craig Lambert
The month of February is the beginning of the fishing calender year. We will have milder temperatures and longer days as we progress thru the month and the fish will respond to this change. When the days get longer and the water temperatures warm up so do the body temperatures and metabolisms of our gamefish. These events will increase their instinctual urge to feed on the shallow flats on a variety of food sources such as crabs, crustaceans and small finfish. Warming flats with rising tides are my go to areas for February. That is why I am fishing shallower flats in less than 4 feet of water in most cases. THIS YOUNG LADY WILL OUTFISH MOST ADULTS!
If we could get a more consistent and calmer weather pattern with fewer frontal passages it will no doubt help our cause and introduce more stable fishing patterns. If it stays like it has the last few weeks with two frontal passages a week then that will make fishing a little tougher. What I have noticed in my few days on the water lately is that the fishing are only feeding a few hours each day so grinding it out and not giving up is the key to a successful trip. Trying to get a decent day between fronts that isn't hovering in the 30's and 40's is another reason why the bay has been void of anglers lately. GRINDING IT OUT!
February has a lot of good fishing to look forward to with the influx of larger than normal black drum. This migration typically begins during the last week or so of February. Oversized black drum (AKA Big Uglies) begin their annual congregation in our bay system and jetties to spawn and repopulate their species. Black Drum are much overlooked by a lot of anglers for their fighting qualities and table fare. The legal bag limit is 5 per person with a slot of 14-30 inches. Fresh dead shrimp under a popping cork dangled a foot above the bottom in 3-5 foot of water is a proven method to target this species. I have caught a handful on artificials but if you want to really target black drum you will need some type of natural bait like shrimp for the slot fish and fresh crab for the larger drum. Sea Wolf Park is an area that tends to see the larger black drum in good numbers. The pier and wall facing the channel offer plenty of opportunities to hook in to one of these beautifully "ugly" creatures. Slot size fish can be found around the gas wells and reefs that are associated with live clams and oyster shells. Black drum it is the other white meat. EVERY SPECIES IN THE BAY
The hardcore wadefishermen loves February because it can lead to some excellent fishing opportunities while stalking the shallow muddy flats of our bay system. Bigger fish tend to hang out in knee deep water so a slowly worked Corky of some kind will be a must. If you are really hardcore and older like myself you will be using an "original" Corky. Exploring shorelines is great but make sure and take your time and work slowly thru the area you are wading. A fish may need to see a bait 2 or 3 times before triggering a strike or before committing. Many times I have made a cast and while working my lure I felt a bite or what I felt as a small "tick". A cast back to that same spot will always end up with a fish fighting on the end of my line. The same thing can happen without you knowing it. A fish may make a move on your bait but did not commit fully so a second or third cast is needed to make the hook up. Slow and slower is my motto for wadefishing.ANAHUAC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The walk in wader is blessed this time of year with the Anahuac National Widllife Refuge and its miles of shoreline offering the walk in wader and kayaker beautiful scenery along with great angling opportunities. An easy 1-2 hour drive East on I-10 from Houston depending on traffic will put you in the middle of miles of excellent walk in wading opportunities and possibly the fish of a lifetime. Just make sure and watch your wind direction and water levels before going out there. An incoming tide with average of above water levels will give anglers an opportunity to catch some nice fish.