Reports & Forecasts: January 2017

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe - Big Lake Guide Service - 337.598.3268
January can be an excellent month. Cold fronts can offer big problems for getting out on the water, but the days between fronts often offer great fishing. Redfish will be plentiful at the weirs as well as on the banks adjacent to them. Low water conditions pull fish further off the banks. I usually position my boat as close to the bank as possible and cast out away from the bank, as well as parallel to the bank off the bow. Look for slicks, mud-boils, and any kind of surface activity. Gulp! baits work well, but in extreme cold try tipping your bait with dead shrimp.
Trout will feed on the warmer days and often don't eat during extreme temperature swings. Turner's Bay, West Cove, and Joe's Cove are traditionally good big trout areas. Muddy, soft bottom with scattered shell often produces good trout, especially on flats adjacent to marsh cuts and bayous. Steady outgoing tides produce best on these flats. Any of the Paul Brown Lures are our top choices in January. Good luck and hope to see you all fishing soon.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
James likes the fishing in the Galveston area, especially if the weather is not too cold. "If we have really cold weather this month, most of our best catching will be done out of the boat. Typically, we look for areas with some color in the water and some flipping mullet to target trout and redfish in the open basins of the bays. Normally, the mud streaks and areas with some color to the water hold more fish than the really clear areas. Warmer weather will make the wading a better option, especially if the fronts arrive three or four days apart, and we get a flow of southeast wind between them. The onshore flows tends to send water back into the bays, after it's blown out by the strong NW winds of the fronts. When the tide and temperatures rise, some of the big trout will move into shallow areas along the shorelines. When that happens, we normally catch some really nice fish using twitch baits like the old 51MirrOlures and Catch 2000s and Catch 5s, even occasionally on topwaters."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
When weather allows, fishing has been excellent in the Galveston area lately, Jim reports. "It's that time of year. You have to catch the weather window right and be ready to go. We don't catch fish as consistently this time of year, but the good days are some of the best of the year. This is also the time of year when we start running more afternoon trips. Often, when the weather is cold, the fish bite best right before dark and into the first hour or so of night. This is especially true when the tide is coming in at that time. Here lately, we've been catching fish out of the boat by drifting and using the trolling motor to keep the boat positioned so we can cast at the right parts of the bayous and sloughs. Mostly, we're catching what I'd call regular-sized trout and redfish. No real big ones, but numbers are good. And we often do wind up catching some big trout in the middle of winter when we're able to wade area shorelines between fronts. Of course, we will be duck hunting too, when the weather's nasty, and on the weekends."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
The bays around San Luis Pass are full of bait and fish lately, Randall reports. "Our shrimp migration has been delayed somewhat by all the warm weather we had, right up to Thanksgiving. We do have birds working sporadically, but the steady action hasn't kicked off like it can when the weather is cooler and the fronts stronger. Normally, the shrimp will basically be out of the bays in January, though, and we have to start looking for schools of mullet to locate our fish. Then, the best catching occurs in relatively deep, open areas of the bay, in water at least four or five feet deep, sometimes a bit deeper, over a muddy bottom with some scattered shell. Lately, we've been catching a few fish in areas like that, throwing mostly Norton Bull Minnows in the roach color, and Norton Sand Eel Juniors in chicken on a chain, and working them low and slow, close to the bottom. We are catching a few fish on topwaters on the better days too, throwing mostly the One Knocker Spook in pink with silver sides. This action should continue through the winter."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
Numerous options provide rich opportunity for anglers fishing the Matagorda area in January, according to Tommy. "We should have a bunch of things working in January. The river will produce a bunch of fish if it stays salty and we get some cold weather. We have plenty of trout and redfish in there right now, and cold weather tends to stack 'em up even more. When fishing the river, we like to throw lures along the drop-offs when the fish are most active, and drag them along the bottom in the middle when they are more finicky. Out in the west end of East Matagorda, we catch plenty of trout in January, including some big ones, while drifting areas around the main reefs with a muddy bottom and scattered shell, by throwing soft plastics and keeping them in close contact with the bottom. This works best when tides and temperatures are fairly low. If we get warmer weather and higher tides, wading the shorelines in East Bay with twitch-baits and topwaters will produce some monster trout at times too."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
Fishing has been great in our local bays and rivers. Trout have been biting over shell in three to five feet of water and under birds in Tres Palacios Bay. We have been using the new VuDu Eels in cajun pepper and silver flake and they have been eating the heck out of them. Our fish have ranged mostly from 16-19 inches with a few up to 23. The redfish bite remains strong as we are still seeing a bunch of reds pushing shrimp down the shorelines and podding up in back lakes. VuDu Shrimp in natural has worked best for the feeding reds. Flounder have been thick. Though we can only keep two a day, we have had some monsters up to five pounds out in front of area drains, ditches and marshes. January should continue with great fishing, with target areas to focus on shallow flats close to deep water. Flats around the river mouth and are good choices this time of year as is the north shoreline of Tres Palacios Bay. The new turning basin and the deep holes in the harbor are other great locales to hit when we get some cold weather.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
Lynn will be targeting the big trout during the month of January. "We'll be really going after the big girls this month. We'll be throwing a lot of Paul Brown Lures and MirrOlure SoftDines, the slow-sinking ones. Also soft plastics when the bite is toughest. We will, of course, be spending most of our time fishing areas where we find concentrations of bait fish, mullet primarily. We will focus on shallow areas with mostly mud on the bottom, sometimes a mix of shell and mud. Often, we find our fish in guts which feed into the shallow backwater areas, and they bite best when the tide is pulling out of the shallows into deeper water, after the sun has warmed up the water all afternoon. This is why we normally fish from late-morning into the late-afternoon this time of year, to let the flats heat up under the sun. All of the sloughs and drains leading into the backwater lakes have tremendous potential to produce big trout in January for folks who focus their efforts in the right places and at the right times, so that's what we'll be doing."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Cast and Blast season continues throughout January, so Blake is plenty busy hunting and fishing. "We generally hunt ducks in the back country early, then fish our way out after the shooting ends. Normally, we target redfish while in the back lakes, keying on deeper areas in the guts and sloughs. Often, we are able to sight-cast some of the fish in the clear water. The chartreuse split-tail Gulp! works best then. When targeting trout, we find the catching better along muddy, grassy shorelines in the vicinity of where the guts lead out of the marshes into the main bays. When the sun heats up the dark grass beds, we usually catch some pretty big trout around them in the middle of the day and into the afternoons. On the best days, we throw Super Spooks with chrome on them. But more of the time, we find the catching better on slow-sinking twitch baits and on soft plastics like Norton Sand Eels rigged on light jigheads. This month provides excellent variety and lots of fun out on the Coastal Bend bays."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160
Deer hunting season is still on during January, so, it's very quiet on the water. Hunting for the trophy trout of a lifetime can be challenging, but locating one is not out of the question. In our favor is the great water clarity in many parts of our Laguna Madre. The colder water temperatures will drive the trout into deeper water during the evenings but as the sun warms up the shallow waters the fish will come up as well. I think wading is the best approach during this month, but I've seen many trout over thirty inches caught fishing from a boat as well. I like to rig natural colored Bass Assassin Die Dappers or Berkley Ripple Mullet on clear, sunny days and darker colors like morning glory/chartreuse or chicken on a chain on cloudy days. I'll be looking for areas with mullet swirling or flipping on the surface in water depths of about three feet or less. The key to success during this month is to retrieve the lures slowly and fish with braided lines because the bites will feel like a very light tap that will be undetectable with monofilament lines.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961
Joe says the key to catching fish in January in the Corpus Christi area is staying in tune with how the weather affects the fish. "Between fronts, when the weather heats up a little, our fish often move to the shallows adjacent to the shorelines. On days when they do that, we often catch plenty by sight-casting or blind-casting around silty potholes in the grass. Normally, we find that some cloud cover helps the bite, since the water is often so clear. Dark, natural-colored soft plastics work well to entice bites from fish which can see the lures so well. On colder days, or when bright sunlight makes the fish spooky and nearly impossible to catch in the shallows, it pays to fish the edges of the intracoastal waterway and guts feeding out of it into the shallow, grassy areas of the bays. When working this pattern, it's important to use the trolling motor to keep the boat positioned so that it's possible to cast right along the edge of the deeper water, where the grass beds lie close to the drop-off, and to adjust the size of jighead to match the conditions."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
The pompano showed up at the start of winter as predicted. With the current water conditions, anglers can expect phenomenal days on long-casted shrimp and Fishbites. There is no bag limit on pompano, but please be responsible and respect the fishery. Depending on water clarity, we may see some massive trout in the winter surf. Trout have been available in so-so numbers for several weeks. Slow-sinking and suspending baits could prove effective. Redfish of all sizes will be available, heading into the New Year usually means fewer bull reds. Live, whole dead, and cut mullet will be the ticket. It is not uncommon to see 40 pound and larger black drum in the winter surf. Sharks will be present so long as the water is semi-green and warmer than 60F. Large sandbar sharks will take about any bait, but are a sucker for a large, whole whiting. Expect large blacktips and medium-sized bull sharks in warm water. Low winter tides usually make for excellent driving conditions. Best fishing is usually second and third day following a hard front.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
I probably sound like a broken record but, I am again happy to report that fishing has been very good over the past month. Mid-sized trout have been aggressive on topwaters; bone-pattern One Knockers and chartreuse head-white body Spook Jrs have been consistent producers. Fish we have cleaned lately have been eating mullet and piggies, one had an eight-inch trout in it. K-Wiggler Ball Tail Shads on a 1/8 heads have also been good; Mansfield Margarita and Bone Diamond are my go-to colors. Redfish are still running the flats north of East Cut, expect them shallow early and then progressively deeper as the day continues. Small tops and paddletails are usually great choices, ditto ol' faithful gold weedless spoon. Target calm days following fronts and expect some bird activity along the ICW. You will normally see this from Community Bar all the way up to the Land Cut. Don't give up if at first all you find are small trout. Move on to the next group of birds and you might find solid keepers. It's a lot of fun either way.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747
Lately, fishing has had some high points and some low ones. Depending mostly on boat traffic, we've had some great days, with limits of reds and trout, and really nice sized flounder. When the traffic is high like it was around the holidays, it can be hard to get anything to bite, especially with no wind. On the tidal flats of the L LM, wind is a major factor. Freddy says, "You got to have wind in order to sneak your boat up on fish in shallow water, and even just a little breeze will greatly improve the distance on your cast, allowing you to attract a hit from a predator that isn't already moving away from the boat. Wind also stirs oxygen into the water, which makes fish more aggressive." We're having great success throwing FP3 corks with a sixteen-inch leader and eighth-ounce jighead with a Berkley Gulp! Live shrimp in new penny and pearl white, sometimes switching to a nuclear chicken for trout. Planning around the holidays can improve your chances, but sometimes it's just all about the experience! No more open bay dredge disposal!