January can be a great month for catching trophy speckled trout in some areas or tackle busting black drum in others. No matter which part of the coast you plan to fish remember that winter is a time to take precautions. Dress warmly, in layers, and don’t forget to wear a cap or hat to help keep body heat from escaping through the top of your head. For the wadefishermen, make sure your waders don’t have any leaks, especially if you’re using the loose fitting canvas variety. The neo-prene type will use any water getting inside as an added insulation, but if you take in water in the other type you could end up shortening your trip more than you wanted. GALVESTON BAY — January is when serious saltwater anglers will be doning their neo-prene waders, gloves, and long underwear in preparation for stalking the shorelines looking for trophy sized speckled trout. “During the cold months of late December and through late January, says Galveston Bay guide Capt. Pat Murray, experienced trophy hunters start working the shallow coves of West Bay. They’re not looking to fill a limit, but to land just one big trout.” While many Galveston fishermen are drifting the mid-bay reefs and deep holes with soft plastic lures the hardy trophy hunters are throwing topwater lures such as Jumpin’ Minnows, Phred’s Phydeaux, and floating MirrOlures. “The big topwater plugs do a better job of imitating an injured baitfish than other lures, says Murray, and that’s what big speckled trout eat, finger mullet, small croakers, and piggy perch.” Not all trout hunters will be along the shorelines, there are still plenty of fish hanging off mid-bay reefs and in the deep holes of Offatt’s Bayou and around the jetties. The best success for these fishermen will be using live shrimp and shrimptails either drifting through the deep water of Offatt’s or among the rocks of the jetties. MATAGORDA — Catching speckled trout and redfish always takes a little waiting and patience, but even more so during January. Drifting the deep water of the Colorado River requires some consideration and caution. Sit back for a few minute and time your entry into the line of drifting boats so that you don’t cut anyone else’s drift. Use finger mullet for bait and work the bottom as you drift through each area. The fish are there, you just have to find them. If the hill country has had heavy rains, consider working the intra-coastal canal for speckled trout and redfish. The best baits for this type of fishing are live mullet or shrimp and plastic shrimptails on a 3/8 ounce head. Don’t forget East and West Matagorda Bay if we get a warming trend like last year. Redfish and trout will move onto the flats, between fronts, looking for schools of mullet and will be easily accessible to fishermen throwing small topwaters and plastic shadtails. ROCKPORT/ARANSAS — Keep an eye on the weather and work the deeper holes during January. Live shrimp is your best bet, but fresh dead or finger mullet will do if none is available. Remember that as the water cools the metabolism of trout and redfish slows as well. Because of this, work your baits very slowly through the area several times before giving up and moving. Offshore fishing for red snapper is still excellent during the first of the year when the weather allows boats to venture to nearshore structures. And start looking for the drum to begin their annual run through the jetties. Use sea lice and small fiddler crabs if you want to do battle with one of these brutes. UPPER LAGUNA — Although redfish and speckled trout may be caught in this area year round, January is a time for black drum. The fish in the Upper Laguna are very spooky because of the shallow water, but they can be approached by anglers using the right amount of caution. Also, instead of the traditional popping cork try using one of the clear bubble floats. The clear float will aid in casting, but will not cast unwanted shadows across the water that may send fish running. Remember also that the water is very clear during winter and you should use lighter line and small floats. Look for fish among the grass and small clearings. Gold or silver weedless spoons may also be used for catching trophy sized speckled trout and redfish in the Laguna during January.
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide