Reports & Forecasts: February 2017

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

February can be a great month to catch the trout of a lifetime in Big Lake. In most cases, they will be found from Commissary Point north to the Intracoastal Waterway. On warmer days, when water temperatures reach the mid-sixties, these fish can be caught on reefs in three to five feet of water. However, in many instances, they will be found in less than three feet of water, holding over soft mud and scattered shell. Our go-to baits at this time of year include Paul Brown FatBoys and Devils as well as MirrOdines and Soft-dines . Redfish can be found along the east bank, south of commissary point. Look for slicks, mud boils, and birds hovering over the water waiting to dive. The weirs are also a great place to try your luck. Eighth-ounce jigheads with Gulp! swimming mullet are usually our most productive lures to throw at the redfish. High water conditions push the fish closer to the bank, and low water conditions pull the fish off the bank. This rule applies to big trout as well.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
In February, James expects to be wading more of the time, targeting big trout as often as possible. "The shoreline fishing has been good recently," he says. "We have been catching good on old school 51-series MirrOlures and FatBoys in some places, wading in areas with a muddy bottom and some scattered shell. In the coves in West Bay, we catch a lot of fish on tails, like Bass Assassins. I think with all the grass we have in this bay these days, the bite on soft plastics is better. In the old days, fishing the mud streaks in West Bay was really good on twitch baits, but now it seems better on tails. Fishing for the bigger trout is usually good in February, especially if we have water temperatures holding in the fifties. When we have sustained weather which keeps the water about 57 to 59 degrees, it's usually a great year for catching the six, seven pound trout and a few bigger ones. Warmer weather usually means smaller fish this time of year. But the fun side of that is we catch more when it's warmer. So, it's a good month either way."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
Jim was hot and heavy into the duck and goose hunting when we talked, but he expects to be back to fishing a lot by February. Like many others, he prefers wading and fishing the afternoon hours in winter. "We normally catch some of our biggest trout in February by wading and staying at it until about an hour after darkness falls. On the warmer days, we do have a decent bite early in the day sometimes, but more often than not, especially when it's colder, we catch better in the afternoon and into the night. Lots of times, we'll head out late-morning and fish some drains and deeper holes in the bayous with soft plastics, targeting a mixed bag. This normally produces both trout and redfish, even an occasional flounder. Then, we focus on wading the shorelines and shallower areas as the afternoon wears on, targeting the bigger trout on twitch baits and topwaters. This pattern produces well during the warm ups between fronts. On the coldest days, we find it necessary to target the fish in the deeper holes, rather than on the flats."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
Randall reports steady catching of both trout and redifsh on recent trips using a roach-colored paddletail rigged on a three-eighths ounce Norton ScrewLock jighead. "In February, I'll be targeting mostly trout by fishing in muddy streaks out in the open bay. Depth normally runs about four to five feet and the bottom consists of a mix of shell and mud in the best spots. We always work to find plenty of mullet in the area when fishing this pattern. It's like any other fishing that way, really. Bait fish must be around in order to indicate the likely presence of the predators, meaning the trout and redfish. One really good way to locate the mullet on days when they aren't jumping readily is to look for the other creatures which tend to appear where the trout and reds are....pelicans, cormorants, mergansers and loons. While fishing this pattern this time of year, I favor a small lure in two color patterns above the others, the red magic Norton Sand Eel Junior and the Halloween Norton Sand Eel Junior."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
February fishing in the Matagorda area includes many favorable options in mid-winter. "Some really big trout are always caught around here in February," Charlie says. "Most are found on the shorelines. We catch some big trout on sinking twitch baits, like FatBoys and MirrOdines. Topwaters work great on some days too. East Bay also offers some of the best drift fishing for big trout in the state. We always catch some big ones by working the areas adjacent to the main reefs which have a mix of shell and mud. Soft plastics work best for this style of fishing, but fish can be caught on others lures too on the best days. And, the Colorado River is running clear and is full of fish. The Diversion Channel too. People who prefer to target redfish will do well by focusing on the shoreline guts in West Bay. Especially when tides get really low, the reds will gather in large schools over there. Over all, this month provides as many solid options of various kinds as any other month."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204

Fishing has been outstanding in our local waters. Except for the little cold spell we had for about four days, fish have really been in an autumn-like pattern. We are finding a few fish moving into the harbor when the water temperatures drop, but they are right back in the bay, holding over shell as soon as it warms up. The fish in the harbor were hitting the new VuDu Eels in pearl/chartreuse rigged on three-eighths ounce heads jigged off the bottom, and the trout over shell were hitting VuDu shrimp rigged about three feet under popping corks best. Redfish are still schooling on the shorelines and in the marshes, which is unheard of this time of the year. They have been gorging on little grass shrimp and mullet and crabs. Quarter-ounce gold spoons and pearl/chartreuse Bull Minnows have accounted for best bite. February should be a great month because we still have tons of bait in the bay. When and if we get some cold weather, the flats off the river and the flats around the Turning Basins ought to be lights out!

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
In February, Lynn predicts he'll be fishing areas in the back lakes of Port O'Connor, where the trout fishing has been good recently. "We've been catching some solid trout, big for this area, and I expect it to get even better in February, which is usually one of our best months for providing potential catches of the really big trout. I'll be targeting guts and drains with a soft, muddy bottom and also adjacent flats covered with lots of grass. I like to fish the late-morning to late-afternoon hours this time of year, allowing the sun to heat up the flats through the day. The dark grass beds tend to soak up the sun and heat up the water around them. When looking for big trout in areas like this, I key on places which are holding lots of bait, mostly schools of mullet. Mullet jumping out of the water signal a good chance at a topwater bite, so we will throw topwaters quite a bit this time of year. We also like the slow-sinking twitch baits and catch plenty of fish on them. My favorite colors this time of year are pink/silver and strawberry/white."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake expects to continue fishing for redfish in some of the back lakes and marshy areas where he's been duck hunting recently, and also begin switching over to trout fishing more of the time. "I'll try the areas in the back lakes where I've been seeing reds consistently throughout duck season. When the tide is high and the weather warm, the fish often move into shallow parts of the lakes, and when it's cold and the tide drops out, they normally concentrate in the deeper holes and bayous. During February, though, I like to start focusing more on catching trout. I like to fish shorelines in bays like St. Charles, Mesquite and Corpus Christi Bay, normally in areas adjacent to drains which lead into the backwater areas. Targeting fish in places with a soft bottom dotted with scattered shell is usually a ticket to consistency. We typically experience an improvement in the bite on topwaters during this month. We also tend to catch plenty of fish on sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown lures too. And we still throw our Norton Sand Eels on the slower days."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160

State record trout have been caught during the month of February in Baffin Bay, and the water conditions in this body of water are looking very good right now. With the water temperatures being cold, the fish will go into depths of five feet or more overnight, but they will gradually come up into shallower water as the sun rises and warms up the water's surface and shallows. If we have multiple days of cold weather, I think that wading will render greater success. I will look for areas with muddy bottoms, and I'll be looking for lots of bait in the area, like mullet swirling or flipping on the surface. Smelly baits like Bass Assassin Die Dappers and Berkley Gulp! will be very helpful at this time. Die Dappers in colors like salt & pepper/chartreuse tail, sand trout and morning glory/chartreuse tail, or the three-inch Berkley Gulp! shrimp in colors like pearl/chartreuse or root beer/chartreuse are among my favorites. Rig them on eighth-ounce Spring Lock jigheads and move them very slowly on the bottom.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961

Water conditions in the Upper Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay continue to be about as good as they get, and the fishing is excellent lately too. "We have some really clear water throughout most of the area. This allows us to make some really good catches in the shallows at times, when the fish move up and we can see them clearly. Places like the King Ranch Shoreline and the spoil banks along the ICW provide opportunities for this kind of fishing on a regular basis when the water's clear like this. In the Lagoon, fishing from the boat around the edges of the grass beds lying next to the deeper water with a bare bottom works better some of the time, particularly on sunny days when the fish seem to get spooky in the shallows. Working the deep rocks and grass lines on the Kenedy Shoreline can be productive in the same situation. On the coldest days, we find more fish holding on the edges of the ICW and the channels which intersect it. The key to catching them then involves matching jighead size to the conditions."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins

Mild winter weather often means thick fog on the beach. Extra caution is advised when driving; slow down near camps. Water conditions have been favorable for pompano, the clearer the better. Fishbites and fresh-peeled shrimp are the ticket. Red drum should be plentiful, but expect to see more slot-sized than oversized. Shrimp, mullet, and cut whiting work well on most reds. Trout fishing can be hit or miss, but any that are available in the surf will likely be large and healthy. Black drum, slot and oversized, will be in the surf. Shrimp or Fishbites are always reliable baits for this species. Know and follow the keeper-slot regulations. With hunting season ending, we see increased game warden presence on the beach. Large sandbar sharks will be abundant when conditions are right. Sandbars are suckers for large whole whiting or sheepshead. Prolonged warm water could bring blacktips and bull sharks. Check weather and avoid driving during northers as waters rise on the beach. Prime times are usually 2 to 3 days after a front.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000

Fishing has been good between fronts. Redfish action remains steady in knee-deep to waist-deep water. The topwater bite has slowed, but K-Wiggler Ball Tail Shad and Paddletails get it done. Plum/chartreuse, Mansfield Margarita, bone diamond and flamingo are excellent colors on eighth-ounce heads. Gold spoons work on sunny days. If you can't find reds on the sand, check potholes on grass bottoms. Trout fishing is also very good. The bite requires slower presentations in the cooler water. Several fish on warm days have had multiple finger mullet in their stomachs. Paul Brown FatBoys and Devils are productive this time of year. Copper top, pearl/chartreuse, and pink/amber are top producers. This time of year, I head first to ICW spoils, and on colder days to deeper water nearby. Increasing jig weight to quarter-ounce is a good plan in deeper water. I also work the softer bottoms on the west side. We sometimes find topwaters effective along these shorelines after several warm days. Keep one in your box!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747

December has been a month plagued with some foggy days, which we expect to start clearing up when the wind begins to blow. Fog would linger some mornings until 11:30 or 12, whether the wind was up or not. We still managed to limit on trout when it was impossible to move around and scout for reds. Freddy says," Catching reds is often not difficult even when you can't drive around safely or see where you're going, but when the winter's lowest tides combine with fog, just navigating the channel through the point off Laguna Vista is a challenge, because GPS is only good to a few feet and under these conditions, a foot off can spell disaster!" We haven't caught any flounder since the last report, but have had very nice limits of redfish with a few oversized and some really noteworthy sow trout mixed in with limits of smaller, but super healthy specs coming on FP3 corks with Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp. We're expecting the winter months to produce some wallhanger trout for our clients. No more open bay dredge disposal!