Reports & Forecasts: Dec 2011

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

Most of us point our bows north this time of year in pursuit of trout. They will be on reefs and sand flats, looking to warm up and grab a bite to eat after the chilly night. Do not be afraid to fish shallow. Its tough to fish shallow out of the boat, so getting out and wading is probably the best bet. That does not mean catching fish out of the boat is impossible; fish a little deeper on the outside edges of the reef or flat and you should be able to catch them coming and going. We usually do not look for them to be any deeper than about five and a half feet. Redfish, on the other hand, will be our main attraction. They will be up and down the east bank, around every cove, pocket, and bayou. All it takes is fishing and lots of it. Just drift about a cast and a half off the bank, casting toward and away from the bank. Making long, monotonous drifts usually pays off in the end. When you hit a fish, drop the anchor or Power Pole and hang on. The reds will bite anything you put in front of them, regardless of color. The key is locating them.

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

James normal enthusiasm for the fishing could be heard in his voice when he gave this report. "We're in a typical fall pattern right now, and it's lock and load. The fish have finally moved shallower, and we're catching them both wading and out of the boat. Best lures lately have been the limetreuse Bass Assassins rigged on H&H Flutter Jigheads, pink/silver TopDogs and chartreuse/gold Catch 5s. I think the fish are staged right now where they will be right on into December, especially if it stays dry. East and Trinity Bays are both on fire, and they should continue to produce plenty of quality trout. We had full limits today, keeping 30 trout, releasing quite a few of the bigger ones, the 23 to 25 inchers. Also caught quite a few flounder around 20 inches. We're keying on shad and mullet; finding the schools of those bait fish is leading us to the schools of trout. West Bay might pick up after a couple more fronts too. This kind of fishing should last until Christmas. We'll lose a few days to the weather, but it's set up real good."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
Jim will be splitting his time between the fields, the marshes and the bay shorelines in December. "I'll be hunting on the weekends, fishing more during the week. If the weather's not good, I'll be in a blind, hunting either ducks or deer. When the weather's right for the fishing, we'll be whacking some big trout I'm sure. The better trout have already shown up in good numbers on the shorelines, and wading should be great up through at least the first half of the month. If it gets too cold after that, the duck hunting will generally be a better option, except on the nicest days. Right now, you can catch the fish pretty much however you want; the topwater bite has been hot. As we get into December, topwaters will only work on the best days; slow sinking twitch baits and soft plastics will catch more. The key, as always, will be to locate the fish. I'll be fishing shallow mostly, inside the marsh some, around drains into the marsh at other times, playing the tides. We're finding good numbers of reds in the marshes now, with a few trout mixed in."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service - 979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
Randall was just getting done cleaning fish when we talked. "The fishing has been outstanding lately, with limits of trout on many days, limits of reds on others. The tide level is critical in terms of what we're mainly targeting. When the tide is higher, we are having great luck with the trout. They stack up on the reefs and you can see which ones are holding fish, because the mullet blanket the shallow part as they huddle up to try and stay away from the trout. When you find it like that, it's easy to catch 'em. We've been having the best luck throwing a woody (white with red head) Skitterwalk and also on red magic Sand Eels, working either of those fast, to trigger reaction strikes. If the tide is low, we go after the reds. The trout tend to pull away from the reefs and become less active, so they're harder to catch, but the reds will be shallow, with their backs out of the water. These patterns should hold through December, when the tide and temperatures tend to swing up and down a lot. We'll also work some deep mud and shell this month for trout."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service -979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037

Tommy mentions a plethora of options in Matagorda, as fall turns into winter. "We like to drift a lot in East Bay. We should still have birds working the first half of December, and fishing over scattered shell and around deep reefs is good. We use heavier jigheads when working this drill, to keep the lures close to the bottom. When wading East Bay, we
focus on drains coming off the island and some of the big flats in the east end, throwing Paul Brown Lures mostly, topwaters if it's warmer, and soft plastics on light jigheads. I wade shorelines in West Bay pretty much the same way, if I'm targeting trout. If the tide drops way out, we go after the redfish more; they usually pile up in great numbers in the deep parts of the coves. The Colorado River is great too; after all the dry weather, it's pretty and green. We throw soft plastics on heavy jigheads along the drop offs if the weather isn't too cold, but if it gets really chilly, we'll drag the lures behind the boat, targeting the deepest holes. Setting up lights and fishing at night in the river is productive too."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204

Fishing remains awesome in the Palacios area. Loads of redfish have dominated our fall fishing so far, as these bruisers are podding up and chasing shrimp down shorelines. Small white topwaters along with small paddletail lures have worked fantastic for catching these schooling fish. Anytime you see gulls or white egrets working shorelines, slow down and check them out, because they are probably picking up scraps chased to the surface or onto the shorelines by the herding redfish. Trout fishing has finally picked back up after a slow month. Solid catches have been coming from water three to five feet deep over bottoms composed of a mix of shell and mud. Paul Brown Original Lures and Fat Boys in chartreuse/pearl and pumpkinseed/chartreuse have been the most consistent lures for catching the trout. As we get some cooler weather, we should see more flocks of gulls working over trout. Later, with even colder weather, the big key will become locating the bait. In cold weather, finding bait is critical to catching fish.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith - Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434

For Lynn, the plans for December depend on how cold the weather gets. "If it's not too cold, we'll keep fishing much the same way we are now, leaving the dock early and focusing on sandy, grassy shorelines. We'll be throwing Paul Brown Lures and topwaters as much as possible, using soft plastics as necessary when the bite gets tougher. But if we get some colder weather, which we often do this month, I'll change tactics significantly. First off, we'll leave the dock later, usually about ten in the morning, to allow the flats to heat up, then fish the afternoon. We'll also change the patterns we fish, focusing more on shallow areas real close to deep water, and we'll favor drains and other areas with a soft, muddy bottom. More often than not, we'll be fishing with soft plastics rigged on light jigheads, dragging them slowly along the bottom, trying to make some puffs in the mud. Locating decent amounts of bait fish will also become a prime priority if the weather turns chilly. Finding bait makes it much easier to be patient this time of year."

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

Blake was smack dab in the middle of cast-n-blast season when he gave his report. "I'll be continuing with the combination trips, shooting ducks in the early morning, then fishing the rest of the day. We're using the air boat a lot, hunting and fishing in the back lakes. The redfish have been pretty easy lately, and we're catching some nice trout too. The action should stay steady in December. We'll be targeting shorelines in Corpus Christi and Aransas Bays mostly, some in St. Charles too, focusing on grassy areas with a mix of softer sand and mud. I've been doing well with my old standby lures, namely the Norton Sand Eels in plum/chartreuse and also pretty well on pumpkinseed/chartreuse at times. When the topwater bite is on, we're catching best on Super Spooks in black chrome and the clear one with the chartreuse back. I expect those to work well on the warmer days in December. We tend to catch some big trout on topwaters on warmer days this time of year. The duck hunting is steady; we've got plenty of birds already."

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

It's quiet out on the water during December because of the small number of boats. With the water temperature dropping, the trout will begin to slow down a bit, but not quite like they will in January and February. It will be best to go after trout by wading and using natural colored Bass Assassins like the five inch Die Dapper in salt and pepper, silver phantom/chartreuse, pumpkinseed/chartreuse and for murky water, morning glory/limetreuse. If I'm getting hits on the Die Dappers but no hookups, I will switch to the five inch Texas Assassins in the same colors as above plus bone diamond rigged on eighth ounce Screw Lock jigheads. I will be working water depths of three to four feet with a mixture of sand and gravel on the bottom. The key is to find the right water depths adjacent to shallow water and holding good concentrations of bait. For those who like sightcasting, there will still be plenty of reds, black drum and trout in some areas, holding in about a foot of water. To target those, use four inch Assassin Sea Shads and Gulp! Shrimp.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - - 361.937.5961
Like most others who fish regularly in the Corpus Christi area, Joe hopes the current water quality holds on through the coming months. "The water is clear and has been for a long time. For someone like me, who likes to fish shallow and see what I'm throwing at, even sightcast the fish when possible, the clear water is a real blessing. It allows us greater opportunities, and makes it productive to use flies some of the time. The
fishing has been good lately; we're catching a lot of our fish on flats where we can clearly see the potholes and grass beds. Usually, in December, the pattern will change some, and we'll start fishing deeper, working the edges of the ICW and channels which intersect it. I like to adjust my fishing by changing the size of the jigheads I'm throwing when working the ledges, using heavier ones when it's windy or the current is strong. Another thing to consider when working channel edges is the need to find something to indicate where fish will be. Birds working or standing on the edges can point out good stretches."

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

I want to make it perfectly clear right here in the beginning that everything I say in this report depends on the status of the red tide as we make our way into December. Simply put - if it persists we'll be out of luck. Having said that, December is the most productive month of the year for Florida pompano, a species that ranks very high on everybody's favorite list. There are two prevailing methods for catching pompano. You can fish north of the Big Shell and wade the first gut and cast as far as you can or you can drive south of the Big Shell and find a place with no wade gut and a deep and wide first gut and cast with lighter-weight tackle from shore for them. Especially look for cuts/rips in the outside bar and fish this immediate area with fresh, peeled, dead shrimp and "Fishbites." Green "Fishbites" work well but my favorite is pink, shrimp flavored. Black drum and keeper-sized whiting should be in good supply along with scattered slot and oversized reds. Good Fishing.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal - 956.944.2559

It's called fishing, not catching. Each outing is a gift from God and is
meant to be enjoyed. Do not get upset if you happen to go on a slow day, it all has to do with nature. Stronger northers are a given for December along with some very good trout fishing with water temp in the mid 60s between the fronts. The day of the front and sometimes the day after can be slow though. Trout should start working the King Ranch shoreline. The secret is to locate a concentration of bait working in pockets of deeper water. The cooler the water the slower we want to work our baits. There were lots of good trout released throughout the summer and early fall so with all the bait we had the trout should be very healthy and hearty. Trophy time! The arrival of strong northers can mean tough boating conditions. Gale force winds are nothing to mess with. Be smart and pick the right day. Keep what you will eat fresh, release the rest for future catches and give thanks.

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

Our fall trips are always good, but this season is turning into a banner year. The sheer numbers of redfish make up for the overall lack of size. We're bringing in some big ones, but the herds of oversized fish have moved from the shallows to the spawning grounds for their annual roundup. Each norther triggers a feeding frenzy for a couple of days, then dies down, before the big trout swarm back into the cooler, skinny water, hungry and aggressive. We're still throwing the same Cajun Thunder round corks with Berkley Gulp! three inch shrimp, alternating dark and light colors, depending on water clarity. Freddy says, "After the first big norther', the herds of reds will disappear from the shallow flats until after the first couple of months of the new year. You can find pods, but not the schools we see during the warmer months." We're looking forward to some great winter fishing, especially with the recently revived flounder population. Almost any channel with defined grass edges is holding flatties, most full of eggs, and eager to rise to the bait.