Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - silverkingadventures.com – 409.935.7242
January is a prime month for catching fish out of the boat in West Galveston Bay, James says. Wading is more of a specialty thing, but it can produce great catches too. “Wading is usually an afternoon or evening thing around here in January. If we get a big cold front and the wind pushes all the water out of the bays, the wading won't be any good for a couple days. Then, when the water comes rushing back in on the first big tide, the bite usually kicks off good. This is especially true when the tide fills back in late in the afternoon. Bite usually happens around some of the main bay reefs in a situation like that. Most days, drifting the open water out in the middle works better. We catch lots of fish throwing soft plastics and reelin' 'em in super slow, close to the bottom. Sometimes, when I get tired of that drill, I tie on an old school 52M MirrOlure and catch my fish with it. Pointing the rod tip at the water and pulsing it while you reel in is the key to making that lure work. Sometimes the bigger trout like the hard baits better.”
Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service – 409.996.3054
Like other fishing guides who also specialize in hunting ducks and doves, Jim splits his time between the marshes and the fields this time of year. “Fishing is usually good in places pretty close to where we hunt ducks. The trout and reds stack up nicely in holes in the bayous when the weather's cold in January. This can make for easy catching. Shorelines around the drains leaning into the backwater areas produce really well at times too, especially when the water has been warm and high for several days and a strong front blows it out of the marshes. The bite can be epic in the eddies around the mouths of the drains at such a time. Bite is often good late in the afternoon and into the early part of the night this time of year, so wading around the edges of the main bay reefs is a great drill to try, especially when winds are fairly light. Of course, I'll be running lots of hunts this month too, so I stay really busy. It's a great time, because of the variety of options we have as lovers of the outdoor sports.”
West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service 979.849.7019 – 979.864.9323
Randall reports excellent catching in the San Luis Pass area lately, despite the area being somewhat inundated with lots of freshwater after the heavy rains. He expects the action to remain steady through January. “We've been catching limits of trout pretty easily lately, throwing Norton Bull Minnows in colors like pearl/chartreuse, which seems to show up best in the sometimes murky, stained water. Best bite has been in water of medium depth, from four to six feet, in the bottom half of the water column. Keeping the lure low, close to the bottom, with an occasional brush with the bottom works best, especially on the colder days. Next month, we'll do most of our fishing out of the boat, keying on these same depths, maybe a little deeper, and focusing on areas with muddy streaks breaking up the monotony of the clear water, particularly when we find bait in areas like that. This is the staple pattern if the weather is in the normal, cold range. If it warms up and stays warm, we'll target some big trout and slot reds by wading in the shallower backwater areas and throwing slow-sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown FatBoys.”
Matagorda | Bay Guide Service
Charlie Paradoski – 713.725.2401
As in all months of the year, numerous options await anglers heading to the Matagorda. “Today, I saw several people cleaning nice trout they caught in the Colorado River. The water in there right now looks pretty ugly, stained, and it seems kinda fresh. But the fish are still there, and the birds are leading people too 'em. The river is always a great place to hide from strong winds and make something good out of dicey weather. Drifting the deeper parts of East Bay is another great plan this time of year. We catch some of our biggest trout pulling long drifts over a muddy bottom with some scattered shell, in parts of the bays close to the big reefs, especially when the tide gets really low. Lots of reds out there too; today, they wouldn't leave us alone. Wading the pockets and reefs closer to the shorelines in East Bay is better when the tide's high. When the water comes back up and the weather warms up in January, fishing for monster trout with Paul Brown Lures and Catch 2000s, Catch 5s, MirrOdines and other lures like that can be great. Topwaters work too, on some of the warmest days.”
Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam
www.palaciosguideservice.com – 979.240.8204
Cold weather fishing in the Palacios area has gotten off to a great start this year. The trout bite has been steady under birds, with lots of solid keepers in the sixteen to eighteen-inch range coming to hand. Three-eighths ounce jigheads rigged with Norton Bull Minnows in pumpkinseed/chartreuse have worked best to catch 'em. Fishing in the Tres Palacios, Colorado and Lavaca rivers has been productive too, using the same lures along the ledges and drop offs. The Palacios Seawall from The Point all the way around to The Harbor has been holding good trout on days with the right winds. Pink/silver ShePups and Skitterwalks tossed far out over the shell have accounted for the best number of keeper fish. Fishing for reds has been best far back in the marshes of Redfish, Coon and Oyster lakes, with quarter-ounce gold spoons drawing the most strikes. Lower tides have moved fish out of the inundated fields and improved sight-casting opportunities. January should be good as the water gets colder and concentrates fish in deep holes and basins. Sight-casting for reds on falling tides in flats in front of drains is usually great this month in the shallows, since the water's super clear.
Port O’Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service – 361.983.4434
In the month with the coldest average temperatures, Lynn adjusts the timing and location of his outings. “I like to let the flats heat up before I make a concerted effort to catch fish this time of year. This means leaving the dock late in the morning and fishing through the afternoon hours on most days. The bait moves into the shallower water as the day heats up, and locating the trout and redfish becomes easier. It's easier to make 'em bite once the water warms up too. Mostly, I key on places with a soft, muddy bottom this time of year, usually in the vicinity of reefs, so there's some scattered shell on the bottom too. We throw slow-sinking twitch baits most of the time, working them slowly, with light movements of the rod tip. Soft plastics on super light jigheads work best for us on the days when the bite's toughest. Topwaters are mostly a specialty item in January, but when it's right for them, the bite can be epic. This is usually after at least three days of relatively warm weather. Finding bait is a key this month, and it doesn't have to be a huge amount. A few mullet are sometimes enough.”
Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
In January, Blake is usually a busy man, splitting time between three locations: the back-lakes and marshes, the main bay shorelines, and the fields just outside of town. “This is still cast and blast season. I've been having lots of fun and success starting off the days hunkered down in the blinds and calling at the ducks. We've got plenty of ducks this year, so the shooting has been pretty fast and furious on lots of days. Once the birds stop flying much, the flats have heated up some, and the fishing for reds in the backwater areas is usually good, if the tide is at least medium-high to high. Most days, we're able to locate some fish in the deeper parts of the lakes with the air boat and catch 'em. Once that drill ends, we sometimes target trout around grassy patches and reefs adjacent to the drains leading into the marshy areas. Best lures this time of year, by far, are soft plastics. In a pinch, we'll throw the Gulp! Split-tails. Dove hunting is usually good this time of year too, and heading out to the fields in the afternoon can be a great way to cap off a full day of excitement.”
Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata – [email protected] – 361.563.1160
In January, the action on the water in the Upper Laguna Madre usually falls to its lowest level of the year. Cold water and air temperatures will allow for some fast catching at times, for people who know how to adjust tactics with the weather. As cold fronts pass over the coast, the trout will react by seeking the relative warmth of deeper water, in holes with muddy bottoms. After a couple of warm, sunny days, the shallower water will warm up, and the bait fish like mullet will move into it, soon followed by the trout. I'm excited to try Bass Assassin's new four-inch Sea Shads in colors like chicken on a chain, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, Calcasieu brew, purple chicken, purple moon and salt & pepper silver phantom/chartreuse on sixteenth-ounce jigheads this month. I'll be leaving the dock fairly late, and fishing the warm, afternoon hours, when the fish more often move into water less than three feet deep. Assassin Die Dappers in colors like salt & pepper/chartreuse, trickster and chicken on a chain also produce plenty of bites this time of year. With so many people headed into the brush country to the deer blinds, it's a great time to be on the water.
Corpus Christi / Joe Mendez—www.sightcast1.com—361.877.1230
January can be a prime month for catching fish in the Corpus Christi area. Best fishing occurs when the weather has settled somewhat after a strong front. Once the winds lay somewhat, the water clears up quite quickly. And, when the sun comes out for a while, large trout and redfish come out of deep holes and basins to shallow sandbars, grassy flats and shorelines, where sight-casting them becomes possible. Best conditions for this drill include light to medium winds, which break up the glare on the surface of the water, and clear to partly skies, which help us see into the water better. A paddle tail soft plastic rigged on a sixteenth-ounce bighead usually works well to earn strikes from fish who've shown up in the shallows this time of year. Throwing the lure well out past the fish and reeling it slowly in front of its face normally does the trick. If the water's really cold, one might need to place the lure close to the fish's nose in order to get a response. Action will be best this month in shallow areas in the vicinity of the ICW, or adjacent to dead-end channels which run from the ICW into the shallow flats nearby.
P. I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
361-877-3583 | Oceanepics.com
In December, cold fronts finally rolled in regularly, dropping air and water temperatures. This has turned on the pompano bite. As with other species, fishing for them is best about two or three days after a front passes. For pompano, I like to throw a Fish-bite/shrimp combo on a shall 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook. It's fairly easy to make a double drop pompano rig using 40 lb. monofilament. Long casts make a big difference; the farther the bait lands from shore, the better. Drum and redfish will also roam the surf when the water is relatively clear and calm. The drum might hit the shrimp and Fish-bites, but the reds favor cut or live mullet. Sharks will also be present, particularly the sandbar sharks. They have large triangular dorsal fins and an inter-dorsal ridge running along the spine behind it. This is our largest species to target in winter, built like a cross between a blacktip and a bull, attaining sizes well over seven feet in length. Sandbars love whole whiting. They're federally protected, and all must be released. Jacks might be present, if the weather's warmer than usual. Plan all trips after a careful check of the weather, and prepare accordingly.
Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza
Snookdudecharters.com – 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge – 956.944.4000
During the coldest months, large numbers of fish gather in small spaces, so once fish are located, plenty lie within reach. The bite can be quite subtle, more of a tiny tap than a hard thump. Using a sensitive graphite rod and Power Pro Slick 8 braided line aids in detection of light bites. Normally, the best fishing happens the day before a front hits, and a couple days after it passes. On days with north and east winds, I like to stay on the west side, from Glady's hole to the Oak Mottes, or on the east side from the game warden shack to Jones' Cut. On south or southeast winds, I like to fish the saucer behind the cabins, and in West Bay. Keying on any kind of bait activity can be the key to locating fish. With cold water, even a few piggy perch or mullet flipping can lead to the mother lode. Topwaters can work this time of year, in the warmest weather, but sub-surface lures like Paul Brown Lures, MirrOdines, Catch 2000s and SoftDines produce more strikes then the floating plugs on average. KWiggler Willow Tails on a 3/32nd-ounce nickle jighead, also made by KWiggler work better for some folks.
Lower Laguna Madre—South Padre—Port Isabel
Aaron Cisneros | tightlinescharters.com – 956-639-1941
With water temperatures on the decline, we're making ready for some winter fishing on the Lower Laguna Madre. Our fishing spots will change somewhat this month from the ones we fished in the fall, as we find most of our trout hanging in water with a muddy bottom on most days. Trout have been biting best in three to five feet of water. We're throwing KWiggler Ball Tails in Mansfield Margarita rigged on eighth-ounce screw-lock jigheads, using slightly heavier ones on calm days, to better facilitate making longer casts. Most of the trout we're catching are ranging between two and four pounds. The bigger trout we've caught lately have been found in areas with a mud/shell bottom, in guts and along shorelines. Willow Tails on eighth-ounce heads in colors like Mansfield Margarita and turtle grass have worked well. Redfish have been numerous on sandy flats lately, biting topwaters when the bait activity is high. With less bait jumping, KWiggler Ball Tails in plum/chartreuse worked fast have produced more strikes. These patterns should remain productive throughout the month of January, as long as temperatures remain steady, and on the colder side.