Light sleet plops into the water around me. We are wading in that magic 45 minutes of pre-front conditions, when the wind hasn't switched out of the north but still swells the air with a warm, humid south wind. At any moment, a few minutes of stasis will occur, that time when the south wind and the north wind reach a truce and both come to a standstill. That interlude, when the fish seem to sense this will be their last meal for a few days and feed voraciously, is my favorite time to fish. Here in Texas, that interval is referred to as trout fever - and it drives anglers crazy.
Fronts can take a day or two to cover the length of the 300-odd miles of Texas Gulf coastline. They start along the Louisiana border over Lake Sabine and work their way south toward Capt. Paul Marcaccio, in the urbanized confines of Texas' Galveston Bay, and onto Capt. Sally Moffett's Texas-flair artists' colony at Rockport and then Capt. Mitch Richmond's Tex-Mex-flavored world of deep South Texas.
Each region offers something different for trout anglers, and all produce monster trout - greater in number the farther south you travel.
Upper Coast | Sabine to Matagorda Bay
Galveston Bay guide Capt. Paul Marcaccio is an ex-Marine, and he exudes the confidence and air of efficiency bred in the Corps, things that seem to ingrain themselves into individuals as they get older.
"Galveston Bay has the ability to reward anglers with that memory of a lifetime if you can find the time when there is little pressure," Marcaccio says.
Wading, as along the rest of the Texas coast, is the best means to target the larger fish. In the massive Galveston Bay complex, the hot spots are north, near Robinson Bayou, in East Bay; Pig Pens; Trinity; Jack's Pocket; Trinity River flats; and Spillway flats.
"We look for deepwater access and drainages to find ambush points, plus mud and sand pockets," he says, "but tidal movement is essential. Either ebbing or flowing will work: You just have to find the ambush sites and work the edges."
In the deepwater access points, popping corks with 5-inch Saltwater Bass Assassin jerkbaits or paddle-tails in plum, pumpkinseed or pearl under them are deadly.
"The popping sound of the cork gets the fish's head up," says Marcaccio. "We guess they think the sound is from other fish feeding.
"We usually use the hard-plastic baits in shallow when the fish are working our shallower shorelines or flats."
The best colors in the muddy industrial waters of the Galveston Bay complex are chromeand chartreuse.