Cold weather makes for tough fishing
Feb. 24, 2014 at 1:01 a.m.
Updated Feb. 23, 2014 at 8:24 p.m.
It is great to be back talking about what I love to do most, and that is fishing up and down the Texas Coast.
Mother Nature has definitely gone from one extreme to the other in the past 30 days. The middle of January saw water temperatures vary from consistently between the mid-40s to barely breaking the 50-degree mark. This past Thursday, water temperatures reached as high as 71 degrees.
It is easier to find bigger trout in the Baffin Bay area with cold water present, but now, you have to hunt a little harder.
Let's talk about some interesting old news.
My hat goes off to Tommy Hartung, who put on two first-class trout tournaments a few weeks ago at Marker 37, east of Corpus Christi.
Unfortunately for those who fished, the conditions were terrible.
Both tournaments were scheduled as two-day events. However, because the weather was so bad the first day of the first tournament, it had to be cancelled. The weather was better the second day, but only a small percentage of fish were weighed in because of extreme cold water temperatures.
My son Daniel and I had signed up to fish the second tournament, hoping for better conditions. The first event was for amateurs only, but the second event was for guides and amateurs.
An excellent rule that worked in this tournament was making the entry fee deadline a week before the Friday night meeting. By doing this, everyone had to fish whatever conditions were present rather than waiting until the last minute to see what the weather was going to be like. A total of 46 teams had already signed up.
I always like to fish the big trout tournaments that are in and around the bays I normally fish, and this event would be no exception.
As my son and I were driving to the captains' meeting- which was being held at a nice restaurant at the foot of Bob Hall Pier - we were extremely cold and wondering if the conditions were going to improve the next day.
Guess what? They didn't.
They got worse.
There we were at 6 a.m. the following day. We were idling in the intercostal canal along with 46 other diehard teams, waiting for our number to be called.
Daniel and I looked at each other, and we were both wondering: "How insane are we?"
We were both wearing so many clothes under our Simms waders that if we fell out of the boat or stepped in a hole, it could be fatal. Every inch of our body was covered with some type of clothing. Even our eyes were covered with amber-clear glasses.
The outside temperature was 34 degrees with a light mist and a north wind that was blowing at least 25 miles per hour. The water temperature was 42 degrees.
Can you believe we fished in this type of weather?
The only thing that was helping keep us warm was the adrenaline that continued to rise right before our number was called. When it was time to take off, we headed down the intercoastal to the badlands in Baffin Bay at just under 60 miles per hour. Boats were passing us on each side. With a 25 mph wind at our backs and with a 60 mph wet wind in our faces, we were miserable.
The trip from Marker 37 to our first stop was right at 28 miles. We finally got to the area we wanted to fish.
The two front fingers on each of my hands are numb. Ever tie a lure on without the use of your main fingers?
We finally jumped into the 42-degree water with high hopes. This area has produced numerous big trout this year but very rarely in temperatures under 43 degrees.
However, there was hope. The weatherman said air temperatures would be in the mid- to upper-40s with possible sun by noonish.
I do not know what party the local weathermen and women went to the night before, but it must have been mind-altering. The outside temperature never got above 34 degrees, and we did not see the sun but for one hour around 2 p.m. the following day.
As we were both wading in soft mud in waist-deep water, I realized that my gloves were getting wet. I had three pairs of gloves on, and my fingers were still numb.I looked down at my net floating in the water beside me and actually wondered if I really wanted to dip my hand down in the water to grab the handle to net a fish.
All tournament fishermen, when fishing live weigh-in tournaments, use floating styrofoam with a net attached beneath. This helps keep the fish alive before transferring them to the live well in the boat.
I now realize I could have put my net on top of my floating dew net. Then, if I grabbed the handle, my hand would not have gotten wet.
To make a long story short, we stayed in the water at least 41/2 hours throwing corkys and Bass Assassins without a bite. We then went to deep water and fished in the channels with no luck. We headed back to the boat ramp without even a bite, wondering how the other teams came out.
We found out later that on the first day, only eight teams weighed in a fish, with four teams weighing in one smaller fish (trout).
The second day, the weather was much nicer, but the water temperatures never got above 44 degrees.
The same eight teams that weighed in a fish the first day weighed in a fish the second day.
Our team, along with 37 others, got skunked. The teams that caught fish definitely deserved it.
Thanks go to Hartung for a great tournament with a great turnout.
This was the toughest tournament that Daniel and I had ever fished as far as cold-water temperatures are concerned.
There is still one thing I know: I would do it again tomorrow because as I have said before, it is my passion.
Danny Goyen is an outdoor writer and speaker. He has been guiding on the Texas Coast for more than 27 years.