Reports & Forecasts: January 2018

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

January can be a great month to catch a giant trout. Weather, however, can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Warmer water temperatures will produce more consistent action. When water temperatures fall, trout will become somewhat lethargic. Super slow-sinking lures will be very effective at this time due to the way they hover in the strike zone. MirrOdines, SoftDines, Paul Brown Lures and Catch 2000s are excellent choices for big trout in January. Look for the cleanest water you can find and make extremely long casts. Being stealthy and using the wind and current to your advantage are extremely important when drift-fishing for big trout. If trout aren’t your thing, head south. Redfish will be lurking at all the weirs and the banks adjacent to them. Pretty water isn’t a necessity, but is nice to have. A Gulp! Swimming Mullet rigged on a quarter-ounce jighead is usually all that’s needed, but sometimes tipping your Gulp! with a piece of dead shrimp can be the difference between a limit of slot reds and none.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242

The cold weather arriving in early-December has James thinking patterns in his home waters will change by January. “This should bring an end to the shrimp migration, and birds working to take advantage of that. We will still find fish in open-bay areas, but we'll use different techniques to locate them. Normally, in West Bay, finding muddy streaks in the clear water will lead to catching some fish, mostly trout. Out there, soft plastics on jigheads which allow for keeping the lure in touch with the bottom on a slow retrieve work well, as do 52M MirrOlures reeled in slowly, with the rodtip held down toward the water. During warm spells, when onshore winds blow tides higher and flood the coves, wading for big trout can be a good option this month, too. Best bite occurs in the afternoon in the shallows, lingering into the early parts of night at times. If the water warms up enough, the fish will blow up on topwaters, but slow-sinking twitch baits and soft plastics on light jigheads work on a more consistent basis, especially in cooler water.”

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054

Jim submitted his report on a cold, windy, rainy day. “I should be duck hunting right now. It's perfect weather for that, and we've got plenty of ducks. We'll keep on huntin' 'em through the end of January. Fishing has been good, with generally light crowds on the water. We've been targeting trout and redfish in backwater areas and on shorelines, using the trolling motor to move around. When we're throwing into shallow water, we've been having good luck on topwaters, and when we're throwing into a little deeper water in holes and drains, we're doing better with soft plastics. Mostly, we're catching slot redfish and keeper trout ranging from a couple pounds up to about four pounds. I've been pretty much ignoring the working birds, since most of the fish under 'em are tiny speckled trout and sand trout. If we get some more cold weather, wading for big trout will improve, especially in the afternoons. I'll be running trips which put a priority on catching a few big ones. We'll throw slow-sinking lures like Paul Brown Lures and Catch 2000s those days.”

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays

Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service

979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323

Randall expects the patterns to change after the strong cold fronts which came roaring through early in December. “These strong fronts will push most of the shrimp out of the bay for good. So, we won't have working birds any more, and the fish will move back to the structures, and into the deeper holes, depending on the water temperature. We'll catch fish in January by working dirty streaks in the water which have mergansers, pelicans and cormorants in them. Out there, we'll throw mostly soft plastics on quarter-ounce heads. We'll also wade some, targeting bigger trout on shorelines and reefs. If we can find a few jumping mullet it's a really good sign this time of year. On the wades, we throw soft plastics on lighter heads and slow-sinking twitch baits. We'll also find trout and redfish schooled up in deep holes in the bayous and creeks if it's cold, especially if tides are low. Low tides will also allow us to sight-cast at redfish in the back lakes on warmer days. A Norton Bull Minnow rigged on a quarter-ounce head works great for that.”

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski

Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401

Anglers in the Matagorda area have multiple options in January, like they do in all the other months. “One of the main reasons to fish in this area is to catch big trout. January is a great month to catch 'em. Some of the best days to catch big trout are not the nicest days to fish. You want to be on the water wading the shallower parts of East Bay right before the front hits, or before the high pressure settles in. People willing to fish during the passages of the fronts will have shots at some monster trout. When we're not wading, we find the drifting productive in both ends of East Bay, over muddy bottom with shell scattered around. Fishing for trout in the Colorado River can be outstanding in January too, especially if we get some really cold weather to push more of the fish into the depths. People who care more about catching redfish usually focus their efforts on West Bay this time of year. Low tides tend to concentrate the schools of reds in the guts and drains on the south shoreline of that bay this month.”

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
I cannot remember fishing being this good. Solid speckled trout and huge sand trout are working under birds in South/East/Turtle Bays. Three-eighths ounce jigheads work better than heavier ones to catch keepers. Pumpkinseed/pearl and chicken on chain paddletails have been the best lures, and on some days, Spook Juniors have tricked a handful of fish. Redfish have been thick at the mouths of bayous and drains on falling tides. Black/gold/orange She Pups and quarter-ounce gold spoons have been productive. Flounder fishing continues to be good as well; we've been catching a few every trip. Gulp! shrimp rigged under popping corks or slowly dragged along ledges have accounted for the most bites. January is always a good month to fish the local rivers when it's cold and the fish head into them for protection against dropping water temperatures. In those places, I like fishing three-eighths ounce jigheads and casting parallel to shorelines and letting the lures flutter off the ledge and down the face of the drop-off, into deeper water.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith

Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434

During the cold month of January, Lynn expects to adjust his efforts to coincide with the recent weather patterns. “We'll be dodging the fronts this month, fishing when the winds calm down some after the frontal passages. For the most part, we'll stick to wading, since we are usually out trying to catch some of the biggest trout of the year. Normally, we like to focus our efforts on flats with shallow water covering a soft, muddy bottom and a mix of scattered shell. We do best on flats which lie adjacent to deeper water, either a channel, bayou or an open basin. Places where currents are relatively light seem to hold more of the big trout when the weather is coldest. We will use slow-sinking twitch baits to target the fish on some days, lures like Catch 2000s and Paul Brown Fat Boys. We work them low and slow, since the fish aren't really aggressive with the cold water temperatures. Of course, soft plastics rigged on light jigheads also produce well this time of year, particularly when the fish are sitting on the bottom with their eyes looking down.”

Rockport | Blake Muirhead

Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894

Cast and blast season will still be going on during January, and Blake will be taking advantage of the opportunity to do some hunting and fishing on the same outing. “We have lots of ducks this year, so the shooting is fast and furious most days, and the fishing has been good too, especially for the trout. I think Hurricane Harvey helped make the bays healthier. We are catching plenty of solid trout in the eighteen to twenty-three inch class, more than normal. During January, I tend to focus on areas along shorelines with a softer bottom than in warmer months. We'll throw topwaters when the fish are willing to bite 'em, which typically means when the weather is warm this time of year. When the fish aren't as aggressive, we switch over to soft plastics like my old favorite Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with chartreuse tails. On most days, those are all we need to catch plenty of fish. On the toughest days, we sometimes have better luck throwing Gulp! lures. My favorite is the split-tail shad in pearl/chartreuse.

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut

Robert Zapata - [email protected] - 361.563.1160

It has been very quiet out on the Laguna Madre, with very little boat traffic. The water in much of the Laguna is clear. In the early morning hours, I’m fishing in water between three to five feet deep or along the edges of the deeper channels like the Intracoastal Waterway. I’m rigging dark Texas Assassins in colors like Texas roach or pumpkinseed/chartreuse on quarter-ounce Spring Lock jigheads. As the sun gets higher in the sky and warms up the shallows, I will switch to Die Dappers in colors like sand trout, chicken on a chain or salt & pepper silver phantom/chartreuse on a sixteenth-ounce jighead and look for pot holes that have a mix of mud and gravel on the bottom in water three feet or less in depth. Popping a Bass Assassin Kwik Kork rigged with about twenty inches of twenty-pound test fluorocarbon line and the same soft plastics can be a good way to catch good trout and reds too. Wading will be the most successful way to fish for trout and reds this month, but don’t forget your ForEverlast Ray Guards to protect against sting rays.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | - 361.937.5961

January can be a great month to target big trout in the Upper Laguna Madre, Joe says. “This is one of the months when people in the know catch some of the biggest trout of the year. The key is to time and tailor your outings to coincide with the right kind of weather. When the wind is blowing out of the north at thirty knots, fishing isn't productive, of course. But if the weather's cold, fishing for big trout can be productive soon after post-front winds subside enough to allow us to get on the water and make a decent effort. Areas protected from the winds on the west and north shorelines of the local bays usually hold more fish when the water temperatures are in the fifties. Fishing by wading and throwing soft plastics on light jigheads or slow-sinking twitch baits will be the preferred methods in situations like that. If the weather warms up, and southeast winds return, targeting big trout and redfish on shallow flats in the ULM and Baffin can produce outstanding results too. When we're working that pattern, we like to make long, controlled drifts and look for the fish, so we can sight-cast 'em, normally using paddletails to do so.”

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins

Winter has made it to the South Texas surf. It took a while, but water temps have finally dropped to more seasonal levels. Luckily, the dirty water plague seems to have passed. The Indian Summer that lingered longer than usual has prolonged the mullet migration, as they continue to trickle to the surf zone. The pompano bite has been running on par, if not better than normal. Best times have been two to three days after fronts, when the surf settles. Shrimp and Fishbites are both working well. Target areas with plentiful coquina clams for best results, making long casts to sandbars. Red drum will be in the surf all winter, fresh dead and live baits work better than lures when it gets really cold. January is a great month for sandbar sharks! Sandbars resemble blacktips but are larger and stronger, with attitude to match. Pompano and whiting are on the sandbar’s menu, so target areas where the prey is abundant. Extra caution is advised when driving and fishing during periods when thick fog blankets the beach, obscuring the view.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431

Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000

Highly changeable weather can wreak havoc with fishing plans. In January, we might have one day with north winds and temps in the fifties followed by two days with high-seventies and winds blowing southeast. Days with north winds can be epic north of Port; areas from the King Ranch pier to Gladys can all be productive. The fish sometimes prefer the murkiest looking water. East wind sends us to the east side, from East Cut all the way to the game warden shack. Finding bait is always the key. I personally prefer seeing lots of smaller bait flipping, but even a solo mullet jumping can be a good sign. Color streaks are always worth a try. On calm days between fronts, try the ICW spoils, where we often find solid trout and occasional bull reds. Start with small topwaters or a Fat Boy, varying the speed of presentation. My next choice is soft plastic with a light jighead, retrieved slowly. I sometimes use a quarter-ounce head to probe deeper. The bite is often light with small trout, but varying depth and speed of retrieve can lead to catching big trout.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel

Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747

It’s that time of year again, time to slow everything down and be patient in order to catch fish that move slowly when the water temperatures drop rapidly in the Lower Laguna Madre. We are always looking for muddy drains or groups of deeper potholes that hold fish, but we still catch some in shallow water, especially when the sun is higher. Mostly we’re boating slot reds and some nice tout, with the best fishing definitely during the week when traffic is light. Using the FP3 cork is working best, with eighth-ounce screw-tight jigheads and Berkley Gulp! Live three-inch shrimp or DOA shrimp on a sixteen-inch leader. Freddy says, “When you get your FP3 in the pothole, pop hard once, then let the lure drop, allowing the cork to stand up, then tighten the line and repeat at least twice. If you’re in the right spot, that’s all it takes to call up a strike! Always fish hard at the end of your cast, as far from the boat as possible, then about fifteen feet out, reel in fast to tighten your line on the spool for the next cast.” Let’s stop open bay dredge disposal!