Reports & Forecasts: March 2011

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
Water temperatures are starting to heat up and so is the fishing. Barring a major rain event, continue fishing the north end of the estuary. Areas from Turner's Bay all the way up to Prien Lake should be productive since salinities are high. If we do get a major rain event, you will have to chase salinities south, down the lake. We have been catching good trout wading and boat fishing on the flats around Turner's Bay. Most of these fish have been coming on coppertop and Texas chicken Paul Brown's Devils. The MirrOdine XL has also been productive in mullet colors. We have also been doing very well on numbers of smaller, tastier school trout. Most of these are coming on eighth ounce. jigheads with opening night Sand Eels or MirrOlure Soft Minnows. There are redfish mixed with these trout, so tie your fishing partner a Gulp! on. All this is happening in Turners Bay and the flats and reefs in the same area. Also, if you are interested in redfish specifically, they are stacked on the east shoreline around the weirs.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
Fishing has been good but not spectacular for James on days leading up to this report. "We've had some really low tides, so I've been wading some open water areas that usually are impossible to fish except out of the boat. We're catching decent numbers of fish, no real big trout, but a good mix of two to five pound trout and quite a few reds. Mostly, we are throwing 51 MirrOlures and pearl/black Fat Boys, and of course some five inch Bass Assassins in red shad and plum and pumpkinseed/chartreuse. I'll continue wading a lot in the weeks to come; late February through early March is a great window of opportunity for the biggest trout of the year. The coves and reefs in West Bay can be good, as can the east shore of Trinity and the back end of East Bay. As the weather and water warm up, the catching should become more consistent and when the tides rise, wading the shorelines will become more productive. When winds aren't too strong, the fishing is usually good from the boat out around the reefs as well."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Fishing has been good during warm spells between fronts for Jim. "We've had good luck on both trout and reds. The trout have been mostly solid fish in the three and four pound class, with a few up to about six pounds, nothing giant, but better than average size. The reds are about as plentiful as the trout, more plentiful in some areas. We've had strong single tides lately, with low tides during the day, so the best bite has definitely been at dusk and into the first hours of night, especially when the tide comes in at that time. We've been throwing Catch 2000s and Paul Brown's Original Lures exclusively and doing a lot of wading. This arctic blast will change everything and the fish will probably go into the deepest spots for a while, so we'll key on bayous and deep holes. By March, everything should be different, meaning the morning bite will be more productive as tide levels and temperatures rise. We'll start fishing the early hours again, and wading will still be best, since the fish typically stay pretty shallow early in the spring."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
Randall mentioned good to excellent fishing in his area before we talked, as long as the weather allowed him to get out. "We've been catching some pretty nice trout, even when the water's cold. The fish will still bite, but you've got to be really patient and pay close attention to the details, especially noting any bait activity around you. We've been throwing mostly Paul Brown's Lures. In the really clear water, the clear ones with silver glitter, like emerald/silver work best. And you have to work them at a slow speed, but keep them just off the bottom. Turning the reel handle slowly and keeping the rodtip up at twelve o'clock helps." He looks forward to easier and faster action in March. "Once we get out of this deep freeze, we'll see more patterns and areas producing. I'll still be keying on areas with lots of shell and mud, working reef edges and points. We'll use a bigger variety of lures, still throwing the slow sinking twitch baits some, but going with topwaters more and more and of course using the Sand Eels when fishing deeper."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
March is the time to focus on shallow water along area shorelines targeting both big trout and redfish, Charlie says. "We've been catching a bunch of fish with some big ones thrown in lately, fishing mostly out of the boat around scattered shell on a muddy bottom around reefs in East Bay. That pattern works real well while we are having fronts with cold air behind them coming through regularly. That usually ends toward the end of February and into March. Once we get past the really cold time of year, it seems that the bigger trout we are catching out in the middle move to the shallows along the shoreline. Then, we start wading a lot more and working the flats and reefs on both sides of the bay. Normally, we prefer slow sinking twitch baits when wading in March, but topwaters are also a good bet too. I'm getting reports lately that some people are catching more big trout on topwaters than they usually do this time of year, especially small, noisy lures like the MirrOlure ShePups."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Fishing remains steady in our area bays over mud, grass and shell. Our local back lakes have been coughing up good numbers of small keeper trout on pearl Gulp! shrimp under popping corks. We have caught a few decent size trout up to twenty five inches, but our numbers on bigger trout are down from what they were last winter. Extreme low tides have made fishing easy for redfish in the guts and drains on the shorelines. Quarter ounce Johnson gold weedless spoons have accounted for most of the bites when we are fishing those areas. Night fishing at the local piers has also been good on nights with light north or northeast winds. Glow and white Beetle Grubs have been the best lures for small keeper trout and sand trout. March fishing should continue to be steady over mud bottoms. Locating bait will continue to be an important key to catching more fish. There should be more shrimp and baitfish showing up towards the end of the month and when that happened last year, birds were plentiful in East and South Bays.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
"In March, I like to fish areas with plenty of muddy bottom," Lynn says. "We'll fish flats that are muddy and have plenty of grass beds and also scattered shell if possible. The best flats are those that lie close to dropoffs to deeper water. Those that are close to the deepest water in the area can be best of all, especially if the weather continues to be cold like it has been. Sunny days are most productive for fishing these types of flats, as the trout will come out in the sun to warm up. I like to leave the dock later in the morning and fish until dusk when working this pattern this time of year. That way, I'm on the water when it is at its warmest. We'll throw a lot of soft plastics during March, but will also spend quite a bit of time throwing slow sinking twitch baits like Paul Brown's Original Lures. These lures work well in the shallows, since they can be worked at a fairly slow pace over the grass and scattered shell without hanging up. Topwaters will come into play some, especially on those afternoons when we see lots of mullet and other baitfish jumping."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake plans on executing a familiar game plan in March. "Usually, starting in late February, our topwater action picks up, especially for trout. The trout fishing has been much improved this year, so we expect to catch some of the biggest fish of the year as we get into March and the spring arrives. Redfish have just been everywhere, as many as I've seen in a long time. They tend to be relatively easy to catch in March as well. I like to work both Aransas and St. Charles Bays a lot this time of year, and will also venture to other bays bordering those. Mostly, I fish shorelines in knee to waist deep water. I'll focus on mud more in late February and early March, but the fish seem to begin to prefer the sand bottoms this time of year, so by the end of March, it's mostly sand and grass that I key on. I also like to fish shell reefs this time of year, especially in calmer conditions which allow the water to clear. If the topwaters aren't working, I won't hesitate to bring out two old, trusted friends, the Norton Sand Eels in purple and pumpkinseed/chartreuse."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
This is what I am reading when I look at the month of March in my fishing logs of the past few years. The air temperatures are on the rise and so is the water temperature. This means the fish are coming up out of the deeper holes and into shallower water. The key now is to look for and follow the bait because that is what the trout and redfish are doing. I am looking for mullet or shad just below the water's surface, swirling on the surface or jumping. I'm also looking for seagulls hovering over a particular area or diving brown pelicans in addition to fish slicks. My logs remind me that the fish are in about three feet of water or less, especially after four or five days of warm weather. There are a variety of baits on the end of my line, like live shrimp under an Assassin Kwik Cork or an Alameda Float. If the perch are too hard on the live shrimp, I'll tie on a four inch Blurp shrimp or a Berkley Gulp! shrimp. I will always be ready with a sixteenth or eighth ounce Spring Lock jighead and a natural colored Bass Assassin shad or Berkley Gulp!.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Joe expects to be working one of the classic springtime areas come March. "Usually, that time of year, I like to run south toward the Land Cut and fish in there, and on the flats just north of there along the Kenedy Shoreline and the spoil banks along the ICW. Especially in the second half of the month, the trout pile in the cut pretty thick and can be caught by making controlled drifts and throwing lures or live bait at the west drop off. When the bait is really active, topwaters work well, and when it's not, soft plastics are a better bet. Heavier jigheads help maintain contact with the edge when it get really windy. If fishing north of the cut, I target rocks and deep grass beds along the edge of deeper water. If the action down south is slow, I'll probably head the opposite direction, toward Shamrock and East Flats. The water over in that area holds up great even in strong southeast winds and the fishing is normally excellent in the spring. Over there, I target grassbeds and potholes unless it's possible to see the fish and cast right at them."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
March is a very challenging month for fishermen in the Padre surf but it makes up for it in the variety of species available and the numbers of individual fish caught. Equinox tides can be extremely high and one must be vigilant in planning their trip to avoid high tides and incoming cold fronts. Many of the bay fish that migrated to the Gulf in the fall remain in the surf in March and Gulf fish that migrated to warmer waters in the winter return. Sargassum weed will be the biggest enemy if present but obviously we can't tell this far in advance if it will be there. Sheepshead, black drum, whiting, redfish, pompano and several shark species will be available. Peeled fresh dead shrimp and "Fishbites" on double drop bottom leaders and whiting for the sharks, which often are available by casting into the nearshore gut early in the season. Lesser blacktipped, blacknose, sandbar, bignose, finetoothed, bull and lemon sharks should be available with a few tigers and maybe a mako possible. And the wind; she is gonna blow!

Port Mansfield | Terry Neal | 956.944.2559
Looks like South Texas is in for some real winter weather. We are coming off several months of the most productive fishing I have seen in a long time. With a huge arctic system settling over the region we are all praying and hoping there will not be a fish kill in February. Barring a killing freeze, I have every expectation the spring months will be a replay of the "good ol' days" in terms of fishing success. The west shoreline, if you can find a vacant space, should be hot. The bait has been scattered in 3-5 feet of water. Once the bait starts to school on the shoreline, hang on, fishing should be very good. Everything is subject to change, especially when you're dependent on Mother Nature. Just about the time we think we are pretty smart she hits us right where it hurts. If you like to eat trout, keep the 16 to 20 inchers and release the rest. The bigger ones are more fun to catch and you could end up being the one to do it, again!

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
At the time of this writing, we are experiencing the coldest temperatures of the season. If we have a hard freeze, in the next couple of days the fish will begin moving out of the LLM towards the warm, deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. During extremely cold weather, the fish will group up in predictable areas. These areas will be closed to fishing by Texas Parks and Wildlife. For future reference, the following areas will be closed during hard freezes as deemed necessary by the executive director of TP&W: the highest point of the Queen Isabella Causeway on a straight line to the old causeway including from Queen's Point to the swing bridgethe harbor at Port Mansfieldout 1,000 yards off shore to half a mile south of the South Jetties only. Freddy says, "We're limiting on reds every trip when we have wind throwing the Cajun Thunder round corks with Berkley Gulp! three inch shrimp in glow and new penny. When it's cold, the trout don't bite well, but as it warms up, we're also limiting on trout, with some nice ones in the 18" to 25" range. Very low tides can make boating difficult."