Spring arrives early
Feb. 12, 2017 at 11:06 p.m.
Is it just me or is spring here in February?
This week, my GPS registered a 68 degree water temperature on East Matagorda Bay. That's a few days after Phil saw his shadow.
That same day, I left the house way before dawn and stepped on my boat with flip-flops and a short-sleeve shirt.
I also gassed up the lawnmower and gave the yard a shave for the second time in 2017.
The topic among online Turkey chatters has been signs of gobbling and strutting already going on in Mississippi, Alabama and South Texas nearly six weeks before the spring opener.
Is spring arriving early? Or did winter never arrive?
"It's crazy how warm it has been," said guide Lee Warmke, of Matagorda. "We like to chase those big trout this time of year and like it a little colder. One day they bite, then they don't for the next three."
Warmke said water temps have been in the 50s, what he considers "big trout" water, for only a few days in 2017.
For the most part, it has been more of a spring-like bite in 2017. Most captains are working their "spring holes" and heading to winter haunts with a slight cooldown and low tides. The warmer weather hasn't affected catches, just big trout catches.
"I'd say there have been just as many big trout caught in the boat as out of the boat," said guide Tommy Alexander. "It feels more like late March and early April, and the big trout we normally catch out in the middle of East Matagorda Bay in the spring, have already shown in February."
One day this week, Alexander's boat released eight, seven and two 6-pound trout while drifting with Norton Bull Minnows. He said the trout they kept were all solid 2-3 pounders along with a pair of 4 pound flounder.
"The heavy flounder really surprised me," he said. "But, that could be a sign that the spring return of flounder to our bays is early."
In Palacios and Port O'Connor, tides rose with the east wind and pushed trout and redfish to the back lakes. Mud, shell and grass held fish throughout the week for waders and drifters, though waders had an easier time staying on the fish.
"We are being very patient and fishing the shorelines slowly," said guide Ray Sexton. "Some days they want the bait on the bottom, some days they want it faster in the middle of the water column."
Sexton said magic grass Down South Lures rigged on a 1/8-ounce jigs has been his best fish producer.
"Walk down the edge of guts and work the channel and the flat," he said. "If the water is too clear, look for sandy-green guts - that's where most of the fish have been."
It's hard to imagine a topwater bite can be had in February, but with water temps nearing 70, that's exactly what happened this week. Waders willing to unwearyingly walk the dog were rewarded with larger trout on the shorelines.
That's a sure sign spring is closer than you think.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain. Email Grimes at email@example.com or follow him on Instagram at @matagordasunriselodge.