For fly anglers, January can be the worst of times, the best of times. It all depends on the weather and if you prefer quality over quantity.
Winter brings a shot at trophy-sized fish. Seven of the top 10 fly rod records for Cynoscion nebulosus (aka, spotted seatrout) were taken from December through March.
On calm or mild days, try large poppers early and late along flats near deep water. On colder days, go with large clousers and other baitfish patterns in neutral or dark colors worked off the bottom. For example, the ever-popular LSU Clouser (purple wing, yellow tail) in size 1/0. An intermediate sinking fly line works best in deeper water.
Cold, clear water in the marshes brings great sight-casting opportunities for reds. Here also, fly anglers have a shot at huge fish. The world-record red drum on fly — 41.62 pounds — was caught out of Hopedale in January.
Crab patterns, charlies and spoonflies in darker colors seem to work better in winter. In marsh cuts or ends of canals, let your fly sink to the bottom and work it slowly.
Not to be left out of the record discussion, the state’s top fly rod sheepshead was also caught this month. The goats love small flies with lots of action, e.g., a size 4 Disco Charlie with a marabou tail.
Flyrodders have enjoyed excellent crappie action since October. And the peak period begins late this month. Crappie Candies in olive/white or blue/white, and Fluff Butts in black/chartreuse have been hot. Most of the fish have been caught using a strike indicator 3 to 5 feet above the fly.
Chain pickerel also are very active this month. Lakes Caddo, Nantachie, Kincaid and D’arbonne have good numbers. Try pencil poppers and small seaducers near grass beds.