Use the low tides to your advantage
Jan. 6, 2013 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 5, 2013 at 7:06 p.m.
A friend of mine spent four days on the bay last week and had a hard time finding enough profitable water to float duck decoys.
Tides are low out there, definitely the lowest of the year, especially with stiff north winds that have blown water from the bay for nearly two weeks.
So where do fish go when the wind continues to blow 20 mph from the north and reefs are sticking three feet above the surface?
"I go to a deep bayou or a drain," said guide Michael Rolf. "Everything in those back lakes has to come through there when the tides drop like they have."
Rolf has targeted redfish on the edge of the Intracoastal by working ledges with shell.
"Even though the water is cold, these fish have been pretty warm," he said. "That tells me they are lying on the bottom in the mud."
Water temperatures this week dipped to 45 degrees in Galveston and Matagorda bays. When mercury readings dip to the 40s, speckled trout are harder to find, which has been the case along the entire coast lately.
"We haven't been able to get in East Bay to work on the trout over deep shell," said guide Tommy Alexander. "They will be there when we get a break from the north winds; until then we will concentrate on the reds."
Tides this low are not always a negative. Bars and reefs that normally hold fish are exposed, most out of the water, a perfect time to take a boat ride and mark these fish magnets. I find reefs and guts I didn't know were there every winter and use those spots in the spring when tides swell.
"There are some guts I am wading now that are over my head during the summer," said guide Ray Sexton. "Right now the water is hitting me about the thigh."
Sexton has concentrated on redfish with the cold temperatures, catching and releasing over 100 fish a day on soft plastics.
"The other day we caught our limit only a few steps from the boat, then played catch and release the rest of the day."
Low water has relocated concentrations of ducks from Trinity Bay all the way to the Lower Laguna Madre. Large rafts of ducks had been working the shallow flats; however, those flats are mostly mud and sand right now, sending many birds to inland waters.
"North winds for several days in a row always seems to relocate birds," said Sexton. "When those winds take the water with it our hunting suffers."
Sexton said he has used the same technique to find the ducks that he has to find the fish.
"You have to find deeper water - work those guts and channels. Pay attention to the spots that have water now with the low tides and mark it for the next cold front."
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.