Reports & Forecasts: March 2010

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
Redfish have been the big story for the last couple of weeks. The east bank has been our most productive area. We have been catching reds on most stretches of bank south of Commissary Point. Our best baits have been smoke colored Salty Grubs, glow Salty Grubs, and all the Gulps. It's time to focus on the flats and target the big trout with a purpose. March is a great time to catch these monsters. What flat you should fish will always depend on the salinity levels. The higher the salinities, the farther north in the estuary you should fish, while lower salinities will favor fishing further south. Good baits to try are suspending lures. Corkys, Catch 2000s, Catch 5's, Thundersticks, and MirrOdines are usually what we stick to. Another option is the soft plastics rigged on light leadheads, meaning eighth ounce or less. Big Norton Sand Eels and various MirrOlure soft plastics are all excellent choices. Flounder will be at their peak and coming back into the lake in March. Fish for them in cuts around the lake on incoming tides using Gulps.

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

James says he'd rate the January fishing in Galveston as good, not great. "The boat fishing has been productive. There are lots of small fish in the mud streaks in West Bay, but you can cull through them for limits most days. The reds are consistent too, especially in the back lakes. I'm throwing a lot of soft plastics when fishing out of the boat, using sixteenth ounce jigheads and MirrOlure baits. They have one called the Little John that's been working good. The wading isn't quite as good as the drifting, in terms of numbers, but the fish are a little bigger. We're catching a handful of trout up to about five pounds when we wade, mostly on pink/gold MirrOlures. Things are bound to change as the weather gets warmer. We'll see the productivity of the wading improve. I look for good fishing in March if the wind doesn't get up too bad. We'll concentrate on the south shorelines of East and West Bay and the east shoreline of Trinity. The average size of the fish should go up if we can get that pattern to fire up in those places."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
As usual, Jim connects the potential for good fishing in the Galveston area to the weather. "When we get the warm ups, the fishing has been great. People wading around the Refuge and in the vicinity of the marsh drains have been catching some big trout. I've been doing well in those areas myself, still focusing on the late afternoon bite primarily. That pattern will likely hold through February, especially if it continues to be colder than normal. Once it warms up in March, it will be easier to catch fish in the morning too. In fact, during the long warm spells, it pays to go out in the morning, especially if you have good tide movement. The fishing does shut down for a while after these really harsh fronts, so timing the outings to coincide with the warmer weather and water temps is wise. I'll be doing a lot of wading in March. It can be a great month to catch some of the biggest trout of the year in East Bay. They like the muddy, shallow areas on both sides of the bay. Once you locate fish, it's possible to catch them on whatever you want to."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall says the wintry, wet weather has taken some things away and made other things better. "Normally, when it's really cold, we are able to go into the bayous and catch our fish huddled up in the deep holes. This year, there's so much fresh water that it's not possible to do that. The other side of that coin is that it concentrates the fish in the open water of West Bay. So, we've been doing a lot of drift fishing, keying on areas with a muddy bottom and some scattered shell. We're using light jigheads, meaning quarter ounce down to the sixteenth ounce and working them real slow to stay in contact with the bottom. We're liking the Sand Eel Juniors. The windier days are best because the wind stirs up the snot grass and all the little critters that live in it are released and it starts a feeding process among the trout and redfish. Later in March, we'll start looking to key on the glass minnows and throwing glass minnow and red magic Sand Eels. I look for this spring to be a good one coming off this cold winter we're having, especially for the reds."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
March is a great time to catch big trout in the Matagorda area, Charlie says. "In order to give yourself the best shot at catching the big trout, it pays to stay in East Bay and work the shallow, muddy areas on the shorelines. We like to throw topwaters and Corkys mostly. It's not that you can't catch some big trout out in the middle around the reefs at times on soft plastics, but the percentages are in your favor if you are willing to wade the shorelines. Focusing on the afternoon bite can be another way to increase your odds. Many of the biggest trout caught in March will be caught in the last two hours of the day. Redfish can get in the way when you are fishing with this plan. Just yesterday, we made a concentrated effort at catching a big trout and caught mostly reds. But the reds do keep you a little warmer on a cold day and help keep your confidence up while you're waiting for a big trout bite. Towards the end of the month, the glass minnows may show up. Then the drill will be to locate the schools and try to stay in them."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Fishing has been very slow in the area since the recent cold snap. There have been very limited days that we have been able to get out. The few fish that we have caught have been coming from the Palacios Turning Basins. We have been fishing the deep holes using three inch Gulp Shrimp rigged on quarter ounce jigheads and slow rolling them along the bottom. The best depths have been between ten and fourteen feet. The best colors have been pearl and new penny. On a positive note, we did not have a major fish kill in the Palacios Bays, we just found a few dead mullet and hardheads. Recent rains should give the bays a good flushing and make this one heck of a spring. March is a good month to find big trout in our area. Area bays such as Turtle and Keller hold good fish on shorelines with scattered shell and mud. Finding bait that should be migrating back into the bays will still be the key for a late-winter bite.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn's plan for March will include a focus on soft, muddy bottoms with scattered shell. "I like to focus on the old mud and shell this time of year, staying on flats with plenty of that kind of terrain, also close to deep water. On the warmer, sunny days, the fish will get up on the shallow flats next to the shoreline, but on the cooler days, it pays to stay closer to the drop offs. I throw a lot of Corkys this time of year, especially the dark colored ones like red shad, morning glory/chartreuse and purple/chartreuse. I also fish a lot with soft plastics when working the mud and shell in search of big trout. I've had plenty of luck with the same colors as the Corkys. I do like to dip the tails of my red shad Bass Assassins, first in white, then in chartreuse. I've found that to be extremely effective in off-color water like we see in Baffin sometimes or on windblown shorelines. Seems the fish can find that bright tail better than the dark one. The topwaters will also get plenty of use this month, especially when lots of jumping bait is found on the flats."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894

Blake is anticipating a colder than normal March, given the type of winter we're having, but he also will keep his eyes open for the inevitable coming changes. "If we get a cold March, I'll stick with the winter patterns, working muddy areas close to deep water with soft plastics and twitch baits like Corkys and Catch 2000s. But if it warms up, I'll head for other shorelines with hard sand and grass. The trout and reds normally make a switch from the softer bottoms to the firmer ones this time of year. I almost always see an improvement in the bite on topwaters this month too, so I'll be watching for signs that indicate an upswing in the aggressive mood of the fish. One of the real keys in the spring, starting this month, is to pay attention to the bait. You want to stay in close proximity to plenty of mullet or other forage species. In most years, we get an influx of menhaden sometime in March, and when they come in, you'll want to stay close to the migrating schools for the best action. That means fishing areas that are relatively close to the passes mostly."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
With the air temperatures going up, so are the water temperatures. The rising temperatures translate into the fish becoming more active and more aggressive when they are in the mood for feeding. Actually, in the last few weeks, there have been several periods of warm days and warm temperatures during which I have found fish in less than eighteen inches of water. The warmer water temperatures of March will make drift fishing productive, but I think that wadefishing is still a little more advantageous because of the quiet approach it allows and because you are able to cover the area being fished more thoroughly. If you are staying on the boat, it is time to bring out the Saltwater Kwik Corks and rig them with Spring Lock jigheads and smelly baits like the Bass Assassin Blurps and Berkley Gulps. If you are wade fishing, look for three feet of water or less and rig the natural colored baits like good penny, pearl, molting and bone diamond on sixteenth or eighth ounce Spring Lock jigheads.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Joe expects to be making lots of runs down south in March. "It's a little early for the Land Cut to turn on really good, but you never know. In some years, the second half of March is awesome down there. I'll be keying on the west edge of the ditch mostly, throwing soft plastics and working them off the ledge. The size of the jighead will depend on the wind and current. I'll use heavier ones when it's really ripping, sometimes up to half ounce. Lighter ones of course when it's calmer. I also like to throw some topwaters too, slinging them up onto the shelf and working them over the edge. Seems like smaller lures work better most of the time. I will throw the full-sized TopDogs and SheDogs, but won't hesitate to try the smaller Junior version of the TopDog and also the Super Spook Jr.. Mainly, I expect to be fishing south, some in the Land Cut and also along the outside of the rocks in Rocky Slough and also on the flats in Yarbrough. All of those areas are potentially great for numbers of trout and reds and big trout too in the early spring."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446

March marks the beginning of the return of many summer species in the PINS surf. Large schools of large jack crevalle usually arrive early in the month and are most readily available in the Big Shell area between the 18 and 30-mile markers. Watch for brown pelicans and other birds diving over the jackfish. Jacks will hit most artificials. The biggest blacktipped sharks of the year are usually available in March and various other shark species move inshore. Spring sharks are often in shallow water and can be caught on cast baits with whiting being the bait of choice. Bonito are possible. Birds will be working over the large shoals of bonito and small silver lures and flies work well as they feed on small fry. Whiting, redfish, black drum, sheepshead and some pompano are the main targets for bottom fishers using peeled, fresh, dead shrimp and Fishbites combos. Tides are usually high and large swells and high SE winds are common. Avoid traveling on high tides. Sargassum can be bad and is usually present in some amount.

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559

Once again, Mother Nature humbles those of us who think we know it all by showing us how little we actually do know. Off-colored water, red tide and cold water have changed fishing conditions drastically compared to the glory days we knew only a year ago. All is not lost though; different conditions only mean different techniques for the artificial purists, particularly the popping cork and Gulp, or maybe the Livingston Lures. On the other hand, you can always to the popping cork with live shrimp, finger mullet or ballyhoo. All these methods will produce on the slow days. Having survived several episodes of off-colored water, I know that fish might move but they still have to eat. One of my most memorable days was back in the eighties with brown water stretching from the Landcut to far south of the Arroyo. I had Bill Kinney and his brother Ben. We fished Mansfield Maulers with Norton shrimp tails. Best we could remember, we released twelve trout over twenty eight inches and lost count of the reds we caught and released.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
Winter weather has made 2010 alternately warm and wet with temps in the high seventies and low eighties to near freezing.
The water has not been cold enough to completely drive fish out of the LLM and into the Gulf. However, trout especially, will move to deeper areas to avoid being cold-stunned in the shallows when the barometer drops. We've been catching trout with the Cajun Thunder cigar corks trailing Berkley Gulp three inch shrimp in a large range of colors from nuclear chicken to pearl white when the winds are light, and the heavier, oval CT corks and a little longer leaders when it turns colder or the wind picks up. The reds are hitting the cork rigs also, but we've had good luck with Precision Tackle weedless gold spoons and the eight inch Berkley Eels in the natural colors when they're schooled over sand or in very shallow, clear water. Freddy says, "When you're having trouble getting redfish to bite in the cloudy, brown water, try rigging an eel on a quarter ounce jighead and bounce it in potholes or toss it into the middle of a herd."