Reports & Forecasts: January 2008

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
Fishing Calcasieu Lake in January can be quite frustrating at times due to weather conditions, but some serious sow speckled trout are here to be caught for those willing to go. Cold fronts streaming into the area with rainy and windy conditions can make fishing miserable. The clue is to watch the weather closely before venturing out. Generally, the second or third day after the front passes is the best bet. Trout will be located up on the flats in 18 inches to 3 feet of water, over oyster reefs or anywhere there's a hard bottom. Stealth is the main objective when entering an area to fish; trolling motors should be used as little as possible. Keep the noise to a bare minimum. The key to finding big speckled trout is to look for mullet. Now is the time for those twitch baits we all love to throw: Catch 2000s, Thundersticks, Corkies and Corky Devils will all be productive. Our favorite colors are silver with a black back, green/silver and green/gold. Soft plastics in glow, avocado and black will also work well on an eighth ounce jighead.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
James says that he's been in various corners of the Galveston Bay system lately, and caught both numbers and quality fish in all of them. "In one week, I caught 'em in Trinity, East and West Bays and Chocolate Bay. I get tired of looking at the same stuff, so I move around a lot. This fishing in Chocolate was probably the best for average size of trout; we had limits running about three and a half pounds over there. In Trinity, I sat on one little spot and caught limits of both trout and reds in no time flat, even threw in a striper as a bonus. Closer to my house, right out here in West Bay, I and one other guy caught a mess of nice trout too. Biggest ones that day were about 27 inches, and we had a mix of twos, threes and fours. These fish have been biting a little of everything, from 51 Mirrolures to She Dogs and Corkies. I also caught some fish real easy the first time I tried Rapala's new slow sinking lure. It's going to work great. Basically, the way the fishing is right now, we should be in for one of the best winters in a long long time."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim was excited about the fishing and the duck hunting when I talked to him. "We are still on the water," he said. It was well after dark. "Our bite has been best right at daylight or right around dark. The tide is real low during the day, just turning at dusk. The fish are shallow, and if it's calm, we've been catching them out of the boat, but when it gets windy, we are wading to get at 'em. Today we had about 20 trout, all solid. Best fish are right around 27 inches, with the rest threes fours and fives. It's just super fishing. We're throwing mostly Catch 2000s; they are working better than topwaters. As tides begin to move during daytime hours, I'll be back to fishing more conventional times. There are just a bunch of trout over here in East Bay this year. Winter should be outstanding." Then he said this about the duck hunting. "I actually thought I had lost all the water in one of my ponds today. We went over there to check it and it looked like there was no water. Then we realized it was absolutely blanketed with ducks. It's gonna be a skillet shoot in the morning."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
"Fishing is fantastic lately," Randall says. "Limits of trout are the norm and the
redfishing on topwaters is out of this world. I had a 37 inch beast on a Skitterwalk yesterday. We are catching our trout mostly out of the boat. When the water is low, we are working scattered shell in three feet of water and throwing a quarter ounce jighead. When the tide comes in, we switch over to a three eighths ounce head. The red magic Sand Eel has been the ticket to the trout for the most part. In fact, I had a fish on seventeen casts in a row with it the other day! After the fronts, with colder water, the wading has been better. We've seen some big trout already, with several fives and one eight pounder. That pattern should remain steady in January, when we usually have some of our coldest weather." He also puts in a plug for his favorite fishing product, his Evinrude Etec motor. "I finally had my first minor problem with it after 1,400 hours of service without a hitch. I bet you I have started that rascal three thousand times and it never missed a beat!"

Matagorda | Don Wood
Bay Guide Service | 979.240.4137
Don reports a good run of fishing for trout and redfish in Matagorda lately. "I've been drifting mostly in East Bay. There are still a lot of shrimp out there, and I've been catching my fish on shrimptails. Limits have been the norm. As long as the fish keep biting them, I'll keep throwing them. Some others are catching some nice fish by wading. Charlie Paradoski had a 27 1/2 inch trout yesterday on a Skitterwalk, but he didn't spend all day wading either. We have actually been catching our fish over plain old mud out in the middle. Of course, historically, a mix of shell and mud is good in the winter." He plans on fishing both East and West Bays in the coming month. "We like to wade over in West Bay this time of year. The redfish can be really easy over there, and of course we'll be wading East Bay too when we can. There are reports of some really big trout coming out of East Bay already this winter. Of course, I don't put much stock in reports of released thirty inchers unless they take a picture!"

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Fishing has been consistent in the colder water. Bigger trout are starting to show up over mud/shell and in deep guts and drains with soft mud bottoms. Recent trips to area shorelines have produced several fish in the 25 to 27 inch class on slow-sinking Corky Fatboys in pearl/black and Texas chicken. Smaller trout in the 15 to 18 inch class have been plentiful along the seawalls and in the Harbor. These fish have been biting the Texas Trout Killers in plum/green and plumkin. The redfish bite has slowed quite a bit, with the schools mostly broken up. Scattered small slot fish from 20 to 23 inches have been found on some local mud flats on gold spoons and small topwaters such as Baby Skitterwalks in blue/orange and Spook Jrs in bone/flash. The night fishing has really taken off here lately with several good reports coming from 1st street pier and the Pavilion. Hot lures at night have been salt/pepper Berkley mullet and bone diamond Trout Killers. Finding any bait along with good mud/shell mix will be the key to finding better fish this month.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn was in a deer blind when I talked to him, but he'll be back on the water soon! "I like to focus on shallow, grassy flats in mid-winter, especially those that are
adjacent to deep water, depths of over four or five feet. We start and stay late on most days this time of year. On the brighter days, I like to stay up on the flat itself most of the time, and on the cloudier days, I'll focus more on the edge of the flat where it tapers off into the deeper water. I use a progression of lures this time of year. Of course, I throw purple/chartreuse and red shad worms most every day, kind of as a fish finder. If I'm catching them pretty easy on the worm, I like to try my Corkies. Some days, the bait gets more active and topwaters work well too. Colors on those is pretty much the same for me in winter as at other times. I love chrome ones and the old black/chartreuse SheDog is hard to beat too. The key to catching fish this time of year is to stay close to the deep water access and remain keyed in on the bait activity and what it's telling you about the mood of the fish."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
With the duck season extending throughout the month of January, Blake expects to be doing lots of cast and blast outings. "We'll be using the airboat most days in January, starting out in the blinds early, then chasing redfish and trout after the shooting is over. There are lots of ducks in area marshes this year, and a good
variety too. Redfish are just everywhere, especially since the tide fell out behind the recent cold fronts. Big trout are mixed in with them in some places." He plans on fishing soft muddy, grassy bottoms and some scattered shell in the mid-winter month. "I will be throwing a mixture of lures. Of course, I love my Sand Eels in
purple and pumpkinseed/chartreuse. Corkies come out a lot too in the cold weather. Then when it warms up, we actually have good topwater action in January. When the bait is jumping, the fish will usually blow up." Carlos, St. Charles, Mesquite and Aransas Bays have the right combination of marshy areas and soft bottoms for the outings Blake runs in winter.

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
The cold winter months are prime time for pompano, whiting, slot and oversized redfish, black drum and sheepshead on the beaches of Padre Island National Seashore. Peeled, fresh, dead shrimp will work well for all species; cut mullet and cut whiting make effective winter baits for redfish.
Usually sandbar, bull and blacktipped sharks are present in varying numbers and all three documented landings of mako sharks on the Padre Island beach occurred during the winter months. Grinders will be seeking large surf-run speckled trout with a variety of 51M and 52M Mirrolure twitch-baits, as well as topwaters and soft plastics. Cold fronts will make beach conditions unfavorable and travel impossible upon arrival and as they pass. The wise will make sure to plan trips around the second day following a front when conditions have had a chance to moderate some. When winter surf waters clear up after fronts, it makes for fairly easy "reading" of the guts near shore.

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
The weather in November and December was fair, not too cold, not too warm. The water temperatures did go down and continue to go downward. During periods in which the sun was out and air temperatures were high, the water temperature came up and so did the fish. On some of those days we found very good numbers of redfish and trout in two to three feet of water in the Upper Laguna. Natural colored soft plastics like Bass Assassin Slurps and Berkley Gulp shrimp rigged on sixteenth ounce jig heads were working. Five to ten pound black drum have also been schooling up in several areas, and free lined live shrimp has been the ticket for catching the drum. With the water temperatures heading downward in January, I'm looking to start fishing in three to five feet of water with mud and shell bottoms, and the drop off along the intracoastal on colder days. I'll be using smelly soft plastics rigged on eighth or quarter ounce heads and working them very slowly along the bottom. This is also the time to fish with flashy MirroLure Catch 5 lures.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
"Lately, the water in the Laguna Madre has been clear on the north end, but the brown tide comes and goes as the tide level rises and falls," Joe says. "I learned long ago that it's tough to catch fish in brown tide, and I just don't really like fishing in it, so I try to stay in the clear water as much as possible. Since the intracoastal is one of the main avenues of the current, it is often clear. I like to fish the edges of the main channel and the other channels that connect with it in winter. I try to
position the boat to where we can throw relatively close to the edge. Sometimes, heavier jigheads are necessary, depending on the wind and tide. The channel edges are most productive when the water temperatures are in the mid-fifties and lower. As the water warms, less fish will stay on the edges. Then, the potholes a short distance away are more productive. Don't hesitate to visit Corpus Christi Bay either. The area inside Shamrock Cove often has big trout during the warm-up periods in the winter. They will go in there to bask in the sun after the fronts."

Port Mansfield | Bruce & Brandon Shuler
GetAway Adventures Lodge | 956.944.4000
"Warmer than normal conditions have the patterns a little backed up around Port Mansfield lately," says Bruce. "The good news is that the high water temperatures make for easier fishing in terms of just getting bites. You can pretty much catch fish on topwaters, twitch baits and soft plastics, whatever you want to throw. Most of the trout are normal-sized keepers though. We have seen some bigger fish, but the consistency in catching them is not quite as good as it is when it gets cold. Once water temperatures dip into the fifties more regularly, the big trout will bite better more of the time. We'll be targeting drains that move shallow water onto flats
adjacent to deep water, especially the muddier drains. After a couple of warm up days following the fronts, dropping tides will send warm water onto the muddy flats, and that's a great time to be chunking twitch baits like Corkies, Catch Vs and Catch 2000s for the big trout. Topwaters will still work too; look for the warmest days and the highest levels of bait activity to indicate that they will."

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
This is the season we look forward to all year. Our biggest concern is dressing for success in colder weather. We suggest wearing multiple layers; be sure your outer layer of clothing and footgear are waterproof as well as warm and don't forget, you'll still need sunglasses. We're catching some nice trout, as expected this time of year, throwing the Mauler with a 15 inch leader of 30 lb. test and a quarter ounce jighead with a Gulp three inch shrimp in new penny, pearl or nuclear chicken. Working the Mauler fast like a topwater super shallow works great on reds, but a slower retrieve will bring more trout, which have been hanging out with the reds early. Cold water means slower, deeper patterns and we adjust accordingly, targeting the sand holes where outgoing tides funnel bait and predators towards dropoffs on either side of the Intracoastal. Freddy says, "South Texas has beautiful weather in winter, just ask the snowbirds. When conditions gets tougher, fishing gets better. It has to get really nasty (30 mph winds and/or lightning) to keep us off the water."