Reports & Forecasts: February 2015

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
February can be a tough month, or it can be very rewarding. February 2014 was a tough one, but this year seems a little different. We were dealing with freezing temperatures throughout the entire month. 19 days below freezing after January 1st last year made for tough fishing. That was last year; this winter is totally different, so far. Temperatures have been above normal, and water conditions are much better. Several of our guides have been beating the banks hard, and they've been coming away with some great fish. This is expected with the weather we've had. Water temperatures are still in the mid to upper-fifties, salinities are high, and water clarity is as good as it gets at this time of year. Fog and light northerly breezes--this weather is what big trout fishermen dream about. Bright colored Corkys and MirrOdines have been deadly. We are really looking forward to the rest of our winter fishing season. As long as the weather holds steady, we should continue to catch plenty of beautiful trout straight into the spring.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
James says the results on his fishing trips in the fall were outstanding, and he expects similar action once he cranks up again after the first of the year. "We did most of our fishing in December out of the boat. Caught limits almost every trip, some nice trout too, a few sevens, several fives, and lots of solid keepers. We will be looking to get out of the boat during the upcoming time-frame, though. Wading is the way to go from late-January into the early part of the spring. We like to target the big trout this time of year, and doing so means fishing shallow. Sometimes, we catch a bunch, sometimes just a few, but that's part of the deal when we're fishing for the big ones. Best lures are 51 series MirrOlures in colors like pink/silver, pink/yellow/silver. Also MirrOlure Catch Fives in similar colors. When we are throwing Paul Brown Fat Boys, we generally use natural colors like pearl/black. We will always look for a chance to catch our fish on top, but overall, the slow-sinking twitch baits produce more bites."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim had gotten reports of good fish being caught in the days prior to giving this report. He had been finishing up his duck and dove seasons, which both turned out great. "These cold fronts coming through fast will likely drive the fish into deep water for a while, but they'll come up shallow to feed when things moderate a little bit. The waders are the ones catching the big trout right now. The best plan is to fish in the afternoon and into the first part of the night, if possible. The fish definitely bite better during that time-frame from now until some time in March. When it's colder and blowing harder, the deeper holes in the bayous and backwater areas will hold more fish than the shorelines. During February, we'll be trying to time our outings to coincide with the warming trends, and fishing later in the day, wading shorelines with some active bait if we can find it. This is a great time of year to catch some of the big trout, for people who are willing to brave the elements, gear up properly and put in a good effort to locate and catch them."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall says the heavy rains this past fall made fishing in his area somewhat tougher than normal. "We would expect to be catching plenty of fish well up in the rivers and bayous right now, but the water is really too fresh in lots of those places with all the run-off. We are supposed to be getting another harsh cold front tonight, and cold temperatures will likely push the fish into deep holes. We do a lot of fishing out of the boat in pretty deep water this time of year when it's cold, targeting areas with a mix of mud and shell on the bottom. Lately, with the off-colored water, we're having the best luck on the trick-or-treat Norton Sand Eels. They are black and orange with a chartreuse tail. Dark lures with bright tails work best in dirty water most of the time. If and when the weather warms up some, I'll be looking for signs of bait and targeting some of the bigger trout on flats with some shell in about three feet of water next to a channel. Right now, I'm headed to the Boat Show. Can't wait to see my new JH Performance boat there!"

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service | 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Mainly, we like to drift the west end of East Matagorda bay in February and target big trout. We try and locate streaks of muddier water. The really clear water doesn't do you much good. We'll mostly throw soft plastics on bright colors like limetreuse on three eighth ounce jigheads, working them low and slow. Wading the mid-bay reefs with Paul Brown Lures works well during calmer spells too. We also like to work those lures slow, without too much action. We've had plenty of trout in the river at times lately too. If we don't get too much fresh water flowing, we'll be in there on the windier days, drifting and trolling along, plugging the bank, or plugging the middle with heavy jigheads, probing depths of eighteen to twenty feet. Most of the trout we catch on that pattern aren't trophies, but they can make up a solid box. If redfish are the target, we prefer wading the shallows in West Bay. Dark soft plastics on lighter jigheads work best for that drill. Low tides tend to concentrate the fish in all the guts and make them easier to catch."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
We have been on a great winter pattern in our local waters. Post-frontal fishing have the trout and reds pinned down in the deep holes of the Palacios Turning Basins. The best lure by far has been the VuDu Shrimp coated in VuDu Shrimp Sauce. The best colors have been Cajun pepper and natural. Slow-rolling and jigging the lures really slowly have accounted for the most bites. When the water warms up on the local flats a couple days after the passage of a front, we have been hammering solid trout up to four pounds on a variety of Paul Brown FatBoys. Pearl/chartreuse, Texas chicken, and pearl/black have been top colors. The pattern for February will remain much the same. When we get hard cold fronts, we will head to the harbor to fish deep holes, and as the weather warms up, we will head back to the flats to chase the big trout. Locating just a few mullet is always the key to finding fish in the winter, even if it is just one or two flipping, it will normally mean it's worth it to stop and fish area.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn expects to be fishing a mud/shell pattern, and wading most of the time in February. "We'll be taking longs walks in the mud on flats close to areas with deeper water. I like places with some shell scattered around on the bottom. As we speak, the weather has turned pretty cold, and we're already catching some pretty big trout. I have reliable reports of fish up close to thirty inches caught around here lately. Soft plastics have been working best. We like to rig them on light jigheads in this cold weather. It makes it easier to work them around the shell reefs and over the scattered shell without getting hung up a lot. The lighter heads also have a slow fall rate, and that's good too when it's cold. Mainly, the key is to work the lure slow. Low and slow. As usual in the cold months, I'll be leaving the dock later than some people. I like to head out late in the morning and fish through the afternoon. The bait is easier to find and the trout seem more active after the sun has a chance to heat up the flats."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
With the cast and blast season coming to a close, Blake expects to get back to fishing exclusively. "Normally, we catch some of our biggest trout of the year in February. Overall, trout fishing was pretty good in the Rockport area in 2014, so I am optimistic for another good one. I like to wade shorelines with a mix of sand and grass this month, especially when and if the weather is warm. Our trout tend to prefer pretty shallow water when the weather is like that this time of year. We'll throw topwaters when we see lots of mullet jumping, assuming we get some blow ups without having to work too hard at it. We also like slow-sinking twitch baits and of course my old trusty Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with chartreuse tails. If the weather is colder, the fish tend to stay a little deeper. In such cases, wading mid-bay reefs and casting to deeper adjacent areas where there's a mix of mud and shell on the bottom can be the way to go. When targeting redfish, we search for them in the backwater lakes and drains."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
February is a great month to after trophy trout in the Upper Laguna Madre, but we will have to work around the weather because it can get pretty cold during this month. The water clarity in Baffin Bay is not good because of brown tide, but it is still fishable. The cold water temperatures will drive the fish into deeper water, five feet or deeper, but as the sun comes up and warms up the shallower water, three feet or less, the fish will come up into the shallower water as well. Look for areas with a mud and gravel mixed bottom and wade slowly and quietly while fanning your casts all around yourself as much as possible. The fish will be moving very slowly because of the cold water temperatures, so I'll be almost dragging my lures on the bottom very slowly, giving the fish an easy target to go after. My favorite soft plastic lure is still the Bass Assassin Die Dapper because of its shape and scent. Because of the lack of water clarity, I'll use the morning glory/chartreuse or chartreuse dog colors and sand trout if I find some clear water.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Water quality is highly variable throughout the area, right now, Joe says, and he will likely adjust his fishing strategies according to where the pretty water is. "It has been quite cold for the last week or so, with a lot of north wind. That tends to push clear water into areas around the JFK Causeway and in the northern parts of the ULM. I like to fish the clear water if I can. In the best-case scenario, it offers us a chance to sight-cast the fish when they move shallow. At the very least, it allows us to see the edges of the channels and also the deeper rocks and grass beds when the fish are holding in deeper water. When the weather allows, fishing is good lately. We're catching trout by targeting them along the margins of the flats close to the main channels and the ones leading into the main channels. Also catching some along the main drop-offs in the channels themselves. During February, our fish tend to be more willing to come out into the shallows, as long as the weather isn't really cold, like it was last year."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Species in greatest surf abundance during the month of February and the focus of most anglers will be redfish, black drum, whiting, and pompano. Bottom fishing, using double-drop leaders baited with fresh-dead peeled shrimp and Fishbites, is usually quite productive. Using cut bait can produce bull, sandbar and blacktip sharks. It is imperative to plan your trip to take place in moderate conditions in-between the arrival of cold fronts. Beware of east and northeast winds as they can cause large rises in the tide and pile water high on the beach. It is also highly advisable to avoid traveling during predicted high tide times this time of year. There will be very few visitors to the PINS beaches most days so precautions are in order. Make sure to carry emergency supplies and always your spares list prior to heading down-island.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
Fishing has been very steady; limits of trout and redfish most days if we do not have gale force north wind. Soft plastics have been producing steadily and slow-sinkers such MirrOlure Fat Boys and Devils have been producing some respectable sow trout. Most of these larger females have been running very heavy for their length. The redfish bite has also been really good. Most of the reds that we have been picking up similarly quite fat. We had a 24-inch red the other day that went right at 8-pounds–unbelievable! Topwater bite has been slow but it is still fun seeing them blow up on the lure. In the coming month expect to find the fish in the potholes or on sand flats when the sun is shining. On the cooler and cloudier days try fishing along soft bottom drop-offs to deeper water. Bait and other surface signs will often be hard to locate but pelicans and ospreys will often point the way. Color changes and edges of muddy streaks in waist-deep water around spoils can be good places to try.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
Fishing has been great, even during adverse conditions. We've been able to catch reds almost every trip, but when we don't limit, we fill the box with trout. Specks have been showing up in good numbers during the fall, and this winter looks to be an opportunity to set a personal best for many anglers. We're seeing some giant females sharking around in very shallow water every day that we are able to see the bottom. Speaking of shallow water, the winter tides are always the lowest of the year, and this year is no exception. It could even be the lowest we've seen in the last thirty. Freddy says, "If you are a new boat owner, and you didn't buy a Shallow Sport, here's a tip. When you run aground, get out and try to float the boat to the nearest gut or pot hole, and of course call for help if you can't get up. When we started guiding in 1980 and ran into problems, there weren't any cell phones, so we had to get out and walk to the Game Refuge or Cullen's to get help, and it was never a one-day process." Stop Open Bay Dredge Disposal!