WARM WATER TROUT IN WINTER

One of the biggest problems, for weekend anglers, is keeping up with where the fish are at any given time. Every weekend you’ll find boats wandering aimlessly from reef to reef and shoreline to shoreline. And if it weren’t bad enough, try locating fish during the winter when they are hold up in areas where they will be protected from the cold. The fishing reports usually tell anglers about the fish being taken from the deep water reefs and holes. Offatt’s Bayou and the channel around Pelican Island are two of the more popular deep water areas. East Bay, Upper Galveston Bay, and Trinity Bay have most of the deep water reefs. Any of these spots will hold speckled trout, redfish, and flounder during the winter months, but there are a few, seldom fished, locations which almost come with a written guarantee. Texas Saltwater Fishing ReportHL&P has two discharge canals in the Galveston Bay system which dump heated water into the bay year round. During the summer this heated water is of no real consequence, but when the water temperatures drop below sixty degrees the warm water discharge can make a difference between catching fish or not. The most well known of the HL&P discharge canals is located in San Leon off State Highway 146. Access to this area is easy for both boaters and non-boaters, for pier fishermen as well as waders, and for those of you who have your own light setup, there’s a place here for you too. This particular discharge canal is accessible from both sides and at the point where it pours into the bay. On one side is a bait camp and pier. The pier juts out into the bay right at the mouth of the canal, which puts fishermen within easy reach of the warm water. On the opposite side waders work the opening, around old pier pilings, on a good hard sand bottom. One objection, for me anyway, to this area is that the warm water draws more than trout and other gamefish. I have seen gar as long as six feet swimming around just off the flat and around the pier pilings. The fun part about this is hooking one of these fish when there’s nothing else going on. The bad part is having one take a keeper sized trout off your hook. Live shrimp is the preferred bait among the pier anglers, but waders working the flat have great success with topwater and slow sinking plugs and soft plastic shad and shrimp tails. Those fishermen working from the banks with lights may also use live and artificial baits, but be warned, the canal bottom is lined with rocks and you will loose some tackle. The HL&P spillway in Trinity Bay also puts out heated water, but that’s about the only similarity between it and it’s San Leon counterpart. Years ago, fishermen were allowed to fish from the top of the dam separating the canal from the bay. But, as with other areas, to much litter and discord caused this to be stopped. Now the only way to fish the Trinity Bay discharge is by boat or wading in from McCollough Park. As with San Leon anglers will find trout, reds, and flounder holding in the warmer water during winter. However, one fish you won’t find at San Leon has made its presence known over the last few years especially in winter months. TPWD has been restocking stripers in this area and the discharge seems to draw them like a magnet in January and February.

– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide

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