The Saltwater Magazine for Gulf Coast Fishing!


WINTER 2009 Preview





U.S. Subscriptions Only



Winter Fish Patterns - Breaking the Code by Al Rogers

On a chilly morning in late-November, Capt. Charlie Thomason was slamming the speckled trout in the outer bays near Delacroix, La., a rustic fishing village on the east side of the Mississippi River. Significant numbers of fish in the one- to three-pound class were arriving en masse, as they made their first big push into areas such as Lake Campo, Oak River Bay and Bay Lafourche. And there was Thomason, methodically positioned to take full advantage of the annual migratory event. This was a classic post-spawn feed and he knew these fish were "bulking up," storing energy for the cold winter that would be setting in shortly.

For more than a week the spotted predators continued to eat voraciously, gorging of baitfish and shrimp. The reports were coming out of this region was not what most consider to typify winter fishing. As word spread in early December many others came to fish here. And they remained, relentlessly casting baits through mid-December. But Thomason was nowhere to be found. He knew the success in these outer bays would be short lived. With plummeting air and water temperatures, he was the first to move deeper into the confines of the interior marshes. Years of experience told him it was time.

A few miles away on the west side of the Mississippi River, Capt. Eric Muhoberac was having a field day in Lake Grand Escaille, on the southeastern edge of Barataria Bay. Trout were slapping surface baits like it was a warm summer afternoon. But this was December, and he knew it was time to change the game plan...

The Art of Catching Flounder on Artificials by Jeff Herman
...along with a little bit of faith
I always equate flounder fishing with an old quote about faith. St Augustine wrote: "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."
There has been significant discussion about flounder in recent months. As Texas Parks and Wildlife is considering new regulations for flounder, they recently held meetings for public comment on their new proposals. For the record, I strongly support tighter flounder regulations; but in the meantime, until these regulations help increase the populations, I want to focus on improving your flounder fishing with artificial lures, (and just a little bit of faith).
Flounder can be caught consistently almost year round on the upper Texas coast, and it is a fallacy to think that they can only be targeted during the autumn flounder run. The flounder run; usually October, November, and December, concentrates flat fish in passes and channels as they head to the open gulf waters to spawn. Of course, this tends to be the time that they receive the most fishing pressure too. However, spring and summer months are also a great time to chase flounder, and if you know where to look and how to fish for them, you'll find that flounder fishing can be successful almost all year...

Tributary Tactics by Capt. Robert Brodie
Top tips for winter from South Mississippi...
Winter has finally set in, and now south Mississippi anglers can expect a flurry of cold fronts from now through March. However, the chill of winter doesn't mean the bite on speckled trout, redfish, sheepshead, and black drum is off, no, not for a minute. Some of the best inshore angling can occur during these colder months, and anglers that are willing to brave the colder elements have a good chance to find these fish concentrated in areas of deeper water.

The Back Bay of Biloxi gave up good catches of fish from September through November of 2008, but as the winter conditions worsen, an angler can expect to find most of these fish, especially the speckled trout and redfish to leave the open waters of the bay and migrate up its tributaries. In the tributaries, including bayous, rivers, and connecting lakes, a combination of deep bends, holes, as well as various drop offs and ledges will attract cold weather migrants.

Some of the more noted tributaries that connect to the Back Bay of Biloxi include: the Biloxi River, Tchoutacabouffa River, Old Fort Bayou, Gulfport Lake, and Bernard Bayou. Fort Bayou is located on the northeastern end of the Back Bay of Biloxi, and it's full of bends associated with deep holes and adjacent flats. Gary Gardner of Vancleave, MS grew up fishing this fish rich bayou with his father, and knows it like the back of his hand...

Chugging for Trout by Chester Moore, Jr.
Chuggers are tops for winter trout...
"We're not bass fishing Chester."

That was the reaction I got last winter when some friends of mine and I decided to go catch some winter trout on West Galveston Bay.

"Chuggers are for old guys."

"Get with the times."

I heard it all that morning but soon their words were silenced by the beautiful "sploosh" of a speck sucking under my chugger, a custom plug called the Pop-N-Run.

I didn't out fish all of my friends using walkers that day but I did manage to get a higher blow-up to land ratio.

Back when I first started fishing heavily with topwaters, I was given some Rattlin' Chug Bugs to test and had great success. Since that time, I started fishing walking plugs like the Skitter Walk and She Dog much more but recently I have found myself getting back to chuggers, particularly during winter.

Chuggers are highly underrated for catching big trout and during the winter, their more leisurely pace loud "sploosh" can grab the attention of big sows in the bays. That is why I got a better blowup to hookup ratio on the day described above...

Gulf Coast Closeup - by Mike Price
Panacea, Florida
Panacea, one of the lesser known coastal communities in Florida, claims a high percentage of undeveloped land in the county with plenty of seafood on the docks daily fresh out of the Gulf of Mexico and the area still retains undisturbed natural splendor. Located in Wakulla County less than an hour drive from Tallahassee, you will find the community warm and friendly. Panacea was named for the all-potent healing powers attributed to a spring that once flowed near town.
Panacea is home to the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory. Founded by biologist Jack Rudloe, the private, non-profit lab supplies live marine fish and invertebrates to colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Britain.
For most visitors, the main attractions here are the 30,000 gallons of seawater in marine aquariums and touch tanks and the creatures like sea horses, scallops and starfish that live in them. Touch tanks offer close encounters with living whelks, sand dollars and crabs. No matter how old you are, watching the tiny hairs undulate across the perfectly symmetrical face of a living sand dollar is fascinating to see.
Writers, craftsmen, artisans and many other creative people live in or near Sopchoppy, a place Charles Kuralt considered one of his favorites and was named one of the "Best Little Towns in America." Worm Gruntin', a worm raising technique documented by Kuralt, is an annual Sopchoppy event held the first Saturday in April. ..

This issue in OUR DEPARTMENTS...
Paddling Out - Texas' Angler Recognition Program- by Jeff Herman
Rod & Reel'n Offshore - Horsehead Jigs Offshore - by Patrick Lemire
Equipment Notebook - Antenna Installation Tips - by David Ayers
The Bay Naturalist - What the Heck is That? - by John Hook
The Fly Guy - Less is Best - by Pete Cooper, Jr.
Tackle Time - The Tweeners - by Colby Sorrells
Bait Hook - Tricks of the Trade - by Jim Martin
From the Publisher...
Besides all these great articles and departments, Gulf Coast Fisherman is the only source for the Wells Daily Fishing Forecast. Each issue carries three months of the Wells Daily Fishing Forecast - with Monthly Fishing Calendars. Also, don't forget about the Advance Planning Calendars in each issue that takes you out three months past the current issue. This will provide what you need to intelligently plan your fishing trips - hours, weeks, and up to six months in advance!
Top saltwater guides and fishermen use the Wells Daily Fishing Forecast - shouldn't you be using it ,too?...
"The fisherman that knows what the currents are doing has the advantage - over fish and fishermen!"
And remember - "Fish feed everyday, somewhere " - Harold Wells
Gary Ralston