Reports & Forecasts: December 2019

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service – 337.598.3268
Traditionally, December is a great month for fishing Lake Calcasieu. We always look forward to it because it offers so many good opportunities for targeting the three main species, much like November. Trout, redfish and flounder can be found in numbers throughout the estuary, trout over sand flats and around oyster reefs in the northern end, mostly. Catching them can become tough if water temperatures dip into the 40s, but on warm, sunny days, they become much easier to trick into biting lures. Soft plastics rigged on eighth- and sixteenth-ounce jigheads work best. Slow-sinking twitch baits like MirrOdines and Paul Brown Lures work better, if catching bigger fish is the goal. Redfish are aggressive and easy to catch this month, one of the best for the species around here. Fast action happens regularly, and it's possible to target reds for the table or ones for mounting on the wall. 90% of the redfish we catch this month bite a Gulp! Swimming Mullet rigged on a quarter-ounce head. Flounder can be intercepted as they make their way out of the bay into the Gulf for winter. Gulp! lures work well to entice the flatfish, especially in areas close to Cameron.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - – 409.935.7242
Full limits of both trout and redfish had been the norm for James on trips made in the days and weeks prior to giving this report. “We're catching thirty or forty fish per day, full limits of both the main species on most. The fish are hanging around shell in water of medium depths. Lots of birds working in some places. Decent numbers of flounder biting too, up to about four pounds. Not a great bite on sinking MirrOlures lately. Topwaters have been working better, especially the little ones, like the She Pup. Of course, soft plastics in natural colors will work well during the shrimp migration. Right now, the shrimp are concentrated in the ICW and the birds and fish are following them. Some of the little blow-outs and drains connecting with the ditch are holding a bunch of fish right now, all three main species. This pattern is usually best in months like December and January, so since it's already producing well, that's a really good sign. For me, areas west of the Ship Channel have been better than Trinity and East Bay lately. This isn't unusual at all in years when we have big flood events.”

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service – 409.996.3054
December is a great month to spend time with Jim, either in the marshes and flooded fields, on the bay, or both. “We'll be splitting time between the bays and the fields in December, hunting ducks and targeting trout and redfish. Normally, the time around the holidays is great for both outdoor activities. Fishing has been decent lately. Water quality is a little off in East Bay, so fishing is best when winds are light, especially for people intent on staying in the boat and targeting their fish out in the middle. Wading can be better, particularly after frontal winds peter out and tides rush back into the bays. If and when this occurs during late-afternoon and early-evening hours, the bite can be fantastic. Areas along both shorelines adjacent to small reefs and places with overall muddy bottoms with some shell scattered around are usually best this time of year. Some folks will catch some really big trout in places like that. On an average December day, with lower tides, fishing in the drains and bayous can produce better results. Soft plastics work best on the colder days. Topwaters and sinking twitch baits attract bigger trout during warm spells.”

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service  979.849.7019 – 979.864.9323
On trips made just prior to sending this report, Randall says the topwater bite has been excellent. “Doesn't matter which one we're throwing much of the time lately. We've been having good success on a wide variety of floaters, including white Skitter Walks with red head and the black/oranges ones. Bone Super Spooks and One Knockers have also been attracting a lot of attention from the fish too. When the blow ups stop coming, we're having much better luck on Norton Sand Eels, the full-sized ones, in chicken on a chain. This color pattern effectively mimics brown shrimp, which continue to migrate out of the backwater areas and through the lower parts of the bay, into the Gulf. As long as we don't get an exceptionally strong cold front, this will continue at a steady pace, probably lasting through the middle of December. At some point, a blue norther will blow the water and shrimp out for good, and action will improve in water about four to nine feet deep, with a mix of mud and shell on the bottom. Most of the best areas meeting this description are in the bayous and open expanses of West Galveston Bay.”

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Tommy’s Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Multiple options provide opportunity for anglers heading to the Matagorda area in December. “The Colorado River is at its best in December. It's been shaping up great already, and should get even better, especially if it gets cold.  It's easy to get out of the wind and catch quality trout and reds in the deeper parts up that way. Right now, we've got birds working all over East Bay, since the shrimp are still on their way out. Fishing on the shorelines of East Bay is about as good as it gets in December. We'll have plenty of big trout and schools of reds roaming the shallows on the South Shoreline over there. Catching is best on slow-sinking twitch baits and soft plastics on really light heads in the shallows. Same lures work well if we're wading West Bay too. Over there, really low tides help, because they concentrate the schools of mainly reds, with a few trout mixed in, in the guts leading into the big coves on the south side. So, everything really depends on the weather. Colder weather sends us fishing deeper, out in the middle, or in the river, while warm weather lets us wade the flats.”

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam – 979.240.8204
Fishing was awesome on the outings in the days and weeks prior to Aaron giving this report. “Fishing for reds has been about as good as it gets. We've been following big schools down shorelines. They're chasing shrimp and we're catching plenty of pearl/pumpkinseed paddletails. The size of the fish has been consistent, with most in the upper end of the slot. Trout fishing has also been excellent. We've been doing best working shell in water about three to five feet deep, throwing a white Gulp! dangled under a cork. Our main focus has been the search for bait. Once we find the bait, we're catching a mess of fish pretty easily. Birds have been working pretty steady in the river and in East Bay, with lots of undersized fish biting, but also a decent number of keepers. Flounder fishing has been good for solid keepers around ditches and drains emptying out of the marshes. December should be a great month too. Normally, it's a fairly simple time. Find the bait, catch some fish! Normally, the predators and their prey hang out in water over a muddy bottom with some shell scattered around during the colder days.”

Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service – 361.983.4434
Lynn likes to fish the lulls between cold fronts, targeting trout and redfish in and around drains leading from the main bays into the backwater areas. “We target big trout as much as possible. Normally, we don't leave the dock as early as usual this time of year. Waiting until the sun heats up the flats a little gets us off to a better start most of the time. Best pattern is one where the sun shines all day on the shallows over the muddy, grassy bottoms in the back-lakes and coves, then an outgoing tide brings that warmer water out of those areas and dumps into the main bay. The fish usually bite aggressively in such situations, especially if there's some mullet and other prey around. Don't need such a concentration in December like you do when it's warmer, but some bait is necessary, for sure. We'll throw soft plastics some, but mostly, we stick with slow-sinking twitch baits like SoftDines and Paul Brown Lures, because the big trout like to eat small fish more than they like to eat shrimp. As a bonus, we usually catch a few saddle-blanket flounder while targeting the big trout.”

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Cast and blast season persists throughout the month of December, for Blake. “I normally spend the early-morning hours in the blind hunting ducks in the shallow areas well away from the main bays, then start fishing my way out of there about 10 or 10:30, when the shooting ends. We usually spend a little time driving around in the airboat to find some redfish in the shallows. Once we locate some, they're normally fairly easy to catch on Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with light tails, rigged on light jigheads, like eighth- or sixteenth-ounce. From there we move into the trout-fishing phase of the day, moving to a little deeper water, either in the bayous and drains leading out to the main bay, or along the drop-offs in the main bays themselves. We use the same lures to target trout in those places, sometimes adjusting jighead size up a little, if strong currents are moving through the deeper parts of the bayous. In most years, this month provides a few really good days for catching on topwaters, too. I like the Baby Skitter Walk in silver and black this time of year more than all others.”

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata – [email protected] – 361.563.1160
On most December days, quiet falls over the coastal waters, with so many people heading into the fields and woods, searching for a monster buck. Water temperatures this time of the year, like the boat traffic, generally stay low. After the cold nights, the fish tend to move into deeper water than they have been in throughout the warm period. We find good numbers in five to six feet of water early in the mornings. After the sun rises and warms the flats some, fishing is better in depths of two to three feet, in water with a mix of gravel and mud on the bottom. Much of Baffin is inflicted with brown tide at the moment, with clearer water both south and north of there. In better water, we're throwing natural colors like chicken on a chain and salt & pepper on eighth-ounce heads, switching to sixteenth-ounce later in the days. If I find fish in water less than a couple feet deep, I throw the Assassin Elite Shiners in colors like meat hook, rigged on the lighter heads. In Baffin, we're mainly throwing live shrimp under corks to cope with the murky water.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez——361.877.1230
Strong cold fronts drove the water temperatures down rapidly in the days before Joe gave this outlook. “Fishing from Thanksgiving to the end of the year in the ULM normally means staying close to the ditches, at least if catching numbers of trout and slot redfish is the goal. Colder water temperatures cause the fish to seek out the warmer depths of the Intracoastal Waterway and the channels which connect with it. Those old, partially silted-in channels hold lots of fish when water temps first fall into the 50s and stay there for a few days. A few people try to wade and take advantage of this pattern, but most of us like to stay in the boat, throwing soft plastics from deeper water toward the shallow humps, sand bars and edges of the ditches. If the wind's blowing just the right direction, this can be done from a drifting boat. More often than not, maintaining contact with the edges of channels means staying on a trolling motor to control the direction and pace of movement. Too much wind makes it tougher, and dictates the use of heavier jigheads, as do strong tidal currents.”

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
361-877-3583 |
Weather rules the December surf and with patterns currently in place, we could be in for some exceptional fishing opportunity. Possibilities include a late surge of jack crevalle if bait remains in sufficient quantity to satisfy their needs. Two other species of great interest to surf anglers are Florida pompano and red drum. Many people find pompano to be as good on the table as any fish. Pompano traditionally appear in the December surf in great numbers, with occasional four pounders possible. We target them with Fish-bites and freshly peeled shrimp, sometimes in combination on small hooks to match their small mouths. Red drum should also be abundant, both slot and oversized. Larger specimens reaching up to 45 inches are the backbone of the breeding stock and should be handled carefully. Cut whiting cast far from shore is the best way to target them. Other species can include black drum, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish, depending on water temperatures. Shark action will be generally slow, but we can expect some mature sandbars coming to the surf to breed. Keep an eye on the weather and avoid beach travel during frontal passages.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza – 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000
As tides finally return closer to normal after more than a month of super-high levels, fronts are arriving ever more frequently, and water temps are on the decline. The time for waders has arrived, except for those staying in the boat. Topwater action has been fair to good for both trout and reds. Cooler water temps behind fronts slow the blow ups down temporarily, but the action at the surface bounces right back when bait becomes active again. Bone and pink/silver One Knockers are working great, as usual. Soft plastics continue to produce bites at the fastest rates; KWiggler Willow Tails in Lagunaflauge, turtle grass and flomingo are the current go-to colors. West Bay, the Saucer behind the cabins, the Pipeline, the Northeast Pocket and the Weather Station all hold plenty of fish right now, as does the West Shoreline from the Oak Mottes to Gladys Hole. On the east side, the area from the Game Warden Shack to Butcher's is always a good bet this time of year. Look for working birds along the channel edges, where lots of small trout gather in schools, with a decent number of two and three pounders mixed in.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Aaron Cisneros | – 956-639-1941
We have had some really cool fall weather, but it doesn't last long in most cases. Forecasts continue to consistently call for high temperatures rising into the 70s and even 80s. The trout bite has been good most of the time, and falling tides and water temperatures make it better. Best bite has been in areas where the bottom cover and structures change, around the edges of sand bars, and close to old man-made channels with silty bottoms. The East-side Flats have been holding lots of bait, and we're catching plenty of redfish and trout on that side. Kwiggler Ball-tail Shads in plum/chartreuse rigged on eighth-ounce screw-lock heads have produced steady bites, on slower retrieves on the colder days. The redfish have mostly stayed shallow, cruising along shorelines regardless of the weather, especially in places with a mix of mud and shell on the bottom. Topwaters continue to produce at a decent rate, especially Super Spook Juniors. They tend to get more attention when south winds return after a front blows itself out, and barometric pressure levels begin to fall back into the normal range, along with the fishes' feeding habits.