Reports & Forecasts: January 2009

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
January is a good month to get out and try to catch a monster trout. They should still be found on the flats on the north end of the lake. Good places to try are the pocket on the west bank, south of Turners Bay, the shoreline between Pelican Point and the Old Settlement, and the shorelines in West Cove. Twitch baits such as Corkies and Catch 2000's are great baits to start with. If those don't work, try a big Sand Eel on an eighth ounce leadhead. The Industrial Canal north of the ICW should also hold both trout and reds, especially if the cool temperatures persist. Fish can be found on the shores in depths from ten to twenty feet. They'll also suspend at the same depths so work the entire water column and make some casts away from shore. Soft plastics will be your best bet: Sand Eel Jr., H&H Cocohoes, and H&H Salty Grubs in colors like glow, chartreuse, avocado, LSU, and black.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
"It's lock and load around here lately. You know what I always say, if you can't catch 'em right now, you don't have gas in the boat or a rod and reel that works. I've been catching them in all the bays on recent trips. Trinity is good, but it's kind of crowded. The key over there is birds, of course, scattered mud and clams if they aren't working. In West Bay, there are some birds working too, and the areas with scattered shell off Green's will produce when they aren't working. The Upper Bay has birds too. East Bay is too treacherous for most people, with all the junk from the hurricane, but the fishing is good over there. People who want to fish there should consider going with a guide who's been over there and mapped some of the junk. We are catching our fish best on the old standby lure, the 51 series MirrOlure. I like to just throw it out and reel it in really slow. Depth can be controlled by counting down after it hits the water."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Fishing in Jim's area has been consistent lately, he reports. "I've been finding plenty of trout under birds in Trinity Bay mostly. The fish are of all sizes, up to maybe four pounds. Some of the schools in the shallowest water are holding a few bigger fish. There are redfish mixed in with the trout too. Doesn't matter much what you throw at them if you can contact the school quietly. Guys that are wading are catching some big trout, up to thirty inches. Most of the best action wading is right at dusk." Fishing isn't the only option in coming weeks. "Both the dove and duck hunting should be outstanding. We have just recently gotten a bunch of new ducks and I'm seeing lots of doves on my fields, so the hunting should be productive too." He also warns that East Bay, particularly the area around Rollover Pass, is full of dangerous debris, things as large as whole roofs. He does plan to relocate to Bolivar and fish more in East Bay soon.

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall had positive things to say about the fishing in his area, as always. "We have been having good luck lately, on all but the windiest days. When the tides are really low, we are fishing the deepest water in the area, mostly in the bayous. The fish in there will be easiest to catch on relatively heavy jigheads, like three eighth ounce. Bottom bouncing is the trick. Best color for that drill lately is a Baffin magic Sand Eel. When the tide is a bit more full, we're heading into the main bay, still working pretty deep water, say four to six feet, in areas with a mix of mud and shell. Fishing is a little slower out there, but the fish are better quality in general. Redfishing has been outstanding," he says. "We had a quadruple hookup on topwaters just the other day. It was a hoot. One young fellow about ten caught a thirty five incher. He also had one in the slot that had twenty two dots on it. What a thrill for him."

Matagorda | Don Wood
Bay Guide Service | 979.240.4137
Fishing the Colorado River has been saving the day on some of Don's recent trips. "We keep getting the fronts back to back pretty close and it's keeping the water in the bays pretty messed up. Luckily, the river's holding salty water and the trout are in there pretty good. We are catching limits or near limits most of the time, though we are having to cull through some marginal fish to get what we are keeping. Some days, the topwaters are working, mostly early in the morning, or on colder days in the afternoon along the west shore where the water warms up fastest. Mostly, it's a soft plastic thing. We've been rigging up with three eighth ounce heads and letting them sink all the way to the bottom, then slow hopping them in the mud in the middle of the river. Of course, we will keep working this pattern on windy days in January, but also we'll keep our eye on the mid-bay reefs and scattered shell in East Bay when it's calmer."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
A winter pattern has emerged in fishing in the Palacios area. Trout are staging over mud and shell in areas close to deep water. Corky Fat Boys in dayglo, pink, and pearl/chartreuse have been the best colors so far. The best action for the lures is to slowly bounce them over the shell and wait for the trout to pounce on them. We still have a few shrimp in the bays, and there are still birds working, but most of the fish under them seem to be on the small side. One bonus to the birds is the size of some of the sand trout; we have been catching some good ones up to seventeen inches. Redfish have been holed up in guts, drains and bayous along area shorelines. New penny and pearl Gulp shrimp along with small topwaters such as bone Spook Jrs. and orange/blue baby Skitterwalks have been the hot lures for the reds. Happy Holidays and a great new year of fishing to all of you readers of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine!

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
"I'll be throwing a lot of slow sinking lures come January," Lynn predicts. "Of course, I'm partial to the Corkies, and I'll be using them a lot. I also like the new baits made by Spro. They have some pretty topwaters and also a killer slow sinking jointed bait. It's more realistic than a live mullet, I believe! And it's got an incredible lifelike action to it. You have to see it to believe it. The key is that it comes in a floater, a slow sinker and a fast sinker, so you can cover all the bases that are necessary in winter fishing. Sometimes, the fish are really active, on the warmer days, and they'll strike on top. Most days, the slow sinkers are the best bet. In the toughest conditions, the fast sinker will come into play, since you can keep it closer to the bottom. Dragging a soft plastic slowly on or near the bottom will often be the best on the really tough days. Low and slow can be the only way to catch the fish on the coldest days."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
January is the last hurrah for the cast and blast season for Blake. "We'll be duck hunting and then fishing on most days in January. We have lots of ducks already, so it should be good next month. This is one of the best times of year for catching redfish too. The fish get stacked up on the dropoffs and in the deeper holes in the drains, especially when tides are low like they normally are. We'll also be targeting some of the larger trout, which we seem to catch more often in the cold weather. The drill for the trout is to focus on areas where the drains come out of the marshes into the main bays. Look for potholes with soft bottom in the vicinity of those drains. I also like to fish areas with muddy bottoms and scattered shell mixed in. Suspending baits are best for the trout; I love my Corkies. Topwaters will work at times too, but it's hard to beat the old Sand Eels much of the time. Same colors as always, dark with chartreuse tail."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
Sandbar sharks should be in good supply with lesser numbers of bull and blacktipped sharks available. Cownose and stingray seem to be prime winter bait and most fish are caught in late afternoons or at night. Kayaked baits will produce best. Pompano should continue in the best numbers of the year with fresh-peeled dead shrimp and pink or green "Fishbites" producing the best. Pick wide deep guts and make long casts for pompano. A cut through the outside bar is a perfect location. The pompano require light wind conditions and green water. Whiting, sheepshead and black drum will be present along with over-sized and slot reds. Some days the reds want cut mullet and other days shrimp work best. Shrimp will work on the other bottom species. Some Atlantic bluefish may be present and if the winter speckled trout are going to make a showing January is a prime month; typically using 51M MirrOlure twitch baits and a very slow retrieve. Beware of NE winds which will push tides high.

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
Our speckled trout and redfish populations in the Laguna Madre are in good shape! I have been coming in with very good numbers of trout, up to 27 inches. The redfish have also been so plentiful that we have been catching limits of them on almost every trip. Most of the reds have been slot sized, with quite a few being oversized, some up to 33 inches. The air temperatures, water temperature and level will drop this time of the year. This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish for trophy speckled trout. With the wind blowing hard from one direction and then turning and blowing hard from a different direction the next day, dead grass will be suspended or brought up to the surface, creating problems with some lures. One solution is to rig a "Kwik Cork" or Cajun Thunder with a quarter ounce jighead and a Bass Assassin Blurp four inch shrimp or five inch shad in pearl, new penny or electric chicken.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Fishing around the ICW has been very productive recently, with good numbers of trout and reds biting most every day. "There are birds working up and down the ditch, mostly south of the causeway. Under them, you'll find a lot of small trout, but the patient and persistent people will be able to cull some better trout and reds out of the bunch. The key is to use a jighead that's heavy enough to get down to where some of the better fish are holding. Using heavier heads also allows for maintaining contact with the edge and secondary ledges. Sometimes, it's better to stay away from the main bird activity and work sections where the dropoff doesn't go all the way to the bottom directly, but where there's a secondary ledge six or eight feet deep." Though the birds will likely stop working in January, lots of fish will still relate to the deep waters of the ICW because or their instinctive fear of freezing in the coldest month.

Port Mansfield | Bruce & Brandon Shuler
GetAway Adventures Lodge | 956.944.4000
Bruce says that recent trips have been productive on big trout in the Port Mansfield area. "We're seeing some positive results from all the changes in our area, including the dredging of the channel and the lowering of the trout limit. Our fishing has been good already and should be throughout the winter for trophy trout. Tactics in January will be much like the ones we use in December. We'll key on deeper, muddy potholes in close proximity to drains or other connectors between deep and shallow areas. Slow presentations will be favored; we'll throw suspending baits like Catch 2000s and the Money Minnow by Pradco. It can be rigged so you can pause it in a likely spot and it will suspend. It has a tail that gives a lot of flutter and vibration and it's realistic looking. Of course, we love topwaters and will not hesitate to throw them if we see bait jumping. Many days, we'll leave the dock later and come in at dark."

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
We haven't seen fishing like this since the early '80s. The LLM is full of big trout and redfish that are biting even during double tides and calm winds. You'll just be sitting there in shin-deep, clear water and the fish swim up to the boat begging. We're still getting the best results with corks and Gulp shrimp. The color doesn't seem to matter much, unless the wind's out of the north, pushing brown tide into limited areas, then glow and pearl white are definitely an advantage. Check with Kyle at Johnny's True Value for the correct way to rig up. We're fishing shallow, but some deeper pot holes on the East side are holding beautiful trout; the reds are moving around, so they're a little harder to keep track of, but there's usually a big herd hanging around south of Gas Well. Freddy says, "Now's the time to go out and get that personal best trout. Take pictures and release her back to fight again; fish under 25 inches eat best."