by Brian Holden
If you are the type of fisherman that subscribes to the idea that boats were made solely to take you to your wadefishing spot, spring may just be your season. If the idea of catching a giant pre-spawn trout on a topwater lure makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, spring may just be your season. If you want to fish the reefs and shorelines before the crowds and hot weather settle in, you guessed it. Spring.
With the popularity of croaker fishing on the rise in recent years, people are beginning to overlook what has historically been the best time of year to catch big trout on artificial lures. In the period of time between February and the end of April, fishermen on the Texas coast are afforded the opportunity to take advantage of a change in the seasons that works in their favor. The water begins to warm up, and in turn the fish begin to search more actively for food and spawning locations. The low temperatures during the winter have driven the baitfish out of the bay system. This leaves some very hungry fish with very little to eat. Enter fisherman. Wading sandy dropoffs and grass beds near shorelines with large topwaters or jerkbaits is a lot more likely to draw attention when there are fewer baitfish in the water and big trout cannot afford to be as picky.
These trout come up to the shallows to put on weight before the spawn as well as to stake out their spawning location. Big trout get first choice of spawning areas, which means they will be up there early. They will also defend their area from any intruders, so big noisy baits fished repetitively over a promising location will almost always entice a strike. The strike and battle of a trophy trout in shallow water will make even the most experienced saltwater fisherman weak in the knees and slack in the jaw.
With a change in the direction of your cast, you can work the dropoffs adjacent to these sand flats to find schools of hungry trout waiting their turn to get to the spawning grounds and to get to your lure. In the spring, these fish sometimes school in astonishing numbers and are very eager to eat whatever you present to them. Finding a spot like this on a spring wade can make your day far more productive than even a croaker fisherman dares to consider. There is also the added satisfaction of knowing that the fish you are about to land was fooled with an artificial rather than live bait.
With the winter of 2000-2001 being generally colder that the past few, much of the baitfish that have stayed in the bays in past years have headed for warmer waters. This means the fish will have had slim pickens all winter and will be ready for some heavy duty feeding as soon as the water warms up and their metabolism increases. This is good news for fishermen who have been cooped up all winter with their rods and waders collecting dust. The first sign of a warming trend will send these fish into a frenzy that you will not want to miss!