Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 42 No. 1 - WINTER 2018 | Page 6

byby Nate Skinner Winter Bites in Port Mansfield I was glad to step out of the boat into shallow water below my waste. The chilly air during the boat ride to our location seemed to cut through my waders and jacket like a knife. And surrounding myself in chest-deep, icy water was far from what I desired. Luckily, the wind was light and it was apparent the sun was quickly warming the flat before us. Rafts of mullet milled around at the water’s surface as the shoreline we were approaching appeared to be teeming with life. “The major occurs in about 15 minutes, so we should be about to walk into a pretty decent bite,” insisted Captain Ruben Garza, referring to the predicted peak period in fish activity as he walked alongside me. About 45 minutes earlier we were idling away from the dock at Getaway Adventures Lodge in the Port Mansfield Harbor aboard Garza’s boat. He explained to me that today was setting up to be an excellent outing for bending some rods. “We are between cold fronts, the water temperature will warm up with the rising sun, and it should be an awesome wade fishing trip,” he said confidently. Meanwhile, I was ready to prove his theory as we waded along, thigh-deep in the brine. We had scooted about 25 yards downwind from Garza’s Dargel when I felt the thump. A pause after a few twitches in my retrieve with a suspending twitch bait triggered the strike. The heavy trout shot out of the water immediately. Her gills flared with her yellow mouth wide open. And the salt foamed as she thrashed from side to side, trying to free the pink Unfair Lures Rip-N-Slash that she had been fooled by from her cheek. That fish was one of many chunky specks and feisty redfish that were brought to hand that morning. As the sun rose higher into the sky over our bent rods, mild temperatures prevailed and it was hard to believe that we were smack dab in the middle of winter. Watching Garza land another quality trout, I heard him laugh and say, “You’ve got to love the Lower Laguna Madre during the winter months. This is as good as it gets.” Winter on the Texas coast often presents anglers with their work cut out for them. Constantly changing conditions can make patterning fish difficult, as the passage of cold fronts bring about a variety of scenarios. A rapid drop in water temperatures associated with these fronts typically puts fish into a lethargic mood. Then there’s the period between fronts in which temperatures increase slowly and conditions rebound prior to the passing of the next one. Finding a consistent bite between these weather systems, and the pressure changes that coincide with them, is often a perplexing task. The lower portion of the Texas coast contains some of the skinniest of bay waters within its entire span. These flats can be found along the Lower Laguna Madre where anglers can use the shallow water to their advantage in winter to predict where fish will (Continued on page 13.) Capt. Ruben Garza shows off a solid Lower Laguna Madre wintertime trout. Mullet imitation baits rule the flats during the winter. 6 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N Photos by author. W W W. G U L F F I S H I N G. C O M