Reports & Forecasts: January 2010

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
Our fishing is HOT! Limits of trout and reds are coming pretty easy. No monsters yet, but some solid six and seven pound trout. January is a great time to fish, simply because no one is out there and the fish are. While everyone else is occupied with ducks and deer, we tend to lean more toward the big trout. Barring a rain event, the big trout will still be where they were in December. If we do suffer from a big rain, the fish will migrate a little farther south in the estuary. Anywhere that you can find clear water and bait is worth fishing. Catching these fish during the dead of winter is challenging. Vary your retrieve from slow to slower. Use the same suspending twitch baits like Corky Fatboys and Catch 2000's. Ideal baits can be worked very slow and still be kept near the surface. The bird action should be winding down, so go back to fishing the reefs on the north end of the lake. If temperatures get really cold, try deep holes, such as LNG. Fish will get thick there because there is no tide movement. They can just sit and suspend. Fish slow!

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
James reports good to excellent fishing in Galveston area bays. "Trinity's still good. There's a lot of people over there, and a lot of fish too. As of now, the birds are still working. Don't know how long that will last, though. The reefs on the west side have all got fish. That should stay good through the winter. East Bay has plenty of fish as well. When the tide is not too low, it's possible to catch some good trout wading over there. If the wind blows the tide out and drives all the fish to the middle, West Bay will be better. Overall, West Bay doesn't have as many fish right now, but you can peck away and catch some decent trout most days, limiting some of the time. The pattern, wherever you go, is to fish scattered shell and mud near the bigger reefs. I like to use a 51 or 52 MirrOlure, because I can just throw it out and reel it in real slow and catch 'em. Of course, it will also be possible to catch fish on soft plastics too. Work them slow and stay in touch with the bottom, especially if you're fishing right after a cold snap."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim loves this time of year for the variety of outdoor options. "I've got plenty of doves at my lease. We'll be on that hot and heavy right after Christmas. The duck hunting is good too. That should last well into the new year as well. Fishing has been on for quite some time now. We've had good fishing under birds and some excellent wading too. Caught some quality trout to go with limits and near limits almost every time out. Biggest trout lately was an eight pounder. The January fishing will depend on the severity of the cold weather and the wind's effect on the tide level. When tides and temperatures are really low, the holes in the bayous fill up with fish, and fishing out of the boat is the way to go. On the other hand, when the weather warms up and the south winds blow in advance of a front and fill the bay with more water, the wading can be better. The wading is usually best right at dusk in the colder months. Sometimes the best action kicks in just as the sun is going down and lasts into the early part of the night."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
"Fishing has been really good," Randall says. "We've been catching some solid trout and lots of fish. Biggest trout lately was right at seven pounds. We should see more like that one in the comings weeks and months. There are a couple of patterns working lately, mostly related to shell. We're drifting mud and shell bottoms with Sand Eels and catching good numbers that way. There is also some decent wading at times, especially on shorelines with some grass beds. We also wade some reefs and shorelines with shell and mud. We throw the Sand Eels too when wading, but we mix in more Corkys and topwaters. There has been a lot of rain lately and when the water gets stained, two colors seem to work best, salty chicken (pink and green) and roach." He reports some catches of big flounder on recent trips. "I actually sight cast one of them on top of a reef. It was a good five pounder. Caught her on a Corky Flash. Watched as she sucked it in and took off. It was a real hoot."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
Charlie enthusiastically asserts that some of the best fishing on the Texas coast can be had in East Matagorda Bay in January. "You have to play the weather, of course. The harsh blows will mess things up pretty good, but in between, the potential for catching giant trout is there. Some will be caught wading, but drifting scattered shell can pay off too. One of the most important keys is moving water. Watch the tide charts and try to focus on periods where there is some current moving. Doesn't really matter whether the water's going in or out, but it does need to be moving. When drifting, use light jigheads and Bass Assassins. Normally, I prefer sixteenth ounce heads when the water's really cold, because it forces you to slow down and the fall rate is slower. Also, using light line helps in feeling the bites, which are often really light taps. I use nothing bigger than eight pound test, whether mono or braid. The school of big trout will normally set up in a portion of the bay and stay there all winter. If you locate numbers of twenty seven inch and larger trout, it's possible to maintain contact with the school all the way from now until the end of February."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
We are catching excellent numbers of trout and redfish as we move forward into our winter pattern. Many of the trout have been hanging along area shorelines in water depths of two to four feet over mud and shell bottoms and also out at the rigs in West Matagorda in depths of twelve to fourteen feet. The fish in the shallower water have been falling prey to Corkys in pearl/chartreuse and dayglo, along with firetiger and pumpkinseed/chartreuse Bass Assassins. The trout out at the rigs have been eating four inch chartreuse Norton Bull Minnows and salt and pepper Berkley Power Mullet. The redfish on the flats have been steadily eating quarter ounce gold spoons and pearl/chartreuse Bull Minnows. The bayfront along the south and east seawall in Palacios has also been coughing up some solid trout, reds and flounder. The best bite there has been on falling tides and best lures have been salt and pepper Power Mullet rigged about eighteen inches under cigar corks.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Catching fish in January means focusing on areas where fish will look to warm up, and these areas will be close to deep water, Lynn says. "I'll be targeting areas with shallow grass and mud which are close to a drop off to deep water. The fish will move on and off the flats this time of year in response to the cold fronts and warm spells between them. All of my fishing will be along the fringes of flats where this movement should occur. I throw Corkys a lot this time of year, but the soft plastics are the most productive lures on a day to day basis. The presence of bait, particularly mullet, is important during the coldest part of the year. Finding even small schools of bait can often signal the presence of plenty of trout and redfish. The bait is easiest to see after the sun has been out for a while, so I change my tactics from the typical dawn patrol of summer. This time of year, I like to start the day later, say around ten o'clock or so, to allow the flats to warm up. Then we'll fish our way toward dark and expect the action to heat up."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Both the duck hunting and the fishing have been good to excellent of late, Blake says. "We have good numbers of ducks, even to the point of clouds of birds, and there's variety too. This allows us to get limits on most hunts. It'll be good through the end of the season, I'm sure. The fishing is not quite to the same level, but it's good too. I'll be casting and blasting throughout January. The drill is to shoot early and fish the middle of the day. We'll be fishing inside the back lakes some. When it's cold, the deeper areas fill up with the redfish. I like to focus on knee to thigh deep areas with soft muddy bottoms. If the tide is low, it will concentrate the redfish either in the deepest parts of the back lakes, or cause them to flee the marsh entirely. If they leave the marshes, they're pretty easy to locate and catch along shorelines adjacent to the drains. Trout fishing is picking up lately as well. Normally, in the winter, we catch some of the biggest trout of the year. The cold weather will force them into some of the same areas as the redfish.

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
More than the usual numbers of cold fronts have been reaching our area in South Texas this winter. The cold fronts are also bringing much rain, wind and colder than usual temperatures. The water temperature has gotten colder, so some of the fish are moving into deeper water with mud and/or gravel bottoms with shallow grassy areas close by. If you are looking for big trout, you will be better off if you wade in areas where the depth changes from three feet to four feet or more. One of my favorite lures to use with these conditions is the suspending bait, MirrOlure Catch 5, because of its noisy characteristics. I think that the most productive bait this time of the year is the five inch Bass Assassin Saltwater Shad in colors like bone diamond, plum/chartreuse, pumpkinseed/chartreuse and limetreuse. The Assassin Blurp five inch shads, in the colors pearl and good penny rigged on eighth ounce Spring Lock jigheads worked slowly along the bottom are also very productive.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
The recent wintry weather means fishing patterns related to deep water from now until the end of January, Joe predicts. "We're getting some strong fronts that are dropping the water temperatures really fast right now. When that happens around here, the fish will drop off into the channels and many will stay there through the winter. Catching them consistently means working the edges of the main channels and also working the stretches where channels intersect the main channels and run into the flats and create a silty hole at the dead end. Keeping the lure in contact with the edge of the channel is key when fishing this pattern. This is often easiest when heavier than normal jigheads are used, especially if the current and/or wind is strong. I like to use quarter ounce and even heavier heads some of the time." He also mentions that venturing out in extreme conditions necessitates extra preparation. "It's wise to bring lots of extra clothes, food and water when going far from the dock in winter. It's like combat; it pays to be prepared for the worst."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446

Pompano will continue to be the main target for light tackle anglers in the January surf although plenty of whiting, black drum and some redfish will also be available. As always; a fresh, peeled, dead shrimp and "Fishbites" combo will be the most productive. Pompano will hit a TT28 51M MirrOlure readily on some days. Find a cut through the outside bar of a wide, deep gut and you'll be on the pompano. Sandbar, bull and blacktipped sharks are often available and the chance exists for mako and sand tiger sharks. January tides are usually rather low. Second day behind cold frontal passage tends to be the most productive and user-friendly. Speckled trout are possible on 51M MirrOlures and other artificials but their numbers have been way down for several years. Pick narrow stretches of gut (squeezes) separating areas of wide gut and cuts through the sandbar for trout and work lures slowly. I'll also be fishing the Northern Laguna Madre and Baffin for trophy trout and offshore for mako sharks, wahoo and other species.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559
When you think that you are working your bait slow, slow down some more. That is cold water fishing. The strike will feel like you bumped a piece of grass. Everything in that cold water is moving very slowly, if it is moving at all. Normally, cold weather means deeper water and softer bottoms, this adds up to slightly warmer water conditions. Topwater baits really need to be worked slow too click, click, stop, pause, repeat. When the strike comes, let the line get tight before you set the hook. Braided line is an excellent choice for winter fishing. It is much more sensitive than mono line. It lets you feel those little taps. The Corps of Engineers have been dredging up north for a month. I jumped out to wade one of our favorite spots and sank up to my knees in black silt. BE CAREFUL! When you do catch a couple of fish, don't leave the area. Take your time, there are usually more. Just keep what you can eat, release the rest.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
It seems the red tide episode, for this year anyway, is finally coming to an end. At the time of this writing, our marina in Laguna Vista is filled with dead fish, mostly mullet, whenever the wind is from the north, and although it looks and smells bad, there is still no evidence of active red tide in the LLM. The debris we're seeing is washing in from the Gulf and the passes. Our trips are still producing good catches of redfish and trout; however, some days of very slow tide movement have made us stay out longer than normal to fill the box to an acceptable level. We're still throwing the Cajun Thunder corks with a fifteen inch leader, but we're alternating between the cigar and round shapes. Freddy says, "Every now and then, try using the Diet Jerk four and a half inch Reaction Strike plastic worm instead of a Gulp; currently the favorite color is Mexican Flag. We've had good luck with this bait for both trout and reds." Winter is the season to add that trophy trout to your wall; just be sure to dress in layers; you can always take something off.