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Fish holding despite winter doldrums

By Victoria Advocate
Feb. 11, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2012 at 8:11 p.m.

Guide Ray Sexton tries to corral a feisty winter speckled  trout.

February is my least favorite month of the year for obvious reasons.

The last football game has been played, the last duck has been shot and dreary gray weather normally persists.

Except for the die-hards, it is hard to get people excited about coastal fishing. I don't enjoy bundling beyond motion just to survive the chilling boat ride, yet, if you choose your days and fish between cold blasts, truth of the matter is February is quite productive.

The past two weeks are a prime example. The first week of the month was abnormally mild by February standards with water temperatures rising to an unbelievable 65 degrees along the coast.

Light southeast winds made for spring-like fishing conditions. Speckled trout responded, banging Bass Assassins, TTF Flats Minnows, Hackberry Hustlers, Reaction Lures, Tidal Surges, Norton Bull Minnows, Corkies, MirrOlures and even a few topwaters.

There were solid trout while drifting scattered shell and mud in East Matagorda Bay, Trinity Bay, East Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay. I can attest, my boat enjoyed three days of limits, including a few six-pounders that were photographed and released.

Then the tide changed, a front blew through with rain and northeast winds at 20 knots, dropping water temperatures 10 degrees and water levels almost two feet.

Two days later, winds subsided, easing slightly out of the east.

Guide Ray Sexton called and invited me to make a wade out of Palacios. He said he caught limits of trout a day before the cold front and wanted to check and see if the fish were still there.

Honestly, I didn't expect much. I don't think Ray did either. We were hoping for sunshine to warm the shallows, but the gray-liners of February met us that morning.

The shoreline did not look promising. The water was cold and dead, and I was stiff with layers of neoprene and down.

We looked for just one jumping mullet, but only saw a few redheads buzzing.

Another couple of hours of sleep looked like a better choice.

Sexton parked the boat along a bar in close proximity to a deeper gut. By deeper, I mean knee to thigh deeper, a foot deeper at the most.

We worked toward the gut with plastics, Chicken on Chain Bass Assassin Sea Shad for me and a Reaction Lure paddletail for Sexton.

A half-hour later, the wade produced nothing. We finally reached the soft bottom of the gut and still hadn't seen a mullet, but a trout bounding out of the water was a better clue.

I made a cast to the ripple and was quickly rewarded with a two-pounder.

"This is where we got them last week," Sexton exclaimed.

We worked the gut for two hours as the bright moon began to set. I switched to a pink jointed Corky and continued to catch trout.

"That just goes to show you how many fish are here," Sexton said. "For a front to blow in like that and the fish to show back up, it has to make you feel good about fishing once the weather really gets good."

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).

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