Reports & Forecasts: January 2011

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

January is a great month to catch a big speckled trout while wadefishing. The only trouble is picking the right days. I've never had much luck in extreme cold, but that's not to say it can't be done. The trout will be on the flats and shallow reefs. I like to fish during the warmest part of the day in very shallow water. Also look for mullet; if you see a few in the area, it's probably worth fishing. Bait is not active during cold temperatures. Any fish movement on the flat is worth casting to. We have been doing well this fall on MirrOlure MirrOdine XL's in white/green back, white/black back, black and gold, green and gold, and pink. Paul Brown's Original Lures are also a good choice. Let the fish make decisions for you. Seems like there are plenty of big trout in the lake this year. We have caught several fish over seven pounds lately under the birds, so January should be interesting. As long as salinities remain high, the shallow reefs and flats on the north end of the estuary will often the best potential for the biggest trout.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
"Trinity Bay is salty and the fish are still there in the north end," James says. "As we get further into winter, the big reefs on the Baytown side should have plenty of trout. We've been catching trout and reds in a variety of places lately. There have been a few birds working in East Bay and West Bay is just starting to kick off too. We should see the typical winter pattern set up there real soon, meaning we'll see mud streaks out in the middle with lots of fish in them. People who know where the sweet shell humps are can catch plenty of trout without working the mud streaks too. The area off Green's and Mecom's Cuts will be the best place to start looking for the streaks, and for drifting scattered shell. We'll try wading when the tide is high, and get in the boat when the tide goes out, no matter which bay we're fishing. Mostly, we're throwing MirrOlures in gold/chartreuse and black/gold/orange. Bass Assassins are working too, as usual. It's not lock and load like it was, but it sets up for a steady winter of fishing."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim was on a tractor readying another field for duck hunting when we talked. "The recent cold weather has really set us up for great duck hunting. We already had a bunch of birds, but now it's good and cold up north and there are more every day. It's going to be a great second half. Got plenty of doves too. The short season in January should be great shooting. As far as fishing goes, we're coming off the best run of the year. Lots of days lately, we're taking limits of both trout and redfish. You can catch them in lots of places, like drains, over reefs, under birds, on shorelines, you name it. And you can catch 'em wading or out of the boat. It has been tremendous. Throwing Stanley Wedge Tails and Bass Assassins mostly, but you can catch 'em lots of different ways. That will likely change in January. Once the water gets into the forties, the pattern will switch over to late afternoon and night. I like to leave the dock in the middle of the day and work deep bayous for a while, then wade as it starts getting dark and stay into the night."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
"Fishing has been outstanding," Randall says. "There are more redfish in our area than I've ever seen. We are sight casting them on most days. We've had low tides, so it's been easy to spot the fish. When they are feeding actively, you can cull all you want out of the schools and they won't even spook. Mostly, we're throwing Sand Eels in salty chicken and Baffin magic. Trout fishing has been easy most of the time too. There are fish in lots of places, birds working too. We'll see a change in coming days as it gets colder. We've got plenty of shrimp in the bays right now, but the strong fronts between now and Christmas will likely flush everything out. Once we get colder water temperatures and the shrimp are all gone, we'll start focusing on deeper water in the open bay, especially areas with a muddy bottom and scattered shell. It won't be the fast and furious action like we've had lately, but it's steady and the potential for big trout is there." Randall also says to come see him in booth 719 at the Dave Holder Fishing Show this month.

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
Charlie reports a recent run of easy fishing in the Matagorda area. "We're coming off a three month run of lots of limits. The fish have been easy to catch out in the middle of the bays, under birds at times, keying on slicks at other times and just fishing spots around the shell humps at other times. We've been throwing soft plastics mostly. The size of the fish has been solid, with lots of three to six pound trout coming in. January will offer better potential for true trophy trout, especially for those who like to wade. We get away from the soft plastics and favor MirrOlures and Paul Brown's Original Lures in the middle of winter. In the Corkys, we throw a lot of pearl/chartreuse and silver/chartreuse tail. When we are throwing soft plastics, it's usually a bright color like space guppy. Colder days will stack the fish up closer to the intracoastal, while warmer weather will make the shoreline coves better. Those fishing out of the boat should focus on reefs and scattered shell in the west half of East Bay."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Fishing is as good as I can remember right now. Trout are everywhere, under the birds, over shell mixed with mud on shorelines and out around deep rigs in the bay. The size of most of the trout ranges from sixteen to nineteen inches and most of the fish are fat, solid fish. Redfish numbers are still amazing to me, seems like any shoreline with a drain or slough on it has fish around it. Tides moving in and out with still quite a bit of bait in the bay has the whole bay system teeming with fish. January should produce some bigger trout. Last year, January was our best month for big trout. Paul Brown's Original Lures in pearl/chartreuse and pearl/black accounted for most of these trout. The main key to catching solid trout this time of the year is to be patient and work areas that have bait present. Super slow coverage of mudflats that are strongly believed to be holding fish is a key to catching big trout in winter. Grinding hard in the best areas often eventually produces the telltale THUMP of a big trout on the end of the line.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn was busy dealing with feral hogs in a trap at the time of his report. In January, he plans to be busy with hogs of a different species, the spotted, swimming kind! "January is a good month for catching some big trout. The keys are timing, location and method, of course. I like to fish later in the day during the coldest part of the year. Fishing is better in the afternoon hours, especially on sunny days when the sun warms the flats for a while. Flats with a variety of stuff on the bottom are best, particularly those with mud, grass and shell. Close proximity to deep water is a must too. The trout want that security blanket of deep water nearby. Finding bait on the right flats is critical as well. Doesn't have to be rafted bait, but there needs to be some present. We'll be throwing lots of dark soft plastics, like always, but we will also use a lot of slow sinking twitch baits too. I like Paul Brown's Original Lures and other MirrOlure baits like Catch 2000s too. They work great when moved slowly around thick, dark grass beds on the flats."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Cast and blast season will still be going strong for Blake in January. "We've had pretty good duck hunting so far, and the recent cold weather has pushed some new birds in. It should give us a little better variety. I'll also be hunting doves in the short season that kicks off right after Christmas. Fishing has been good to great in this area lately too. We've got lots of solid keeper trout and plenty of reds as well. I'll be targeting the reds first and foremost after the shooting is over, but we always manage to catch some big trout when fishing the muddy backwater areas that are on my air boat trail. If the back lakes aren't working, or if we limit out on reds, we'll move to grassy shorelines to target the trout. Best bite lately is on Norton Sand Eels. My favorite colors are working fine, meaning purple/chartreuse and pumpkinseed/chartreuse. I also anticipate some good topwater days this time of year. If I see a lot of mullet jumping, I'll give them a try. It's not an every day thing, but some of the best topwater days of the year come in winter."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
January will be a quiet time on the Upper Laguna Madre. The deer hunters will be going after that elusive, monster buck before the season ends, while the rest of us are going after the elusive, monster speckled trout. The water temperatures will be going down during the passage of the cold fronts and so will the trout as they look for deeper water with muddy bottoms. But, as the sun warms the shallow water a couple of days after the fronts pass, the bait fish and the trout will be coming up to the shallower water as well. Soft plastics will be my biggest producers, like Texas Assassins in plum/chartreuse, bone diamond or pumpkinseed/chartreuse, also four inch Berkley Gulp shrimp in new penny and pearl white. If we get three to five warm days in a row, I would not be surprised to find many reds and black drum cruising in ultra shallow water twelve inches deep or less. This is when a good set of polarized sunglasses will be valuable for sight casting with five inch Assassin Blurp shads or three inch Berkley Gulp shrimp on sixteenth ounce jigheads.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
The water remains crystal clear in the northern parts of the Upper Laguna Madre and the trout have begun to relate well to the main channels with the cooler weather, Joe reports. "I'll be staying up north a lot this winter if the water stays clear like this. I like to fish the channel edges once the water gets down into the fifties and stays there a while. The birds are picking for a couple of miles south of the JFK already and the ICW is full of trout. On the colder days, it pays to work the main channel ledges, throwing from deeper water onto the shelf and letting the lure flutter down as close to the wall as possible. Adjusting jighead size helps make this drill work; heavier jigheads work better in stronger winds and current. When temperatures warm some, the flats adjacent to the channels can hold plenty of fish, particularly the bigger trout and slot reds. When drifting flats on the warm days, the drill is to throw at the sand pockets, which show up as bright spots in the darker grassy meadows."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
January is something of a wild card for fishing the PINS surf. If the cold fronts come in from the north or northwest the water will typically be clear and calm enough for productive fishing and fair beach driving. Northeast wind will make the tides high, the water muddy and seas rough with the current often unfishable. Planning your trip around the weather forecast is paramount throughout the month and will make or break your trip. Driving in Big Shell has been very soft and treacherous on high tides for some time and is to be avoided. Sandbar sharks are typically available with the lesser chance of bull, blacktipped and mako sharks. The majority of sharks will be caught on kayaked baits. Florida pompano, whiting, slot and oversized reds, black drum and sheepshead will be the targets of bottom fishers with fresh, dead shrimp and Fishbites working well on all species and cut bait also working well on the reds. Historically this is winter surf trout season with 51M MirrOlures but be ready for a long grind between strikes.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas filled with blessings and a Happy New Year to you!Where else but South Texas can it be 90 on Thanksgiving and 40 the next day?Water temperatures in the low-60s have made us put our waders on early this year in order to stay comfortable. A couple of early strong cold fronts have moved through and has cooled the bay off. If the past couple of months are any indication; January and February should be a good time to be on the water. Fish continue to follow the bait, we have cleaned several reds that have been feeding on the small newly hatched crabs, eels, mullet and lots of shrimp. The bay system is full of bait. Weather permitting, snapper fishing is still good, just need to catch the seas right.There has been reports of several flounder being caught. Just remember to keep only what you will eat, release the rest. We have future generations that need to enjoy what we enjoy. Pass it on to the next generation.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
When the wind is high and tides loweven a little traffic can make things tough, but we've been limiting on both target species more often than not and getting some healthy trout over twenty five inches and occasional flounder. Through this holiday season, we're counting on Berkley Gulp three inch shrimp in pearl white and new penny under Cajun Thunder corks to attract trout and reds in less than perfect water conditions. Best bet is to let the lure sink to the bottom of a pot hole then popping occasionally, but staying in the hole as long as possible. The colder the water, the slower the action should be. Try to avoid running around and work over likely spots thoroughly, taking more time than usual; you can't see fish by driving anyway. Freddy says, "Fishing the LLM in winter can be a challengeyou should be prepared for cold, damp weather, especially in the morning, then increasing winds. When it's clear, on our famous sunburned face, cold back, wind out of the north drifts; dress in layers, you can always take stuff off."