Reports & Forecasts: February 2011

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
February is usually the month that lets you know the end of winter is just around the corner. Flounder will usually start making their run inland around Valentines Day. They can be caught in any of the cuts leading from the lake into the marsh. The flounder seem to like feeding on an incoming tide during the early part of the run, then will bite on either tide later. Trout will still be found on shallow flats in the north end of the lake this month, as well as in West and Joe's Coves. Twitch baits are still the best bets for the bigger trout. One of the hot baits for us this winter has been the MirrOdine XL by MirrOlure. Redfish can be found throughout the estuary. Some good areas to fish are the east and south banks of the lake and of course around the weirs. In February, fishing for reds can also be red hot at the Cameron Jetties. Soft plastics such as H&H Salty Grubs, Cocahoe Minnows and Norton Sand Eels are good lures for those who wish to target all three species on every cast.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
James describes some excellent fishing in his home area of the Galveston Bay complex recently. "We're already finished today, got 32 trout. Nothing real big, just solid keepers. We've been fishing out of the boat most of the time. I'm averaging 30 or so trout a trip and it's usually not taking long to catch 'em. Mostly, we're throwing Bass Assassin Sea Shads in pumpkinseed or plum/chartreuse. The MirrOlures are working good too. Of course, I like the pink/gold and chartreuse/gold in those. There are fish all over the place in West Bay, I'm sure, but I've been keying on dropoffs on the shell reefs. Today, all our fish came off a little ledge where it drops off about three feet or so from shell onto mud with scattered shell. The weather's been pretty cold, but the fish still seem to want to be shallow. The other day, we whacked a bunch of reds in less than three feet of water that was about 47 degrees." He mentions that a change is coming. "I'm about to quit all this boat fishing and start wading. It is set up great for that around here."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim was still duck hunting as of the time of this report, but that is all ending and he'll be fishing hard in February. "It's time to go after some of the big trout. One of the best ways to catch 'em in East Bay this time of year is by wading late afternoon into the first couple of hours of the night. It works best on some of the breezy days just prior to the frontal passages, especially if there's good tide movement in the afternoon. This month, I also do a lot of fishing out of the boat, focusing on deep holes in the marsh. Spots like that will hold a lot of reds and a few trout, and those fish can be caught out of the boat during the day. We also key on some drains on the shorelines when the tide is rushing out. If warm water is flooding out of the marsh into the bay, fishing can be great in the current rip. But really, this month is prime time for the evening wades. I'll be throwing the old standby lures, like Stanley Wedge Tails and Bass Assassins, along with some 52 MirrOlures and even some topwaters if conditions are right. Mostly, it's about timing and location, not lures."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall was riding home from a productive charter when we talked. "Fishing has been good lately. The water is clear and cold, but several patterns are working, depending on what the goals are. Yesterday, we went fishing for numbers and stayed in the boat, working deeper water in the open part of the bay with scattered shell and mud and caught limits of trout and were back at the dock by ten o'clock. Best lure for that type of fishing has been a black magic Sand Eel Junior. Today, I had a guy who wanted to go for a bigger trout, so we spent the day wading with Paul Brown's Original Lures. Caught fewer fish, about ten trout total, but all were between four and six pounds. Best colors in this clear water have been the copper back and the emerald silver. February shapes up to be real good. The water temperatures and tides are likely to rise and that should make the wading opportunities even better." He also mentioned that his new Laguna rod, an Extreme Wader 2, is working really well with the Fat Boys and Corkys.

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
February offers up a mix of options typical to Matagorda, Tommy says. "The river kind of plays out this month. In the first couple of weeks, it might be worth a try if the water's green and the wind is messing up other options, otherwise, fishing the bays is better. We do well drifting scattered shell in East Bay this month, throwing mostly soft plastics with paddle tails on three eighths or quarter ounce heads. I like bright colors like limetreuse, since we are usually keying on muddy streaks of water with some mullet present. We'll also throw some 52 MirrOlures out there. The open water reefs can be good for wading too, if winds are light enough to allow for it. When it's windier, or if the goal is to try to catch some of the biggest trout in the bay, wading the south shoreline coves is a great option. When trying that, patience and persistence are the keys. It's slow walking, no talking, just fishing. If redfish are preferred, wading the guts and slow rolling weedless spoons on the south shoreline of West Bay is the best bet, especially if tides are low."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Winter fishing has been fantastic in the Palacios area. The local rivers and creeks have coughed up lots of numbers of redfish and trout, with a few big fish mixed in. The week before Christmas, we were wearing out redfish on local mudflats using small topwaters such as black/chrome and bone Super Spook Juniors. Soft plastics that were working good were lime colored Devil Eyes and purple/chartreuse Texas Trout Killers. Trout have been plentiful in the local rivers, biting white Gulp shrimp under popping corks and pearl/chartreuse Bull Minnows rigged on three eighths ounce jigheads slow rolled on the bottom. Night fishing at the local piers on First St. and East Bayshore have been producing keeper sized trout and some fat sand trout on Spec Rigs in pink/glow. February should be another good month as long as we do not get too much rain. As always in the winter time, finding some bait in the area is one of the most important keys to locating fish.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
"This is one of my favorite times of the year," Lynn says. "We usually catch some of our biggest trout in February. I key on shallow flats with a mix of soft mud, grass and scattered shell. The flats with close access to deep water seem to pay off best, especially from the middle of the day into the late afternoon hours. Moving water in the afternoon is another thing that helps the bite. If it's outgoing tide, we tend to key on drains from the shallow backwater marshes into the main bay areas, where warmer water is falling off the flats into the bays. On incoming tides, we tend to just fish the flats and key on potholes and other visible elements on the bottom instead. We throw a lot of Corkys and topwaters when wading for big trout. Since bigger trout like to eat other fish, the plugs that resemble small fish work best. Finding bait in some concentration can also be a big key this time of year. You don't necessarily need a huge raft of bait, but the presence of some bait on the flat is definitely an indicator that the big trout might be there too."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake was finishing up a long day of casting and blasting when he gave this report. "The fishing for reds has been off the charts. We've had days of catching a hundred or more, lots of days like that in fact. They have mostly been staying shallow in the back lakes, so they've been easy to see and usually easy to catch too. The only days it's been tough have been after strong morning outgoing tides. Seems they feed up all morning while we are shooting at the ducks and then they are hard to catch in the middle of the day. Best lures for the reds have been gold spoons and Norton Sand Eels." A change in tactics is coming this month for Blake. "This month, it's time to target trout more of the time. I catch some big trout every year in February. I like to fish shorelines with soft mud and shell or grass in bays like St. Charles and Mesquite. I throw a lot of Corkys and topwaters at them, but I won't hesitate to go back to the old standbys, the Sand Eels. The redfish will still be available in the marshes too if the trout bite is slow."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
It's time to find out how the waders holding up and don't dare forget the ForEverLast Ray Guards because sting rays are likely to be in the same area as the big trout you are looking for. The colder water temperatures are driving the trout into deeper water as night falls, but as the sun comes up and warms the shallows the trout will come up to the shallow water as well. The trout will be moving slowly and I will be moving even slower and as quiet as possible, being careful where I step and fanning my casts out in front of me as much as I can. I'll be targeting my casts to pot holes and grass lines where the trout will be waiting for a slow moving bait attached to my length of fluorocarbon and Power Pro braided line. If the day is cloudy and the water is murky, I'll be using a dark or chartreuse colored Bass Assassin. If it is sunny and the water is clear, I will be using natural or light colored baits rigged on an eighth ounce Spring Lock jig head. On calm, sunny days you'll find me sight casting for reds with Berkley Gulps in a foot of water.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Joe has been experiencing some easy fishing in the clear water close to the JFK recently. "I've been targeting reds mostly and catching some big ones in shallow water, less than three feet. It's great for sight casting, especially when the fish are located where there's plenty of bright bottom, which makes it easier to see them. I will continue to fish this pattern in February, targeting shallow grass flats when it's warmer and focusing on channel edges and the edge of the deep open water when it's colder. I'll also probably make some trips up north to fish in Shamrock and the adjacent flats. Usually, this time of year, the grass is a little more scarce than usual, so it's pretty easy to catch fish by focusing on isolated grass beds with soft plastics. On the best days, with clear skies and light to moderate winds, sight casting with flies is good for both trout and reds. The fishing is also good down south in the Land Cut this time of year. The drill down there will be to target the edge of the dropoff with heavier jigheads."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Tides can be low in February but strong NE winds are common and to be avoided as they stack water high on the beach and make for dangerous driving conditions. Bottom fishermen will target Florida pompano, sheepshead, black drum, and redfish and there will be lots of good sized whiting. As always "Fishbites" and fresh, peeled, dead shrimp are the bait of choice. Sandbar sharks should be available and mako, bull, lesser blacktipped and several other small species of sharks are possible. As throughout the winter, target the second day behind an incoming cold front. Speckled trout are possible but not to be expected. February is one of the best months for collecting sea shells. Most of the larger sharks will be on kayaked baits. Rough conditions and muddy water can prevail throughout the month but some years it's beautiful. It all depends from which direction the cold fronts arrive. North and NW are good; NE is not user-friendly. Don't forget Big Shell Beach Cleanup is Sat. 19 March, 2011. Hope to see you there. Capt. Billy.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559
No one could have told me that we would have some of the best fishing that I've seen in years. The water conditions continue to improve to something that looks like mid-summer water. After experiencing copious amounts of freshwater runoff into the Lower Laguna Madre following last summer's tropical storms, no way was there going to be any saltwater critters left. Guess what? I was wrong again! I've seen the largest hatch of blue crabs ever and the same thing goes for the rest of the bait species. Mother Nature continues to work her magic, no matter how we try to mess it up. We've fished places where normally there's nothing but, if there is some bait working, you are going to catch fishunless of course they're just not feeding. The next couple of months should be very exciting on the water. Naturally, though, you will need to watch the weather, especially the strong fronts. The second and third days after a north wind should be great. Remember to keep what you will eat and release the rest.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
Even though the conditions, with lots of wind, low tides and muddy water, have not been the best, we're bringing in some pretty decent catches. The reds are running more on the small side, with small slot fish literally full of tiny crabs. The trout we're catching are continuing to be very nice, easily the best we've seen for many years. Until spring, we probably won't see much in the way of clear water. The lack of turtle grass resulting from the flood of fresh water last summer, and the fact that what grass is left is dormant this time of year, is making it almost impossible for the water to clear. Freddy says, "We'll be going on past experience instead of watching for movement, as we usually do when conditions are normal. You can still find fish under mullet and birds, but the rewarding drifts tend to be in the same spots that produce every year during the winter months." We're throwing Cajun Thunder round corks trailing Gulp three inch shrimp on quarter ounce jigheads.