Winter Wade Fishing and patienceWith our first true cold fronts hitting the central coast and more importantly, the cold sticking around for a few days, winter trout fishing is in full swing. I have heard reports from all over the coast about large trout being landed in good numbers by conventional anglers. The downside about fishing for trout in the winter is that conditions are almost never on your side. South Texas is known for its humidity and heat. What most people do not consider is that during the winter, we still have that same humidity. Pair the damp air, fifty-five degree air temperatures and a 25 mph wind and you have one of the most dangerous environments for hypothermia to occur. If you are not wearing the right gear, you can find yourself in trouble faster than you think.
When it comes to clothing, I recommend wool socks (maybe two pairs if it is super cold), a pair of insulated quick drying leggings and a pair of cold weather fishing pants for your legs. For tops, I like quick drying insulated shirts for a base layer, a cold weather fishing shirt and a hoodless, wind-proof, water-resistant jacket. As it gets colder, adding an extra pair of sweat pants or an insulated shirt never hurts. I will usually pack extra layers in a water proof bag, just in case I need them. All the clothes mentioned above are designed to keep you warm, not dry. The next thing to consider is a pair of waders, wading boots and a wading jacket; these items will keep you dry. Waders can be very expensive, especially when you are buying a $100 pair of waders every year or two. I recommend spending a little more up front and get a pair that has a lifetime warranty. Most outdoor clothing companies, who offer a lifetime warranty, offer it towards the lifetime of the product. Meaning that if you have damage, they will repair it for a fee and send it back. I find it best to take care of warranty work during the summer when we do not need waders. It is my experience that if you take advantage of these companies’ warranties, you can get a good five to seven years or as long as ten years out of a pair. When it comes to technical outdoor wear, Patagonia is one of the best. They offer everything I mentioned above and then some.
Now that we have talked a little about safety gear, the first thing you will have to decide when it comes to winter trout fishing is, “Do I want to maybe catch one very large fish with little to no action until that fish bites, or do I want to have constant action and catch fifty fish?” Both are rewarding in their own way and speaking as someone who has caught many big trout, sometimes your inner being needs those few dozen fish days. I have mentioned in a previous article that on days with blue skies, I like to work shallow flats near deep channels, in hopes for fish who are sun bathing. That still applies to fishing this time of year, but as conditions get worse, I will change tactics. When conditions are about as bad as I can tolerate, I find water that is shallow enough to wade, but has water up to 8 feet deep within casting range, with mixed mud and grass bottoms. When fishing this style, I like to have a floating line, with large (4-8 in) streamer and a 10 foot fluorocarbon leader. For the fly, I like it to be as neutrally buoyant as possible. I will tie Palm-Red EP Brush patterns with Hackle tails in pink and chartreuse, or wool head patterns. Both the EP and wool hold enough oxygen in the material that they sink slowly. I use Hackle for a tail, because I want the extra action, especially if I am doing a super slow retrieve. Depending on how fast I need the fly to sink, or how shallow I am fishing, I will add lead to get deep or even no eyes for super shallow.
The Laguna Madre Fly Fishers of Corpus Christi are getting together the 1st Saturday and 2nd Thursday of every month at Roy’s Bait and Tackle Outfitters. The first Saturday we will be giving free fly casting lessons and the second Thursday will be a fly tying or video night. For more information, contact the Lmffcc through their Facebook page or through their website, lmflyfishers.com. You can also find me at Roy’s Bait and Tackle Outfitters most days of the week.