ON OUTDOORS: Warmer water impacts SE Texas

Published 11:13 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2017

While looking through some of my notes last weekend I came across a story I wrote in January 2014 called “Implications of a Cold Winter”.

That year it was brutally cold (for us at least) and this year things are radically different. We had one strong cold spell and I suspect we will get more but I believe it was worth looking at the implications of a warm winter.

• Spawn Time: Last week I fished with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kieth Combs on Lake Conroe and he said if the warm trend continued some of those fish would move up to spawn. The water temperature on Conroe was already up to 64 in the afternoons there.

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Many anglers do not realize the largest bass spawn first and in Southeast Texas during warm winters we get bass that spawn as early as late January. That could very well happen.

February is typically our coldest month and let’s say we only get one cold snap and the rest of the month ranges from the upper 50s to the high 70s as it has recently. That could set up a scenario where many of the bass spawn earlier than normal.

That does not mean there will not be any spawn during the typical March-April period but that possibly some of the fish, maybe even a decent portion of them will be spawned out.

• Flounder Trouble: Local anglers have already noticed the impact of a lack of cold weather on flounder with a very short “flounder run”.

Warm conditions could also spell trouble down the road as flounder spawning in the Gulf tends to be less successful when water temperatures are high. It will not be something we see until a couple of years down the road but it could lead to low recruitment for this year’s class of southern flounder.

• Snake Encounters: Local outdoors lovers have been surprised to encounter snakes over the last few weeks. Snakes are not true hibernators and here in Southeast Texas I have personally encountered cottonmouths when the temperatures were in the upper 30s.

If you find yourselves in the woods or swamps be careful where you step and put your hands. Snakes are typically calmer in cool weather due to their cold nature but they can still bite. They are not out to get you so if you use common sense in their habitat chances of a bite are extremely low.

• Spring Speck Patterns: During winter most speckled trout are caught on shallow flats near the ship channel.

Extra warm weather can send those trout further into the bay system and even put trout in some of
the same locations you would expect to find them in March or April. If we have a week or longer of temperatures hitting the 70s looking for specks beyond their normal winter haunts and even consider fishing some of the cuts along the Louisiana shoreline and on the main lake.

A slow-sinking soft plastic is still effective but consider throwing a topwater or even soft plastics or Gulp rigged on a jighead. Cover a lot of water and be mindful of any presence of baitfish.

And finally target any emerging slick you find. If you see a little oil slick pop up, there is a good chance there are trout under it and the slick means they are already eating and regurgitating baitfish.

As gross as that may sound it represents a golden opportunity to score on trout and with the up and down temperatures we have had, those trout could be virtually anywhere.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)