Reports & Forecasts: December 2016

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268
Since the rains have stopped and we haven't had a trace for the past 40 days, the water conditions are near perfect for targeting big trout on the flats. With water temperatures falling, all the algae should dissipate and leave us with gin-clear water and high salinity. Larger trout will be found holding on flats near the Calcasieu Ship Channel, in Turner's Bay area, at Commissary Point and Long Point. There will still be plenty of school trout and reds around under birds if you're looking for lots of action and some to take home for dinner. Reds should be schooled up in December and tailing in the marshes adjacent to the lake. They can also be found lurking along the edges of the lake and at the weirs. If you like to fly-fish for reds, now is the time to get out there. They are easily spotted tailing in our many miles of marshes. Flounder will still be around as well. They will be found at the mouths of bayous and in the channel. December is a favorite month of mine since the boat traffic on the lake is slow and the fishing is excellent.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
James says the fishing in Galveston area bays has been decent lately, with a variety of patterns working, and it should improve in December. "We've had a decent topwater bite at times, mostly on pink SheDogs and similar bright ones. They have been working best mostly early in the mornings. On some days, when the water is pretty clear, the bite on 51 and 52M MirrOlures has been decent too. We are making kind of a simple presentation, basically just reeling them in slowly and not doing much with the rod tip. Soft plastics have been working better for the most part though, especially when we're seeing fresh slicks popping and need to throw right at a specific spot. Most of our fishing on recent trips has been done out of the boat, but I'll be looking to wade more of the time come December. My favorite time of year for catching all kinds of fish, trout, big trout, redfish, from the middle of November to the middle of December. Once we get some cooler weather and the tide dumps out, we'll see what we get!"

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
"We've got wall to wall birds working over much of East Bay on some days lately," Jim says. "We're catching lots of small trout, even up to 100 or more on the easiest days, but the percentage of keepers is kinda low. On some days, we're getting limits of trout fairly easily, but on other days, we are culling through lots of dinks for a few keepers. We have small trout in other places too, like in the marshes, bayous and drains. A few holding on area shorelines, but really no sign of the bigger trout. The redfish thing has been a bit easier. You can catch limits pretty easy, if you are willing to chase them around the marshes. In there, we're catching best on topwaters, but in the bayous and drains and under the birds, soft plastics are working better. All of this should change with the colder weather. It will be 'Katy bar the door' by December. I'll be taking advantage of the fishing about half the time by then, and spending the other half of my time hunkered down in the blinds, hunting ducks. It's that time of year again."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
Randall says high tides and marginal water clarity have him targeting redfish with live shrimp and cut bait on many recent outings. "We try to take advantage of the scent of live or cut bait when the water gets off-color like this. We're catching decent numbers of redfish by using such tactics, not wading much, with these high tides. When we are targeting trout, we've been throwing Norton Sand Eels in trick or treat color pattern, rigged on quarter-ounce heads. The best topwater action, and it has been pretty good at times, has been on the chrome/orange/blue Skitterwalk. Mostly, we've been anticipating the onset of the shrimp migration, but we've seen just a trickle so far. By the time this report hits the shelves, though, we will likely have had a strong front, or several. Once the cold north winds start coming with regularity, the water in the marshes will drain out, and we'll have an autumn feast happening before our eyes. Trout and reds will gather in schools to hunt the migrating shrimp, and the gulls will hover over the scene."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
Charlie predicts a strong run of catching once the weather cools down a bit, which can easily happen in December, and often does. "Both our bays are full of fish right now, and the Colorado River is too. We are catching lots of fish on recent trips, mostly trout in the pound and a half to three pound range. The tides are really high, so we're catching best either by wading tight to the shorelines, of fishing out of the boat. Both topwaters and soft plastics have been working well at times, depending on the weather and the how hungry the fish are. Once we get some stronger fronts, the tide levels and water temps will move downward, pushing fish into more predictable places. In particular, I mean the bigger trout. Most every day, I and other people are catching trout over thirty inches, but we aren't seeing schools of fish that size, because they are scattered out. Once the fronts hit, the big fish will show up in numbers in some places, and the shrimp will be forced from the marshes and back lakes, creating a good numbers bite under birds."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
We are still fishing summer-like patterns with these warmer temperatures and not really in full-scale fall mode yet. Winter patterns may be delayed as well, if things don't change. Fishing has still been fantastic this fall, with schooling reds, trout under birds, and flounder in drains. Redfish numbers continue to amaze me, as we are still hammering them on area shorelines where we find them pushing shrimp. VuDu shrimp in natural color and Egret Cajun pepper Bayou Chubs have been hot. Trout have been thick in East/South Bay under birds with Egret Mambo Mullets in pearl/chartreuse accounting for best bites. December is one of the best months for big trout in the Palacios area, when and if it gets colder. The harbor holds some deep holes with some flats on it that produce some good fish, along with the flats around the mouth of the Tres Palacios River. Cajun Pepper Mambo Mullets along with Paul Brown FatBoys are hard for the big gals to turn down. As always in the winter time, find the bait and moving tide and fish will be close by.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
Lynn hopes to be fully switched over to a winter-like pattern by December. "Right now, we've been catching more redfish than trout, when we're fishing area shorelines. The trout are hanging out on the shell reefs lately, close to the deep water, coming up on the shell when they're hungry. This will continue to be the pattern if it's warm in December, but if it's cold like usual, we'll try different tactics. Normally, at the end of the year, I like to fish flats with lots of grass and soft, dark, muddy bottom close to drop offs adjacent to deep water. We'll target the bigger trout in places like those, throwing slow-sinking plugs like Paul Brown Lures and other MirrOlure products like the Catch 2000s, Catch 5s, SoftDines and MirrOdines, working them low and slow. Soft plastics produce more bites at times, but the big trout seem to like lures which look like little fish better. Often, we don't leave the dock at daylight, waiting for the sun to get higher and warm the flats. We'll leave the dock at 9 or 10 o'clock most days, and fish the warmth of the afternoon."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake will still be running cast and blast outings in December. "We had an easy limit of ducks today. Dove hunting has also been good. The pea fields are getting right just now, so that should make for good hunting. Both those seasons should be really productive. When fishing, I'll be targeting redfish in some of the deeper troughs in the back lakes, and of course fishing around the mouths of drains leading from the lakes into the main bays. We'll be wading the shorelines at times, during milder weather spells. I like to target both trout and redfish with topwaters when the weather is right, but will also use Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with chartreuse tails on just about every outing. In the colder weather, I like to switch over to throwing the chartreuse Gulp! split-tail shads, which work great to get the attention of redfish in those conditions. Overall, I expect productive and fun outings to continue right through to the end of the year. We have lots of fish and birds around right now, and the prospects look great."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160
Except for duck hunters, it's quiet on the Laguna during December. So far, the weather has been pretty mild, and the fish have not gone into the deeper water yet. The trout are still in about three to four feet of water early in the mornings, but they have been moving up into shallower water by late morning hours. When feeding, they are very aggressive trying to fatten themselves for the colder part of the winter. I'm targeting areas with dark grass and potholes with gravel and sand bottoms. I will start with chartreuse dog, salt & pepper silver phantom/chartreuse or plum/chartreuse Bass Assassin Die Dappers rigged on eighth-ounce Assassin Screw Lock jigheads early, then switch to a sixteenth-ounce as the day warms the water and the trout move into the shallows. If there is brown tide where I'm fishing, I'll attach the lures to a Bass Assassin Kwik Kork. The chartreuse, shrimp-flavored Fish Bites will continue to produce reds, black drum and some trout on flats with clear water less than twelve inches deep on sunny days.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961
December outings on the Upper Laguna Madre and in Corpus Christi Bay often place anglers in a quiet place, far from the crowds of summer. "December can be a great month for fishing the Corpus Christi area," Joe says. "Deer, duck and dove seasons pull lots of people away from the water for a while, and things get quiet. When small numbers of people hit the water, and the water holds good clarity, sight-casting opportunities become more frequent. Typically, in winter, we are able to sight-cast for trout and redfish in water less than knee-deep during warming trends between fronts, when the sun comes out. On the colder days, with heavy cloud cover, we catch more fish by targeting the ledges lying along the ICW and channels leading from it out into the shallower flats. When fishing that pattern, adjusting jighead size to match the current and wind speeds is key. With high wind and current, heavier jigheads allow for maintaining contact with the edge of the channel. Less wind and current make make lighter jigheads work better."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
Wacky surf conditions continue as Indian Summer lingers. Water temps are running above normal, delaying migrations. Good news is we will likely see a run of jackfish in early December. Oversized redfish should also be abundant early month with mullet present. Using live or dead mullet could result in a variety of species: red drum, jack crevalle, shark, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel. Having barely avoided the red tide curse, expect good pompano action starting this month. Pompano are easy on Fishbites and fresh-peeled shrimp. Keeper and oversized black drum and whiting should also be present. Million-dollar question is whether it will stay warm enough for the fish to hang around until year's end. Winter trout fishing may be prime on calm/clear days around structure and suckouts. Sharks will be available - blacktip, bull, and sandbar, and will bite mullet not longer than 12 inches. Target second and third days after fronts. Northers can cause water to rise, and beach driving will improve as the tides recede.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000

This month will be all about fishing between fronts. Pay careful attention to weather developments if you decide to go the day of the front. Last thing you want is to get caught out there. Things can get real nasty real quick down here on the Lower Laguna. A couple of days before or a couple days afterward is your best bet. Look for bait moving. Everybody knows about birds wheeling and diving, but birds resting on the shoreline or sitting on the water are also good signs. Bait gets very sluggish in cold water, so keep your eyes peeled for even the slightest signs. Post-front, with low water level, you will want to target areas alongside deeper guts and channels, since that's where the fish weather the storm. Old oilfield cuts and ICW spoils are both excellent. Quite often a cold-water bite will be barely a tap, or maybe the line begins to feel slightly heavy. Set the hook! On warmer and calmer days, you might get them on top, but Paul Brown Devil, FatBoy or K-Wiggler Ball Tail are better all-around bets. Once you find the depth and speedstick with it!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747
The coming winter months will hopefully bring relief from summer-like, sunny days with unseasonably high temperatures. We continue to catch occasional flounder, and although reds have been spotty, we've managed to limit almost every trip, throwing FP3 corks with Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp on a sixteenth-ounce Hogie spring-lock jighead under a thirty-pound Cajun Red monofilament leader. Freddy says. "When using braided line to get a good hard pop on your FP3, it's best to use a leader above the cork as well as below. This will provide some stretch between the line and the swivel to keep the braid from tangling around the top of the rig. There are several knots that will almost seamlessly join braid and mono." The water levels have been very high even when the tide is out, making it more difficult to drive the beach to the Mansfield Cut to get in on the large school of spawning reds. This is a great time of year for surf fishing, especially with the mild weather so far this fall. Stop open bay dredge disposal!