By Capt. Joe Kent
When the water is comfortable to wade fish in a bathing suit or shorts it’s not the best time for fishing action while wading.
The late fall and early winter are prime times for wade fishing. When the water temperature drops below 70 degrees, it is a bit uncomfortable for wading in typical summertime attire; however, the fish love the cooler waters and tend to roam the shallows more.
While wade fishing, especially in the surf, will produce fish year round, it is not until the water cools that the action pops open in the bays. The annual flounder run will attract hordes of waders as it is usually late October or early November when the flat fish start stacking up along the pathways to their winter home, the Gulf of Mexico.
Colder water is one of the signs flounder look for before deciding to exit the bays and readings in the 60’s will do the trick.
Trout and reds will spend more of the day in shallower waters during that time and wade fishing is the best way to sneak up on them.
Now, if you are new to this style of fishing I hope to cover some of the basics to help you get started and for you to have more productive fishing trips.
We need to begin with the basic wading gear. A pair of insulated waders is a must and the prices run the gamut depending on what quality you desire and your budget. A full service sporting goods store can show you the wide range of options.
Wading shoes, whether part of the waders or separate pieces are important. You will need shoes that can handle the sharp, cutting edges of shell while withstanding soft mud. Wade fishermen tend to cover a lot of territory and different underwater terrains are encountered.
One of the worst things to experience is to lose a shoe in deep mud.
Stingrays are one of the big enemies of waders and protective covers are vital to prevent a barb from piercing your foot or leg. Again, your sporting goods store can show you options for this.
Additionally, a long stringer, one that places your catch a number of feet behind you is a must or one of the more popular donut style container nets can be used. In either case your catch should be far enough behind you to allow a shark to attack it without mistaking your leg for a fish.
A good wading belt with pliers and a bait compartment is needed.
Now, for the fishing equipment itself, most wade fishermen use artificial baits as they eliminate the need to drag along a live bait bucket. This allows the angler to cover more territory and faster.
The rod and reel is a personal choice; however, the length of the rod is normally longer than those used by boaters. Long, accurate casts are a must for success while roaming the shorelines.
Your choice of artificial bait depends on the species of fish you are targeting. Personally, I prefer soft plastics as they are easy to use and I have had success with them.
For flounder my favorite three soft plastics are Flounder Pounders, Chicken Boys and Gulps.
For trout and reds, Bass Assassin Sea Shads in various colors, Norton Sand Eels, Saltwater Assassins in Chicken on a Chain and Down South soft plastics are good choices. One color that seems to add to the odds is chartreuse in combination with other colors.
Now, let’s talk about where to wade. The biggest limitation is whether you have a boat to access wading areas or depend on entering from land. Boaters have many more options as the Galveston Bay Complex is limited in areas where the public can cross land to enter the water.
Briefly, for those without boats, the Seawolf Park area offers access to water along with Eight-Mile Road on the west end of Galveston Island. All along the road from the Texas City Dike to the Moses Lake Flood Gate offers good wade fishing at times as does the April Fool Point Area in San Leon.
The Seabrook Flats are well-known for winter wade fishing and have easy access at several points along the shore.
Now for the most important aspect of wade fishing! Do not go it alone. Have a fishing buddy join you as there are too many incidences of a wader falling into a deep hole, and with the heavy equipment on, could not swim and drowned. A companion fishing close by could have saved the day. To be on the safe side, two or more anglers should wade fish together.