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By Capt. Chuck Uzzle
For the Record 

Cold weather fishing requires a different approach

 

Last updated 1/2/2024 at 6:46pm

In all the major bay systems along the Texas gulf coast die hard big trout hunters are licking their lips in anticipation of finding that one truly big speckled trout of a lifetime. The late fall and winter months are regarded as the best times to pursue real wall hanger size trout, and here on Sabine lake we are no different. In the past couple of years we have seen some amazing things come our way to change the way we as anglers looked at fishing. Some or most of these ideas are not for everybody, they involve more than your fair share of empty grueling hours in less than ideal conditions so beware and be prepared. I am not by any means trying to persuade anyone not to try this type of fishing; I am only being honest about what kind of effort it takes to reap rewards that were long thought impossible for our lake. I will promise you this though, if you try these tactics and experience even minor success you will understand how addictive this whole process can be.

Fishing in the winter months, after the gulls seem to have left for vacation and the shrimp have all but disappeared, means you must do a couple of important things in order to be successful. Finding the warmest water in your area and finding baitfish such as mullet in that area is a great sign. According to Parks and Wildlife studies water temperatures in the 60 to 80 degree range are the best for catching speckled trout. During the winter months as the surface temps dip into the low 50’s it is a must to slow your presentations and possibly offer up a little bigger bait. Tried and true late winter and early spring producers like Corkies, Catch V’s, and Mirrodine's should be in every fisherman’s tackle box as well as a few others that don’t get quite as much recognition.

Winter fishing always invites the heated debate between waders and drifters, which method is better and who catches more fish. Wading is one of those techniques where you either “love it or hate it”, some fishermen cannot stand the work involved or the cold water temps while others thrive under these conditions. All I can tell you is to try it out and see for yourself, the results are often worth effort. Now don’t get me wrong wading is not the “end all be all” technique that will guarantee you success, it will at certain times appear that way. There is nothing cooler than watching anglers in a boat continue to try to get into an area where you are catching fish and their boat won’t go, you can just see the frustration every time you land a fish.

If wadefishing proves not to be something you are willing to pursue don’t worry, you can drift over the scattered shell reefs on the lake and still have a good shot at catching that big fish. The same baits that work for waders will also catch big fish from a boat provided you take a few things into consideration. Noise and boat control are tops on the list of factors that will determine success or failure. Careful anglers know that slamming hatches and dropping gear o the floor of a boat can spook fish and quickly turn a prime area into a virtual ghost town. Also setting up on one of these areas takes careful planning and the right gear, a Power Pole or Stake Out Stick is a great way to position your boat in order to fish an area more thoroughly. Those people who think you can’t catch big fish from a boat need to re-think that statement because with a little effort you can certainly score that fish of lifetime without having to get wet or wade.

As the mercury dips down outside as well as on the water, don’t let that stop you from fishing just be prepared. Winter on the Texas gulf coast can be down right brutal with all the rank weather we receive at this time of the year. Bone chilling winds coupled with humid overcast days can make even the toughest fisherman wish for a warm spot in the truck and hot cup of coffee. As the temperatures outside sag down near freezing most anglers take precautions and wear the best foul weather gear they can get their hands on. Nobody forgets to grab that windproof jacket or the thermal underwear because those are no brainers. The one piece of outerwear that nearly every fisherman does without is the most important, a life jacket. Yes I am just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to not wearing a PFD (Personal Floatation Device)from time to time but after

an accident that involved one of my best friends I made a personal choice to change that midset.

Rarely if ever do I start my motor without having a PFD on and you should do the same. Cold water and bad conditions can sneak up on you before you know it and an accident in those conditions is a recipe for disaster. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, keep that PFD handy and wear it every time you go out on the water.

 

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