Few anglers taking advantage of winter fishing
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Why the majority of anglers forget about coastal fishing in the winter is a mystery.
Maybe they don't like the cold boat rides, maybe a deer or duck blind is more pleasant than waist-deep on a shallow flat or maybe their sunrises are reserved for an extra wink on a soft down pillow.
Whatever the reason, they are missing out. Missing some of the largest trout of the year, missing some of the clearest water of the year, and missing a chance to fish a quiet bay all by yourself.
"It is like the good ol' days," said guide James Plaag of Galveston. "Wherever we are finding pelicans diving, we are finding lots of trout."
Plaag said MirrOlures in three to four feet of water over mud flats has been his Galveston Bay ticket.
"We have released 'eights', 'nines' and so many five- to six-pound trout," he said. "It has been as good as it can possibly get."
Redfish have been mixed with the trout, too, with a few flounder to boot.
Normally, by late December, the flounders' run to the Gulf is over, and that is holding true this year for the most part.
However, those willing to grind around Sea Wolf Park or Texas City with Gulps or mud fish have scored the last remnant of the run, resulting in some heavy flatfish.
Matagorda anglers have enjoyed similar results while drifting the vast mud and shell clumps East Matagorda Bay has to offer.
Early this week, my party of three released two seven-pound trout and one five-pounder while working Chicken on a Chain Bass Assassins.
Water clarity is as clear as many pros can remember, but the fish are not in the crystal clear water.
"You have to find some streaky water," said guide Charlie Paradoski. "The trout aren't in the clear stuff because the bait isn't there."
Paradoski has regularly been catching 20 to 40 trout a session by working four to five feet of water with Bass Assassins. MirrOlures, TTF Flats Minnows and Norton Bull Minnows have also caught fish.
Guide Lee Warmke has been wading shorelines for large trout in the afternoon. Last week, Warmke released a 29-incher and too many trout over five pounds to count.
"I was throwing plugs and not getting many bites so I switched to a soft plastic and started catching big ones," Warmke said. "It has been a heck of a December for big trout in East Bay."
Redfish have been mixed with trout over deep shell, especially after the cold front that drop tides and push all the baitfish off the shorelines.
"There are plenty of reds out there, too," said Paradoski. "I had a party last week that caught 40 trout and seven reds from the same area of the bay."
If you want reds exclusively, guide Michael Rolf reported limits of reds, black drum and a few trout to boot from backwater sloughs and guts.
Live shrimp has been tough to come by this winter, but Rolf has found it recently and scored with heavy boxes of mixed species.
We all get stir crazy from being indoors too much during the holidays.
Now, you have a reason to get out of the house.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed hunting fishing guide (firstname.lastname@example.org).