But, taking the flats scenario a step further, skinny water fishing is still an option through the late fall and winter. The key is timing your trip to coincide with warming trends and finding flats that are easily accessed by fish that are hanging in deeper water. Finding flats adjacent to deep water or channels is not a problem. But, keep in mind that even on the warmest winter days, fish will rarely venture far from the edge of the flats. So, it is best to begin your search in deep water and push onto the flat, instead of starting skinny and pushing deep. Also keep in mind this pattern will be the opposite of summer - fish will be deep early and shallow in the mid-day.
Again, timing is another key to successful skinny water fishing during the “off-season.” Depending on the severity of the front, it usually takes two to three days of warming weather to entice the fish back into the shallows. However, if we get several warm, sunny days in a row, the fish will definitely move up onto the flats. But, remember, they won't be there until the sun gets high, so either sleep late or fish deep during the early morning hours.
Regardless of whether you are fishing deep or shallow, early or late, cold fronts such as the one that just passed signal it's time to change to bigger baits and slower retrieves. Soft-plastics of the 5-inch variety can be pinned on 1/16 or 1/8 ounce jig heads and worked seductively slow both in deep water and over shallow flats.
Topwater plugs can also draw their share of strikes in water ranging from one to four feet. Again, bigger is better. Plugs such as Super Spooks and 7-inch RedFins are top choices. A great advantage of floating plugs is they can be worked extremely slow. This is particularly useful when fishing over grass flats or above potholes.
Finally, fish caught this time of year have slowed their metabolism and are extremely lethargic. As far as getting the fish to strike, this is addressed by the aforementioned upsizing of baits and slowing of retrieves. However, any fish that is not retained will need a little extra care when being released. The colder the water, the more time you need to spend reviving the fish. Extra time spent getting a fish going may seem like a hassle, but it is a small price to pay to ensure future catches.
Most folks know that cold weather push fish to deeper water. And, this holds true in Texas' Lower Laguna Madre as well. For that reason, the relatively few deep water haunts in Deep South Texas will hold plenty of fish when the weather turns cold. Areas such as the ICW, Brownsville Ship Channel, and Port Isabel Turning Basin will have trout and snook stacked up for much of the winter.
One deep water area that is frequently overlooked this time of year, and more so later in the winter, is the Brazos Santiago Pass between the jetties. The main reason this area isn't fished more frequently in cold weather months is the often choppy conditions. However, there are days when the water is calm, good schools of reds can be found within the channel.
With all the talk of deep water, many people overlook the flats in the late fall and through the winter. This is a huge mistake. Deep flats like those between the causeways will hold fish all winter long. In fact, unless the water becomes extremely frigid, most any flat over three feet deep will hold fish. Flats with grass and mud bottom are best this time of year, as the darker, softer bottoms retain heat, thus keeping the water a bit warmer than other areas.
Cold Weather Fishing on the Lower Laguna Madre