Fishing the tides key to successful Galveston Bay winter fishing
Stepping outside with my cup of coffee, I was greeted by a deep chill in the air with the passage of a cold front. I hurried back inside the house to finish dressing, layering my clothing. I grabbed my wind and water resistant jacket, before I left on my way to the boat ramp.
As I launched my boat, my customers emerged from their truck, dressed more like Eskimos than fisherman. We chuckled at each other saying “It’s kind of cold.” I told them, “You think it’s cold now, wait for the ride across the bay!”
The five-mile boat ride was quite brutal. Once we got there, we spent the next few minutes rigging our rods and reels with some soft plastic lures.
“The Norton Sand Eel or Bass Assassin are my go to lures during the winter rigged on a 1/8 ounce lead head jig.”
The next hour and a half provided little for our effort. With only a couple of speckled trout in the box, my customers gave me that, you got us out here for this? look. I looked at them and promised, “It’s fixing to get right,” as the tide began to move. I suggested that we move about a half mile away to a flat that has produced for me in the past during the winter. As I slowly idled into the area, I gave them a grin as a tint of off colored water appeared, along with a couple of Loons swimming and diving. The next four hours we caught fish. When it was all done our cooler was full of speckled trout and a few redfish. We also caught and released just as many!
This scenario can be played out during January/February in West Bay. First, you need to dress for the weather. Layers of clothing provide the best warmth, in my opinion. The best part of layering is if you get too hot, you can always remove some. Furthermore, a good wind and water resistant jacket is a necessity. Stocking hats or even a full face mask are always useful to help keep you warm. Once your body gets cold, it’s hard to get warm again without heading to the dock and calling it a day.
The winter area of West Bay that I mentioned earlier is what I call the triangle. Meacom’s Cut to Green’s Cut, then between North and South Deer Islands. During this time of year fish congregate in this area. It has a mixture of sand and shell, with depths ranging from three to six feet. The key to fishing this area is tidal movement. I usually do the best with an incoming tide. This area becomes crystal clear with cooler water temperatures. As the tide begins to move, streaks of off colored water will appear. This provides cover for the fish to ambush whatever unsuspecting bait that is there. You might only see one or two mullet flicker on the water surface. If you see a bird known as a “Loon” in the area, it’s a good bet baitfish are there. Drift fishing is the best way to cover the area and located the fish.
Artificial lures this time of year work the best. Soft plastics or even swim type imitation mullet baits are best. I mostly use soft plastic type baits. The Norton Sand Eel or Bass Assassin are my go to lures during the winter rigged on a 1/8 ounce lead head jig. I find that a reel with a retrieve of 5:1 helps when trying to slow your presentation of the bait. Keeping your lure in the “strike zone” just a little longer is the key to having a successful day. My favorite color is black with a chartreuse tail.
Just because it is cold, does not mean you can’t have a great day on the water. Dressing properly and fishing the tides is the key to a great day on the water. Fishing a couple days after the passage of a cold front can yield you a box full of fish! Don’t forget to like Coastal Charter Club on Facebook.