Catch redfish, trout in sunshine
Feb. 16, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 15, 2014 at 8:16 p.m.
Break out the short sleeves and sunblock.
Spring is here.
Not really - but with temperatures expected to reach the 80s late this week, it seems like it. I have seen plenty of spring breaks that never saw 70 degrees.
Water temperatures should reach the high 50s this week, triggering a bite on soft plastics and slow-sinkers up and down the coast for trout and redfish, too, as southerly winds pump new water to the bays and push fish back to lakes and shallow reef systems.
Here are a few suggestions for the upper and middle coasts:
West Matagorda Bay waders work the guts around Cotton's and Green's bayous for reds. 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 Tidal Surge.
Speckled trout in West Bay seek deeper refuge, and few anglers target them this time of year. 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 of choice.
When it cools down again - and it will - deeper refuges in the Colorado River, Diversion Channel and Victoria Barge Canal are good choices. 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 2 to 5 to 9 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 9- to 20-feet 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 more than 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, MirrOlures, Soft-Dines, Catch 2000s and soft plastics. The afternoon bite is often better, especially on the bright moon. 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. Trout to 28 inches were caught this week on MirrOlures.
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.
It has been too cold for too long. Here's hoping this precursor to spring holds along the coast.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).