To the "natural" world, if not the political side! Hopefully, that area too can see improvement over 2012. Not just addressing the main election of 2012 here but also such strange things as the Sportsmens Act of 2012, containing 17 key provisions pushed by hunters, fishermen and conservationists being killed in the US Senate over a measure to increase the price of ducks stamps. It seems the duck stamp issue was supported by waterfowl hunters and related industries, so go figger.
Back to OUR world, that of fishing the Texas coast. January will bring some cool weather, but although rains were not torrential in late 2012, there was enough to keep water levels much higher than in recent years and salinity inshore is back where it should be. Fishing will be slow, but that is a normal thing for January on our coast. Deep holes that normally hold fish in cool weather should give up some catches of reds and specks for those with the patience to work lures VERY slowly, or to tend a dead bait over a period of time. Live baits will do better, of course, but can be hard to come by this time of year.
There was evidence of a strong flounder presence in the ICW in December, so it could be time to head them off at the passes as they begin their migration to deeper Gulf waters. Of course, some portion of the flounder population remains in the ICW and nearby areas all winter, especially in really mild winters. Shrimpers working the "ditch" for bait shrimp often drag up some really impressive flounder at this time of year, and good catches can be made using even larger cut bait such as we might normally look at for bull reds. Remember that the new flounder regulations include a daily bag limit of 5 fish of 14" or better per person, and that is also the possession limit.
A few of those bull reds might be had this month, also. When I spent all my time surf fishing near San Luis Pass, my records showed at least some catches of big reds in every month of the year, but admittedly January and February were the months with the fewest reds. I have also seen tarpon in the January surf, but that is also not something Id bet heavily on, either. I have never personally caught a big black drum in the surf in any month, but it does happen - especially off beachfront piers - and January would be the right month for it.
Mostly, though, January is the month to visit the boat show, take trips to more southerly climes, plan fishing trips a few months in advance or seek pan-fish like whiting and croaker. For those who do not fear the weather, really cold nights are the time to be near the Gulf outlets of coastal rivers or other streams fishing under lights for speckled trout. This can be done from piers or boats, and the fishing can be "hot" enough to almost make a person forget the cold. Red snapper fishing beyond the waters of the Gulf under Texas jurisdiction is closed, but either bottom depressions or structure can hold snapper closer to shore usually mixed with good sized Gulf trout - the "common" cousin of the speckled trout, and like the speck, properly classified as a "weakfish." Redfish will sometimes also be in this mix, so watch those limits!
Heres wishing all of you a good new year from the Holmes family, and many happy returns of the same!
THE BANK BITE
Location: Again, deep holes in cold water will be the best spots to seek most fish species. The others have gone south for the winter.
Species: Speckled trout and redfish CAN be found, with patience and persistence. Black drum are starting to move through the passes as well as flounder. Pan-fish might be found all month.
Best Baits: Fish dont chase bait as much in cooler water, so work even natural baits slowly across the bottom, hoping to encounter a hungry critter with enough energy to whack it.
Best Times: Moving water on either side of the peak high tide, and a nice sunny day helps a lot.
Capt. Mike Holmes runs tarpon, shark, and bluewater trips on a classic 31 Bertram. To book a trip, call 979-415-0535. Email him at MHolmes@fishgame.com.