Fishermen and women alike who catch fish along the Texas Gulf Coast this time of year are those who fish slow and deep. And, as an afterthought, it helps to know which lures to use and how to fish'em, because January is one of those months when live shrimp are often very difficult to obtain.
Fish in deep waters, because that’s where the trout and reds go when the temperature falls. Fish take on the temperature of the water in which they live. Cold water sinks, but when the sinking water is about 40 degrees, it starts to rise back to the surface. And then if the cold air is intense enough, the water freezes. We loose fish, speckled trout and redfish and a lot of others, every time we have a hard freeze along the Texas Gulf Coast.
The fish that are lost are those that failed to get to protection in deep water. These fish losses occur when hard freezes follow a lengthy period of moderate surface temperatures.
Fish continue to feed in cold water, but they do so less frequently than when the water is just moderately cool. Not only that, they feed in a different manner than when the water is warmer. When the water is cold, fish tend to only nip and peck or just hold the bait. Consequently it is important to work the bait slow. Then when a nibble or tension is felt set your hook hard.
The fisherman who scores consistently in cold weather works their bait slow along the bottom of deep structure; especially where there are no strong tidal movements. The most productive way to work the bait is to bump it slowly off the bottom.
Since the fish are sluggish because of the cold, it is important to work the entire bottom within casting range. Cold-numbed speckled trout or reds just do not pursue their food the way they do in spring or summer. Fishing in January or for that matter in any of the wintertime requires a great deal of patience and dedication. Besides having chapped lips and a dripping nose, along with cold hands and feet, fishermen have to concentrate on catching. You have to work the bait all the time. No throwing it out and just waiting. Keeping it moving in a series of short but slow hops along the bottom and this holds true whether you are using lures or natural baits.
Effective ways to fish the deep holes is to allow the boat to drift but keep a drift sock or sea anchor to slow your movement. This type of fishing technique is to jig the bait or lure up and down. Allow it to touch the bottom if possible, point the rod tip to the surface of the water, lifting it up and again point it at surface causing the lure to flutter as it falls back to the bottom.
Most fish strikes occur when the lure falls toward the bottom. Fishermen who drift over the deep structure in wintertime can greatly improve their success if they use a depth finder. Lowrance Electronics among others are excellent units. Cost varies with each unit’s ability to show different configurations along the bottom. Schools of fish do not blanket the bottom of holes. On day they may be along the north side of the hole, the next day it might be on the east, south or west side. You can locate them quicker if you have a good fish finder.
An interesting aspect about winter fishing is that frequently the fish that pecks and nibbles turns into a real fighter when brought to the surface. Another plus about fishing in January, most of the speckled trout are generally in the 2-4 lb. Range. Occasionally, specs to 6-7lbs. are caught this time of year. Redfish on the other hand will usually be in the slot.
Color selection should be light – glow-pearl or limetruse, using a 1/4oz. or 3/8-oz. lead head depending on the tidal flow and structure you are fishing. Dark colors will also work like plum-red and fire tiger. Bass Assassin and Stanley Jig lures will be one that gives you all of the above and more. Use the wide gap screw on ultra point lead heads by Bass Assassin or Stanley new one as well for that super strong hook set. Spoons in either gold or silver and red buck tail will show a lot of flash on or near the bottom. Use ½ to ¾ oz Johnson Sprite. Mirro-lure slow sinking plugs work extremely well this time of year. Either the series 38, 51 or 52 work well in flash colors.
The one advantage of Bass Assassin and Stanley Jigs is they are soft and feel like something edible. Hence fish will make a second or third pass at it.
Enough said about fishing for this month. Stop by our booth in the Arena area at 632.
Look for my seminar the fourth Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 at 8:00 AM and we’ll continue some more aspects of wintertime fishing methods. Seminar will be at Fishing Tackle Unlimited. Email for cost and limited space
Happy New Year to everyone. May the Lord indeed bless you and your family.
Capt. Paul Marcaccio