Winter's Full House

Winter’s Full House

Some of Texas’ best fishing opportunities to get in on the cold weather action.

Story and Photography by Matt Williams

Like it or not, Jack Frost always brings some of the coldest, nastiest weather of the year to Texas. Rain, sleet, wind, snow…. chances are we’ll see it all in some form or fashion over next couple of months before winter gives way to the warmer weather of spring.

Casual anglers might choose to cope with foul conditions by pulling a little tackle or boat maintenance, but it’s a feel good stretch of time for members of the hardcore club.

I’ve been called lots of things over the years. “Fair weather fisherman” isn’t among them. Though I’m not near as hardcore as some, I’d much rather fish when it’s 40 degrees outside than 98.

On freshwater lakes and some rivers across Texas, it is not uncommon to find the bite red hot on days that might seem better suited for sipping hot coffee by a warm fire than dunking a shiner or slinging a Rat-L-Trap.

Here’s an angler’s guide to some of Texas’ best winter fishing opportunities and places to get in on the action:

Largemouth Bass

The Fish:  Most of the biggest bass of the year will be caught between now and the end of April. While the majority always come during early spring, when big females are lured to the sun-baked shallows to spawn, there are always some pre-spawn giants reeled in during the dead of winter.

The current Texas state record of 18.18 pounds was caught in January 1992. January and February have produced a combined total of 190 entries topping 13 pounds.

The biggest bass are always females. In winter, they are full of eggs and at peak weight for the year. Fisheries scientists contend that female bass may weigh around 10 percent heavier than normal when its ovaries are fully developed. A fish that weighs 10 pounds in August could easily weigh 11 pounds in January, possibly even more if it happens to get caught after eating a big crappie or bar fish.