Reports & Forecasts: April 2016

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268
Late-March and early-April will be the best time of the year to catch the trout of a lifetime. Topwater action will be in full swing and the bite on Paul Brown Lures will be on fire. Trout will still be located on shallow reefs in three to five feet of water. They'll also gather along the shorelines on big incoming tides. By this time, they will be spread throughout the entire estuary, from the south bank all the way up to Prien Lake. West Cove and Joe's Cove consistently give up the biggest trout of the year, so starting a search there wouldn't be a bad idea. If you're looking for a box of fish, the weirs will produce both trout and redfish at this time. Flounder are also in the middle of their spring run at this time. You'll find them in bayous and off points on incoming tides. We are really looking forward to April. This February has been excellent, and we are looking for that to continue straight into the spring and summer. Many limits of trout and reds have been taken, as well as quite a few big trout.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
"Fishing has been really good lately, especially for regular to medium-sized fish. For a while, when the weather was a little cooler, we were catching them in the coves in West Bay. Lots of solid trout, with slot reds and some pretty big flounder coming in. In fact, I've caught more four-pound flounder already this year than I can remember in a long time. Since the weather warmed up, we are catching more fish over in East Bay. Over there, it's an afternoon bite almost exclusively, and the tide movement is critical. While the tide is really ripping, the bite will be tough, but when it turns and slows, the fish will start champing. Best bite lately has been on slammin' chicken Bass Assassin Sea Shads, and on the clear glitter/chartreuse tail Paul Brown FatBoy. If this April is anything like the last, we will be catchin' 'em on topwaters soon. Last year, during this time frame, we were getting dozens and dozens of blow ups on most days, using TopDogs and SheDogs and other floating plugs like that, mostly while wading, of course."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
"With the warm weather, fish are spreading out into various parts of the bay. That's a good thing, I guess," Jim says. "Water is warm for this time of year, and most of the fish we're catching are just average-sized fish, up to about five pounds max, and they are biting best late in the afternoon. Some people are catching big trout on a regular basis, mostly around Rollover Pass, where the fish are extremely fat right now. Best conditions for catching them over there are incoming tides, with relatively light winds. Warmer weather should spread the fish out even more. Upper Galveston Bay has been producing well all winter, but we should start seeing more consistent catching in lower portions of the bays. Fishing protected shorelines will be the key when it blows. As long as the tide level is high enough, that will work really well. If tides get low and the wind starts blowing, things will get tough. Topwaters have been working well, and should continue to as water temperatures rise."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
Randall was recovering from a hernia surgery when we spoke, so he hadn't been on the water much. "I'm looking forward to getting back after it soon," he said. "The last hours of the day are usually the most productive in March and April. The glass minnows lay their eggs in the shallows, and the trout and redfish feed on them reliably during the late-afternoon and early evening hours. I use small terns to help me locate the schools of glass minnows. Part of it is a sound thing. The terns will make noises which indicate a bit higher level of excitement when they find the minnows. They also fly around and dive a little differently, in a less-random manner. When I see and hear the terns doing the right things, I can locate the schools of minnows, and that's the key to finding the trout and redfish this time of year. We'll target them with all the different types of lures at times, but soft plastics often work best to get the bites, because they look a lot like the minnows. Lures like the junior versions of Norton Sand Eels are particularly effective."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
"Both our bays are full of fish right now. In April, the glass minnows typically show up, and that creates a reliable pattern, especially in West Bay," Charlie says. "One of the most productive lures lately has been a SoftDine, and they should work really well once the glass minnows arrive, since they mimic them pretty well. The glass minnows tend to create a better bite early and late, so it pays to fish those hours once the pattern sets in. Lately, our best fishing has been on shorelines in East Bay. We're catching some pretty big trout in the shallows of the coves, and around some of the reefs, wading. We're also catching some fish out of the boat. When we're fishing out of the boat, we throw mostly soft plastics, using jigheads heavy enough to keep the lures in close contact with the bottom. The soft plastics work when we're wading too, but we have better luck on the bigger trout sometimes with slow-sinking twitch baits and topwaters. April should be really good around here, especially if it's not too windy."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
Fishing has been on fire with these warmer temperatures. We have been on a great trout bite drifting over shell lying in three to five feet of water. When the water has been clean, we have been catching them on pearl/chartreuse paddletails under popping corks. When the wind blows and the water dirties, we have been using morning glory and pumpkinseed/chartreuse. We have had some good bird schools working bait in South Bay, where heavier jigheads rigged with paddletails seem to work the best. Redfish are already on shorelines; quarter-ounce gold weedless spoons and bone Spook Juniors have worked best to catch them. Flounder are showing up in numbers; we have been catching quite a few on the shorelines and gigging a few at night. My advice for next month will be to look for the influx of glass minnows. When the fish find these schools of bait, catching can get down right crazy! Look for flocks of pelicans and gulls working bait down the shoreline and position yourself in front of the school at the ready.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
Lynn predicts he will be wading shorelines which have guts running parallel to them, with sandy pockets surrounded by grassy areas. "I'll be staying close to guts running adjacent to area shorelines, targeting large trout. This is a prime month for catching some of the biggest trout of the year. I am hoping to be able to do quite a bit of sight-casting. This normally works well, as the big trout move out of the grass beds and cross over the sandy bottom. We've got some clear water in the bays, so we're already seeing some potential for fishing of this kind. It should get more consistent as we get into April. This kind of fishing is normally really good during the middle of spring. Topwaters usually work well early, when we are blind-casting, when we can't see the fish. If we can see the fish, later in the mornings, it is usually much easier to target and catch them on soft plastics. Locating lots of bait is another big key. Those big trout will be lurking in areas which are holding an ample food supply for them."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
April is a month which provides plenty of options for Blake in the Coastal Bend bays he frequents. "I'll be targeting my trout on shorelines with lots of hard sand bottom, with scattered grass close to the shore, more grass and scattered potholes further out from the bank. Generally, the bigger trout will stay in the shallower parts of the area, while the smaller keepers will be easier to catch out a little deeper. Topwaters and slow-sinking twitch baits work best for us when we're fishing this pattern, particularly in the shallower parts of the areas. Lots of redfish will be roaming those same kinds of areas, particularly in places near cuts leading from the main bays into the backwater areas. We also have plenty of fish on reefs this time of year. When winds are lighter, it's often possible to catch easy limits of trout around the shell humps in all the area bays. Norton Sand Eels generally produce best around the reefs. We'll also try fishing for both trout and redfish on flats close to the Pass and Cedar Bayou, and in the surf, if winds allow."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160
I like the month of March, but I love the month of April because everything is coming up. The air temperature is on the rise, the water temperature is going up and the trout and reds are coming up into shallower water. This is a great month to fish for the trophy trout because it is during this month that the trouts' average weight is the heaviest, according to the Parks and Wildlife gill net surveys. The trout will be loaded with eggs as they get ready to spawn. This means that the chance of catching the next state record trout will be relatively high during this month. I'll be looking for the fish along shallow grass lines and sandy potholes in less than two feet of water. I use bone diamond Bass Assassin Shads or sand trout colored Die Dappers on sunny days and pumpkinseed/chartreuse or morning glory/chartreuse on cloudy days and dirty water. This is no time to fool around, so make sure the Power Pro along with 20-25 lb. test fluorocarbon are in good shape. My natural-colored SheDogs will also see plenty of action this month.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961
Joe says the fishing has been better than normal for catching regular-sized trout and redfish throughout this warm winter, and he expects an excellent spring. "We have some clear water in most places. Normally, April is a great month for fishing down south, around and in the Land Cut and in places close to the entrance to it. Sometimes, we'll be targeting fish in very shallow water, sight-casting. At other times, we'll target our fish around deep grass edges, rocks lying close to deep water, and along the edge of the intracoastal waterway. Sight-casting is pretty much a no-brainer. If you can see the fish and bring the lure close in front of them, they will usually bite. Fishing deeper structures and channel ledges requires a more thoughtful approach. It pays to match jighead size to the wind speeds and current speeds. More wind and water movement necessitate heavier jigheads, to allow for maintaining contact either with the bottom or with the edge of the channel. Lighter winds and less current will allow for the use of lighter jigheads."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
The unusually mild winter has had a strong impact on our surf zone. Blacktip sharks came in full force earlier than expected and jack crevalle arrived in late-February. Jackfish feeds have been aggressive, albeit sometimes brief. Topwaters have worked well when you are lucky to find them. Otherwise, live mullet or cut bait will randomly produce a feeding jack. Redfish, pompano, drum, and sheepshead can be caught on fresh-dead shrimp and Fishbites. If last year repeats, there will be a lot of sheepshead cruising the surf in April. If we have a cool month, there is a chance of little tunny invading the surf. These tuna-like fish can be caught tossing the smallest of spoons and also on fly gear. The million dollar question will be the presence of sargassum; there has been very little offshore thus far. IF sargassum remains absent, I look for a stellar spring shark season. Scalloped hammerheads should be in as early as mid-March, and we will likely see lots of monster bull sharks being caught. Warm water likely diminishes the seasonal threat of heavy fog.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
Is it just me or does it feel like summer to you also? There have been days here lately that you could wet wade. Well, with the warming temperatures the fishing has been outstanding. The topwater and Corky bite have both been unbelievable. The pink and bone Super Spook Juniors have been producing solid trout. Bone/chartreuse and amber/chartreuse Paul Brown FatBoys have also been a consistent ticket. And if that action begins to wane, a K-Wiggler Ball Tail Shad on an eighth-ounce jighead is the best way to keep the bites coming. The lagunaflauge, Mansfield margarita and red with white tail have been great K-Wiggler colors. The redfish have been really active and there have been many days that boats are coming in with limits of both reds and trout. These fish are in mid-thigh depths where the bottom is soft (not muddy) with lots of grass. The Saucer and West Shoreline have been the most popular spots. I believe that as good as it is right now we could be in for a record year in the Laguna Madre. Tight lines and calm seas!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747
The last half of this past month has been challenging. Although we've had some great days in February, there has been a noticeable lack of slot redfish. Tides have been low, making it a must to run a Shallow Sport, and the last couple of weeks, tide movement has been sluggish in the morning. Having said that, we've boated lots of oversize reds and one of the largest trout we've seen since last year. Trout fishing has been productive, even with high winds that make the LLM muddy and rough. Freddy says, "The bay can get overrun with black drum, making it hard for reds to find enough food to stay in the area. Many years ago, the state allowed black drum to be netted in an attempt to keep the population controlled." We're continuing to fish Cajun Thunder corks with Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp in pearl and new penny. The bait will stay in the freezer for the rest of 2016, unless water temperatures drop dramatically. We are looking forward to higher tides and cleaner water in the coming months. Let's all get on the bandwagon and put a stop to open-bay dredge disposal.