Reports & Forecasts: March 2014

Lake Calcasieu Louisiana
Jeff and Mary Poe | Big Lake Guide Service | 337.598.3268
Overall, March is a good month. Being able to pick your days is a real advantage. Escaping the wind can be challenging on Calcasieu. Paul Brown's Lures, MirrOdines and Catch 2000's are our most productive baits for big trout, but as water temperatures warm, topwaters aren't out of the question. Due to predominant south winds, the south end of Calcasieu will be protected, and most of the nicer trout will be caught in that part of the lake this time of year. Wading flats and shallow reefs produces solid trout year after year down there. The weirs will also be holding a lot of redfish at this time. If big trout aren't your thing, try your favorite winter time spots. LNG, Prien Lake, Black Lake, and the Calcasieu Ship Channel are great winter spots. All of these places are deep, with the exception of Black Lake, so eighth and quarter ounce jigheads work better than really light ones. Dropoffs and deep reefs are key areas to try. Do not worry about water clarity so much. Focus more on location and be persistent, and you'll catch more fish.

Trinity Bay - East Bay - Galveston Bay | James Plaag
Silver King Adventures | | 409.935.7242
Bitter cold weather has made fishing difficult or impossible on many days this winter, but when the weather moderates, the catching has been good in Galveston Bays, James reports. "We are wading, catching lots of reds, and some solid trout. The key has been to focus on the warmer days between the fronts, when the wind shifts around to the south and southeast. Best bite has been on Paul Brown's Original FatBoys and other sinking twitch baits. I've done best on pearl/black and strawberry/white tail. We are also catching plenty of rat tailed Bass Assassins in colors like slammin' chicken. Rigging them on an H&H Flutter jighead works best, because you can work them through the shallows easily without snagging on whatever's on the bottom. The wading will continue to be a priority as we head into March. Fishing should become more consistent and productive once we get out of this pattern of the really strong fronts slamming us over and over again. We have a lot of fish, and when we can get at 'em, it will be outstanding."

Jimmy West | Bolivar Guide Service | 409.996.3054
Jim reports excellent fishing in the backs of all of the bays around his home in Bolivar lately. "We haven't had a lot of rain, and there's not much freshwater coming into the bays, so all the areas of Upper Galveston, Trinity and East Bays are salty and productive. Best fishing for big trout is on the pre-front days, when onshore winds blow water back into the bays and it's warming up. This seems to be the year of the six to seven pound trout around here. Lots of wadefishermen are catching fish in that class while pre-front winds are blowing. As we get into March, that option will still be productive, and we'll also have plenty of fish around the mouths of the drains when tides are falling, and in the bayous too. You can almost always find a way to catch plenty of trout and reds this time of year if you stay mobile. We'll be throwing big lures like Paul Brown's Original Lures and 5M MirrOlures, also topwaters at times. Tide movement is critical, so I adjust my fishing times to take advantage of the moving water."

West Galveston - Bastrop - Christmas - Chocolate Bays
Randall Groves | Groves Guide Service
979.849.7019 | 979.864.9323
With all the cold weather lately, Randall has been finding his fish in deep, open-water areas. "We are catching okay when the winds allow us to work the deeper water, but overall the fishing has been a little tough with these low water temperatures. I expect things to make a strong upturn once we get to March and April. We normally see the glass minnows arrive in March, followed by the mullet and then the shrimp and ribbon fish. When these migrations are occurring, fishing typically gets much easier. We try to figure out what time of day the migrating species are most active, because the trout and reds will be feeding during those time periods. Many years, the afternoon bite is better this time of year. Liar birds often lead us to the fish. Our fish move shallower with the warming weather, and we start catching them over a sandy bottom, using lures like twitch baits and topwaters. Norton Sand Eels also work great on a regular basis, especially when the glass minnows are running."

Matagorda | Charlie Paradoski
Bay Guide Service | 713.725.2401
Charlie describes March as an "interesting" month. "We've had a really cold winter, one like we used to get regularly. Normally, March fishing is good in Matagorda following a colder than normal winter. Our fish seem to stay put where they were in January and February to some extent. Once it does start to warm up, we have numerous options. Fishing out of the boat around the shell humps and in areas with scattered shell out in the middle will be good. We'll usually see some days where we can catch them on topwaters out of the boat. Of course, March is a great month to wade and try to catch the trout of a lifetime. Areas in the coves in East Bay, and other shallow parts of the bay along the north shoreline all produce some big trout during the warming days at the end of the winter and into the early part of spring. Though recent trends have people favoring Lake Calcasieu and Baffin for big trout, we've got some really big ones here too. And March is one of the best months of all in which to catch them."

Palacios | Capt. Aaron Wollam | 979.240.8204
Water temperatures holding in the low fifties and upper forties have our fish stuck in a deep water pattern. We have been catching good eating-sized trout in the Tres Palacios, Carancahua, and Colorado Rivers. Three inch Gulp! shrimp in white/chartreuse tail rigged on three eighths ounce chartreuse jigheads have by far been the best colors. Slowly jigging the lures close to the bottom has accounted for the most bites. Our redfish bites have come best in canals and drains leading from area lakes. Salt and pepper with chartreuse paddletail baits rigged on quarter ounce jigheads have worked best for catching the reds. Because our area bays are so shallow overall, when the water falls out behind the strong north winds, all the fish got to the rivers or deep canals. Hopefully, we will get some warmer weather and more onshore winds in the near future, to bring some water back in the bays. When we do, our fish will start to move to the flats and let us start hunting some of the big trout we usually catch this time of year.

Port O'Connor | Lynn Smith | Back Bay Guide Service | 361.983.4434
Lynn is looking forward to the start of the dredging project to reopen Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough. "Once they get Cedar Bayou opened again, I expect the fishing in the Mesquite, Carlos Ayers area to really improve. The influx of water from the Gulf will help keep the tides moving and make the fishing better and more consistent. I expect to start working regularly in that area this coming month. Normally, during March, we find plenty of quality trout in the shallow areas around there, over soft mud and scattered shell. We will target them with twitch baits like Paul Brown's Original Lures and Fat Boys, and floating plugs like Super Spook Juniors. Of course, if the bite gets tough, we'll throw soft plastics if we feel it's necessary to get bites. I like the shallow water pattern best during warming afternoons, when the sun is out. Most of the time, I won't leave the dock really early; I'll work later hours and allow the flats to heat up. Can't wait to get back to the fishing after a long deer season."

Rockport | Blake Muirhead
Gator Trout Guide Service | 361.790.5203 or 361.441.3894
Blake describes the trout fishing this winter as "better than average" in the Rockport area. "I usually fish for redfish primarily during duck season, but I wasn't seeing as many as in most years when running the back lakes in the air boat, so I would up trout fishing more, and it was really pretty good. I'm catching good numbers of trout between about 22 and 24 inches on most days, with a few bigger ones. The best areas have been around reefs in fairly shallow water, with a mix of mud and scattered shell nearby. Once we get into March, I'll still be fishing that pattern, but I'll also start working sandy, grassy shorelines in all of the area bays. Small topwaters like Super Spook Juniors in blue/chrome and black/chrome work well. Starting in the second half of February, we usually have some of our best topwater action of the year, and it lasts well into the spring. Of course, if the bite is tougher, Sand Eels in pumpkinseed and purple/chartreuse work better. And if the going gets really tough, the chartreuse Gulp! split tail is even better."

Upper Laguna Madre - Baffin Bay - Land Cut
Robert Zapata | [email protected] | 361.563.1160
I'm reading some encouraging notes from my fishing logs recorded in the last few years during the month of March. Both the air and water temperatures will be on the rise, but I'll still be wearing my waders and ForEverlast Ray Guards. The trout and reds are coming up out of the deeper holes and staying in shallower water. It's really important to look for bait and follow it, because this is what the trout and reds are doing. Look for mullet or shad just below the water's surface, swirling on the surface or jumping. Also, look for slicks and fish upwind from the slicks. Sea gulls hovering over a small area and diving brown pelicans are good signs. My logs indicate the fish are in three feet of water or less, especially after three days of warm weather. A variety of baits will work, like live shrimp or your favorite smelly artificial lure under an Assassin Kwik Cork. Bass Assassin Die Dappers in colors like plum/chartreuse, sand trout and chartreuse dog on a sixteenth ounce Spring Lock jighead bounced off the bottom will be very effective.

Corpus Christi | Joe Mendez | 361.937.5961
Fishing in Baffin Bay and surrounding areas of the Laguna Madre has been excellent lately, Joe says. "I was out with some friends the other day, and we were working a shallow area of the Laguna in the vicinity of the Land Cut. Water was off-color that day, and fishing was just average. But my buddies had caught a bunch of trout and reds there recently, including some big trout. That's been the norm. Lots of big trout are being caught lately. Water quality is good throughout most of the area. We will be targeting the trout and reds in shallow water most of the month of March, working flats around the Land Cut, others closer to and inside Baffin, and also some north of Baffin, including some around the JFK. Because the water is so clear, sight-casting opportunities should present themselves on a regular basis. March is a great month to find both trout and redfish cruising the shallows, so it should be really good. Since the winter has been colder than normal, we might have a late onset of the spring winds. That should help too."

Padre Island National Seashore
Billy Sandifer | Padre Island Safaris | 361.937.8446
March marks the beginning of our summer fish species returning to PINS as shoals of jack crevalle arrive and feed shallow, providing some wonderful sight-casting opportunities. Shark numbers will also increase dramatically with blacktipped, sandbar and scalloped hammerheads traditionally present in good numbers. The really great thing about these early-season sharks is that they are accessible on casted as well as kayaked baits. The blacktipped sharks are heavy and near full-term pregnant, usually the biggest and meanest of the year. Bottom fishermen will find good-sized whiting available in good numbers with lesser numbers of sheepshead, black drum and redfish. Pompano are also still possible in reasonable numbers. Target these species with peeled fresh-dead shrimp and Fishbites. Typical conditions are windy and rough but the quality of the fishing will be controlled more by the amount of sargassum present and the color of the water. So far the water has remained murky to muddy all winter and it has really hurt all catches. Tides will be high in general so it is a good idea to avoid traveling on daily high tides.

Port Mansfield | Ruben Garza 832.385.1431
Getaway Adventures Lodge 956.944.4000
Fishing in Port Mansfield this past month has been productive. The only slow days have been when a front was passing and the day or two after, depending how cold it got. For a good while now we've been finding more of an afternoon bite but it has begun switching to decent early-morning action followed by a better mid-afternoon feed. This is the type of pattern I expect for the month of March. On colder mornings we have been fishing deeper, then as the day progresses we transition to shallower as the presence of bait dictates. Kelley Wiggler's Ball Tail Shad, Lagunaflauge and Mansfield Margarita, on an eighth ounce jighead, are ideal. You can occasionally get one on topwater but for the most part it has been subsurface action. Corkys are producing some solid fish especially the new Corky Dime. As of now a handful of 9lb trout have but caught. With the fronts constantly moving in I predict bigger trout will be caught. It's just now starting to get good down here. Tight lines and calm seas.

Lower Laguna Madre - South Padre - Port Isabel
Janie and Fred Petty | | 956.943.2747
The water quality on the west side of the Lower Laguna Madre, at the time of this writing, is sadly, terrible. Even when stopping in shallow areas, visibility is down to about two to three inches, but when it's windy, the brown tide and silt combine to make it even harder to see your lure. Because of these restrictions, we've switched from lures to bait. We're still catching reds; limits and one or two oversize have made up our daily catch, with the addition of an occasional trout or black drum. Freddy says, "Every once in a while we latch onto a huge trout, but when they swallow the bait, the battle is on and it's hard to keep a hook in the soft stomach tissue, so we're still waiting for that trophy speck to put on the website this year! The coming month is still an option for the trout of a lifetime." We're hoping recent efforts to thwart open bay dredge disposal will continue to build intensity after the dredging season is over. We've seen a tremendous surge in interest, and want to keep the pressure on the Corps of Engineers to end this destructive practice.