January 2019 Big Bend Coastal Angler
Article by: Gary Droze
Weighing in on wading in the Big Bend
With Apalachee Bay water temperatures now consistently below 60 degrees, boating anglers will be asking winter wadefishing types if they are losing their minds, or at least suffering short-term memory loss, regarding recall of past hypothermic outings.
To such inquiry, I have a firm response:
What was the question?
Ha-Ha, just kidding. Like many year-round wadefishers, I’ve plied Big Bend waters on foot every January since as far back as I can remember (2018). Sure, frigid water can make for an uncomfortable coastal wade, but consider the advantages:
Uncontrollable shivering burns extra Calories to help you jettison those holiday pounds, and also imparts tantalizing action to jigs, swimbaits, and topwater offerings.
Alligators are of no concern in winter. Scientists tell us that gators brumate, which is a buddy who goes halvsies with you on cases of Natty Light. No wait, that’s brewmate. Brumation is the reptilian equivalent of hibernation, wherein their metabolism hunkers down and gators stop feeding, even on gluten-free prey. Good news for your legs!
Leave the ice and aerators home! Arctic air and chilly surf keep your catch fresh, and live bait stays frisky for far longer in a cold bucket. I once absentmindedly left a pail of mudminnows in my trunk on a January Friday. They were still kicking the next Monday, when my shocked spouse discovered them and commenced to kicking me.
Now for some winter wading honey-hole specifics. Stoney Bayou, just a few bends south of the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge levees, houses redfish, trout and flounder aplenty all through the parka season. From Lighthouse Road, bike or hike a mile to the big water control structure, then hoof it across the narrow canal and aim for the bayou banks. I promise the fish won’t give you the cold shoulder.