Reports & Forecasts: February 2014

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
February is a tough month in terms of catching fish, but at times, the action can be very rewarding. Some of our heaviest fish of the season bite in the month of February. If you love to fish for big trout, this is the time to do it. We will be wadefishing at this time of year, so bundle up with extra layers under the waders and be ready to hop out of the boat. This will provide us more advantages when compared to fishing from the boat. Wading allows for a quieter approach, so we can really slow down and fish an area thoroughly. Low and slow will be the program for the whole month until we start getting several warmer days in a row with air temperatures in the mid to upper-70s. Most of our fish will be caught on Paul Brown's Lures and soft plastics rigged on weightless hooks. Shallow sand flats and oyster beds will be our preferred target areas. Shallow areas with mud and shell on the bottom adjacent to oyster reefs and sand flats will be good as well. Fish prefer the mud on warmer days and the hard sand and oysters on cold days.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | silverkingadventures.com | 409.935.7242
James mentioned the fishing in weeks prior to him giving this report had been excellent, with full limits caught every time out. He expects the excellent results to continue on through February and into the spring, and that the fish will likely move shallow some time soon. "I usually start fishing by wading almost all the time about the third week of January. We'll stay shallow and throw several old stand by lures, trying to catch some of the biggest trout of the year. We like to throw 51M MirrOlures in pink/gold and gold/chartreuse, also Paul Brown's FatBoys in pearl/black. The 18 color Catch 2000s work great when the water is clear. too. That's the one with the green back, silver side and white belly. Lots of times, we are able to catch them on a really simple retrieve, just throwing the lures out, letting them settle into the water and reeling them straight in. On some days, they bite it when you reel it slow. On other days, they like it faster. With all the fish we have been catching out in the middle this year, the wading should be really good soon."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim reports excellent hunting and fishing over the recent weeks. The hunting was winding down as we talked, and Jim expects to be in fishing mode during February. "I'll be fishing as much as possible. We like to wade if we can this time of year, and we often find that the afternoon and early evening offer the best opportunity for catching some big trout. Lately, the best bite has been on sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown's Lures and Maniac Mullets. Catch 2000s and Catch 5s work well too. The best bite is usually on days right before the front. Best scenario occurs when a strong east or southeast wind pushes warming water back into the bay. The fish seem to feed up good along the shorelines and in the shallows when that happens. After the front, the tide often gets blown out, and we have better luck fishing out in the middle, out of the boat. If we get some warm spells, topwater action should heat up too. Mostly, it's about the weather, just like it almost always is in Galveston. Things are set up to be really good."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall talked about variability in the fishing when we talked. "When it's cold, we are staying in the boat and focusing on depths of six to eight feet in protected waters. On incoming tides, we're using quarter ounce jigheads, and on low tide, three eighth ounce heads are working better. Catching is best on red magic and plum/chartreuse Norton Sand Eels. When it warms up a little, with water temperatures in the mid-50s, we're drifting open bay areas, assuming we have at least a little wind to work with. Out there, we're targeting areas with a mix of mud and shell, catching on soft plastics mostly. If it gets even warmer, the wading is better, and we're seeing some good action on topwaters, specifically pink Skitterwalks. I had one day lately, with water temperatures in the upper-50s, when we crushed the trout on those floating plugs. Next day, they wouldn't touch 'em, but we caught a bunch on Pearl FatBoys. This kind of rapidly changing action should continue through February, with more and more of the good topwater days thrown in."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Tommy raved about the options available for good fishing in the Matagorda area during winter. "Right now, the Colorado River is producing nice catches of trout. On the colder days, we like to 'dredge', dragging a paddle tailed soft plastic behind the boat. Lures like the Creme Little Fishie and others which produce a lot of vibration work best, on jigheads that keep the lure in contact with the bottom. On warmer days, we cast lures at the bank in the river, looking for active fish. We also catch a lot of fish working the open areas in the west end of East Bay this time of year, using heavy jigheads to keep soft plastics close to the bottom in areas with scattered shell. Some of the deep reefs like Cleveland Reef produce well too. All of the drains leading out of the back lakes on the peninsula offer prime opportunity for waders during February. Lots of big trout can be caught on Paul Brown's lures and other twitch baits. Of course, working the same kinds of drains in West Bay produces more reds. I like to use weedless Johnson spoons for that drill."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam
www.palaciosguideservice.com | 979.240.8204
Old man winter has our fish behaving their winter patterns. Water temperatures have been ranging from the high-40s to high-50s for a good while now, and we have the fish located. Trout have been thick in the Harbor, since it holds the deepest water we have in our area. We have been trolling the deep holes, throwing three eighths ounce jigheads rigged with pearl/chartreuse and chicken-on-chain soft plastics for best results. Best method has been to let lure reach the bottom and barely jig it. The fish usually bite it on the drop. When we've had warmer days, FatBoys in pearl/chartreuse have been by far the best lures on the flats, adjacent to deep water. Redfish have been in area bayous and have been caught best on Gulp! lures rigged about eighteen to twenty four inches under corks. Pearl/chartreuse and root beer have been best colors. We will continue to watch for bait and monitor water temperatures, fishing deep when they dip below 55 degrees, and on shallow flats when they rise higher.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn was finishing off deer season when we talked, but anticipating getting back into the fishing once February rolls around. "I'll be targeting muddy flats with scattered shell adjacent to drains leading from shallow backwater areas into deeper open water. I like Ayers Bay and Mesquite Bay this time of year, places with a lot of soft, muddy bottom, a good amount of shell and some decent variation in depths. The trout really like to move up onto those shallow areas with a muddy bottom and some shell scattered around when the sun comes out and heats things up a little. Mostly, we'll be throwing slow-sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown's Lures and Catch 2000s and Catch 5s. We also use a lot of soft plastics this time of year, particularly the dark red colors like plum and red shad. We rig them on light jigheads and fish them slowly, dragging and bumping them on the bottom and using short twitches of the rod to hop them up from time to time. On the colder days, we'll hit some deeper areas and use slightly heavier jigheads on our soft plastics."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake will be trying lots of different areas this month, now that the hunting seasons have wound to a close. "I'll be fishing in various areas, checking most or all of the local bays, targeting shallow areas with a mix of mud, shell and grass mostly. For quite some time now, we've been catching best around shell reefs, so I'll start out looking for fish in the same areas where they've been biting. Mostly, the best fishing this time of year occurs in shallow water fairly close to deep areas where the fish like to ride out the cold snaps. We'll be using lures like Norton Sand Eels and some twitch baits too, but I anticipate a good topwater bite on quite a few of the days. Normally, February is the month when we see a significant upturn in out topwater action. Especially on warm days, the blow ups can come fast and furious. Trout fishing has been steady for a while now, and we usually catch some of our best fish of all this month. I expect it to be really good, especially if we get some stable weather settling in."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
The water in Baffin Bay seems to be clearing up just in time for the serious trophy trout hunters. If you are coming out of your hunting season, it's time to make sure the waders are in good shape, and don't forget the ForEverLast Ray Guards because sting rays are likely to be in the same areas as the big trout we are looking for. The cold 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 also. The trout will be moving slowly, and I will be moving even slower and as quietly 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 potholes and grass lines where the trout will be waiting for a slow moving bait attached to about 18 inches of fluorocarbon and my Power Pro braided line. Go-to lures will be Bass Assassin Die Dappers in plum/chartreuse, chartreuse dog and salt & pepper silver phantom. On sunny days, I'll sight-cast reds and drum with Fish Bites.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez www.sightcast1.com | 361.937.5961
The water in the ULM has been crystal clear lately, with all the north winds and cold temperatures. Trout have been biting steadily along the drop offs in the Intracoastal and in channels leading from it into shallower adjacent areas. Best lures are soft plastics rigged on eighth ounce jigheads when winds are light, up to three eighths or heavier when winds are blowing hard and currents are running strong along the edges. Boat control is critical when working these edges. Maintaining contact with them means keeping the boat at the right distance and angle to them; often this can only be done through the use of both a trolling motor and a drift sock. On warmer days, muddy grassy flats close to the channels and those on the King Ranch Shoreline are producing too. Some of the biggest trout of the year will be caught around here in February, by people fishing these kinds of flats with slow-sinking twitch baits and topwaters. The presence of bait in the area is always a good sign of fish activity. Dusk offers prime opportunity."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Traditionally, fishing in February is focused on bottom-fishing with fresh-dead shrimp and Fishbites or cut bait for slot and oversized redfish, black drum, whiting, pompano and sheepshead. Large speckled trout and bonito have been available in some years but there is no way of knowing if or when they'll show up. You have to go to know. Shark fishing will depend totally on the severity of winter temperatures. It's starting out to be an unusually cold winter and extremely low numbers can be expected if this continues. Should we experience warmer weather we could see blacktipped, bull and sandbar sharks taking kayaked baits. Tides are usually somewhat low and sargassum is generally absent in any amount to interfere with fishing. Avoid periods of high-velocity NE or E winds which will put the water up to the dunes and try to plan your trip to fall on the second day after a cold frontal passage as this is typically the most user-friendly time. Have all your emergency supplies with you as crowds will be low, the weather cold.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza
Snookdudecharters.com 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
February is by far my favorite fishing month. Most of the month we'll have light north wind unless a front is moving through. I have two main focuses in my game plan for the coming month; fishing around the many ICW spoil banks and also the northern portion of the west shoreline. I like to start my mornings with topwaters on the spoils if conditions warrant and if these draw no interest I will switch to Kelley Wigglers Ball Tail Shads on quarter ounce jigheads for a more thorough look. Expect the bite to be super soft, almost as if you have grass on the lure. Braided line is ideal for detecting these bites. The west shoreline can be expected to produce some nice trout along with a few reds. Don't let the reds discourage you, these banks give up big trout in February! Work thigh to waist-deep and fan your casts shallow and deep. Paul Brown's FatBoys are great too and sometimes I run them like a topwater to see if the fish will respond on the surface. Tight lines and calm seas!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | www.fishingwithpettys.com | 956.943.2747
Dumping dredge material directly into the middle of the Lower Laguna Madre, with no attempt at containment, is going to catch up with us very quickly. With north winds, we can still see potholes, but water temperatures drop and we have difficulty getting fish to bite artificials. While the sun is out, it warms up a little, and it's a different ballgame, and trout will hit a Berkley Gulp!. But when the wind is out of the south, the slurry being pumped into the bay between the Intracoastal and Holly Beach makes visibility so poor, it is not possible to see the potholes on the west side. We're limiting on redfish every trip by using cut ballyhoo, which is making the best of a bad situation. Freddy says, "If we continue to allow open bay dredge disposal, we will not be able to enjoy fishing the clear, grassy flats. This practice clouds the water with drifting silt, which doesn't allow sunlight to reach the bottom and ultimately can destroy habitat." We urge everyone to help stop open bay disposal. Please check out the KGBT Channel 4 News website under Nature Report.