GALVESTON — Being the largest bay system on the Texas coast gives this area a very diverse winter fishery. Wading West Bay’s south shoreline with large topwater plugs is the best way to hunt for trophy speckled trout during the cold winter months of January through early March. Work the shoreline along the backs of the coves a few days after the passing of a cold front. The fish will move onto these shallow flats to feed and are most vulnerable at this time. The deeper water of East Bay offers excellent drift fishing around the many shell reefs. During the early morning and late evening fish will be concentrated among the shell waiting till the water warms. The best baits for drifting the reefs are live shrimp and plastic shrimp tails. However, as the sun rises move into shallower water and begin working the shorelines with sinking and topwater plugs. FREEPORT — Winter offshore fishing is at it’s peak during the month of February. Red snapper may still be found hanging off the nearshore rigs along with some grouper and amber jack. Between fronts, when the water is calmed by light northerly winds, bigger boats should make a run to these rigs and work the bottom with squid for easy limits of small snapper. If you want the larger fish, try drifting a cigar minnow or cut bait on a slip weight rig with a 6 to 8 ounce sinker. Although the bays around Freeport are extremely shallow there are times when the fishing can be fantastic. During a warming trend look for fish to crowd onto the south shoreline of Christmas bay. The area is covered with grass so if you want to throw lures a 1/4 ounce weedless spoon is best. This spot is also excellent for fly fishermen. During the cold weather the water settles quickly and remains quite clear. A flyfisherman armed with the right color popper is bound to string a red or two. MATAGORDA — Close proximity to the intra-coastal canal and the Colorado River makes this area a great place for winter trout fishing. Use your fish finder to locate holes and structure in the river and begin drifting river with live finger mullet or plastic shad tails. The holes will hold fish all during the winter as will the structure. The intra-coastal fishing is best for anglers who first find fish and then anchor up along the shoreline. Use live finger mullet or shrimp along the edges of the canal or in the deeper holes. Caution should be taken when fishing the canal when barges move through the area. PORT O’CONNOR — Fishermen who frequent this portion of the coast will swear that Port O’Connor has the best fishing in Texas all year round. And February is no exception, from the offshore snapper and grouper fishing to the bays for speckled trout and redfish. Bay fishermen should be working broken-back plugs or live finger mullet for some very large redfish along shorelines and mid-bay reefs. Be sure to work the plugs slowly since after a front passes the fish may be somewhat lethargic from the cold. Also, when heading offshore for snapper be sure to take along some fresh cut bait for the grouper and larger snapper. ROCKPORT –The middle coast is lucky in the fact that they don’t have the bitter cold that the upper coast has to deal with. During February, look for fish to be in the deeper holes of the bays and around the grass bordered pot holes. The flats warm quickly as the sun rises and fishermen should concentrate their efforts in these areas. Live or fresh dead shrimp are the baits of choice when fishing the grass. Rigging under a cork or on a slip weight rig are the best ways of covering the water efficiently and productively. PORT ARANSAS — As in Freeport, snapper fishing is great out of Port Aransas during winter months. When the wind lays and allows the boats to get out there are limits of snapper for everyone. Squid and ice fish are the best baits for the bottom dwelling fish and a standard bottom fish finder rig with two hooks is the terminal rig. The Port Aransas jetties also offer some excellent fishing during winter. Speckled trout and redfish move in and out of the rocks feeding on live baitfish. Other species such as sheepshead, flounder, and an occasional snapper who has lost his way may also be taken from the rocks. PORT ISABELL — Being the most southern portion of the Texas coast has its advantages. The area around Port Isabell isn’t as affected by the cold as the rest of the coast, so the fishing strategies don’t change as much during the winter. Fish will still be on the flats most of the time. But when the occasional cold snap does pass through the area, they’ll move into deeper water which in this case may be as little as 3 to 4 feet. Live shrimp and finger mullet are the prime baits for this time of year. Worked under a standard popping cork or one of the clicking plastic corks, shrimp is probably the most consistent fish catcher.
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide