“the Cold Water Review”
Guide Lines, by Capt. Chris Martin
February 6, 2016
Artificial enthusiasts throwing soft plastics in February may find it beneficial to offer your baits with an overall lighter presentation. Fish tend to be rather lethargic this time of year, so you can usually substitute your commonly used 1/8-ounce head with that of a 1/16-ounce head, as well as re-spooling your reel with lighter line so as to enable you to enhance the feel of the bite. Anglers looking for a trophy should also be focused on bait in the immediate area. During this time of the year, the condition of the water doesn’t necessarily play as big a role in the outcome as does the actual presence of natural bait. If you are traveling along a particular shoreline and witness a mere single sign of natural bait, stop the boat and begin fishing the area.
Whether you’re working the back lakes, coves, or drains, look for trout to be holding over mud and shell locations. Anglers should concentrate on mud bottom this time of year, as mud serves as a solar-like panel that soaks up the day’s heat and then releases it throughout the day and even into the night. Because of this, fish will naturally stay close to the mud bottom (Trout anglers should stay away from sand this time of year, as sand doesn’t typically hold as much heat). Shell, too, offers protection and cover to small baitfish. If the bait happens to be hiding within the shell environment, you can almost always anticipate that trout will be gathered in the area.
Water levels are also critical factors to take into consideration when determining where anglers should concentrate their fishing efforts in February. In a high-tide situation, search for bait and fish in the more remote regions of the back lakes, while focusing primarily on the windward shorelines of the lakes. The water will generally be off-color, but there will often be a lot of bait that has been driven against the shoreline. If the water level happens to be at a lull, anglers should examine the drains coming out of the back lakes.
If it’s redfish you’re after, key-in on the same basic environmental and structural elements - shell, mud, and bait - but focus your attention to the shallows. Redfish are much hardier than trout, and do not suffer the same level of cold-water consequences as do trout. Reds will generally roam shallow regions, so take your hunt to the shallowest portions of the back lakes and shorelines. Unlike when looking for trout, search for your reds in some of the more sandy environments, especially on days that tend to be a bit warmer. Right now, anglers can often locate redfish that are traveling in the bayous and channels as the fish are following baitfish from one lake to another. As the day and the water begin to warm, the reds will venture up onto the flats that are in close proximity to these channels.
The month of February traditionally presents some of the coldest days of the year. In as such, willing anglers shall be able to take advantage of the solitude offered by the absence of other boats - an opportunity that can prove to be a most significant earmark for success. Because this month can be so cold, it is also critical to remember the importance of proper attire. Layer your clothing, and include such items as a stocking cap and a pair of warm gloves. To keep water out of your chest-waders in the event of an unanticipated slip or fall, institute the use of a belt around the exterior of your waistline. You would hate to have to cut your big-speck day short due you being too cold and too uncomfortable. The more comfortable you are throughout the day, the longer you will be able to fish. Be quiet, fish slow, and just keep grindin’! Remember to practice CPR, “Catch, Photo, and Release”, whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O’Connor/Seadrift region. www.BayFlatsLodge.com …1-888-677-4868.