Reports & Forecasts: April 2011

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268

In April, big trout will be busting big mullet on the flats. With water temperatures in the seventies, topwaters are the hottest thing going. We love Super Spooks, SkitterWalks, and MirrOlures. Let the fish dictate what to throw. Match the lures to water colors. Pay attention to the size of the baitfish on the flat. Around smaller mullet, use SkitterWalks, SheDogs and TopDogs. In clean, green water, go with natural colors like chrome/black, chrome/blue, or chrome/green. In sandy, more stained water, try colors like bone, pink, orange, or chartreuse. Around big mullet, switch to Super Spooks and really try to move some water. As the morning goes on, move from flats to reefs in deeper water. Switch to suspending baits like MirrOlure 52MR's, MirrOdines and Corkys. Look for fish on the south end of Calcasieu, in West Cove and Joe's Cove. If winds allow, try up north too. Redfish will be at the weirs on outgoing tides. Try the marshes behind the weirs on incoming tides. Gulp! on quarter ounce heads work well.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242

Fishing for big trout is already turned on, James says. "We had two trout over 28 inches, two over 27 and a bunch more over 25 inches the other day. One of my clients would have had about 58 pounds on his ten best fish. We were catching 'em wading, but we were wading deep, up to near the top of our waders and throwing out as far as we could. We aren't finding nearly as many fish up shallow, except on the "dark thirty" expeditions. During the day, we are finding the fish deeper. In fact, the boat fishing has been good too. The biggest trout aren't quite as big, but the numbers are good, and the quality is there too. Most of the bite while wading is coming on Paul Brown's Original Fat Boys. I'm also throwing a new soft plastic by Bass Assassin. It's got good bulk to it and a large paddle tail. I'd expect to keep catching some big trout throughout the spring, as long as the wind don't blow too hard. The back ends of East Bay and Trinity are both holding solid schools of fish, and the action should move shallower in April."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim reports steady but not outstanding fishing lately. "We have lots of reds and the fishing is pretty easy most days for them, but the trout fishing has been kind of inconsistent. We are wading a lot, and there are some solid trout in several locations in the back of East Bay, but the numbers aren't really good. When tides are going out in the morning, you better get your fish early. The middle of the day can be a struggle. The bayous and marshes are starting to fill up with fish, and when tides get higher in April, that should only help. We'll be wading almost exclusively, until right at the end of the month. The fish are shallow already and will stay shallow through most of April, and wading gives better protection from the spring winds. If and when the wind does lay some, fishing out in the middle around the reefs will start to pay off more and more. We should also have some birds working by the time this is printed. If the water stays salty in Trinity Bay, the flocks will probably start over there first."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323

Good fishing promises to turn into great fishing in the coming month or so, predicts Randall. "We already have some button shad and glass minnows showing up and that's a good thing. When the fish are feeding heavily on the shad, they throw a lot of slicks, and that makes finding them a little easier. We've been catching some solid trout on LSU-colored Fat Boys, no big numbers, but good solid trout. What we are really anticipating is the major influx of other forage species, like the shrimp and the ribbon fish to come through the Pass from the Gulf. Fishing around the baby ribbon fish is one of my favorite patterns. When it's really on, you can just stand in one place and watch for the ribbon fish as they are trying to escape. They will be skipping and jumping real fast right above the surface. Then the catching is easy, it's like leading a dove with a shotgun. Just chunk a topwater right out in front of the ribbon fish, work it fast and erratic and hang on! Some of our best trout of the year are usually caught in April on the shallow flats."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037

Both East and West Matagorda Bays have tremendous potential in the middle of spring according to Tommy. "I really like West Bay this time of year for both trout and reds. I will fish all along the south shoreline, working the shallow grass beds on the shoreline early with topwaters, then moving out to the deeper grass beds and outside sand bars as the day wears on. It's a good idea to stay off the sand bars and throw the lures onto them, then bring the lure into the gut. When not throwing topwaters, I throw dark soft plastics, like black magic Sand Eels and Bull Minnows. Over in East Bay, the mid-bay reefs are a great place to target some of the bigger trout. When winds allow, I like to wade those and start off with slow-sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown's Original Lures and MirrOlure Catch 2000s. Topwaters will get their chance out there too, as will soft plastics on light jigheads. When drifting the scattered shell in East Bay, I like to key on slicks and schools of mullet using soft plastics on heavier jigheads to make bottom contact."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204

The good news from the Palacios area is we have lots of fish in the bays! After escaping a major hit from Mother Nature, the trout and redfish responded to warming water temperatures and rising tides. We have been on some good trout up to twenty three inches on pearl/chartreuse paddle tails, fishing along area shorelines with an abundance of mud and shell on the bottom. When the water temps have warmed up in mid-morning, the good old reliable Super Spook Jr. in bone has accounted for some awesome blowups and hookups in the same areas. Redfish have been staging on mudflats in depths of two to three feet, and have been actively pursuing bait. We've seen no big schools yet, but we are seeing quite a few smaller groups working together. Purple/chartreuse and pearl/chartreuse rat tail soft plastics have been the best bet for reds. April should be an awesome month, with loads of bait arriving from the Gulf. We'll keep an eye on the brown pelicans, as they will always help us find the fish following the migrating glass minnows.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn had been working hard on his boat to get it ready for the spring season and expects to be hard at it in April. "I'll be targeting big trout and redfish on the shallow flats this month. We like to wade hard sandy bottoms mostly, especially those flats with plenty of grass growing on them, so there are good numbers of sand pockets to target. When wading flats like those, I'll throw top waters a lot and also soft plastics. The soft plastics are great for precisely targeting the sand pockets. I also like to wade some areas with soft, muddy bottom and scattered shell this time of year. I like areas with guts or drains running from the shallow water to deep water. I will throw conventional topwaters in those areas too, and also the floating versions of Paul Brown's Original Lures. Soft plastics can be tougher to work around the shell bottom. As always, one of the most important keys to catching fish this time of year is to find good concentrations of bait fish. With all the bait migrations in full swing, it pays to fish where there is plenty for the trout and reds to eat."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894

Fishing has been steady for both trout and reds in the Rockport area since the warm weather came at the end of winter, and Blake predicts a great spring run. "It's starting to feel more like the old days. We've had some decent topwater action on the trout and that should only get better. I'll be targeting the sandy, grassy shorelines in area bays, staying shallow most of the time. The bigger trout mix with the redfish along the shallow fringes of our bays in April. I like to key on areas with a good mix of the sand and grass. If the blow ups aren't coming, I'll switch over to my old stand by fish catchers, the Norton Sand Eels in purple/chartreuse and pumpkinseed/chartreuse. The redfish action should be good in the back lakes this month too. We usually have a high tide in April so the lakes are full and the water stays pretty clear in there with all the southeast wind. We can usually locate the schools pretty easy. Sightcasting is often possible. It's a great time to be on the water in the Coastal Bend."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160

Spring has sprung and fishing is great! Our fishery made it through the freezing temperatures experienced in February and the fish are carrying a lot of weight. April is a great month for trophy trout because this is when their average weight is the heaviest. The trout are spawning, so they are loaded with eggs and this adds much to their weight. Look for the trout along shallow, grassy shorelines. Nervous and jumping bait along the shorelines will give the trout away. My ultimate, favorite way to catch these fish is with topwaters. I will start with a MirrOlure Top Dog Junior or a SheDog in natural colors. I will also use bone diamond or plum/chartreuse Bass Assassin Shad or the Berkley Ripple Mullet rigged on a sixteenth ounce Spring Lock jighead. Sightcasting for trout, reds and black drum has been very good recently and the action should continue for the rest of the season. I'll be sightcasting in water less than fifteen inches deep with four inch Blurp shrimp or three inch Gulp! shrimp rigged on sixteenth ounce jigheads.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
April is historically the best month of all for fishing the Land Cut, Joe asserts. "This is the time to be in The Cut. The trout caught in there just seem to be bigger on average in April than they are the rest of the year. Fishing for them is not really that complicated, provided you have the right equipment. You need a good trolling motor and at least one, if not two, drift anchors. When the wind is calm, the trolling motor allows you to keep moving down the edge. Most of the time, the wind is strong from the southeast, and the drift anchors and trolling motor allow for keeping the boat within casting range of the dropoff without blowing onto it. Adjust jighead sizes with the strength of the wind. Use heavier heads to keep the soft plastics in contact with the edge as it falls when winds are strong, lighter ones when it's calmer. Or throw topwaters onto the shallowest part of the edge and bring them across the dropoff. On the calmer days, it's also fun to run into Nine Mile Hole and look for some of the herds the monster reds that live in there."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446

Over the years, the quality of fishing in the Padre Island surf has depended almost totally on the varying amount of sargassum weed we receive from one year to the next. Barring massive qualities of sargassum, April can bring excellent fishing. Spring tides are unavoidable so always check your tide tables when planning your trip and avoid being caught down there during strong northeast wind as the water can go to the dune line quickly. Large numbers of adult jack crevalle are often encountered and the key to spotting them is to target the areas of diving and turning brown pelicans following them up the beach. Pompano, sheepshead, whiting, redfish and black drum are all available to bottom fishermen on fresh, dead shrimp and Fishbites. A wide variety of shark species are available to those casting shark baits as well as kayaked baits. Sargassum is often heavier on the north end than the area south of the Big Shell. Speckled trout are possible and seem to prefer silver spoons and Rattletraps to other lures in the spring.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559

Three days below freezing during the first week of February had everybody worrying and expecting a major fish kill. Wrong again! It was as though somebody laid a giant blanket over the Lower Laguna Madre and we experienced only a very minimal fish kill. Water temperatures are currently in the lower sixties and Lower Laguna anglers are enjoying good fishing from the Land Cut all the way down to the Causeway. We've had some of the best topwater action I've seen in years and I expect it will continue. Three major factors are contributing to this. We have lots of fish. Due to the demise of much of our bottom grasses in last summer's floods, there is now very little floating grass, which allows playing with surface baits any way you want. Last, the trout and redfish are feeding daily on the huge schools of mullet cruising the flats. Add these things up and you have great fishing. The best is yet to come. Keep the small ones and let the big ones go.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747

We've had to cancel several trips because of high winds; when you add the nasty water spreading across the LLM from dredging, fishing can be a challenge. Water clarity has been a problem since the loss of much of our filtering grasses in last summer's floods, but we're managing to catch limits of reds most days. It's always easier to get reds to hit on outgoing tides. The trout bite has been great as temperatures warm, and we're looking forward to an excellent spring. Best baits for muddy water are the Cajun Thunder round corks with Berkley Gulp! three inch shrimp suspended over the bottom for long periods. The scent from the Gulps is an enormous help in focusing a hungry predator's attention when sight is limited. Freddy says, "Throwing a little heavier line than usual will give a distinct advantage when popping a large cork. It's not for the weak hearted, thoughyou're going to feel the pop in your wrists and elbows, but with the added inflexibility comes more vibration and better results when the water is cloudy."