Reports & Forecasts: December 2017

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

December can be an excellent month. We look forward to winter fishing all year. Trout fishing is excellent when weather permits. Fishing for reds, on the other hand, is fantastic no matter the conditions. If the boat will float, go catch redfish. The weirs and banks adjacent to them will be excellent places to start your search. Gulp! baits, rigged on quarter-ounce jigheads are usually quite effective. On extremely cold days, try tipping the Gulp! with a small piece of dead shrimp. Trout fishing is also very good on warmer days. Turners Bay is our most productive area in the month of December. Oyster reefs in three to five feet of water hold the most fish. MirrOlure Lil' Johns in natural colors on light jigheads work best. Look for any surface activity and the presence of sea birds. Terns, gulls, egrets, and loons are all signs of baitfish being present. Shallow sand, mud, and shell flats will be productive for bigger trout. Bigger baits like Paul Brown Lures and Thunder Sticks will be our lures of choice when targeting larger trout.

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

Like others in the Galveston area, James reports catching lots of small trout on recent outings. “I've been doing this a long time, and I can honestly say I've never seen so many small trout all over the place. I've been catching undersized trout in numbers in West Bay coves, under flocks of birds in East Bay, and making drifts over in Trinity. Of course, there are some keepers mixed in. On the warmer days, we're seeing a high ratio of dinks to keepers. On cooler days, the ratio improves some. I'm encouraged by the vast numbers of young fish. This should be good for the future. In the short term, we should see an improvement in fishing for bigger trout once the water gets colder. I predict the best fishing of the year will come right at the end. Waders who target trout in shallow areas with a muddy bottom and lots of mullet will make some good catches between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If we get fronts moving through frequently, the key will be timing. Fishing the lulls between the passages will produce the best results.”

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054

“Birds have been working all over the place, and the catching has been easy lately. We've been catching tons of little fish, with some solid keepers mixed in,” Jim says. “I was concerned we might have lost our fish after fifty inches of rain, but we surely didn't. We have plenty of fish in East Bay right now, and the topwater bite has been on fire. I expect, once the water cools down somewhat, the average size of the fish will improve. We've had really warm water temperatures in early-November, up to about seventy eight degrees, and that's usually good for a topwater bite and bad for the average size of the fish. December is usually the first month when water temps drop down into the fifties and stay there for a while. When that happens, wading the muddy shorelines and shallower reefs in the back end of the bay normally produces some big trout for people who are willing to be patient with slow-sinking lures which look like small fish. I think we're set up for some really good cold-weather fishing, given how many fish I'm seeing these days.”

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323

In October, gigantic rafts of mullet congregate near the surface in areas near San Luis Pass. Randall takes full advantage of this. “When we find the giant schools of mullet in the fall, we normally have great success catching trout and redfish on chrome topwaters and red magic Norton Sand Eels tossed in the immediate area. Slow-sinking twitch baits which effectively mimic the shapes of the mullet work well too. Right now, I'm looking forward to times ahead, when water temperatures will drop. Later in the fall, and into winter, finding even small concentrations of mullet can lead to easy catching. Right now, the shrimp migration is in full swing, with dropping water temperatures and tide levels pulling the crustaceans out of the back lakes and into the bays. So, of course, we've got birds working. This action should last for a while longer, into the early parts of December, at least. Good colors to throw around schools of migrating shrimp and squawking gulls include the tequila gold Sand Eels, Sand Shad and Bull Minnows.”

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037

“East Bay is option number one for anglers in the Matagorda area in December,” Tommy says. “If we don't get too many strong fronts, and tide levels and water temperatures stay relatively high, we should have birds working over there. If it's colder and the water falls out, the shrimp and fish will move to open areas of the bay, and we'll be working either the mud flats in the east end, or the areas with scattered shell in the west end. In either cast, paddletails with bright tails on heavier jigheads work best. Option number two is the Colorado River. In there, we like to throw bright paddletails rigged on three-eighths ounce heads for trout and redfish, fluttering them off the drop. Option three is wading West Bay, focusing on guts and drains, throwing gold spoons and MirrOlure Lil' Johns. This option becomes especially good when tides are extremely low. In such a situation, redfish tend to stack up in the deepest parts of the waters close to the shoreline, where we can catch easy limits. Regardless of the weather, one of these options will produce.”

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204

Catching has been phenomenal in our local bay systems. We've been working flocks of birds for some solid trout in local bays, using Cajun Pepper VuDu shrimp under popping corks. We're still catching some trout out in the open bay over deep shell on live shrimp rigged about four feet under popping corks. Our best method has been to drift and then when we start getting bites, pole down to stop. Fishing for redfish has been excellent too. Falling tides have stacked our reds on shorelines adjacent to drains, where they're chasing shrimp. Vudu Shrimp in natural colors thrown into the fray have accounted for some great action. Floundering was as good as we can remember. We gigged numerous fish to twenty five inches on area shorelines when the winds have allowed us to go. December should continue to produce great fishing. The key this month in colder water is to find bait and be persistent around it. Flats located close to deep water are some of the best places to start looking when the fish get into winter patterns.

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

Lynn likes to time his December outings to coincide with the nicer weather between fronts, focusing his efforts on catching big trout. “December is a good month to go after the big trout in this area, so that's what I'll concentrate on. We normally fish in spots with a soft, muddy bottom and some scattered grass and shell too. The bigger trout like to stay in water a little shallower than the smaller ones, and they love areas with a muddy bottom. We throw soft plastics a lot this time of year, rigging them on light jigheads. They work best on a consistent basis. On the warmer days, the slow-sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown Lures and SoftDines also see lots of action. A couple of the other keys to success in the first month of winter include leaving the dock a little later in the morning, so more time can be spent targeting fish after the daylight has a chance to heat up the flats some. And working flats adjacent to deep water also makes good sense, because the fish move into the deep basins in reaction to passing fronts.”

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

December is smack dab in the middle of cast and blast season, which has been going well so far for Blake. “We have lots of ducks in the Rockport area right now, and fishing is great too. I'll be hunting ducks in the back lakes off Aransas, Mesquite and San Antonio Bays, then fishing my way out after the shooting stops. When we're fishing, we usually target the redfish in the back lakes first, focusing on holes in the bayous and deeper parts of the lakes when the weather is colder, and fishing the shallow parts when it's warmer. After we finish that drill, we normally move out to grassy, sandy shorelines looking for trout. Best lures for me this time of year are soft plastics like Norton Sand Eels in purple/chartreuse and pumpkinseed/chartreuse, and Gulp! Jerk Shads and Swimming Mullet in white/chartreuse. I like to throw topwaters too, when the fish are active, up and moving around. Overall, this month provides ample opportunity to take advantage of the bounty Mother Nature offers in the Coastal Bend.”

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

The deer hunting season is going on strong right now, and that means that it has been very quiet on the water, with very little boat traffic. The weather during the month of December can be a little fickle, with a few days being warm, then suddenly getting very cold for a few days before warming up again. This is the time to keep an eye on the water temperatures on the days you plan to go fishing. If the water temperature gets below sixty degrees, fish a little deeper and slow your retrieve when fishing with soft plastics. The soft plastics I like are Bass Assassin Die Dappers in colors like plum/chartreuse, salt & pepper, silver phantom/chartreuse and sand trout, rigged on eighth-ounce Spring Lock jigheads. With water temperatures above sixty degrees, use the same baits with a sixteenth-ounce jighead. If we don’t have too much suspended grass, a slow-sinking lure like a MirrOlure Catch 5 is good to use, in colors like BNSBO and CHBL. I like their colors and the thumping sounds they make. The sight-casting game continues to be good for me in less than twelve inches of water with Fish Bites for reds, black drum and trout.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | | 361.937.5961
December's fast-changing weather patterns require anglers to adjust somewhat on a daily basis in order to find and catch trout and redfish in the Upper Laguna Madre and Corpus Christi Bay. “In the aftermath of cold fronts, we often find lots of small keeper trout and a few bigger ones along the edges of the ICW, feeding on herds of shrimp migrating toward Packery Channel. The key to locating stretches with fast action is finding diving gulls and terns. Once in the right area, the key to catching is to keep the boat in the deeper water toward the middle of the ditch and cast toward the shallower edges. If winds and currents are light, a relatively light jighead can be used to keep a soft plastic in contact with the edge of the drop-off. Stronger winds and tides dictate the use of heavier heads, up to half-ounce. When the weather warms, trout and redfish will gather at the ends of guts leading out of the ICW onto shallower flats. On sunny days, they venture into super shallow water in nearby potholes to warm up, providing opportunities for sight-casting.”

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins

Here comes winter! October was absurdly warm with limited baitfish migration activity. When it did cool, water clarity was below par, even with cold fronts. Blame the exceptional freshwater inflow for creating thermoclines and dirty water. I’m predicting the surf could remain a crapshoot for several more months. The only certainty of late has been red drum, usually present in great numbers. Redfish of all sizes, slots and beyond, are ambushing any mullet and menhaden they can find. Sharks are around and taking advantage of off-colored water to ambush prey. The million-dollar question is when will truly-nice green water push in? If and when it does, and the water temperature is warm enough, the jackfish will likely storm the beach. Mullet, large spoons and topwaters will catch 'em. Another highly-desired species is the pompano. If the water clears, they'll be around in numbers following each front. Anglers targeting pompano with shrimp and Fishbites will also likely catch a good many slot drum and whiting.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza | 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge | 956.944.4000

It’s all about the weather in December! Catch it sweet and you’re golden. You sure don’t want to get caught in a screaming norther. Wait a day or two, while the tides remain low, and head to your favorite deep gut or old oil field channel. A prime area lies north of the King Ranch pier on the west shoreline. All you need to see is a few small baitfish flickering or a single mullet jump. Topwaters work well on milder days, but a Paul Brown Lure or Catch 2000 should work nearly every day. If those don’t produce, show them a K-Wigglers Willow Tail Shad. Most days along that west shoreline, we find best results in mid-thigh to waist-deep water, carefully fanning every depth we can reach. You might go through some small fish but should eventually find some solid ones. The ICW spoil banks always deserve a look, as does the Community Bar area. Both can be good for bonus flounder. And don’t forget the Saucer and ICW drop-off, in general. The East Cut jetties will also produce when weather allows, as will state waters for red snapper!

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

Deer season is always a good time to go fishing! Less traffic on the Lower Laguna Madre equals more fish feeding on the flats. The past month has been good, except for a couple of rough days with no tide and no wind, but for the most part, the redfish have been steady. The trout fishing, with the exception of one twenty nine and a half incher and a few healthy keepers, has been a lot of small ones. Freddy says, “We need another cold spell to trigger the big trout bite again. A couple of days after a cold front, the trout will be back in the pot holes, but when we get into January, and the water gets really cold, shorter days can keep the sun from warming up the shallows.” We will continue to throw FP3s with Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp on a sixteen inch leader and a screw tight eighth-ounce jighead, attracting predators with vibration, splashing and smell. When needed, we switch to cut ballyhoo, drifting to the bait after long casts, or anchoring up when cold water runs the hardheads off. No more open bay dredge disposal!