Reports & Forecasts: Dec 2010

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
Water temperatures are dropping and so are water levels. Most of the shrimp should be out of the marshes by the end of December, but early December is still prime time for bird fishing. Big trout will be on the sand flats around the lake. Salinities are currently extremely high, so I would concentrate my efforts on the northern part of the estuary. Once water temperatures start falling, switch to eighth ounce jigheads and twitch baits that fall slowly through the water column. Whether wadefishing flats or fishing from the boat, concentrate on making your lure look as helpless as possible. Maintain tension on the line all the time, because December trout bites are often very light and difficult to detect. Redfish will be stacked up on the east bank of the lake, pretty much anywhere south of Commissary Point. Also try the weirs at Grand and Lambert Bayous. The easiest way to catch reds is with a Gulp! on the bottom. Use quarter ounce jigheads and maintain contact with the bottom and you should do very well.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
October was a busy and productive month for James.  “I fished a bunch of days in a row, mostly bay fishing, with a tarpon trip or two thrown in there.  The weather was good and the fishing was steady.  Since it was still so warm, we were catching fish by working patterns that were almost summer like, drifting slicks around reefs and well pads out in the middle.  Here lately, the birds have been working over some decent trout up to about three pounds.  Quality trout like those should be available under birds until maybe the middle of December, but really, I like to start wading more of the time once the cold weather gets here.  This month is a great time to catch some big trout by wading.  I’ll head to places like the upper end of Trinity and East Bays, and I’ll spend some time closer to home here on West Bay too, working the shoreline coves some and also wading reefs.  We’ll be throwing lots of MirrOlures, like pink/gold Catch 5s and 51Ms.  We’re also having good luck on the little Sea Shad Assassins, in light colors.”

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Duck hunting has been keeping Jim really busy lately, and he’s stopped fishing weekends altogether.  “Saturday is the best day to hunt ducks.  There are lots of people out and it keeps the birds moving around more.  Hunting has been good and should stay that way.  Recent fronts drove a bunch of birds into our marshes.  Speaking of the marshes, they should be full of fish when the tide is high in December.  When fronts blow the water out of the bays and drain the marshes, the main bay shorelines adjacent to the marshes will be better.  December is a great month to catch quality trout in this area, especially the first half of the month, before the really cold weather settles in.  I’ll be looking to fish during the week and hunt on the weekends.  When fishing, I sometimes like to adjust my time to fish in the afternoon and into the first hour or so of the evening.  Lots of days this time of year, the fish are stale and inactive through the day, but they turn on and feed real good right as the sun is setting and into the night.”

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
 “Think pink in December,” Randall chuckles.  “It’s almost time to break out the pink lures.  We love the Baffin magic Sand Eel Juniors and the salty chicken too.  When we’re throwing other plugs, we like the pink Skitterwalk and pink Paul Brown Fat Boys.  There’s just something about those pink lures in the cold water.  I can’t wait for the colder weather to get these fish back into a winter pattern.  It’s been kind of warm lately, and the fishing has been good, especially for reds.  But it’s a little weird on some days.  I’ve seen it where you could troll down the bank and see the shrimp hanging onto the cord grass.  All those shrimp will be out in the bays once the stronger fronts blow the water out and drive the temperatures down.  Then we’ll be catching more and bigger trout, focusing on a little deeper water over bottom with mud and scattered shell mixed in.  Since there is such a good crop of shrimp and other stuff for the fish to eat, the action should heat up once the migrations kick into high gear.”

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Staying in tune with weather patterns and adjusting fishing strategies to align with the conditions will be the key to consistent success in the Matagorda area in December, says Tommy.  “We have several good options this month, depending on what the weather is doing.  If it’s warm and tides are kind of high, East Bay coves and mid-bay reefs will be productive for both trout and reds.  Birds should be working over there until at least the middle of the month too.  The coves in West Bay can be good for trout during those same conditions.  When the fronts blow in, it will be tough to fish in either bay for a day or so.  That’s when we head to the river, as long as the run off from recent rains isn’t too bad.  When in the river, we’ll either throw three eighths ounce heads at the bank and work the drop off or “dredge” the lure behind the boat, short hopping it until we find fish.  As soon as the winds die down after the front, it’s a great time to head to West Bay and look for redfish stacked in the guts along the south shoreline when the tide drops out.”

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
This past month, with above average temperatures, fish are still not in their normal winter locales. We are still finding fish over sand and grass with a few fish still coming off the wells. To tell you how warm it is, there are still sharks roaming in West Matagorda and still Spanish mackerel at the wells. Bird activity in our area has been good lately. Birds are working from the Tres Palacios River all the way around to Palacios Point. Heavy jigheads rigged with pumpkinseed/chartreuse or pearl/chartreuse paddletails have been producing keeper fish. One tip on working the birds, if you find a school with dinks, leave them to look for a school of keepers; the schools seem to be running with same-sized fish. Redfish action is still tremendous. Sometimes, there are so many it seems like you could catch a limit out of a mud puddle. Small Spooks and baby Skitterwalks in pearl/chartreuse or green have been hot. Once we get some cooler weather, look for fish to move over mud and shell.  Find bait and you will find fish!

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lingering warm weather has made the fishing over sand and grass better than normal for this time of year, but Lynn expects the pattern will change come December.  “Once the stronger fronts start hitting with regularity, we’ll switch over to fishing mud and grass mostly.  The softer and darker the mud the better, especially on the colder days.  Mix in some scattered shell with the mud and grass, and you’ve got the potential for lots of fish and big ones too.  We’ll start off the morning with topwaters if it’s not too cold, and we’ll throw Corkys and Catch 2000s as well.  One of the other keys this time of year is to find the right kind of bottom on flats which are adjacent to some pretty deep water.  Seems the fish don’t like to get too far away from the depths once the water temperatures drop down into the fifties and stay there.  Main bay shorelines, especially those near the pass, should hold decent numbers of fish.  Working the area slowly and thoroughly, especially when lots of mullet are present, will be the keys to catching more fish.”

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
December is prime cast and blast time for Blake, and the duck season shapes up nicely.  “We’ll be hunting the marshes early, trying to shoot our limit before the sun gets too high.  We’ve got good numbers of ducks already, so we should be set up for a productive season.  On most days, we’ll fish after we hunt.  The fishing in the lakes off Aransas Bay for redfish has been good, and that should hold up.  Even when it’s cold and the tide gets blown out, there are plenty of reds in the deeper holes. Gold spoons have been great for the reds.  Trout fishing’s steady too.  We’re catching fish pretty easy on most days.  Some decent topwater action, more of a consistent bite on Sand Eels, in both pumpkinseed/chartreuse and purple/chartreuse.  Some days, we are catching pretty good on limetreuse too.  In December, I use the Gulp lures more often than most of the rest of the year.  The scent on those lures makes it easier for guys with less experience to catch plenty of fish.  It also makes it easier to entice those finicky fish after the fronts.”

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
Baffin Bay is continuing to produce fair numbers of fish.  The fish that I’m finding have been up shallow, in twelve to thirty inches of water.  As is normal for this time of the year, the fish are fattening themselves up in preparation for the winter.  Brown tide still covers much of Baffin Bay and the nearby areas, so unless you have the rocks marked on your GPS, be careful while fishing this area.  I like to use the Bass Assassin Kwik Corks rigged with a fluorocarbon leader and either a Bass Assassin Slurp, Berkley Gulp or live shrimp when I’m fishing close to the rocks in the brown tide.  This rig will keep me from getting snagged on the rocks.  December should still be a good month for sightcasting and fly fishing for reds and black drum in ultra shallow water, meaning twelve inches or less.  I will also be spending much time in the upper end of the Laguna Madre wadefishing with the same soft plastics rigged on eighth ounce Assassin Spring Lock jigheads.  Another one of my favorite lures this time of the year is the MirrOlure Catch 5 (CHBL).

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
December fishing can be pretty simple in the Corpus Christi area, Joe reports.  “Usually, after the first couple of really strong fronts hit right around Thanksgiving, the intracoastal will fill up with fish and they aren’t too hard to locate and catch.  When looking for the fish, focus on bird and bait activity first and foremost.  Usually, the birds will gather over the schools of fish.  They may be sitting most of the time, but if you watch them closely, they’ll get up and pick at jumping shrimp from time to time.  The best way to catch fish in the channel this time of year is with a soft plastic bumped off the sand bar lying along the edge.  Depending on the strength of the wind and current, a heavier jighead might work better than a light one.  Usually, I’m throwing at least a quarter ounce head when fishing this patter, but if it gets really windy and the current is running strong, I might move all the way up to a half ounce head.  The heavier head allows me to maintain contact with the lure as it flutters along the drop off, so I can detect the bites when they come.”

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Although Atlantic pompano showed up in very good numbers mid-October; December is officially prime pompano month.  Look for cuts through the outside sandbar or deep wide guts running right up against the shore.  Pink or chartreuse “Fishbites” and peeled, fresh-dead shrimp are my best producers.  They like clear water and blue bird days so choose your days carefully.  Slot and oversized reds, some large jack crevalle, large Spanish mackerel, Atlantic bluefish and whiting will all be available.  Sandbar sharks will be available along with lesser numbers of bull and lesser blacktipped sharks.  Second day behind a cold front will prove the best water and driving conditions.  Avoid hard NE or E winds as they will pile water on the beach.  Driving has been a nightmare between the 19-23 mile beaches and probably will remain so until we get a good rain to pack down the sand.  Avoid trying to drive alongside the water between the 19-23 beaches.  There are extremely soft places in there and most of the area is straight up and down.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559
For years when folks asked what redfish eat, I would say lots of crabs, piggy perch, shrimp, eels and an occasional Church’s chicken leg. How did I know this? Of the thousands of redfish I’d cleaned over the years; that is what I found in their stomachs. I would finish my statement saying that I believed reds have a hard time catching and eating live mullet due to the location and size of their mouth. Fast forward: Fishing after a recent norther with wind still at 10 to 15 mph, we hadn’t gone fifty yards from the boat when we were all hooked up. This continued for the better part of three hours. Lot of catch and release going on. Back at the dock, every redfish had mullet from two to six inches long in their stomach. These fish were obviously off their feed during the norther and then began gorging when it was over. I no longer say redfish have trouble eating mullet. Winter fishing is some of the best times you’ll spend on the water. Merry Christmas.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
The fall fishing this year has been up and down…down because of the poor water quality, but up because the fish still have to eat!  We’ve been limiting on trout and reds at least one or two trips a week.  When the tides are doubled and sluggish, or the moon full, we need lots of wind to get the fish biting, but when conditions are favorable, you forget that there was ever a problem with the water clarity.  We continue to catch respectable trout including a real nice one every couple of trips.  We are using big Cajun Thunder corks with a fifteen to twenty inch leader trailing a quarter ounce jighead and pearl white, glow or new penny Gulp three inch shrimp.  Freddy says, “When you land in a pothole you want to try to keep the bait there as long as you can to give the fish as much time as possible to strike.  The fish are not able to see much, but they will definitely smell the Gulp and by twitching it every now and then the motion will let them know where to start swiping until they hit pay dirt.”  December fronts should blow brackish water out and clear the bay.