Clayton Shilling has been a member The Backpacker Hobie Fishing Team for 3 years, is currently Tournament Director for the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club and has posted multiple 1st place wins at regional fishing tournaments. Clayton fishes from a Hobie Mirage Outback.
In the dead of Winter I always get a surprised look when a coworker or other friend ask me hey what are you doing this weekend and I reply, “think I’m going to make a fishing trip.”
See, the forecast may be low 30’s warming to maybe mid 40’s are 50’s and they just cannot fathom why I would put myself through fishing in those temps. Simply put, some of my most productive trips are in the Winter.
Think of it like this: The fish are out there in the vast marsh, right? So how do I locate them?
Well, in the Winter, Mother Nature helps to narrow down the search. If a cold front rolls in and North winds drain the water from the marsh, coupled with low temps, the fish are going to seek out warm deeper water. This is why you hear all the talk about “Dead End Canals”, “Pits”, “Hot water discharges”, etc… So, on your Winter trips consider these areas your first targets for finding fish. Once you have found an area you want to try, slow down and fish deep with baits like jigs or sinking twitch bait type lures. Of course, you can always sink some live bait, as well.
If its overcast and the temp stays pretty low all day, this might be the way you fish all day. However, on those days that the Sun decides to burst through the clouds and you think to yourself “man that sun feels good on my back” I like to think the fish are having the same thought. See, on those days when the Sun is beaming into the water the “go deep for Winter” rules might suddenly change. A lot of the time, around 10:00am or so, the water in the shallow flats just off a deep area will light up with feeding fish who seem to be excited to swim through the sun rays and can provide some fast action in the slow winter. Think of it like this: as the Sun comes up, so do the fish. Be patient. My teammate and I were able to pull off a first place win in Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Clubs Double Trouble Tourney this February by just remaining patient. We were both in areas that several other competitors were fishing, however the key was that we waited it out. Most of the competition gave up on their spots and left to try other waters before the fishing turned on. I hit the water at 6am and did not land my first fish until 10am, but I remained calm and new that the Sun would rise. When it did, the fish went nuts, and I was the only one around. I culled 3 limits of reds in two hours and left them biting to make weigh in.
So, in the Winter, 1) take it slow; the warmest part of the day, midday, seems to be the best 2) sleep in a little. No need to hit the water at day break. Give the fish a little time to get going 3) Seek out those areas that offer the fish a warmer spot.
I hope some of this helps you catch a few more fish this Winter. If not, remember that Spring is just around the corner.
Tight Lines …
Clayton Shilling Hobie Fishing Team Member for The Backpacker .