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Fisheries holding its own this winter

Jan. 14, 2012 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 14, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

The latest cold front aside, winter has been on the mild  side. Expect fish to hang on the edge of dropoffs as tides and  temperatures fluctuate.

The long-term impact of the drought on coastal fisheries remains to be seen.

Besides red tide up and down the coast, captains and bait camps from Sabine to Seadrift say fishing could not be any better.

Of course, the Texas oyster industry will beg to differ since oystering has been shut down due to the red tide. I admit, I have missed Buddy Treybig's fresh shucked Matagorda Bay oysters this winter.

January catches have been consistent between cold fronts. Speckled trout and redfish remain solid over mud and shell and best on soft plastics and MirrOlures.

Though we have endured a mild winter, we are due for a strong front. North winds drop tides significantly, congregating fish in deep holes and channels.

West Matagorda Bay waders work the guts around Cotton's and Green's bayous.

Actually, it's not only a Matagorda thing, it is about 10 miles closer by boat from Port O'Connor. You might have to park your boat on the outer sand bar and walk, but the hard sand bottom is an easy trek.

Once you get to the deeper water, toss a Gulp, Bass Assassin, TTF Flats Minnow, TTF Hackberry Hustler or a Norton Bull Minnow. If the past quarter-century is any indication, the redfish should be there.

Speckled trout in West Bay seek deeper refuge, and few anglers target them. Again, light wind days are a must.

Halfmoon Reef and the wells on the upper end of the bay near Palacios are the best bet. Live shrimp, Gulps and soft plastics worked gingerly along the bottom is the pattern.

Deeper refuges exist in the Colorado River and Diversion Channel, while the Victoria Barge Canal is a good choice in Port O'Connor.

Taking a page from the bass playbook, anglers tossed the bank and allowed soft plastics to work along the ledges. Typically, the ledge in the Colorado goes from two to five to nine to 20 feet or more.

Often, specks are hanging on the first drop, but when the weather is chilly, slow your presentation and remain in the nine- to 20-foot depths.

Redfish love the edges as well, especially when the adjacent flats show acres of exposed mud from lower than low tides. Soft plastics tipped with shrimp, Gulps or fresh shrimp on the bottom gets the job done.

That same pattern works in the deep bayous and marshes in Trinity Bay. Bayous like Red's and High Tree are over 10 to 15 feet deep and chilly trout love to use the deep water for insulation. It is a methodical drifting pattern, but such is winter fishing.

Waders seek the heaviest trout of the year on the mud. Brown Cedar Flats in East Matagorda is not deep, but the mud is.

Serious, physically-fit pluggers toss Corkies, MirrOlure Catch 5s, Catch 2000s and soft plastics.

The afternoon bite is often better on frigid days, allowing the sunlight to warm the mud. That same pattern holds in West Galveston Bay.

Drifters work the west end of East Matagorda over mud and shell with plastics and live shrimp. Likewise, San Antonio Bay's reefs are prime winter haunts.

The good thing about winter is the water clears quickly after a hard-blowing front. One day you might be huddled close to a fire, the next you could be bundled in waders bowed on a fish.

Waters can get too clear at times, so find streaky water.

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

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