Fishing the Front End of a Cold Snap
If the weather permits and you have the chance to fish the day before a cold front or the morning of, the fishing is incredible inshore, the water is clear, and the fish are gorging.
My father, Ben, and I went out on the flats last Saturday before the cold front came in. The wind was blowing from the northwest, so we would start on the southeast side of a flat and let the wind push us so we didn’t have to make any noise with a trolling motor.
I would stand on my Engel Cooler with Blazing Hornet Matrix Shad on a 1/8th-ounce red jig hear rigged and ready to cast. I would cast or call out fish to Ben, who was rigged with a ZMan white 4-inch scented Paddlerz, and my father fan cast a new penny Gulp! Shrimp at what I couldn’t see.
The start of the flat held a few legal trout, a bunch of small trout and a school of rat reds. As we came near the end of the flat and to a mouth of a bayou, the flat began to stack with pinfish, mullet and fry of some sort. Once the baitfish appeared, so did the fish.
I saw a big trout, cast in front so the splash of the bait wouldn’t spook him, jigged the bottom twice in front of him and — BAM — hooked up a 19-inch trout.
We drifted about 100 yards and there was a school of four or five reds. Ben saw the school, cast in front and jigged once. The drag started screaming and he landed a 24-inch Red. I tried casting over him to pick up of the other ones, but no luck.
While all that was happening, my father hooked up in the deep water and landed a nice trout. We drifted the flats, sight cast, and fan cast the rest of the day. We caught about 20 trout, 15 reds and a flounder. The reds ranged from 12 to 26 inches, and the trout from 10 to 20 inches.
We saw Jacks, Spanish, Ladyfish, Black Drum, Sheepshead, Trout and Redfish. The fish were stacked and gorging, getting ready for the winter move. We sight cast fish between 1 and 5 feet of water, looking to find where the bait and fish were holding. Each flat was a little different where the fish were stacked.
With clear skies, and a decently high sun, you can drift or slowly cruise around with the trolling motor and spot fish sitting down in the potholes and make presentations to them. Sometimes they can be very hard to entice and even spooky since the water is clean. Take your time, check your presentation, be stealthy as possible, and wear quality polarized glasses. I personally wear Redtail Optix Sabines; they are pricey, but you get what you pay for. I know the culture around here is Costa Del Mar, but the two gentlemen who fish with me the most wear Costas and I out-sight fish them and see more than them every trip.
Baits are also a very important choice right now with how clear the water is, the amount of bait, and what kinds. You want your bait to mimic what they are feeding on right now. We saw the amount of mullet and pinfish, so we threw 3- and 4-inch swim baits with a color pattern and silhouette to match. As the fry become more prevalent, I won’t throw anything over 3 inches.
Clear water and blue bird skies before the front make for beautiful days, great temperatures, and great fishing.