Reports & Forecasts: February 2016

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

February should be almost a repeat of January, with hopefully a few hints of the coming spring. Trout should be found throughout the estuary, unless we're having flooding conditions. Most of the best action will be as far North as water conditions allow. Salinity is not as important a factor as clarity at this time of year. Sometimes, the best fishing will be in the cleanest dirty water around. Good areas to start would the reefs between Commissary Point and Turner's Bay; the shallower reefs usually produce bigger trout. Best lures are soft plastics, sub-surface twitch baits and occasionally topwaters. Normally, soft plastics work better over deeper reefs and twitch baits over shallow reefs. Redfishing is usually good around the weirs and the adjacent shorelines along the east and south shorelines of the lake. Best lures are usually soft plastics, but at times both live and fresh-dead natural baits work better. Flounder will usually make an appearance sometime before the month ends on their return trip from the Gulf.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
"We have had really good fishing lately when we've gone. We'll be starting to target the big trout for the next few months. We will be fishing mostly in the afternoons, targeting fish over soft bottom in shallow areas, wading. Incoming tides in the afternoon usually create the best chances. I like to throw the pearl/black sinking FatBoy a lot. I also like the pink/yellow 51M MirrOlure quite a bit too. Also a pink/chartreuse Catch 5. The other thing I throw a lot is a Bass Assassin rigged on an H&H Flutter jighead. I use the red shad and the slammin' chicken colors mostly. We do have a lot of freshwater in the system right now, and that will affect where we choose to target the fish. We will try to stay in areas where the incoming tide is bringing salty water in on a regular basis. The south shorelines of both East and West Bays are good, as are some of the flats close to the Texas City Dike. We are set up for a really good run. Those who are willing to get out of the boat and work for the fish will do better catching the big trout."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
"Wadefishing got pretty good once the water got cold over here in East Galveston Bay. There's been a decent bite right around dusk, when the fish get more active in the clear water. Most of the biggest fish are hanging around areas which are protected from strong north winds. Some people are catching quite a few quality fish throwing 51 and 52M MirrOlures over deeper structures. In February, we'll be wading the warmer periods in coves protected from the onshore winds, targeting big trout in the shallows where the bottom is muddy. We'll throw Corkys and other sinking twitch baits when the pattern sets up. Those low pressure systems which allow the onshore winds to blow the tide in and fill the shallow backwater areas generally provide the best opportunity to catch the big trout this time of year. Some fish will still be caught in the deeper water, but those willing to wade will catch them more consistently. As long as the onshore wind isn't too strong and has some east in it, the situation sets up really good during warm spells."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
Fishing in January was really good, Randall says, with the exception of the frigid, blustery days. "Most of our fishing was done out of the boat, drifting over areas with a mix of mud and scattered shell on the bottom. Norton Sand Eels have been the best lures. We're throwing the full-sized chicken on a chain on overcast days and red magic Sand Eel Juniors under bright skies. In February, standard operating procedure will be fishing deeper water, up to about ten feet. I expect the fish to be hugging the bottom on the colder days, so we will be using heavier jigheads to keep the Sand Eels down in their faces. On warmer days, the fish will move shallower and become more active around shallow oyster reefs and in muddy coves, where we'll key on active bait, primarily jumping mullet, to locate them. When the fish do move shallow, we will target them with full-sized topwaters like Skitterwalks and Super Spooks and also slow-sinking twitch baits. This scenario is a good one for catching some big trout."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
"February stands out as the very best month for catching big trout in the Matagorda area. If you are really interested in catching them, the best way is wading the shallow areas with slow-sinking twitch-baits like Corkys and MirrOlure Catch 5s and Catch 2000s. Sometimes topwaters will work too, depending on how cold the water is. A couple days ago, we caught a couple of really big trout in the back of one of the coves. I had seen a bunch of bait getting harassed and caught one over seven pounds on a Corky. I threw in there a few more times and didn't get another bite, so I tied on a red shad Bass Assassin and caught one about ten pounds! She was a real monster. I also had reliable reports of other ten pounders caught in East Bay last week. We should see some real monsters coming in this month. We do still have a higher than normal tide most of the time lately, and this keeps the shoreline coves full of water. When the tide pulls out, the fish move out in the middle, and we catch them drifting areas with scattered shell and mud."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
Fishing has been outstanding in our area waters. We have been on a consistent pattern, finding trout and redfish over shell and mud, with a few flounder thrown in the mix. Our trout have been holding in about three to five feet of water. On colder days, we have been hammering them on a new lure from Egret baits called the Mambo Mullet. White/chartreuse has by far been the best color, and we have caught some solid fish up to twenty four inches. On warmer weather days, we have been catching them on pink topwaters like Super Spook Juniors and Skitterwalks. Redfish have been holding in the same areas, but have been a little shallower. The cajun pepper Mambo Mullet seems to be working better for the redfish. February is a good month to chase big trout up on the flats by our area rivers, where they have good access to deep water if it gets super cold, and some good mud flats to hunt mullet when the days warm up. Paul Brown's FatBoys in pearl/chartreuse and pearl/black are two of my favorite colors for the Palacios area.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
In February, Lynn plans on targeting his fish in areas which have a muddy bottom. "I'll be going after big trout in places with a mix of mud and shell or mud and grass. We'll use Corkys and other twitch baits a lot, sometimes topwaters, depending on the temperature of the water and the activity level of the bait fish in the area. More jumping mullet means a better chance of the topwaters working. We'll also throw soft plastics on light jigheads too, when the bite is tougher. Normally, we throw a lot of dark-colored lures, since the sky is often cloudy when the weather is dreary. I like to fish the warmer part of the day, so I will generally leave the dock late in the morning and fish into the late afternoon. Those big trout will move into shallow areas with a muddy bottom when the mud warms up, and that's what we're after. We'll also catch some big reds in the same places, but we're really after the big trout. This is the best time of year to get 'em and in order to catch 'em you've got to spend time patiently fishing the shallows."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
In February, Blake expects to continue doing what he's been doing all winter. "I'll be targeting redfish in the backwater areas, on the edges of the drains and in open areas of the lakes when the tide is higher. I also try to target them on shorelines adjacent to drains which lead into the back lakes when the tide drops out. I have been using Norton Sand Eels in colors like purple and pumpkinseed/chartreuse. But in February, I'll start targeting the trout a bit more, using topwaters as much as possible. When it's colder, we'll focus more on the areas with a soft, muddy bottom and some scattered shell, places with feeder guts leading into the shallow areas, using slow-sinking twitch baits. When it warms up, we'll move to the shallower adjacent places, which have more of a sandy, grassy bottom and throw topwaters more. February sets up really good for us, fishing-wise. I have been catching trout and redfish in some areas where I rarely find them in January, and I expect this to continue in February, especially if the weather stays warm."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160
The month of February is a great month for going after trophy trout and big redfish in the Upper Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay. The water clarity is still good in some areas of Baffin Bay, and I will be looking for water that is not gin-clear but, slightly milky or sandy colored. The water temperature in February will drive the fish into deeper water with muddy bottoms overnight, and then as the sun gets higher in the sky and warms the surface and shallow water, the fish will also come up into shallower water. The fish will be moving very slowly, and I will be moving even slower and as quietly as possible, being careful where I step and fanning my casts in front of me as much as possible. I will practically be dragging an eighth-ounce Screw Lock jighead rigged with a scented bait like Bass Assassin Die Dappers, Blurps or Berkley Gulp! on the bottom. On windy days, a quarter-ounce jighead will work better for feeling the bites. Power Pro braided line with about 24 inches of 20 lb. test fluorocarbon on the end will help detect the light bites.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961
Water quality is really good all over the Baffin/Upper Laguna Madre system, Joe says, and the fishing is predictably excellent too. "We have clear water all over the area right now, and this makes for some really good fishing. On the warmer days, we are catching big reds and trout close to big mats of dead grass on area shorelines. They will bite soft plastics, sinking twitch baits and topwaters too, at times. When it's warm and winds are light, we like to target them up really shallow, using light jigheads on our soft plastics when throwing them. On colder days, with stronger north winds, we will target our fish a little deeper, working drop offs and deeper rocks and grass edges, using heavier jigheads to keep the lures in closer contact with the bottom. The clear water is making it easier to stay in close contact with deep structures and drop offs of this kind, so it helps us catch more fish. February sets up really good for us. The fish usually like to stay shallow much of the time this month, making it possible to sight-cast on some days."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
With the seasonal drop in temperatures, larger gamefish that have been over-extending their stay have finally moved offshore, out of the surf. February is historically our slowest month, with only a few species readily targetable. Redfish and slot drum should remain and will likely be caught when targeting pompano with shrimp and Fishbites. The optimal time is when the wind lays and the water gets clear. As in the past few years, the winter trout fishery will be a crapshoot. Suspending MirrOlures worked slowly into the current around holes and suck-outs will work best. Shark fishing will be generally slow for the next month. However, large wintertime sandbar sharks will be around and are usually hungry. Sandbars have an uncanny appetite for whiting and sheepshead. Bait and bird activity will be scarce, structure will be your number one friend on these tough winter days. On a good note, driving should be exceptional as we come off some of the lowest tides of the year and tire hazards (fish skeletons) from the red tide are nearly all gone.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
The weather has been crazy, and winter patterns not really applicable. Mostly, I just went all summer mode on them. The trout we have been catching in the North East Cut area have been really solid. We've had days when clients scored multiple hookups on 20+ inchers. Even slow days have given us fair to decent numbers. We have been getting the most trout bites over thigh to chest-deep grass. Some days we get lucky and find a few reds sprinkled in, but the best redfish action has been knee-deep on average, over sand and scattered grass. Truth be told, when targeting reds, the closer to the East Cut the better. I believe that when we get into February and consistently colder weather the trout and likely also the reds will begin living along spoil island and channel drop-offs more than simply roaming the flats. Old oilfield cuts are another perennial hotspot during sustained colder temperatures. Until something changes weatherwise I'm probably going to keep jumping back to summer mode. Hey, it's been working pretty good so far!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747
The harsh holiday weather ushered in some really great fishing. We've had some of the best trout fishing in recent memory, since right after hurricane Ike in 2008. Catching twenty four inch or larger trout cast after cast is about as good as it gets! We have also had a great season on redfish, but a recent trip in drizzly, cold conditions, amped up the action even more, with all six anglers limiting and one tagging an oversized. The average size of the reds boated increased, and some of the fish looked like they swallowed a football! Freddy says, "Once winter weather gets bad, we always tell our clients to dress in layers! Staying dry is very important, even when it's not so cold and especially when it's windy. Remember, you're in South Texas and the weather can change hourly." We're killing the trout on Cajun Thunder round corks with Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp and will be switching to bait when the water temperature drops and the hard heads leave the area. Be safe, dress for bad weather, and help stop open bay dredge disposal.