Reports & Forecasts: July 2016

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

Fishing has been excellent the past few weeks, and we expect it to continue as salinities rise. Most of the trout we are catching currently are on the south end of Calcasieu Lake and in West Cove. This trend will continue for the rest of the month and into the middle of July. Once water temperatures reach the mid-eighties, trout will move off shallower reefs to deeper, cooler waters. The Calcasieu ship channel, the Cameron jetties, nearshore oil platforms, and the surf will be where we spend most of our time in July. Great lures to try in the channel, the surf, and nearshore platforms are shrimp imitations and paddletails. As far as soft plastics, we stick to MirrOlure Lil' Johns in opening night, golden bream, chartreuse ice, watermelon ice, and watermelon red. All of these will be rigged on quarter-ounce jigheads unless the current requires something heavier. The surf offers excellent opportunities for topwater fishing. Our preferred plugs out there include She Pups, Skitter Walks and Super Spook Juniors.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures - - 409.935.7242
"The recent heavy rains have sent so much freshwater flowing down the rivers, we'll likely have a summer of fishing pretty much like last year," James predicts. "The fish will stack up in the same small places, and catching them won't be difficult. Dealing with so many people crowded together might. Areas in the lower parts of the bays, close to the Gulf, will hold the most fish. In deeper parts of East Bay, the key to catching will be to keep a bright soft plastic like a pink one right close to the bottom, where the saltiest water will be. This might mean making a super slow presentation and/or using a jighead slightly heavier than normal, like a quarter-ounce. In other places, changing strategies won't really be required, when weather conditions allow for fishing them. We'll have a great run on the Gulf sides of both jetties, and in areas around the passes, mostly in the surf close to them. All the fish forced out of the bays by all the water coming down the rivers will find their way to places like these and ride out the summer where it's salty."

Jimmy West - Bolivar Guide Service - 409.996.3054
"Fishing is outstanding around here when it's not windy and raining. The bays are really fresh right now, and the fish are stacked up in small spaces. All the bayous and rivers are overflowing, and water hyacinths are floating through Rollover Pass as we speak. The water in East Bay is some of the saltiest around, though, especially on the south side of the bay. Crowds are the main problem, as you'd expect in this situation. Wading is not producing much, but fishing out in the middle is easy, if you accept the realities of what has happened. Slicks normally pinpoint the schools of trout. They are hugging right close to the bottom, where the water is saltiest, so keeping a lure down in their faces is the only way to make 'em bite. Most any kind of lure which allows for making presentations near the bottom will allow for some easy catching. Other areas will produce well too, particularly the surf. Every time the wind gets light and right, people will catch all they want along the beachfront, on topwaters early, and other lures later in the day."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves - Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 - 979.864.9323
Randall says the flooding conditions caused by the Brazos River have caused problems west of San Luis Pass, but have made fishing better to the east. "The freshwater coming through the pass is moving to the right, towards Matagorda, so we're heading east, toward Galveston. I've been keying on ribbonfish most of the time lately. The royal terns help me locate those. In fact, I'm finding all kinds of bait under the terns. Lots of times, the trout push squid, shrimp, shad and other prey onto the shallowest parts of the areas, like the spines of the sand bars in the surf, where the royal terns can get to them easier. The trout aren't right under the diving birds; they are in the guts adjacent to the shallow parts, but they are close by. When I see lots of ribbonfish, I like to throw the full-sized Sand Eels, and topwaters like Skitter Walks in pearl white. Our trout have been averaging a really good size lately. The reds have been running a bit smaller. With the rivers still rising, we are likely to see these patterns hold throughout July."

Matagorda | Tommy Countz
Bay Guide Service - 979.863.7553 cell 281.450.4037
"We're already working around the freshwater, and we might continue to do so throughout the summer, it appears. Lots of water coming down the river tends to help us by concentrating our fish in smaller parts of the bays. Normally, when we are wading, we like to fish in West Bay, targeting both trout and redfish around grass beds in the shallows with topwaters. Last summer, the fish bit the floating lures well throughout the summer, even in the heat of the day. If the blow ups do stop, we often catch better on dark soft plastics rigged on super light jigheads, throwing them repeatedly at isolated grass beds farther out from the bank. Over in East Bay, we will do more fishing out of the boat, keying on slicks around scattered shell and reefs. I had a customer catch a trout which put him at the top of the S.T.A.R. Leaderboard this morning, throwing a live shrimp under a popping cork on a big mud flat in six feet of water. One other thing will be a priority in July–finding our way out into the surf as much as we can."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam - 979.240.8204
As of this report, we have had fifteen inches of rain in the last week and the freshwater run-off for the time being has really pushed our fish out into West Matagorda Bay. Prior to the heavy rains, we were smashing trout, reds and tripletail on a consistent basis. I look for the bays to become saltier again soon, and we will get back to catching. Trout were coming in on free-lined shrimp over deep reefs and shell pads in about six to eight feet of water. Good slot-sized fish from sixteen to nineteen inches were over the shell. Redfish were pretty easy to find on sandy/grassy shorelines in about two feet of water or less. Gold spoons and small bone topwaters seem to be the best lures for fish in the lower end of the slot. We landed some monster tripletail up to twenty four pounds on live-shrimp rigged under popping corks. Hopefully, this freshwater won't push them back to the Gulf like last year. July should be fantastic, with all this rain bringing in lots of bait. The surf with the right weather is my favorite place to fish, along with working the deep shell and reefs out in Tres Palacios Bay and West Matagorda Bays.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith
Back Bay Guide Service - 361.983.4434
Lynn expects to be targeting trout and redfish in areas along the beachfront and close to the passes most of the time. "We'll be in the surf as much as we can, targeting the trout which move up and down the beach with the tides, wading and throwing topwaters early in the morning when winds are fairly light. We like to stick close to deep water this time of year when fishing inside the bays, wading shallow early in the morning, but staying in areas where fish can easily retreat to cooler, deeper water once the sun heats up the flats. Incoming tides tend to produce better catches this time of year, in places like sand bars near the passes and the oyster-studded spoil banks lying along the ship channel, and along shorelines close to the basins of the deeper bays. Of course, finding heavy concentrations of bait can be a critical part of finding fish this time of year, whether looking for fish in the Gulf of Mexico or in one of the area bays. With so much food available to the trout, they tend to stay close to the big schools of prey species."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service - 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
"I will continue to fish around oyster-shell reefs like I have been lately when July rolls around. I'll keep fishing in the surf too, when winds allow. All the freshwater coming down the rivers will likely push fish toward the southern portions of the bays and into areas around the passes, where tides bring salty water in on a regular basis. When targeting trout and redfish in the hot summer months, I do throw topwaters like Super Spooks a lot, and will stick with them as long as they are producing plenty of blow ups, which they often do. I won't hesitate to switch over to my Norton Sand Eels in dark colors with bright tails either, and will keep the pearl/chartreuse Gulp! split tail shads around for use when things get even tougher. We've got birds working in lots of places these days, and the bite has been pretty easy. I expect fairly productive fishing with lures to continue for a while. Once the dog days of summer raise temperatures a little more, I'll start fishing with live croakers more often, since they produce better in the heat."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata [email protected] - 361.563.1160
Reading the forecast for July, I see it's going to be hot. The temperatures will be hot, and the fishing will be even hotter! I've seen better water quality in our part of the Laguna, but currently it is not bad, and the calmer July winds should bring some further improvements. My fishing clients have been catching very good numbers of trout and redfish, with a good number of thirty inch trout as a bonus. A good pair of polarized sunglasses are needed to spot structures like grass lines, pot holes and rocks. Once the structure is located, I will fish with live croakers, live shrimp under a cork, or cast a Bass Assassin Die Dapper rigged on a sixteenth-ounce Assassin Screw Lock jighead. The redfish are schooling and they will continue to do so for the remainder of the summer. Remember to approach the redfish schools quietly, from a distance, in order to not spook them and try to not drift through the schools. Many of the flats holding twelve inches of water or less are holding good numbers of reds and black drum which will go after Fish Bites.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez - 361.937.5961
July provides excellent opportunity for targeting trout and redfish around structures which lie close to deep water, Joe says, and the excellent water clarity in the area enhances the potential for doing so this month. "We have some clear water in lots of places, so it's possible to see the deeper grass beds, drop-offs, rocks and other features which tend to hold fish when the water is hot. Light winds make it easy to stay close to these edges and structures so lures can be cast close to them. Places like Rocky Slough and other stretches of the Kenedy Shoreline, Center Reef, East Kleberg rocks, the rock formations near Penascal Point and the Badlands and close to Marker 9 provide good numbers of targets surrounded by cooler, deeper water. If windy weather makes targeting fish more difficult in places like these, we usually prefer fishing the shallow, grassy flats in the upper parts of the Laguna Madre, hoping to sight-cast drum, redfish and the occasional large trout after seeing them over sandy pockets scattered throughout the grass beds."

P.I.N.S. Fishing Forecast | Eric Ozolins
Depending on other factors, lots of freshwater along the beach could either improve or reduce the presence of certain species. If bait schools will tolerate the low salinity we can expect a lot of reds and tarpon invading the surf this summer. The trout bite has slowed. They will become easier to target if the rain slows and salinity recovers. Throwing topwaters in the early morning and evening should produce some explosive action with large trout. During the middle of the day, fish deeper pinches and suck-outs with suspended lures or soft plastics. As stated before, our surf trout are all muscle and feisty, unlike summertime bay trout. Only drawback when fishing for speckled trout in early summer is the presence of skipjack and the occasional jackfish, which can dump a light reel instantly. Jacks have been plentiful, especially the further south you run. Bull sharks should be thick with all the freshwater. We are at the peak of stingray season. Wear protection and shuffle. Offshore will hold various baitballs and fast action for various species.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
Trout fishing has been really good, with lots of mid-sized and a fair number of 25+inch fish. Some of them are still pretty thick, but they will slim down soon as they continue to spawn. The best action has been wading deep along the ICW. Bone Super Spooks and One Knockers are producing for us early in early morning and the bite continues on plastics with eighth-ounce jigheads. KWiggler Ball Tail Shad has been the local favorite; Mansfield Margarita, Lagunaflauge and Bone Diamond are the key colors. As I mentioned before, fishing off the ICW or Spoil Dumps by ICW are great places to start. From there, move to deep grass and with pot holes. You should be able to pick up more decent trout and hopefully a redfish. Redfishing in general has been a tougher game, with the average being four to six fish per charter. Dock talk says they are now in deeper water; I believe higher tides and recent heavy boat traffic does this. Drifting four to six-foot depths has been more productive than wading the flats, most days.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty 956.943.2747
The Lower Laguna Madre is affected by rainfall run-off from many parts of the Valley. The Arroyo Colorado, which originates in Hidalgo County, is the watershed for areas that have received more rain this year than in recent memory. That being said, evidently, as seen by the large number of trout still coming in, the bay has retained a salinity level acceptable to this species. Flounder also seem to like the conditions. We've been netting some very nice flatties, along with limits of trout and at least a couple days a week, limits of reds, throwing Cajun Thunder round corks, extended with HP3s, trailing Berkley Gulp! Alive three-inch shrimp in pearl white and new penny. Freddy says, "Especially when windy days or muddy water present a challenge, the FP3, is perfect for overcoming it. This addition to any style of sliding cork can be just the extra attraction needed to grab the attention of predators, while at the same time, extending the life of the cork!" Let's stop open bay dredge disposal and help the LLM waters clear up!