Reports & Forecasts: December 2014

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 10-15 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 five or six 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 Original FatBoys, Storm Jointed Thundersticks, and Redfins. These three lures usually produce the majority of our good trout in December. If big trout aren't your thing, look to Turner's Bay on outgoing tides. This area is our number one producer in December.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
James said the fishing had been really consistent in the days before we talked. "I fished every day for almost three weeks and limited out on all but a couple of those days. It was kind of funny, really. We have still been fishing what I'd call a "summer" pattern. Fish have been in water about seven feet deep, over a hard bottom. We're doing all our fishing out of the boat for that reason, and were catching best on soft plastics until a couple days ago. Now, we're seeing the fish move shallower, into water that is possible for wading, and they're eating MirrOlures and topwaters more consistently. Average size of the trout has been good; we've had a couple seven pounders and lots of fours and fives. I think we're supposed to get a pretty strong front the middle part of next week. That will probably change things around somewhat. In December, we'll probably lose more days to the strong fronts, but the fishing on the days we're able to go should just get better, especially our ability to catch better numbers of big trout."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim mentioned the plentiful and productive activities in the great outdoors when giving this report. "It's a great time of year to be outside. We have excellent duck hunting right now, and of course deer season has started. And, the fishing's good too. You can pretty much catch 'em however you want to. We've got birds working out in the middle. People who don't want to get out of the boat and wade can catch all they want most days by following the flocks. You will catch a lot of small fish, but some of the schools are decent sized. We've also got good wadefishing in the shallows in the back of the bay and around marsh drains. Best bite has been around dusk on some days. Some of the boys are catching some big trout, and that action typically continues right through the end of the year. Lately, it's been easiest to catch on topwaters and tails, and we have had some success with slow-sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown Lures, Catch 5s and Catch 2000s too. Those lures and the tails should be the most productive in December as well."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall says the fishing has been really good on some occasions leading up to the time of this report, but it hasn't been really consistent. "These fronts push water out of the bays and get the shrimp moving. When that happens, the birds start working and the fishing is easy for a while. But lately, the warm weather comes back and the shrimp bury up in the mud again, and the catching becomes tougher. That action will all play out with more intensity later this month and into December. Normally, we'll continue to fish patterns related to the shrimp and gulls well into the month. Toward the latter part of the month, once water temperatures get into the low 50s or even lower and stay there, the true winter pattern will kick in. Then, things get simplified somewhat. The cold temperatures will drive the fish deep, and we'll only have to look for them in about four places. They'll usually be stacked up in one or two of those places. Catching them then is normally a matter of fishing soft plastics low and slow."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Tommy always looks forward to fishing the Matagorda area in December, because the productive options are so numerous. "Right now, we've got plenty of birds working, and we're catching both redfish and trout under them in both bays. That action normally stays steady well into December, unless it gets colder than normal early. Once we start getting really strong fronts blowing the water out of the bays and dropping the water temperatures significantly, fishing in the Colorado River is likely to have potential, especially during the frontal passages. After the winds subside following a front, we like to fish the low tides over in West Bay for redfish, keying on the guts and drains along the south shoreline. The same conditions can also be favorable for drifting reefs in both bays. On the new reef in West Bay, lighter jigheads work better, to prevent snagging up a lot, but in the west end of East Bay, we like to use heavier heads, so we can maintain contact with the scattered shell on the bottom."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
This continues to be one of the best autumn runs we've had in quite some time. Redfish are all over flats and out in front of drains and bayous, and trout have been thick under the birds. Chicken-on-a-chain paddletails and quarter ounce gold spoons have accounted for most of our redfish bite. They have been running in pods, chasing shrimp and pogies in less than two feet of water, and most of the fishing has been sight-casting. Trout from fifteen to eighteen inches have been working bait under birds in East Bay pretty regularly, when the tide's falling. Quarter ounce jigheads rigged with pearl/chartreuse or pumpkinseed/chartreuse paddletails have been best lures. December should be awesome. When all the shrimp leaves, we'll focus on the mullet to find trout and redfish. Paul Brown's FatBoys in pearl/chartreuse and glow are two of my favorite lures for winter fishing. First St. Pier and East Bay Pier should continue to hold keeper trout and eating-sized sand trout as the water temps start to cool.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn predicts he'll be fishing areas with a muddy bottom and including some scattered shell during the month of December. "I do like to key on the mud this time of year. I don't normally leave the dock early, usually not until about ten o'clock or so, to let the sun get up and start heating the water on the flats. I favor flats with the right kind of bottom which lie adjacent to some deep water; areas like that seem to produce some of the best trout of the year for us this time of year. Mostly, we'll try to catch 'em on soft plastics, but I will spend quite a bit of time throwing the slow-sinking lures like Paul Brown Lures and MirrOdines and Catch 2000s. All of those lures work well at times in the cold water. We'll still have some topwater action on the warmer days, but the floating lures become more of a specialty thing than an every day thing. Action on better than average trout has already started picking up in the Port O'Connor area, and it should only get better as the water temperatures fall some more heading into the holidays."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake will be doing a variety of things in the outdoors during the Holiday months, as always. "Duck hunting has been slow. We really just don't have the ducks we'd expect for this time of year. That might change with this next big front. I'll be running my cast and blast trips during December, hunting the back lakes and marshes early, then fishing my way out. I generally focus on the deeper parts of the back lakes and the shorelines around the entrances into them when fishing this time of year, hitting grassy shorelines with some shell around. We have had a lot of solid trout hanging around mid-bay reefs too lately, so I might wind up sticking with that pattern quite a bit. I'll be throwing topwaters whenever I can, since the bite on them has been good lately. But in December, Sand Eels and the chartreuse split tail Gulp! generally work better. About a week before Christmas, dove season will reopen and give us another option."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
The boat traffic is down, and it's quiet on the water during deer season in South Texas. With the water temperature cooling down, the trout will begin to slow down, but not as much as they will during January and February. Baffin Bay is continuing to produce fair numbers of fish, despite the fact that most of Baffin is covered with brown tide. There is clearer water both south and north of Baffin Bay, and that is where I'll be using natural-colored Bass Assassin Die Dappers and Texas Assassins like salt and pepper, silver phantom/chartreuse, sand trout and morning glory/chartreuse. I will be looking for trout and reds in two to four feet of water with good concentrations of bait. When fishing the brown tide, I will be using Bass Assassin Kwik Corks rigged with fluorocarbon leaders and Bass Assassin Slurps or Berkley Gulp! on eighth ounce jigheads. I will also rig live shrimp under the corks to avoid getting snagged on the rocks. On sunny days, sight-casting with Fish Bites in clear, shallow water will provide much excitement.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Joe will most likely be fishing along the edges of channels come December, he predicts. "Usually, some time around Thanksgiving, we start seeing birds working up and down the ICW, hovering over migrating shrimp and the trout pushing them toward the surface. The action is normally centered on the area a few miles south of the JFK Causeway, while the shrimp are making their way north through the Laguna Madre on their way to Packery Channel and the Gulf of Mexico. When fishing the birds in the main channel and in the secondary channels intersecting it, I like to use a trolling motor and/or drift anchor to maintain control of the boat. The key is to keep the boat within casting range of the drop off at the edge of the ditch. If wind speeds and currents are running light, jigheads in the eighth ounce to slightly heavier range will allow us to keep our lures in contact with the edges, but when wind speeds and current strengths amp up, we will need to use heavier heads to probe the edges productively."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Opportunity for high-quality fishing in the surf of Padre Island National Seashore during the month of December remains very goodhoweverit is absolutely imperative that beach-traveling anglers monitor weather forecasts very closely. The recovery periods between cold fronts are the best times; the second day following frontal passage is usually very good. Days with strong wind from northeast and east direction should be avoided as these winds are capable of stacking water high on the beach making driving difficult, possibly dangerous. Jack crevalle will be abundant and feeding on finger mullet in shallow water. Watch for brown pelicans wheeling and divingthe jacks should be there. Spanish mackerel and redfish will be in good supply and will readily take finger mullet and a variety of lures. Pompano will be in peak numbers for the year and whiting should be generally abundantrecommended baits for bottom fishing are peeled, fresh-dead shrimp and Fishbites.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
Oh man, November is off to a rainy start. Fishing has been really good, and I expect it will get even better as we get into December, it usually does down here. Good numbers of trout and sand trout are being caught along the drop into the ICW and the East Cut. I have been starting my mornings wading with small to medium tops; bone has been the color. K-Wiggler ball-tails and paddletails are my backup lures; try the Moon Beam color. Redfish are steady on flats in vicinity of East Cut. Mid-morning when trout move deeper I switch to drifting deeper spoils; K-Wiggler Mansfield Margarita on eighth ounce heads have been good. This pattern should hold for quite a while and will repeat during warmups between fronts. As December progresses, the fronts become more frequent and stronger. Use caution crossing open water to reach protected spots but never shy away from north wind; it can provide outstanding action along oilfield cuts and drains. Break out the Paul Brown Lures and have a ball with the trout and reds. Tight lines!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
One of the things we love to see is a Cajun Thunder cork disappearing! Even when it's just an annoying perch pulling the Berkley Gulp down, that is a sign of abundant bait in the area. We have finally begun to see some of the sea grasses that were destroyed during the floods of 2010 growing back. We still have a long way to go, and with the burden of open bay dredge disposal clouding the water and preventing sunlight reaching the bottom, regrowth is still a major problem, especially for areas like Gas Well Flats. Freddy says, "Now that hunting season is in full swing, traffic in the Lower Laguna Madre has begun to ease a little. This is also the best time of the year to fish the surf and passes, making the flats more appealing for sight-fishing." We're limiting on redfish when there's wind and making do with some great catches of black drum when it's calm. The trout have been constant, with some over twenty five, along with the occasional flounder, all on the cork rigs. We're hoping the new year will see the end of open bay dredge disposal.