Reports & Forecasts: January 2020

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - silverkingadventures.com – 409.935.7242
James expects to fish a variety of patterns in January, all of which can produce the biggest trout of the year. “We like to wade shorelines and coves when it's warm. A couple days after a cold front, when the tide rolls back in and the shallow water on the islands warms up, we'll have a decent number of big trout to target. Sometimes, we encounter lots of reds fishing that pattern. When it's just right, topwaters work great, but slow-sinking lures work more often. The old 51 and 52M MirrOlures do too. If it's cooler and the tide is lower, fishing out of the boat in deeper areas works better. We have great drift fishing in Trinity, East and West Galveston Bays, all of which have fairly muddy bottoms and some concentrations of shell. We usually target our trout out of the boat in water about four to six feet deep, throwing soft plastics on fairly light heads, but heavy enough to keep the lure down in the water column, connecting with the bottom every now and then. Slow-swimming the MirrOlures works great too, holding the rod tip pointed down at the water.”

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service – 409.996.3054
Jim will be splitting time between the blinds and the bays in January. “We like to hunt ducks on weekends mostly, but we also get out on some of the weekday mornings when the weather's not good for fishing, meaning it's really windy, for the most part. Duck hunting has been good, and I expect steady shooting to last through the end of the season. Fishing has been better lately than it has over most of the year, at least in terms of producing numbers of fish. We've had some birds working, and we're also finding fish in lots of places, some in the marshes and bayous, also out around the reefs, now that the water's salty again. You can catch fish wading on the windier days, staying tight to protected shorelines and throwing topwaters and slow-sinkers. Fishing out in the middle is, of course, better when winds are light and tides are lower. We haven't been catching any really big trout, but normally January is one of the best months for those. I like to head out in the afternoon and fish into the first hour or so of the night this time of year.”

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service  979.849.7019 – 979.864.9323
Randall was looking forward to taking delivery on his new boat with excitement when we talked. “It's gonna be really similar to the one I've got now. A deluxe model JH Performance Boat from Sport Marine. With a 300HP Etec on the back. Can't wait to run it! Fishing has been pretty good most of the time lately. We had an abundance of small trout last month, but this month, the percentage of keepers is up, and I expect things to continue to improve as the cold weather patterns become more reliable. Lately, we're fishing five to six feet of water on most days, moving a bit deeper when it's colder, shallower when it warms up. We like to stay over a muddy bottom with some shell this time of year. Best lures lately have been Norton Sand Eels, the full-sized ones, in colors like red magic and tequila gold. We're rigging them on three-eighth ounce screw-lock jigheads. In January, the plan will be much the same, and we'll hope to catch some of the biggest trout of the year. If the water temperatures warm up over 60 degrees, we'll throw topwaters as long as we're getting blown up.”

Matagorda | Bay Guide Service
Charlie Paradoski – 713.725.2401
January is a great month to target some of the big trout that make fishing in the Matagorda area famous, Charlie says. “We mostly spend our time trying to catch big trout this time of year. When tide levels are up, and the weather's on the warm side, we do a lot of wading in the coves and close to reefs adjacent to the ICW. When we're wading, we throw slow-sinking lures like Paul Brown Lures and MirrOlure SoftDines most of the time, and switch to topwaters if we see a bunch of bait jumping. When the tide rolls out, and it gets colder, which often happens about the same time, we do more fishing out of the boat, targeting the big trout in open water out in the middle. We throw soft plastics more when we're fishing that way, trying to keep them in close contact with the bottom. Most of the best fishing is over a muddy bottom with some shell scattered around on it. If the weather gets even nastier, meaning we have strong winds, we'll duck into the Colorado River or the Diversion Channel. Since it's been pretty dry for a while, the water in those places is salty and green.”

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam
www.palaciosguideservice.com – 979.240.8204
Cold weather patterns have kicked off nicely in our area, and fishing has been fantastic. The trout bite has been steady in all three of the local rivers. We're fishing drop offs and ledges, using three-eighths ounce heads rigged with DSL in chicken of the sea and dirty tequila colors. Night fishing for trout along the seawall in Palacios has been as good as ever lately, with lots of keeper trout caught by anglers using H&H speck rigs in colors like glow and glass minnow. The deep holes in turning basins two and three have also held good numbers of keeper trout. Free-lining live shrimp has been the best way to target those. Fishing for reds has been even better than trout fishing. We've been sight-casting them in the crystal clear water and having a blast. Using quarter-ounce gold spoons and pearl paddletails on eighth-ounce jigheads has worked best. January fishing should continue the roll we're on. We've got lots of bait in the area, and the predators are staying close to them. We'll concentrate on muddy flats close to deep water, ones holding plenty of bait, as the weather cools down even more and the fish become settled into the winter patterns.

Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service – 361.983.4434
Lynn likes January, for several reasons, not the least of which is the increased chances of catching the bigger trout, as compared to the warmer months. “January is a great month to target the big trout. We like to start off late morning, let the sun get up and heat up the flats a bit. We'll fish into the afternoon hours. Best pattern is usually one where we've had a warming trend for a day or two or even three, and the coves and lakes have filled up with warming water, then an outgoing tide pulls that water out into the main bay. We like to fish adjacent to the guts and drains in situations like that, especially in places where thick, dark grass beds cover a muddy bottom. Of course, we'll always be searching for spots which are holding bait. Doesn't have to be that much bait this time of year, but there does have to be some. Mullet is by far the most common bait species, so we look for them. We throw mostly slow-sinking twitch baits this time of year, like the Paul Brown Lures and Lele lures. Topwaters will work at times, but they're a specialty this time of year, not a staple.”  

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake will continue working through the Cast-n-Blast season in January, heading into back corners of the marshes and lakes before daylight, shooting until the birds stop flying or limits are met, then fishing his way back to the dock. “Several of the back lakes are holding good schools of reds right now. Normally, in January, we find them in the deeper guts and holes in there. Catching is best throwing along the drop-offs. We target the reds with the Gulp! split-tails mostly, also with Bass Assassins and Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with bright tails. Once we get done with the reds, we usually have some time left to move to the main-bay shorelines in Aransas, Mesquite and St. Charles Bays to try for our trout. When targeting the trout, I like shorelines with fairly deep water close to the bank, since we're usually catching our fish in water about waist-deep or so. Shorelines with thick, dark grass beds and some muddy areas seem to produce well too. We'll throw topwaters when conditions are warm and we're seeing a lot of activity at the surface, but spend more time throwing soft plastics at the trout than anything else.”

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata – [email protected]randecom.net – 361.563.1160
In January, the traffic on the water usually slows to its lowest point of the year on the ULM, as trophy deer hunters head to their stands in the brush. Though the traffic, air and water temperatures go down, fishing is usually excellent, especially for the bigger trout. As cold fronts pass over the coast, water temperatures will drop rapidly, and the trout will move to deeper water for a while. After a day or two, especially when the sun shines brightly, the shallows will warm back up faster than the deeper water, and the bait and trout will move back onto shorelines and closer to the shallow parts of mid-bay structures. I'll be targeting them using Texas Assassins in colors like plum/chartreuse, bone diamond and salt and pepper silver phantom/chartreuse rigged on eighth-ounce Spring-lock jigheads, throwing them in three to four feet of water early, then switching to lighter jigheads and working shallower water later in the day. The Assassin Elite Shiners in colors like salt and pepper, Houdini and meat hook also work very well in the generally clear, cold water we are usually fishing in the first month, our coldest of the year.

Corpus Christi / Joe Mendez—www.sightcast1.com—361.877.1230
December is a great month to troll around in the ICW and catch plenty of trout and redfish throwing at the edges. The channels leading off the main ditch into and cast toward them, keeping the boat centered in the deeper water. Using a trolling motor aids in this endeavor greatly. Anchoring up along the edge and casting out of the back of the boat can produce a few fish, but staying mobile, away from the edge and casting toward it works much better. Windier days make using heavier jigheads necessary, since the goal is to flutter the bait down along the wall. Strong currents can also bring heavier heads into play. On the warmer days, when the fish move into the shallows at the ends of the side channels, light jigheads work better. Topwaters also work great at times on days like those, especially if it's cloudy, also late in the afternoons. Fishing along shorelines protected from the effects of strong north winds also produces good catches this time of year.

P. I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
361-877-3583 | Oceanepics.com

We start the New Year with some of the coldest surf temps of the year. Through January and much of February, water temperatures warm briefly and then drop back below 60°. Each winter is different, but expect surf action to slow dramatically when the water is in the 50s. Pompano don’t seem to mind too much; any warm bluebird day can get them running full force, especially when the water clarity is good. Pompano are regarded highly as table fare. We usually target them with Fish-bites, dead shrimp, or combinations of both on small hooks. The bull redfish bite will taper off and be replaced by smaller slot-fish, and large numbers of black drum. Both species will take pompano baits. Whiting should be plentiful. Shark action will be generally slow, but should include some sandbar sharks.  Sandbars are bulky, muscular sharks that look like a cross between a blacktip and a bull.  Most are mature adults that come to the surf to breed. Sandbars possess an obvious interdorsal ridge that most species do not have. The species is federally protected and MUST be released. When the weather breaks, get out and have fun in the surf!

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza
Snookdudecharters.com – 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000
Temperatures have gotten a bit colder, but the fishing hasn't slowed down. This is the best time of year to catch more quality trout; doing so often requires more patience than normal. With temperatures dropping, we find more trout and redfish in deeper water early, moving shallower as the days warm up, often over a soft muddy bottom. Area's like Peyton's, Glady's Hole and the west shoreline south of Glady's are excellent places to start a search for big trout early in the morning. As the sun warms the air and water, the spoils around Bennie's Island all the way to San Antonio Shack start producing better. Community Bar can be good any time of the day this time of year. Best drill over there is to stand shallow and cast to deeper water, letting the lure sink for a while after it lands, then working it in low and slow, waiting for a light tap. Sometimes, the line will just get tight, without the slightest tap. The east side can produce too this time of year, especially during warm spells, when lots of bait shows up over there in grassy areas with plenty of sandy potholes.

Lower Laguna Madre—South Padre—Port Isabel
Aaron Cisneros | tightlinescharters.com – 956-639-1941
We continue to have a good bite fishing deep potholes near the ICW. We are having to cull through lots of fourteen to fifteen-inch fish to catch an occasional twenty incher. Best bite has been on red and white KWiggler Ball -tails rigged on an eighth-ounce screwlock head. Shallow water along muddy shorelines have been holding ample rafts of bait, and we're finding the trout bigger on average in those kinds of places, but the action has been pretty slow. Best way to urge bites in the shallows has been dragging the bait along the bottom really slow, almost like flounder fishing. Reds have been holding in two to three feet of water, feeding on small bait fish and whatever shrimp they can find. Bone diamond soft plastics have worked well for them, as have weedless gold spoons, when the winds stir up large amounts of floating grass. With cooler weather in December, the fishing for bigger trout should pick up in the deeper potholes. And, the fish should be fatter on average, as they start feeding more on the bigger bait fish, with not much left to choose instead.