Reports & Forecasts: Dec 2013

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
December is usually a great month for us. With stronger cold fronts, most of the big trout action is on the north end of Calcasieu. Shallow sand flats produce lots of fish from mid-day into the afternoon. This gives water temperatures plenty of time to rise. When you're fishing for trophy trout in our estuary, look for a strong presence of baitfish. I wouldn't necessarily stop on a flat if I see a mullet jump. I like to take ten to fifteen minutes in the boat to study the surface activity before I decide to take the plunge. Loons are also a tell-tale sign that baitfish are present. If I see half a dozen loons on a flat, I immediately fish in their direction at a fast pace. Once I get amongst them I will slow down and fish methodically in that area. If they move, I move with them. We mainly stick to Paul Brown's Fat Boys, Storm Jointed Thundersticks, and Redfins. These three baits usually produce the majority of our good trout in December. If big trout aren't your thing, look to Turners Bay on outgoing tides. This area is our top producer in December.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | silverkingadventures.com | 409.935.7242
James was headed in early on the day we talked. "We caught 52 legal trout before 9 am this morning," he said. "Birds were working all over the place. The key to catching the bigger fish was to keep the lure moving fast near the surface of the water, just reeling it in like you were ready to make another cast. If you let it sink down and jigged it, the fish were smaller, and there were more sand trout. This bird activity will continue on and off through about Thanksgiving, and it will be easy to catch limits of small trout. Then, we'll start wading and catching some bigger fish on a regular basis. In fact, we were catching lots of 24 to 25 inch fish while we were working slicks before the bird action heated up. In December, it will be a shoreline thing, though. We'll throw topwaters when we can. I've been using white Top Dogs a lot, because I can see them better, but the color don't really matter. Soft plastics and 51 MirrOlures will produce bites more consistently. It's set up good. This rain was just what we needed."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Birds were working all over East Bay when Jim gave this report. "We're whackin' the small specks and big sand trout this morning. All the rain freshened up the back of the bay, and there's a line out here between the freshwater and salty water. Birds are squealing and diving everywhere. Today, you can throw any kind or color of soft plastic you want. It doesn't even matter. These fish are feeding like crazy now that the shrimp have been flushed out of the marsh. Before the rain, I had a couple of days with a good topwater bite. One day, we caught a bunch of trout between three and five pounds on Spooks, with one about 7 pounds. Wading action like that should be good in December, if we don't get too much more rain. I will also be hunting ducks and doves as the year winds to a close. It will be good. We had a great opening weekend of duck season. There are plenty of birds in the area. And I've got a bunch of doves on my properties too. It won't matter if it's wet or not, we'll have plenty to shoot at."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall mentions he has seen some pretty strange things on the water lately, including the crash of the Galveston Gal, a vintage airplane. He wanted to send out his thoughts and prayers to the families lost in the mishap. Thanks to you, Randall, for doing what you could at the scene. As far as the fishing goes, he says several variables have made it tougher than normal lately. "We've got a high tide, which has sent the redfish up into the grass and kind of scattered the trout. And we've got some fresh water flowing in the river, which is delaying the start of the cold weather patterns there somewhat. There's also been a strong onshore flow most of the time, which has the water pretty muddied up. Flounder fishing has been the best bet on some days, and we're catching them pretty good. Best bite for them has been on salty chicken Sand Eels. I expect the tide levels to fall once we get a few more strong fronts. That should start the shrimp moving toward the Gulf and kick off the action under working flocks of seagulls."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Tommy hopes birds will still be working in East Matagorda in December. If so, catching trout will be easier. If they aren't, other tactics will be necessary. "If the birds are working, you just go out in the middle and find 'em. If not, we usually find our trout in deeper parts of East Bay with shell on the bottom, like areas around the big reefs in the west end or places like Cleveland Reef. We usually use bright soft plastics like limetreuse and hot pink on heavier jigheads to keep the lures in contact with the oysters on the bottom. We also throw 51MirrOlures while drifting the shell quite a bit. If it's calm, we'll start looking around the mouths of the drains on the shoreline for evidence of big trout. Some of the biggest trout I've caught in Matagorda bit in December in the bayous when it was foggy. Action can be good in West Bay for reds on low tides, and in the Colorado River as well, if the water's salty. Fishing in the river can save the day when it gets too windy to work the main bay areas."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam
www.palaciosguideservice.com | 979.240.8204
I have been trying to think of a word to describe our redfish catches as of late, and I finally came up with a good one--phenomenal! With our fall rains we have a shrimp hatch that has reds schooling like I ain't seen in many years. Tres Palacios Bay, Turtle Bay, Caranchua Bay all have been loaded with reds running shorelines herding shrimp. We have some mornings where we just pole down and wait for them to come to us. It doesn't matter much what you throw, just put it in front of them and hold on! We have been catching some decent trout under the birds, throwing root beer/chartreuse paddletails, but you have to cull through the little ones to get a decent bag. Bonus fish for us this fall have been the abundant flounder; we have caught several over twenty inches while chasing the schooling reds. In December, we change our focus to wading areas with a mix of mud and shell on shorelines holding mullet. Paul Brown Lures and suspending baits make up our box in the colder months, and we fish where bait is present to help locate the fish.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn says he will be wading on flats with shallow water adjacent to deeper water most of the time this month. "We'll focus on muddy areas with a mix of shell and grass on the bottom. Some of the places we like to fish are right next to channel edges and guts. We'll throw dark colored Down South Lures like ones in plum, red shad and pumpkinseed. Normally, we won't leave the dock until about ten o'clock or so. I like to let the sun get up some, so the fish will come out of the deep water and head for the flats with the muddy bottoms. On some days, the best bite doesn't occur until the late afternoon, while the sun starts to set and gets close to the horizon. Of course, we will try to stay close to as much bait as we can. In December, it isn't usually necessary to see a bunch of mullet on the flat, but we certainly want to see some. If the weather is warmer and the bait is active right around the surface, we will try our topwaters. But on most days, the soft plastics are the best lures in the cold months."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake will be in the midst of cast and blast season in December, and he expects both activities to be productive. "We had some good rains and strong fronts lately, and both the duck hunting and fishing are set up well for the winter. We've had an above average year of trout fishing. It tailed off a bit at the end of summer, but is picking back up again. I'll be hunting the marshes in Aransas and St. Charles Bays this month, and fishing my way out of the back lakes once the shooting is over. Fishing for redfish is often good in the marsh lakes, and in the deep drains and holes leading into them. For trout, I prefer to fish in main bay areas close to the entrances to the lakes, where the bottom is soft and grassy. I'll be throwing my typical lures at the fish, meaning topwaters like Super Spooks when I see lots of mullet activity on the surface, and Norton Sand Eels and other soft plastics when I don't. Lately, I've been doing really well with a chartreuse split-tail Gulp! and a new penny Gulp! shrimp."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
Except for the noise from the duck hunters' shotguns, it is very quiet out on the water during December. The trout will begin to slow down a bit because of the cooler water temperatures, but not quite like they will during the months of January and February. Wadefishing will likely be more successful when fishing for trout, and natural colored Bass Assassins is what I will be using during December. I will be fishing with Bass Assassin Die Dappers in colors like pumpkinseed/chartreuse and salt & pepper silver phantom/chartreuse in clear water and chartreuse dog or morning glory/chartreuse in murky water rigged on eighth ounce Spring Lock jigheads. The Die Dappers are scented with "Bang" and I think this will be very helpful this winter. I will continue to use the Assassin Kwik Corks rigged with Assassin Blurps about 12 inches below the corks, targeting trout in three to four feet of water when wading and along the edges of deeper channels. Redfish and black drum will continue to go after shrimp flavored "Fish Bites."

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez www.sightcast1.com | 361.937.5961
With clear water remaining in place around the JFK, Joe expects to be fishing close to home much of the time as the year comes to a close. "Normally, some time around Thanksgiving, we get a bunch of shrimp moving up the ICW, and birds start working over the ditch for a few miles south of the JFK. When that happens, it's usually easy to catch limits of eating sized trout by staying in the deep water and throwing toward the edges of the channel. Of course, watching where the birds are diving and where the shrimp are jumping helps during periods of peak activity. When the action slows down, it pays to make casts at the drop-off and work the lure down the ledge. Matching jighead size to the conditions is important. Lighter heads work best when winds speeds are low, and heavier ones work much better when the wind is blowing harder and swifter currents are flowing. If the channel isn't producing, or when there's too much boat traffic in there, the edges of Beacroft's and Emmord's Holes become a better bet."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
This entire calendar year has been so totally out of sequence that I hate to attempt to guess what fishing will be like in advance. All I can do is tell you what the normal is, but realize that nothing has been normal this year. December used to be the peak of pompano season and I anticipate there will still be pompano available when conditions allow, as well as slot and oversized redfish, whiting, black drum and sheepshead. Cut mullet for the reds and fresh-dead peeled shrimp and Fishbites for the rest. The best conditions will be the second day after cold frontal passage. Sargassum has continued to impact the beach through late October so we'll just have to see if it continues. Beware of northeast and due east winds as they will push the water high on the beach and often muddy the water. Several shark species may be present and most will be caught on kayaked baits. There is the possibility of speckled trout on 51M MirrOlures but they have been missing the past few winters. Good Fishin' -Capt. Billy

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza
Snookdudecharters.com 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
With more frequent fronts and ducks arriving you can tell winter is near. While many hang up their rods for guns, they're overlooking some of the best fishing. December is one of my favorite months; with cooler air and water temps I feel the fish get a little more active. I generally start off the mornings with topwaters or Paul Brown Fat Boys working potholes on the grassy flats. As the day progresses I will either move to the sand on the east and chunk spoons or I continue my hunt for trout on the spoil dumps just off the Intracoastal Waterway. Fishing the spoils, I generally rely on soft plastic lures with 1/8 oz jig heads. If they are really deep, off the edge of the spoil, I will change to a 1/4 ounce jig. Also, if the conditions are good in the morning, the spoils can produce big trout as well as oversized reds. The edges of the East Cut often hold lots of flounder. Hope the information helps. Until next time - Tight lines and calm seas!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | www.fishingwithpettys.com | 956.943.2747
We're looking forward to the winter months, when hunting season keeps many boaters occupied elsewhere. We find that fishing picks up when boat traffic slows down. We've been catching plenty of redfish, but limits of trout have been harder to come by. We're having luck throwing Cajun Thunder round corks with twelve inch leaders tied to a jighead with a Berkley Gulp! three inch shrimp in pearl white or new penny. When the temperature begins to fall, we will move to deeper potholes, looking for pockets of warmer water. Fishing slower will help when the fish are cold and a little sluggish. Freddy says, "Keeping ahead of the game by being prepared at the dock can keep the boat ramp functioning at a comfortable pace for everyone. Get on the water safely and watch out for waders and kayaks when running." The holiday season is a great time to enjoy the bountiful resources that the Rio Grande Valley has to offer, whether you're on land or sea. Let's all help to stop open bay dredge disposal.