Reports & Forecasts: January 2016

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268
Wadefishing is a great way to catch fish this time of year. MirrOlure Paul Brown Fat Boys and Devils are usually our lures of choice at this time. Most of the fish will be concentrated on the north end of the lake, favoring flats covered in three feet of water or less. Water clarity should be good, barring a major rain event. Natural colors which look like small fish work best in clear water. Bright/solid colors like pink and chartreuse prove more productive in dirtier water because they are easier for the fish to see. If trout aren't your thing, redfish will be plentiful and easy to catch at this time of year. The weirs will be a popular place to target the spot-tails, as they should be. The outgoing tides at these deep bayous will make for a redfish buffet; they will feed in the current pulling out of the marshes and shallow backwater areas. Gulp! and regular soft plastics like MirrOlure Lil' Johns and Norton Baby Bull Minnows will work great to trick some of the actively feeding redfish.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
In November, James had an excellent run, with a high number of fish over the course of a lot of outings. "The average size of our fish is not up to long-term averages lately, but we're catching a bunch of trout and a decent number of reds. We should start seeing some bigger fish once the weather gets colder. We've had a great topwater bite at times lately, up to seventy or eighty bites a day, but that might be tough to reproduce once winter sets in. I expect to be mostly wading come January. We tend to stay in the shallow parts along the shorelines during the warm spells, and focus on structures out in the middle closer to deep water when it's colder. We have been throwing the pink and silver SheDogs and ShePups. Of course, I also like to throw pink and yellow 51 MirrOlures. Soft plastics work great in cold weather too. The slammin' chicken Sea Shads and rat-tail Bass Assassins have been producing lots of bites. With the consistency of the catching being so good, we are set up for a great winter catching bigger trout, I think."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
Jim says the catching of numbers had been really easy for him over the weeks leading into the time of this report. "We've been catching lots of fish, but no really big ones. Wading has been good, as has the drifting along area shorelines. We're focusing on areas close to drains leading into the backwater areas. The water is brackish, not very salty, but the fish are still there. The wading is producing bigger trout, and that should be even more true once winter hits. The bite is good on soft plastics, of course, but we are also catching plenty on Paul Brown lures and the slower-sinking MirrOlure twitch baits, including the MirrOdines. These lures will be the real ticket to catching the big trout in January." Jim will also be hunting ducks, mainly on the weekends, especially when the weather is rough, and fishing when the weather is better for it. "January is normally good for one activity or the other, sometimes great for both. We have lots of birds and fish right now, so I expect fast action this winter on the bay and in the blinds."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
According to Randall, "The shrimp migration is in full swing. Birds are working everywhere, but most of the trout under the gulls are small. We've been ignoring the flocks in favor of fishing spots close to small drop-offs, throwing chicken on a chain Norton Bull Minnows on three-eighths ounce Norton Screw Lock heads. The tequila rock Norton Sand Shad has been working well also. By January, the shrimp migration will be a fading memory, of course. Then, we'll start focusing our efforts on muddy streaks in the open-water areas, looking for cormorants, loons and white pelicans to help determine where the concentrations of baitfish are located. On the better days, jumping mullet will make things easier. Any time mullet are found jumping in January, even a few, a large concentration of predators like trout and redfish can be expected to be found in the area. If a concentration of mullet can be located, the fishing normally turns into a 'no brainer', where catching lots of fish, often big ones, is the result."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Tommy elaborates a bunch of productive patterns for fishing in the Matagorda area in January. "When we are drifting in East Bay, we usually focus on the West End, trying to stay in the muddy streaks instead of the clear water. Mostly, we throw soft plastics on fairly heavy jigheads, at least three-eighths or quarter-ounce, so we can keep the lures low and in contact with the shell on the bottom. The key to catching when it's cold is to work lures slow, to account for the sluggish reactions of the fish. When wading in East Bay, we like to stay close to some of the guts with muddy bottoms, which heat up faster than the shell, especially on sunny days. I like to head to West Bay if the tide gets really low. The guts along the shoreline over there tend to stack up with redfish when that happens. Of course, if we don't have too much rain and freshwater runoff, the Colorado River will also be good. There, we troll along and throw soft plastics on the heavier jigheads toward the drop-offs. 51 and 52 MirrOlures sometimes work well on that drill too."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
Fishing has been very good in the waters around Palacios lately. We still have birds working over shrimp and redfish schooling along the shorelines. The weather pattern seems like we are about a month or so behind normal. The Tres Palacios/Colorado and Lavaca Rivers are three good locations for January fishing. Slow-rolling soft plastics in the deep holes and ledges usually works really good in the winter months to trick fish hugging the bottom during cold snaps. The flats located at the mouths of these rivers are also good a couple days after a good cold spell blows through and weather stabilizes. Another standby for winter fishing is the Palacios Harbor, where lots of deep holes and lots of shell make for a good habitat when the water gets blown out of the bays by strong north winds. Three-eighths-ounce jigheads seem to work best in the winter months when the fish move to deep water. Our best colors around here seem to be salt/pepper and chicken on a chain.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
The expected cold winter weather will affect Lynn's decisions when fishing. "I will most likely be using the trolling motor a lot during January. We normally catch some really good sized trout and redfish during the coldest month. I like to move slowly in the boat throwing in deeper water, along channel edges and other drop offs, in ten to twelve feet of water. We'll look for any signs of mullet and other baitfish, but mostly mullet. Our technique will be to use mostly soft plastics and slow-sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown Lures and MirrOlure Catch 2000s and Catch 5s. The key is to keep the boat going slowly enough to allow for casting and retrieving the lures slow enough to keep them down in the water column. On the coldest days, we'll wind up basically dragging our soft plastics along the bottom and short-hopping them us. But always, the presentation will be low and slow, to account for the fish being sluggish due to the low water temperatures. And, we'll be leaving the dock late-morning, to fish the warmest part of the day."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake will be casting and blasting his way through the winter weather come January. "We will spend the month hunting ducks early, shooting until the birds stop flying, then fish our way out into the bays the rest of the day. Fishing for redfish is usually good during January. I normally find them either in the deep holes in the bayous, or in the deeper parts of the lakes themselves. Catching them once we locate them is often pretty easy. Soft plastics like my old standby Norton Sand Eels generally gets the job done. If we don't find our fish in the back lakes, we usually wind up targeting areas adjacent to the drains on the main-bay shorelines. Places with mud and either shell or soft grass on the bottom usually produce well. Some of the bigger trout will be found in spots like these on warm afternoons. Targeting them with either slow-sinking twitch baits or topwaters is usually the way to go. Presentations will need to be slow, for the most part, this time of year, since water temperatures are low and the fish are cold and sluggish."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160
It was very quiet on the water during December, and it will be even more quiet during January because so many deer hunters will be out looking for the elusive Muy Grande. This will make things easier for those of us hunting for the trophy speckled trout. By now, your waders should be in proper order, along with your ForEverLast Ray Guards. I'll be doing a lot of wading in areas with a mixture of mud and gravel bottom. I have a lot of confidence in scented lures like Bass Assassin Die Dappers in colors like plum/chartreuse, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, morning glory/limetreuse and Berkley Gulp! four inch shrimp in colors like pearl and new penny rigged on eighth-ounce Assassin Screw Lock jigheads. The same plastics can also be very productive when rigged on quarter-ounce heads and cast along the edges and drop offs of the bigger channels like the ICW. The lures should be retrieved slowly during this time of the season, basically dragged along the bottom. After a few warm days, MirrOlure Catch 5s will work as well.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961
Water quality is fantastic throughout the Upper Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay, Joe says, so winter fishing should be really good. "I like to fish the edges of deep channels and along shorelines and structures close to deep water in January. I'll target any anomalies I can find along those ledges and shorelines. The clear water makes it easier to see some of those things, especially when the sun is out. Sometimes, I might target the deepest rocks lying close to the open basin, while at other times, the key might be to see the deepest fingers of grass projecting close to the deep water, or even the deepest pot holes in an area, which lie close to the drop-off. In any case, we'll be matching our jighead size to the conditions, meaning the strengths of the wind and current, attempting to keep our soft plastics close to the bottom or close to the channel edges as they flutter down. Windier conditions and stronger currents dictate using heavier jigheads, at least a quarter-ounce, while lighter winds and currents allow for lighter ones."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
Kicking off the New Year, surf water temps the next two months will be the coolest of the year. If temps run below average, you will want to target the warmest days for steady pompano action, clear-green surf preferred. Slot-sized black drum should also be available in good numbers when conditions are right for pomps. Finger mullet (when available), cut mullet and fresh-peeled shrimp should also work well for slot and oversized redfish. Mullet is the hands-down favorite for reds. Speckled trout may or may not be available in numbers that justify targeting them–keep your fingers crossed. Fortunately most of the red tide is gone, so we have that in our favor. January beach driving is usually very good but trips must be planned between northers to avoid too-high tides. Scattered tire hazards remain as the result of fish skeletons from red tide die-off still on the beach. Extra Fix-a-Flat is recommended. Stay close to the tide line when driving, but not too low, as saturated sand can also be tricky. January can be both productive and fun on the right days!

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
Fishing has been good the past several weeks. Trout have been plentiful, even if on the small side some days, you can still find a limit of decent ones. Please handle throw-backs with care. Higher-than-normal tides have redfish scattered but the East Cut and jetties have been steady producers. We've had slow periods when suddenly a school appears along the East Cut. Patience is part of the game. January weather is tough to predict but the day or two before a predicted front as well the day or two following can be some of the best times. I strongly advise staying off the water the day the front will arrive. Bird activity can be very important in finding bait and feeding fish in January; gulls, pelicans, osprey and terns can all give important clues. I plan to stay close to deeper water this month; old oilfield cuts, spoil banks or flats along the ICW. Paul Brown Lures and Catch 2000s will be ideal but slow-worked soft plastics are often your best bet. Never overlook deeper holes on the flats, especially on warmer days. Tight lines and calm seas!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747
It's been ridiculously good out there, we're talking a trout every cast and limits of redfish! The trout are averaging 18-20 inches, and we've been releasing oversized reds. Tides are running high, so the outgoing surge is allowing us to stay longer in some spots. Freddy says, "When fishing super shallow, manage your drift to end in enough water to get up on plane. If you have a Shallow Sport, the possibilities are endless. If you are south of the Arroyo, north winds, will empty flats faster because the wind and tide are combining to push water south." We're throwing the Cajun Thunder round corks with Berkley Gulp! Live shrimp in light and bright colors, like Nuclear Chicken, on about fifteen-inch leaders in all depths for all three of our target species, however, we haven't seen as many flounder as we were a couple of months ago. The water is still pretty clear except around the ICW, where it has been brackish from freshwater runoff.