Happy Holidays, Happy Fishing

It’s been one weird “winter” so far … if we can even call it that. The usual drill at this time of year is to advise bay fishermen to time their trips several days after the passage of a front.
That’s assuming we get a regular number of fronts.

At least the leaves on the tallow trees have finally morphed to red, orange and brown. On the Texas Coast, that’s about as close to a seasonal visual as we are likely to see.Double Bayou tallow trees
By virtue of writing this, I may be inviting a one-month onslaught of sleet and snow (the snow-drifted Christmas Eve of 2005 remains a fresh and beautiful memory). Somehow, though, I doubt it. If ever there has been a saltwater angler’s fall and winter, this has been it. Those of us who have enjoyed the summer-like conditions have taken some great catches of everything from speckled trout to flounder.
As for the latter, Galveston Bay guide Capt. Scott McKey put my friends Capt. Wayne Vinton and Earl Nottingham (chief photographer for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department) on an awesome catch of flounder early last week.  The biggest of the fish was a bona fide saddle blanket, pushing the scales to 8 pounds. Several others were 5-plus.
The flounder run is waning, and the average cat isn’t likely to go out and hang fish of that caliber by random chance. But, given current conditions and trends, coupled with an abundance of the not-so-glorious but great-fun species that are not redfish, trout and flounder, a weekend angler can still go out, catch fish, and have a great time (I have a story on this slated for an upcoming spring issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine). Sand trout, gulf trout, sheepshead, whiting, black drum and other species are a blast to catch, and as “fun fish” go, are arguably the ultimate for youngsters and novices.
If you own a boat, great (unless you are like me, who just put a $500 hickey in the hull courtesy of a barge piling and a strong current last week … just part of the game, when you are a boater who insists on going where the fish are). If not, the surf is gathering large numbers of whiting, along with the occasional sand and Gulf trout and keeper-class redfish. Ditto for jetty rocks.
Give yourself a gift this Christmas. Go fishing. Where, how or for what is a matter of choice. Just go fishing.
And if you really want to make it a gift, take a kid. If not your own, one who wishes he or she was your kid, a youngster who unlike many of us has gone through life so far without an older peer who is willing to dedicate the time to introduce him or her to God’s Great Outdoors. That’s a gift, I assure you, that epitomizes the “joy of giving.”
A very happy holiday season to you and yours.
Here’s to heavy stringers and warm hearts.
? Boz

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