Personally, I am looking forward to our winter trout pattern to arrive; I realize I may be in the minority to share that sentiment.
As the mercury continues to drop, I will be looking for trout feeding on mullet in the shallows. Aside from the obvious signs — fleeing mullet, swirls and slicks — I will be keying in on shell and areas with a dark, mud bottom. Both shells and areas with a dark bottom will warm up faster and stay warmer than others. Just a degree or two is a very significant difference in water temperature. Pay attention to the water temperature as you move from one location to another.
Another piece to the puzzle is the proximity to deep water. Whether it be a flat adjacent to the ICW, a river, a bayou or a gut, trout need some sort of access to deeper water during the winter. They will retreat to deeper water when the temperature drops and return to the flats to feed as the sun warms an area.
Wading for trout
When targeting winter trout, I prefer to wade. Can we catch big trout from the boat? You bet we can; however, I believe wading puts the odds ever more in your favor of landing that trophy trout. In my opinion, wading offers several advantages to fishing from a boat. First, it allows you to cover an area slowly and thoroughly. Even if the wind is howling, wading allows you to fish an area at your own pace. Wading also allows an angler to fish an area while making a minimal amount of noise compared to fishing from a boat. The other biggie is the knowledge one can gain from wading an area. No matter how many electronics you have on your boat, the best way to learn the ins and outs of an area is to get out and walk it. Wading will give you the ability to learn where the transitions are, depth changes, where humps and guts are as well as finding shell patches.
There are a few lures that I consider must-haves when wading for winter trout: Corky Fat Boys, Maniac Mullets, Super Spooks and MirrOdines. Slow-sinking and suspending-type baits are deadly when targeting trophy winter trout.
I have the most confidence in my Super Spooks when the water temperature is 60 degrees and up, but I have caught trout on topwaters in water as cool as 50.
There is no disputing the effectiveness of a Corky Fat Boy; it has earned its reputation up and down the Texas coast and into Louisiana. However, for the average angler, a Corky can be a challenge to fish effectively. A great number of anglers figured that out after the Corky rush.
New to wading?
There is no silver bullet when it comes to catching trophy trout; granted, some anglers will get lucky but for the vast majority of us being successful requires persistence and skill mixed with some blessings. In my opinion a MirrOdine is much easier to fish for a less-experienced angler, while still providing an exceptional opportunity to get that trophy trout to bite. Also, the MirrOdine does not require the tweaking that a Fat Boy does after catching a fish or two. I repeat that the Fat Boy is absolutely deadly for some winter trout; it is, however, a more technical lure to fish, requiring both skill and patience. For those of you who have yet to experience the results that you desire using a Fat Boy or any other type of suspending or slow-sinking lure, don’t be discouraged. Continue to work and inquire to achieve your desired results. No one will ever know all there is to know about this wonderful sport of fishing, to me that is what is so addicting.
Capt. Adam Jaynes guides on Sabine Lake, Lake Calcasieu and surrounding waters. He can be reached at (409) 988-3901 and on Facebook at Just Fish Guide Service.