Reports & Forecasts: February 2013

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

Fishing in February can be great, or it can be frustrating. Weather plays a huge part in how your trip will play out. If possible, try to pick your day if you are wanting to catch trout; if you can't, then flounder and redfish would be great species to target. No matter the conditions, you'll always be able to find protection from the wind while fishing for these species. The flounder will be making their heaviest run inshore around Valentines Day. Both of these species will be found in deeper cuts leading to and from marshes around the estuary. If you are interested in catching trout, then dress properly and put the waders on. There are fish to be caught when the water temperature is low and the wind is blowing. Find flats that come up to a foot of water or less. Fish extremely shallow in the warmest part of the day. Fish slow, almost like you might for bass on a bed. The method can be monotonous, but February is one of those months that produces big trout year after year.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
James will be going big trout hunting in February, and he expects to find plenty. We had a real good run of fishing this fall. Caught a lot of trout and reds, and some big trout too. I expect more of the same, or even better as we move toward the end of the winter. Right now, we've got some rain sending fresh water down the rivers into the bays, but the rivers were kind of low before it started, so I don't expect anything to get completely washed out. We have been catching fish in all the area bays, including Upper Galveston and Trinity. I'll be fishing as much as I can by wading, throwing lures like Catch 5s, Corkies and my old favorites, the 51M MirrOlures. Topwaters like the Top Dog Juniors and She Dogs work well in February at times too. On a lot of days, I find it's better to fish from the middle of the day on toward dusk, so we'll sleep in quite a bit and try to be on the water when the bite is hot. It is setting up good over all. Usually, fishing gets better for a while after we get some good rains, so I'm optimistic about what's ahead.

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
At the time of this report, heavy rains were inundating the Galveston area, and Jim says the freshwater will likely cause some changes in the fishing patterns in the near future. Our fishing lately has been productive, and we're finding the fish in true winter patterns. Water got pretty cold for several days, and the trout and reds were stacked in holes in the bayous. You could catch plenty in eight to ten feet of water, some big ones too. A few big trout have been caught late in the evenings by waders throwing slow-sinking twitch baits in several parts of the back of the bay. With all this rain we're getting right now, though, things will probably change some. I don't think we'll lose all our fish, but if the bayous start running too fresh, it will cause fish to show up in new places, closer to the salty water. We'll just have to wait and see on that. Regardless of how much runoff we get, fishing late in the afternoons and into the first hour or so of darkness will still be the best bet on most days. Especially for people who want to wade and target big trout.

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall has been adjusting his fishing strategy to match the weather lately, and expects to continue doing so successfully throughout February. Lately, we've been doing good out in the middle in deeper water when tides and water temperatures are low. Fish are biting salty chicken Norton Sand Eels really well. It's a typical cold-weather thing. We are targeting areas with shell scattered over a muddy bottom, and keeping the worms low in the water column. When the weather and water temperatures warm up and tides rise, it's a whole different game. We do more wading over solid shell reefs close to the deep water, and are catching some bigger trout on slow-sinking lures like Paul Brown's Original Lures, Catch 5s and Catch 2000s. The shallow-water wading pattern should only improve as we head into February. This time of years, full tides generally make for better fishing in my home area. I'm also due to receive my new JH Performance B240 boat this month. I can't wait to try it out.

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
In East Bay, February is mostly about targeting big trout. I like to focus on relatively deep guts connecting back bay areas with the open basins, especially those with a muddy bottom. We'll wade them and work slow-sinking twitch baits at a snail's pace. Some bait around gives me more confidence. It pays to be patient when trying to determine how much bait is in an area; sometimes, the mullet aren't easy to see in the cold water. When fronts first fizzle out, we often do well wading the mid-bay reefs with the twitch baits and dark paddeltails rigged on eighth-ounce jigheads. Medium to high tides make that pattern more productive. Of course, we do a lot of drifting in open areas of East Bay this time of year, too, using heavier jigheads to keep the lures in contact with the bottom. If tides get really low, I'm usually drawn to West Bay, where the reds stack up in the shoreline drains. They can be caught on soft plastics rigged on eighth-ounce heads, of course. Lately, Humpback spoons and Who Dat lures are working well too.

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Winter has arrived, and the fish are hanging out in their usual cold-weather holes. Trout have been holding in the Palacios Turning Basin on the far west end. We have been catching them in the deep holes using quarter-ounce lead heads rigged with pearl/chartreuse and salt/pepper Norton Bull Minnows. Another winter hole that has been producing is the Tres Palacios River. North and south of the 521 bridge, we have been working ledges. throwing pearl Gulp! shrimp on quarter-ounce lead heads and have been catching some solid specks up to twenty inches. The redfish bite has been good as well. We have been hammering big reds on pearl/chartreuse Paul Brown's Fat Boys on the mud flats around the mouth of the river and over shell around Palacios Point. In February, the patterns should remain the same. When water temperatures drop into the fifties, we fish the river and harbor, and when it creeps up into the sixties, we fish the flats, looking for mullet and shad.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn likes to focus on targeting the big trout during the month of February. We'll do the typical winter thing most of the time, leaving the dock late in the morning and fishing through the afternoon. It's a great time of year to go after the big sow trout. Wading is the best way to do it for the most part. We'll spend most of our time wading muddy flats which lie fairly close to drop-off into deeper water. The mud will be mixed with grass in some cases, scattered shell in others. We'll throw dark soft plastics like red shad and plum/chartreuse and morning glory, rigging them on light jigheads. We'll also throw sinking Paul Brown's Original Lures a lot. Of course, locating some bait in the right locations is a key. I believe it's often easier to find the bait in the afternoons, when the daytime heating makes all the fish more active. Moving slowly through an area and fishing thoroughly make it possible to catch some of the biggest trout of the year in February. Slow presentations to match the slow movements are important too.

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake was still targeting redfish when fishing after early-morning duck hunts when he gave this report, but he will be shifting his focus to trout in February. The redfish thing has been easy this winter. I'm catching them after finding them in the shallows with the air boat. Some big trout have been hanging around with them, and plenty of drum too. The other day, I saw a true monster trout in one of the back lakes after a cold spell. In February, I'll go back to fishing more for the trout, since duck season will be over. Early in the month, I like to fish areas with a soft, grassy bottom and some mud. By the end of the month, I normally switch to spots with a firmer bottom, more of a sand and grass thing, especially if it's a warm February. I like to use slow-sinking twitch baits like Corkies and also topwaters, on the warmer days, or just any time the fish are willing to bite them. Big plugs seem to attract the bigger trout this time of year. When the bite is a little tougher, I'll be reaching for my trusty plum/chartreuse and pumpkinseed Norton Sand Eels.

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
February is a quiet month out on the water. The deer season is winding down, and the majority of our sporting thoughts switch to fishing. February is one of our coldest months as far as the air and water temperatures are concerned. This is a great time to go after that trout of a lifetime and wadefishing is definitely the best way to go after them. My fishing logs tell me the trout are in four to five feet of water early in the morning, so Im usually standing in about three feet of water, casting to the deeper water. I prefer to cast an eighth-ounce Spring Lock jighead rigged with a natural colored Bass Assassin Die Dapper or Berkley Gulp! Ripple Mullet and drag it slowly along the bottom, feeling for a slight tap, signaling a strike. The taps that signal a strike will be hard to detect unless you are fishing with a braided line like Power Pro. The fish will come up into two feet of water or less, especially on sunny days a couple of days after a norther' blows through. When wading, dont forget to wear your Ray Guards.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
The best choices for fishing in the Corpus Christi in February will be dependent upon the weather, Joe says. If we have cold weather on a regular basis, and water temperatures stay down in the low fifties much of the time, fishing channel edges and flats adjacent to them will be the most productive option. As always, it will be necessary to adjust jighead sizes to match the conditions, using heavier ones in strong winds and currents, lighter ones if less wind and current is present. All channels in the vicinity of the JFK Causeway will have good potential for both trout and reds, including the ICW itself. When water temperatures warm up, especially if it's generally warm most of the time, shoreline flats will produce better. The water is crystal clear in the northern parts of the area right now, which makes it easier to catch fish consistently in low light conditions. Foggy, cloudy weather, with light misting rain is perfect for catching fish in the shallows during the day. If skies are clear, the best action will be at night or at dawn and dusk.

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Based on the weather patterns of the past few months it is totally impossible to have much faith in long-term fishing or weather forecasts. December brought us the weather and fishing we expect in November, so I guess beach fishing in February will depend entirely on the weather. Pompano have been in exceptional supply as have slot and oversized reds on cut mullet and incoming tides. Whiting are available, bluefish are sporadic, and weve even seen a few nice trout on lures recently. This is a real treat as they have been absent for several winters. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come. Plan your trips to fish the second day following the passage of a cold front; its as simple as that. Do it and do well or dont do it and have a miserable trip. Sharks are so far remaining in good numbers with bull, blacktipped, and sandbar being caught. Avoid traveling on high tides. Remember the Big Shell Cleanup is Saturday, 23 February 2013. Meet at Malaquite Pavilion no later than 7:00AM.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559

With varying water temperatures, trout and redfish will be moving between the flats and the deeper water along the dropoff of the ICW and other channels in the area. Tide levels will drop significantly during frontal passages; caution is advised when running, as some entries to backwater areas might become impassable. Bait fish activity can be hard to locate on cold days. Sometimes, a bird or two in the area is the only clue. There is evidence that flounder are still making their way toward the Gulf, and they can be targeted along the dropoff of the East Cut. Black drum will usually be found schooled in deeper water this time of year, but a warming period of several days might bring them back to the edges of the flats. The head boats are back in Port Mansfield. Most fishermen find this a fun and productive trip, especially if you have no other way to access the Gulf. They leave at 7 a.m. and return at around 2 p.m., usually with limits of nice sized red snapper. Keep what you will eat; release the rest.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
Super low tides and rainy, cold conditions are ramping up redfish catching. Were also netting some exceptional trout when the weather is bad, and limits of trout when its warmer. The low, outgoing tides are concentrating fish in smaller areas and, of course, bad weather helps keep traffic to a minimum; one of the main reasons that winter is a great time to fish. Were limiting most trips on reds averaging between twenty one and twenty seven inches and catching trout up to twenty eight inches. Freddy says, Usually when its cold, you want to work your cork slowly and let it sit in one spot, but this year theyre hitting on several different styles of popping from slow to rapid retrieves. Cajun Thunder round corks are essential for success. Trail a fifteen-inch leader with an eighth ounce jighead and Berkley Gulp! three-inch shrimp in light colors, like glow or pearl white. At the time of this writing, no dredging is evident in the LLM and there is definitely a difference from last years numbers because of it. Please help stop open bay dredge disposal.