Monday, February 14, 2011

February Cabin Fever

Saltwater Angler Magazine
On-Line Edition
February 9, 2011

About mid-February, a shallow water angler’s patience is growing thin. With the recent freeze scare and cold snap after that, everyone hopes that it’s about over. It does appear that the bays, fish and anglers were spared a major freeze and fish kill event this time. Thank God for that.

After reviewing the long-range forecast, late February looks to be trending warmer. In South Texas, thankfully, winter only lasts a couple of months and hopefully it’s about over!

Cabin fever is a tough thing for Texas coastal anglers to endure, and ever since duck season ended, the cabin has been getting smaller. No matter what the weather, however, there are a lot of hearty souls out there who brave the elements in search of a trophy trout or hungry redfish in the winter. But most anglers hang back and wait for the weather to get warmer. Post cold front fishing can be fantastic, however, and after a few days of warm sunshine and not much wind, these cold-weary fish are going to inch ever so slowly into the shallower waters to warm up and then feed.

Don’t totally write off fishing until temperatures rise, however, just watch the weather and take advantage of the good and productive days when they do come along. Water temperatures in the shallow water need to remain in the above 60 range to hold fish, so target sun-warmed areas near deep water, out of the wind, if possible. The Intracoastal is the place where lots of fish drop into to survive, so stay close. Find bait lurking around darker, grassy or muddy bottoms and your odds go up. Also, with the water levels so very low, lots of flats are empty, so it makes it even easier to pinpoint where to fish. These classic winter-time rules really do work!

Since it’s the dead of winter, there are always a few events scheduled to keep us all in tune with the outdoors and fishing. The first one is the TPWD Crab Trap Cleanup event. “In order to help clean up the Texas coastline, the 9th Annual Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program will run from February 19-28, 2011. During the ten day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing as volunteers assist in collecting traps.” Give your local TWPD office a call and find out where you can get tarps and other gear to pick up the traps, and find out where the collection points are.

Also, on February 19th, Bass Pro Shops in Pearland will again be presenting their day-long event, “Fly Fishing Texas and Beyond”. With a great array of speakers and demonstrations that last all day long, anglers can learn about fly fishing in saltwater and freshwater from some of the leaders in the industry. I will be speaking there at 10:30am and doing a kayak fly fishing demonstration at 2:00pm. Check out their website for all of the information and please stop by and say hello!

March 2nd through the 6th will be the 36th Annual Houston Fishing Show at the George R. Brown Convention Center. This is a “must attend” event where anglers can talk fishing with most of the guides in Texas and check out all of the new fishing gear and kayaks. The daily seminar line-up is a who’s-who of Texas fishing. As usual, I’ll be in booth 518, and hope to see you there. I’ve got a lot of new adventures up my sleeve for 2011!

The 16th Annual Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup will be held on March 19th. Go to for all of the details, but, if you can be there, it is an inspiring, fun and exciting day, filled with new friends, fresh air and lots of exercise! Capt. Billy Sandifer is an icon of the saltwater. If you’ve never met and talked with him, or fished or birded on the beach with him, you are missing one of the great adventures of life.

Add Spring Break and the end of winter to this list and, before you know it, you’ll be trading in your Under Armor Cold Gear for sunscreen, shorts and flip-flops! Time flies when you are having fun!

See you on the water soon!

Capt. Sally

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Marches On (not quickly enough....)

Saltwater Angler Magazine
On-Line Edition
January 26, 2011

Winter marches on, but not as quickly as it needs to! For shallow water anglers, cold weather means “fishus interuptus”. Between the fronts, there are great days of fishing, with warm temperatures, no wind and hungry fish. And then it’s another week of cold, windy and cloudy days which keep the fish out of the clear, shallow water.

The only consolation to this pattern of “fishus interruptus” was the fabulous duck hunting which kept us on the water nearly every day, no matter what the conditions.
Our hunting clients and my young black lab Kelly made this winter and all that cold weather very worthwhile.

Now that the hunting season is over, however, it’s time to get down with the business of full-time fishing. So, on those not-so-bluebird days, maybe a new pursuit will be trophy trout on Baffin Bay. Since Capt. Aubrey Black is the best teacher in town, this new endeavor will be a great way to pass the time until good, consistent shallow water action returns when water temperatures moderate!

During many recent duck hunting pursuits, lots of new shallow water fishing territory has been discovered. Rockport is like an old friend, easy to understand and fun to be with. But, Baffin Bay is uncharted shallow water territory, filled with lots of nooks, cranny’s and back lakes that no one has ever fly fished. When I say no one, I mean no one. The bays of Baffin are the “last best places” to find this remote, unfished water. On warm and sunny days between now and Spring Break, these “virgin” waters will be my new stomping grounds.

Kayak fishing is a great way to scout new places to fish. Using the Curlew with the kayak rack, and brand new Native Ultimate 12 kayaks, I’ll be paddling through lots of new water this year. Scouting new fishing places is an art and a science. It’s not just about the place, but what water level is the best time to fish it, what kind of grass is there, where do the fish hang out, how does the water flow through, which way the wind blows through and more. Keeping records of scouting trips are very important as well. Scouting new fishing water is time well spent, even if you don’t catch fish every time you go.

The Houston Fishing Show is coming up in March (2-6) and I’ll be there in booth #518, as usual! This is my 10th year to exhibit and speak there and it’s always a great show. Soon the seminar schedule will be up on their website and I’m working on a new PowerPoint Presentation. Come on by and chat or sit in on a seminar to two. All of your favorite fishing guides and tackle companies will be there. Don’t miss it!

On another note, Capt. Black and I have experienced a catastrophic website crash this past week. Our web host server went bankrupt (unbeknownst to us…) and our websites (and booking calendars) just disappeared. It’s been a challenge for sure, but new websites are slowly coming back on line. Although the websites are a work in progress, our new booking calendar is now available. We are both very sorry for the inconvenience. Looking at it on a more positive note, maybe we’ll have even better websites when they are completed! Keep up on our progress at or If you have any suggestions or requests for information to be included there, now is the time. Please call or send an email, text, Facebook post or Twitter!

February and early March are always a challenge for outdoorsmen. Use this time wisely and the payoff will be tremendous. Get your gear in order, fix up your boat or get a new one, buy some new Laguna Rods or an Orvis Helios or Hydros Fly Rod, upgrade your wading boots by going Ray-Guard or get into kayak fishing. Throughout the years in the outdoors and on the water, I’ve discovered that the most important things are safety and using the best gear you can afford. Keep it simple and straightforward and it will be more fun! See you on the water…. Soon!