FORECAST CENTER: Saltwater – February 2020

FORECAST CENTER: Freshwater – February 2020
January 24, 2020
THE TF&G REPORT – February 2020
January 24, 2020

February A Time of Coastal Awakening

SABINE LAKE & PASS

WITH THE intensity and frequency of the cold fronts peaked-out during the traditional, coldest month of Southeast Texas winter, it’s no wonder that coastal fishing is pretty far down on a lot of people’s pecking order.

There will be lots of days this month when it would be wise to avoid the bay altogether. Fortunately though, February is only one of 12 months and just so happens to be the one with the fewest days.

All is not lost, because some days, moving fishing up a few notches in the pecking order is not such a bad idea. There are sure to be a handful of days with mild conditions and winds not approaching gale force.

These are the kind of days you need to take advantage of. The upper coast of Texas actually gives up lots of fish in February when the conditions are right.

Your chances of scoring this month depend greatly on knowing where to be and not wasting time fishing areas that won’t hold fish in chilly water. This holds true for Texas’ entire upper coast.

From Galveston to Sabine, you’ll want to fish the warmest water possible. The difference between catching or not can be decided by less than a degree of water temperature. So fishing deeper water will definitely work to your advantage.

Deeper water adjacent to shallow flats, and drop offs near ledges or flats are what you should key on if fresh fish is on the menu tonight. Idle over these areas with an eye on your sonar to help locate drop offs and deep holes. Key on areas that mark pods of bait or visible reef with fluctuating depths. Late winter trout and baitfish will use this to their advantage as they seek both protection and warmer water. The big winner in this, of course, is you!

Live baits such as shrimp, mullet, and fresh dead shrimp will work very well as do long, dark-colored soft plastics. Eight to ten inch worms in black, red shad, or tomato are excellent choices.

Fish them slow and have the patience to work the area over well, and you should get good results. Trout and reds will be more than happy to take these baits, but don’t be surprised if you put a few croakers, whiting and black drum in the box as well.

Reported by CAPT. EDDIE HERNANDEZ

Email Eddie Hernandez at [email protected]

 

•  •  •

GALVESTON

JANUARY WAS A slow month for the Texas Gulf, and February will usually be no better.

Generally, the winter months are more wisely spent acquiring or working on tackle and other equipment, laying plans for warmer weather trips or even traveling to a warmer climate to test the waters. For those of us likely to remain close to home who simply MUST get out and see what’s happening in near shore Gulf waters, however, there are nearly always a few options.

Speckled trout and redfish are not likely to migrate long distances because of winter. Both species normally seek deeper, warmer habitat. Reds generally seek the deeper waters of the near-shore Gulf, where both food and shelter from cold winds will be found.

Although the surf may be devoid of marine life for the most part, near-shore rigs and bottom structure will shelter baitfish species. Mud bottoms around solid structures provide some refuge from currents, but still have enough water movement to encourage feeding activities.

On some winter trips seeking snappers, we have instead found reds, sheepshead, even a few flounders in water much deeper than they would seek in summer. Specks will probably be closer to shore than their red cousins, but are still to be found at times.

Of course, this type of fishing requires one to be on “weather watch,” but there will be tolerable fishing days. Some days are actually pleasant with calm breezes and lots of sun.

For those with enough boat and desire, roaming a bit farther out could bring good catches of snappers and even groupers. I have seen folks fishing offshore in small open boats in winter, but even when you’re bundled up, a vessel with more weather protection is the better choice!

Most action will be from bottom fishing, although drifting a bait closer to the surface is usually worth a try. The reason more surface feeding fish are not reported caught in colder weather is because fewer anglers are trying for them.

Still, were I determined to go offshore in winter in our area, I would look for bottom-feeding snappers on natural structure, reefs or bottom protrusions—in deeper holes when weather is not so pleasant. A boat that provides a warm, sheltered area for the rides out and back can make such trips worthwhile, if not exactly pleasant.

Reported by CAPT. MIKE HOLMES

Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]

 

•  •  •

MATAGORDA

IN FEBRUARY, the bays wake up. It’s the time when water temperatures head into the 60s and fish move and feed more than they have been during the cooler months of December and January.

However, you have to choose your fishing days in accordance with the weather—February weather can be relentlessly cold and windy, so you should look for a fishing window.

On February 20 we went kayak fishing on just such a “weather window” day. The wind was light and variable, water clear and 56°F, tide incoming, and it was a sunny day with air temperatures from 60º to 70°F.

I was kayak fishing the south shore of East Matagorda Bay. The oyster reefs in the backwaters were exposed. I was tossing a gold spoon between oyster patches in one-foot-deep water, thinking, “This feels like redfish territory”, but to my surprise the spoon was hammered by a big trout.

My drag was set on the loose side, which works best with trout. They have soft tissue around their mouths, and once hooked you don’t want to lose them by creating too much resistance with an over-tight drag.

The fish ran displaying its specks in the shallow water. I kept a tight line and worked it in between the oyster reefs. The trout measured 22 ½ inches and weighed 3 ½ pounds.

In early February, Jeff Wiley and I fished Shell Reef in West Matagorda Bay on the one good weather day out of seven or eight on both sides of it. Water temperatures started at 53°F and went up to 57°F. We had a light north wind, strong incoming tide and sunny skies.

When we arrived, there was very little fish activity, but as the day and the water warmed, the fish started to move and feed. Jeff caught the first keeper on a gold spoon, a 21-inch redfish. Shortly thereafter I picked up a 17-inch trout on a pumpkinseed/chartreuse Bass Assassin.

Then three bottlenose dolphins were herding and bashing trout 70 yards away from me. I am convinced that dolphins consider trout some of their favorite food. Trout are aware of this and dart away when they sense the presence of these voracious predators.

If dolphins are right next to me, I move, but if they are 50 or so yards away, they may assist my fishing by sending some trout my way. I didn’t catch more trout that day, but did get into rat-reds. When it was time to leave, I made the old “one more cast” and managed to catch a 20-inch red.

Drift fishing East Matagorda Bay in February can either be highly productive or somewhat disappointing. Last February I drift fished with Eddie Vacek and Bob Turner on the west side of East Matagorda Bay. We were over the Raymond’s Reef area two days after a front had come through. We had very little wind, very little tidal movement and made an estimated 7,000 casts.

We caught only five undersized reds and trout. But one day before that same front came in, Eddie and a friend caught their limits of trout between 21 and 29 inches, drifting in the same place. They might have done better because they were fishing before, instead of after the front, or because they had more wind and strong tidal movement.

Whether you have a bang-up fish catching day or a lackluster day, you think about these factors and do your best to learn from them. Another helpful tool is to keep a fishing log and review it prior to a trip, paying attention to what happened in similar conditions.

In early February, Brian Tulloch and I fished on a sunny day when air temperatures were between 60ºF and 70°F and the tide was incoming strong. We were on the south shore of West Matagorda Bay fishing where a cove met the bay and we found redfish hunting for prey.

On that same day we learned that trout were hitting as well when we talked later to a man at the harbor. He had a cooler full of big trout he had caught at Airport Lake on the west end of West Matagorda Bay.

February usually has more cold days with rain and strong winds than sunny days with light winds. However, on one of those nice days in between fronts, chances are you’ll find fish that are looking for prey aggressively.

Reported by MIKE PRICE

Email Mike Price at [email protected]

 

•  •  •

LOCATION: East Galveston
HOTSPOT: Siever’s Cut
GPS: N29 26.562
W94 42.13788
(29.4427, -94.702298)

East Galveston

East Galveston Siever’s Cut

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: MirrOLures series 51 and 37 in chartreuse/silver side or orange/black/gold side
CONTACT:
Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
TIPS: Lot of fronts in February…fish up to the front and then two days after frontal passage

LOCATION: East Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Colorado River
GPS: N28 40.539
W95 58.07898
(28.67565, -95.967983)

East Matagorda Bay

East Matagorda Bay Colorado River

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Heavy lead heads with chartreuse, soft plastic double tail or paddle tail grubs
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Countz
281-450-4037
[email protected]
TIPS: The River is a good option as long as you don’t have any rain. Drift the river, feeding the lure out behind the boat, feeding it out at different depths until you find where the fish are. Use the trolling motor to keep the boat straight in the current.

LOCATION: East Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Boiler Bayou
GPS: N28 38.685
W95 54.06696
(28.64475, -95.901116)

East Matagorda Bay

East Matagorda Bay Boiler Bayou

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: 3/8 to 1/4 oz. lead heads, Norton Sand Shad in Margarita, sometimes a Black Magic
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Countz
281-450-4037
[email protected]
TIPS: Drifting over scattered shell is a prime tactic this time of year, Normally the water is pretty cold and clear. What we look for is off-color streaks. If you can find streaks of off-color water, that’s where the fish are going to be. Just make long drifts, bouncing it off the bottom.

LOCATION: East Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Raymond Shoals
GPS: N28 33.02796
W96 18.081
(28.550466, -96.301350)

East Matagorda Bay

East Matagorda Bay Raymond Shoals

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Norton Sand Shad
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Countz
281-450-4037
[email protected]
TIPS: If you want to fish out of the boat, your best choice would be East Bay. The main areas to fish in February are the west end because it’s all scattered shell across the bottom. The shell holds a lot more bait and your chances of catching fish are enhanced by the amounts of bait that is in the area. Don’t look for crystal clear water; crystal clear water is probably the least productive water in the wintertime. Look for off-color water. A lot of times that murky water is caused by baitfish. They are near the bottom where it’s warmer. They stir up the bottom and that’s what makes off color water. Find off-color water and your chance of catching fish is a lot better.

LOCATION: East Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Cleveland Reef
GPS: N28 39.98298
W95 51.9819
(28.666383, -95.866365)

East Matagorda Bay

East Matagorda Bay Cleveland Reef

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins in Pumpkin Seed, Opening Night, Space Guppy or Texas Roach
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Alexander
979-709-8242
[email protected]
TIPS: Drift fishing—In February we are fishing pretty deep, 5-6 feet of water, over shell. Use a heavier lead head than you would use in the warmer months. Get down as deep as you can without getting hung up.

LOCATION: East Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Half Moon Shoal
GPS: N28 43.371
W95 46.22796
(28.72285, -95.770466)

East Matagorda Bay

East Matagorda Bay Half Moon Shoal

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Corkys in chartreuse. Pink is always a good color.
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Countz
281-450-4037
[email protected]
TIPS: Move into the shallow areas, some of the drains coming out of the peninsula and fish. Work the lures slow, also anywhere you can find bait.

LOCATION: Trinity Bay
HOTSPOT: HLP Spillway
GPS: N29 45.22296
W94 48.85692
(29.753716, -94.814282)

Trinity Bay

Trinity Bay HLP Spillway

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins in Red Shad or Limetreuse colors
CONTACT:
Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
TIPS: Tough month…traditional weather along the Gulf coast in February is anything but pleasant. Pick the 6 or 8 days during February that has the optimum tide—3 days before new moon and 3 days before a full moon.

LOCATION: Trinity Bay
HOTSPOT: Jack’s Pocket
GPS: N29 44.07696
W94 45.852
(29.734616, -94.764200)

Trinity Bay

Trinity Bay Jack’s Pocket

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins
CONTACT:
Capt. Steve Hillman
409-256-7937
[email protected]
TIPS: There are some tremendously big fish caught in February both near the mouth of the Trinity River at Anahuac and near the HL&P spillway

 

City of Baytown

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LOCATION: West Galveston Bay
HOTSPOT: Starvation Cove
GPS: N29 3.906
W95 11.93898
(29.236494, -94.938529)

West Galveston Bay

West Galveston Bay Starvation Cove

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Corky or Corky Devils in pearl or plum colors

CONTACT:
Capt. Paul Marcaccio
281-788-4041
[email protected]
TIPS: Concentrate near bayous and drains, no matter whether wading or fishing from a boat. The drains hold significant bait at those ambush points.

LOCATION: West Galveston Bay
HOTSPOT: Confederate Reef
GPS: N29 15.75498
W94 55.17696
(29.262583, -94.919616)

West Galveston Bay

West Galveston Bay Confederate Reef

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Soft plastics if drifting, slow sinking plugs if wading
CONTACT:
Capt. Steve Hillman
409-256-7937
[email protected]
TIPS: “In late February we do pretty good for big trout, not numbers, but big trout” — Steve Hillman.

LOCATION: West Galveston Bay
HOTSPOT: North Deer Island
GPS: N29 16.96398,
W94 56.22294
(29.282733, -94.937049)

West Galveston Bay

West Galveston Bay North Deer Island

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: MirrOdine XL and Corky Fat Boys
CONTACT:
Capt. Steve Hillman
409-256-7937
[email protected]
TIPS: If you get a blue norther, don’t waste your time leaving the house. Two days after is when you should be back on the water. Fish a lot in the afternoon in February, in the evenings, even after the sun goes down. That’s when everything stabilizes, bait gets active, and a lot of times the bigger fish feed at that time.

LOCATION: West Galveston Bay
HOTSPOT: Chocolate Bay
GPS: N29 11.31996
W95 8.7489
(29.188666, -95.145815)

West Galveston Bay

West Galveston Bay Chocolate Bay

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins in plum, 10W40, or Limetreuse colors when the water is green
CONTACT:
Capt. Steve Hillman
409-256-7937
[email protected]
TIPS: : Chocolate Bay is a reliable place in February, not very many big fish, but a lot of throw backs—one keeper for every five throwbacks.

LOCATION: West Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Maverick Bayou
GPS: N28 34.66296
W96 3.705
(28.577716, -96.061750)

West Matagorda Bay

West Matagorda Bay Maverick Bayou

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins on 1/4 oz. jig heads. Opening Night and Texas Roach are two good colors.
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Alexander
979-709-8242
[email protected]
TIPS: Wading—Wade ankle deep mud, 4-6 inch deep mud. Do not set the hook right away; give them an extra second or so. The fish are lethargic at this time of the year.

LOCATION: West Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Green’s Bayou
GPS: N28 29.73798
W96 13.56498
(28.495633, -96.226083)

West Matagorda Bay

West Matagorda Bay Green’s Bayou

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: MirrOLures in chartreuse/gold or Hot Pink colors
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Countz
281-450-4037
[email protected]
TIPS: If you want to wade fish, your best choice in February would be West Bay. Work the bait really slow because the fish will be really sluggish. Fishermen who are using braided line in the wintertime have an advantage over fishermen using monofilament. There is no stretch and you can feel much more of the bite. In the wintertime sometimes the fish just pick the bait up and start moving with it. If you don’t feel that movement, you aren’t going to catch that fish.” — Tommy Countz

LOCATION: West Matagorda Bay
HOTSPOT: Cotton’s Bayou
GPS: N28 31.34196
W96 12.48894
(28.522366, -96.208149)

West Matagorda Bay

West Matagorda Bay Cotton’s Bayou

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: 1/8 oz. lead heads with Black Magic or Roach colored soft plastic baits
CONTACT:
Capt. Tommy Countz
281-450-4037
[email protected]
TIPS: “I like to go into West Matagorda Bay when the tides are super low and wade fish for redfish, targeting guts.” — Tommy Countz

•  •  •

Cold, Lack of Live Bait Set Tone for February

SAN ANTONIO BAY AREA

FEBRUARY IS typically one of the colder months of the year along the Texas coast. It probably has less of a swing in temperatures compared to late fall or early spring—it’s simply cold most of the time.

This means day to day conditions where anglers can experience almost carbon-copy fishing sessions from day to day. A couple of reasons–food and deeper water—are why one wintertime area will continue to hold fish when other areas won’t. This month’s key factor is deeper water or immediate access to it.

Everyone’s heard that trout move and react slower during colder months of the year. They start conserving their energy at the onset of colder weather. Add to that a slower metabolism on winter days, and that makes for a reduction in aggressive feeding habits.

It’s during these colder days you’ll need to slow down your bait presentation. When you slow your retrieve, the bait is worked in the very lowest portion of the water column.

In theory, the trout prefer deeper water during cold periods because deep water maintains a more consistent water temperature longer. The deeper water temperature doesn’t fluctuate as much as in more shallow waters. It takes longer for deep water to be affected by surface water changes.

Coastal anglers who wade-fish, walk in water between one to four feet deep, Keep in mind that when we speak of deeper water, it might be as little as one foot, or as much as four feet.

The fish will key on water depths that present the least amount of biological change to them for a prolonged period. So you’ll need to experiment to locate them.

If you’re wading in thigh-deep water, check in the lowest part of the water column first, by casting a plastic tail bait attached to a lead head jig out into nearby deeper water.

No strikes? For whatever reason, the fish have discovered better, more consistent conditions somewhere between the bay floor and the surface.

Any of a number of things could cause this. One of the more probable is underwater currents that are just a bit warmer flowing throughout different levels of the water column.

So, now it’s time to explore the rest of the water column between the bay floor and the surface. This is the reason subsurface and slow-sinking lures play such a huge role in catching big trout this time of the year.

These lure types have become increasingly popular for coastal wintertime fishing, with some of favorites being the entire Corky lineup, as well as the ever-popular MirrOlure MirrOdine XL plastic baits. So, pick the lure you have the most confidence in.

When you fish a shoreline with these baits, start with a slow retrieve. Allow the bait to sink a foot below the surface. Then practice a slow twitch-twitch-pause cadence.

If you fish deep water or reefs, let the bait fall between the middle and lower portion of the water column. Always begin reeling at a slow-to-moderate speed once the bait sinks. It’s good practice to make sudden stops with the lure, allowing it to fall.

Once the lure has fallen, start reeling at a slow pace. if it feels too comfortable, it’s probably the wrong speed. If you discover grass on your hook, the lure is sitting too long. If you find yourself casting more frequently, you’re definitely working your retrieve too fast.

When you receive a strike, pay attention to how the fish hits the lure. In deeper water, you’ll normally get hits on subsurface lures as the lure falls. In shallow water, the fish often hit the lure aggressively just as you begin reeling.

Any of the subsurface or slow-sinking lures mentioned above will allow you to keep the target out in front of the fish for a longer period of time while delivering a slower presentation.

Reported by CAPT. CHRIS MARTIN

Email Chris Martin at [email protected]

Visit Online: BayFlatsLogde.com

 

•  •  •

Bay Flats Lodge

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ROCKPORT AREA

THE SCARCITY of live bait this time of year makes crank bait (lures) the go-to answer for most, but that old, leftover bait you’ve been saving for a rainy day in the freezer can be put to productive use this time of year.

Black drum and sheepshead will bite small portions of just about any frozen bait when they are feeding. Put it in the boat, and it will thaw just about the time your arm gives out from chunking lures.

THE BANK BITE

Copano Bay: My go-to spot is the mouth of Mission Bay. This area is a good spot for black drum and some keeper reds. Free-lined dead shrimp is the ticket. If the wind persists, a light Carolina rig will work. The old fishing pier adjacent to the LBJ causeway is a good area for sheepshead using frozen shrimp or small pieces of cut squid on braided line with a small split shot about 18 inches up from the hook.

St. Charles Bay: The mouth of Cavasso Creek is a good place for some keeper trout using live shrimp or imitation Berkley shrimp under a rattle cork. Drifts in this area are a good tactic here for black drum. Big Sharp Point and Little Sharp Point are good areas to set up for reds on warmer days. Finger mullet free-lined works best, but cut mullet is a good substitute. Fish the deeper water transitions about 30 to 50 yards off the shoreline.

Aransas Bay: Long Reef has been holding some black drum with peeled shrimp free-lined, the best choice. The area just off Jay Bird Reef is a good spot for some keeper trout using new penny-colored jerk shad on a light jig head.

Carlos Bay: The area near Ballou Island is a good spot for reds using mud minnows on a light Carolina rig. Drifts across Carlos Lake are still productive for trout. Jerk shad in morning glory and new penny are great lures for this area.

Mesquite Bay: Belden Dugout is a good spot for reds using free-lined finger mullet. The reefs at the mouth of Bray Cove are holding some black drum. Peeled shrimp work best fished on a light Carolina rig. Flounders are caught here as well.

Ayers Bay: East Pocket (east shoreline) is a good spot for trout and reds using Berkley imitation shrimp under a bubble cork. Long casts are needed along with a stealthy approach. Wades just off Ayers Point are good for trout using live shrimp, free-lined. Stay about 20 yards offshore and cast 360 degrees.

Bank Bite: Wades down the south shoreline across from the boat ramp in Goose Island State Park (you must pay for access) are long, but productive. The many reefs and cuts hold fish. There is a lot of boat activity here, but the fish still stay in this area. One can fish from the bank, moving east or wade, if that’s your preference. Soft plastics in morning glory and nuclear chicken work well, as do live shrimp free-lined. This is heavy shell so good booties or shoes are a must.

Reported by CAPT. MAC GABLE

Email Mac Gable at [email protected]

Or Visit Online: macattackguideservice.com

 

•  •  •

LOCATION: Copano Bay
HOTSPOT: Italian Bend
GPS: N28 2.56596, W97 8.08896
(28.042766, -97.134816)

Copano Bay

Copano Bay Italian Bend

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: Soft plastics
CONTACT:
Capt. Kevin McCoy
361-775-2027
[email protected]
TIPS: Drag the lure along the bottom. You are looking for a mud/shell bottom.

LOCATION: Copano Bay
HOTSPOT: Middle Copano Reef
GPS: N28 7.60896, W97 7.09998
(28.126816, -97.118333)

Copano Bay

Copano Bay Middle Copano Reef

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins in plum/chartreuse; Brown Lures Devil Eye in chartreuse
CONTACT:
Capt. Kevin McCoy
361-775-2027
[email protected]
TIPS: Live bait such as pinfish and croaker are not available in February. McCoy promises that soft plastics will work just as well.

LOCATION: Nueces Bay
HOTSPOT: Oyster reefs
GPS: N27 51.59796, W97 25.31496
(27.859966, -97.421916)

Nueces Bay

Nueces Bay Oyster reefs

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Soft plastics in plum/chartreuse or chartreuse colors
CONTACT:
Capt. Kevin McCoy
361-775-2027
[email protected]
TIPS: Nueces Bay is a good place to catch some big trout in February, primarily shell reefs. The deeper side of the reef where the shell meets mud, is going to hold your fish.

LOCATION: Port Aransas
HOTSPOT: Jetties
GPS: N27 49.98498, W97 2.48298
(27.833083, -97.041383)

Port Aransas

Port Aransas Jetties

SPECIES: sheepshead
BEST BAITS: Shrimp
CONTACT:
Capt. Marvin Engel
361-658-6674
[email protected]
TIPS: Cast out and let the shrimp fall while reeling it in. Once you hang up a couple of times you will know where the rocks are and you can better place you’re casts. Fishing around the jetties, you’re bound to lose some terminal tackle.

LOCATION: Port Aransas
HOTSPOT: Fina Docks
GPS: N27 50.71296, W97 3.65292
(27.845216, -97.060882)

Port Aransas

Port Aransas Fina Docks

SPECIES: black drum
BEST BAITS: Peeled shrimp
CONTACT:
Marvin Engel
361-658-6674
[email protected]
TIPS: Engel prefers freshwater over saltwater shrimp. “They work better at this time of the year. I put three or four shrimp on my hook at a time.”

LOCATION: Redfish Bay
HOTSPOT: Inside Ransom
GPS: N27 52.46796, W97 8.4999
(27.874466, -97.141665)

Redfish Bay

Redfish Bay Inside Ransom

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: Brown Lures Devil Eye in chartreuse
CONTACT:
Capt. Kevin McCoy
361-775-2027
[email protected]
TIPS: Redfish Bay is mostly grass flats with shallow water. Fish the open sand holes in the grass.

LOCATION: Redfish Bay
HOTSPOT: Mustang Point
GPS: N27 49.44396, W97 8.21094
(27.824066, -97.136849)

Redfish Bay

Redfish Bay Mustang Point

SPECIES: sheepshead
BEST BAITS: Shrimp
CONTACT:
Capt. Marvin Engel
361-658-6674
[email protected]
TIPS: Freeline shrimp—cast and let it sink to the bottom. Something will probably pick it up before it gets to the bottom.

LOCATION: Redfish Bay
HOTSPOT: Dagger Flats
GPS: N27 49.75398, W97 10.60992
(27.829233, -97.176832)

Redfish Bay

Redfish Bay Dagger Flats

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: Bass Assassins in plum/chartreuse color
CONTACT:
Capt. Kevin McCoy
361-775-2027
[email protected]
TIPS: Put the bait on the bottom in the sand holes.

•  •  •

It’s Trophy Trout Time on the Lower Coast

BAFFIN BAY

THIS MONTH IS A GIFT. Sportsmen don’t seem to think so, however.  The reason; duck season is over.  Dove, over.  Deer, over. Too cold to fish.  Boat won’t start anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen get that boat started.  Get that tackle together.  Make sure those waders don’t leak and the outer wear is solid.  It’s time to start to focus on Baffin Bay Trophy Trout!

Three out of the last four state records for trophy trout have come from Baffin Bay.  Jim Wallace caught his 13.69 in February in Baffin Bay.  Jim single-handedly started the Corky craze by catching a tremendous stringer of big girls on Mr. Brown’s Corky in 1994. 

Targeting trophy trout on Baffin Bay is an interesting angling endeavor.  No matter what the temperature, there will be bait visible somewhere.  Even just one mullet jumping tells a story.  When the water is cold, mullet don’t just jump unless there’s something that makes it.  It could be a sign of a predator about. 

Big trout hang out on the bottom, in general, when the water temperatures are low.  Low and slow is the tactic for lure presentation.  Dragging across the bottom with a big paddle tail, jerking a slow sinker like a Mirro-dine, a Catch 2000 or a Corky, slowly on the bottom or a slow lift with a drop back to the bottom with a straight tail lure like a Saltwater Assassin (SW Shad), a Willowtail or a Flappin-Shad can all be very effective. 

When the sun comes out and the wind is low, start looking along the bank.  If mullet are there, the chances are good that a big girl is lurking about.  This is when a top water may be effective. The time is right to toss a topwater when there is action on the top.  Skittery or jumping mullet will give the sign.

Fly casters jump on in here.  Baffin Bay is the right place to come and blind cast the bigger flies with sinking tip lines right along with the lure chunkers.  This year fly fisherman are beginning to target Baffin Bay as the best kept secret in fly fishing, world-wide.  Orvis anglers fly all over the world to target trophy trout on the fly, why not Baffin Bay!  Come and be the first fly angler to drag a 10 pound trout out of Baffin!  Or maybe the new state record on the fly, just like Bud Rowland of South Padre Island did in 2004! 

Sometimes hunting for the trophy trout is really reserved for the hardest core fishermen.  But really, most days, this hunt is open to all fishermen with good waders and gear.  Extra clothes and gloves are necessary to bring in case someone gets wet.  The day is over if someone steps wrong and cold water overflows the wader top.  If there is a supply of warm, dry clothes on board, the problem is solved.  It’s always good to have a back-up plan while winter fishing. 

The good news, however, is that trophy trout fishing on Baffin Bay goes through May.  Last year, everything was a little late and the heaviest fish were caught in May.  However, a big, fat, trophy trout can be caught any time from December to the end of the spawn, which would be late April or early May, when the water temperatures get to 75 or 80 and stay there. 

Trophy Baffin trout are not only feeding up for the winter, to survive colder temperatures, but then, they start eating extra hard when water temperature start to rise, even slightly.  That’s the message from Mother Nature that the time to spawn is near. 

Trout don’t have the muscles to expel eggs, so they have to physically beat themselves on the bottom or between the rocks to dislodge the eggs from their bodies.  This take a lot of energy.  This is the reason that these big girls are so heavy February through May.  This is also the reason that these big trout have reddish scrapes, scratches and wounds on their bodies when caught.  These girls are working hard to keep those Baffin Bay genetics going!

The hunt for the State Record is on.  Anyone can beat it, especially on Baffin Bay because of the history here.  The odds do go up for those who spend more days on the water.  Timing is everything, so, if possible, target the third day after a cold front, or the day or two before a cold front.  Low barometric pressure helps these fish put the feed on and up the odds of being caught. Actively feeding fish can be found anywhere there are mullet.  No bait, not fish, move on.  Keep looking for concentrations of any bait for best success.   

Sometimes, a big trout fishing day may result in just one or two strikes.  Sometimes just one fish is caught, but that fish is a big one.  Trophy trout hunting is just that, a hunt.  Patience and fortitude are virtues and will bring much success, even on bad weather days.

Baffin Bay Rod and Gun is equipped to help any angler, fly or conventional, achieve their personal best trophy trout.  We provide everything necessary to put you in the right place at the right time.  Since we are Orvis Endorsed for Fly Fishing, we would like to invite all fly anglers out there to try their hand at catching a Baffin Bay Big Girl on the fly this year!  All of our guides are set up and ready to make it happen!

Thank you for all of your support, we look forward to hosting you again this year, on the hunt for the Texas State Record Trophy Trout!

Reported by CAPT. SALLY BLACK

Email Sally Black at [email protected]

Visit Online: BaffinBayRodandGun.com

 

•  •  •

Mt. Houston Marine

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LOWER LAGUNA MADRE

IT TAKES A special kind of angler to wade fish the Lower Laguna Madre in the winter. The water will hover between 58 and 65 degrees, depending on the severity of winter.

It is rarely fast action, mainly because of the cold-blooded nature of speckled trout and redfish. This means they are in a bit of a blue funk thanks to the cooler water. They won’t be up to chasing down fast moving baits, and their lower metabolisms mean that they aren’t going to be on the feed as often as they will in spring, fall and summer.

Even so, the hardy, wader-clad angler can find some surprising success while hoofing it in the chilly waters of the South Texas Coast.

One of the most popular bank accessible wading spots on the Lower Laguna Madre, for example, is the Community Bar in Port Mansfield. Access for shore-bound anglers was available via a pedestrian entrance at Fred Stone Park, but ambitious anglers are better served by wading out around the fence line and walking through the shallows the quarter mile to the bar. Others can reach it via boat and anchoring up on the bar itself, hopping out, and fishing the drop-off.

Regardless of how you reach Community Bar, you can wade out toward the bar and start fishing. Don’t head straight out into deeper water immediately. It doesn’t hurt to work parallel to the shoreline in knee-deep water, especially on a high tide. Redfish and trout will cruise close in during low-light conditions.

Work the area with smaller topwaters such as a Spook, Jr., or the Mirr=O=Lure Mirrodine are also excellent choices for working the early morning shallows. Soft plastic aficionados can work weightless jerkbaits such as the DOA Airhead 5 or Gulp! five-inch Jerk Shad. After you’ve worked the area thoroughly, then turn your attention to deeper water.

There is plenty of deeper water. Between the shoreline and Community Bar is a deep gut that speckled trout use as a migration route up and down Laguna Madre. The wide gut deepens until you are in neck-deep water, which can make a fisherman pretty nervous.

It’s easy to spot where the really deep stuff is, though, because local commercial crabbers set their traps at the bottom of the gut, and the white buoys mark where the really deep water is. They also make great fish attractors, so it never hurts to make a number of casts to it.

Set up in waist-deep water and fan cast into the gut to prospect for trout. The classic shrimp/popping cork rig is the top fish producer in the area, but many fishermen who would rather avoid lugging a bait bucket switch over the either a Gulp! Shrimp in Nuclear Chicken or Glow. Both are very effective under a popping cork or Mansfield Mauler.

You can also use a ¼ ounce Gulp! Shrimp or a DOA Shrimp in Root Beer or Red, or any of the classic patterns produced by Norton Lures. I’ve also taken to using DOA’s Bone/Glow pattern to great success. As Mark Nichols says about the pattern, it doesn’t resemble any natural shrimp color, but fish still love it. Make sure your leader is 18 to 24 inches long, and that your rod is long enough (7 to 7 ½ feet) to facilitate long casts into the gut.

If you prefer to eschew the floats, shad tails such as the classic H&H Queen Cocahoe Norton Bull Minnow are good choices to fish the gut (the latter, especially the classic strawberry/white pattern, has literally caught millions of trout in LLM). The throbbing shad tail puts off plenty of vibration that can get a trout’s attention from a long way off.

Lipless crankbaits such as the Rat-L-Trap in gold/black are also excellent options for the gut, and they help you cover a lot of water quickly. Fan cast an area. If you don’t find any fish, move a few feet to your left or right, and keep working the deeper water until you hit paydirt.

Some adventurous fishermen are willing to negotiate the deeper water to cross the gut and reach the actual Community Bar. They will either fish the grassy top for redfish (with gold spoons being the #1 choice), or turn around to fish the edge of the depth break.

The latter method is quite popular because it allows you to fish the deeper water with the wind at your back. There will almost always be a stiff breeze pushing off the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of the day. If a cold front blows in, the same wind will be coming out of the northwest. In that case, it’s time to head to the house and warm up.

Boaters need to keep a close eye if they are passing by the Bar en route to other parts of LLM. Wade fishermen aren’t very mobile. Most boaters are savvy enough to give the shallows a wide berth in this area, but there is always an angler ignorant of the area’s popularity among waders.

Don’t let those boaters deter you though. The fishing around Community Bar can be quite good. Keep a sharp eye, and you’ll be fine.

Reported by CALIXTO GONZALES

Email Cal Gonzales at [email protected]

Or Visit Online: macattackguideservice.com

 

•  •  •

LOCATION: Baffin Bay
HOTSPOT: The Badlands
GPS: N27 18.228, W97 24.33792
(27.3038, -97.405632)

Baffin Bay

Baffin Bay The Badlands

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Topwaters early, soft plastics in limetreuse, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, corkies.
CONTACT:
Captain Mike Hart
361-449-7441
TIPS: When a north wind limits your options, set up a wade on this popular winter spot. The mud bottom retains warmth more effectively than sand, and trout and redfish, as well as forage species, gravitate to it. Fish around and through color changes with lightly weighted soft plastics. The wading is a bit tough because of the soft mud, but he quality fish make it worth the effort.

LOCATION: Arroyo Colorado
HOTSPOT: Unnecessary Island
GPS: N26 22.002, W97 18.82398
(26.3667, -97.313733)

Arroyo Colorado

Arroyo Colorado Unnecessary Island

SPECIES: redfish
BEST BAITS: Live shrimp, soft plastics in red/white, LSU, Rootbeer/chartreuse, New Penny.
CONTACT:
LG Outfitters
956-371-0220
lgoutfittters.com
TIPS: Tuck into the leeward side of Unnecessary and drift the length of the flats near the ICW. Watch for mud-boils to cue you into where redfish are cruising. Live shrimp is good, so are scented soft plastics. Long casts may be necessary if the water is very clear.

 

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LOCATION: Baffin Bay
HOTSPOT: Black’s Bluff
GPS: N27 14.23698, W97 33.93498
(27.237283, -97.565583)

Baffin Bay

Baffin Bay Black’s Bluff

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Soft plastics in limetreuse, pumpkinseed/chartreuse.
CONTACT:
Captain Mike Hart,
361-449-7441
TIPS: Look for nervous bait popping about near dropoffs. That’s usually a sign that there are predators lurking. Plastics should be fished on light jigs. 1/8th ounce is good. 1/16th is even better. Once you begin working the area, fish deeper water with soft plastics and suspending plugs for trout. Work your lures slowly, and pay attention. The bites can be very, very subtle.

LOCATION: Lower Laguna Madre
HOTSPOT: New Queen Isabella Causeway
GPS: N26 4.96998, W97 12.06
(26.082833, -97.201000)

Lower Laguna Madre

Lower Laguna Madre New Queen Isabella Causeway

SPECIES: black drum
BEST BAITS: Live or fresh shrimp, crab chunks, mantis shrimp (sea lice).
CONTACT:
Captain Carlos Garcia
956-433-6094, 956-433-6028
[email protected]
TIPS: Schools of drum roam this broad flat, which can be reached by shore-bound anglers from Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier. Some of the fish will be big uglies in the 20-30 pound range, which you’ll have to release. Fish the edges of the Intracoastal Waterway with either live shrimp, or fresh crab, shrimp, or sea lice on a dropper or Carolina Rig works.

LOCATION: Port Mansfield
HOTSPOT: The Saucer
GPS: N26 28.149, W97 23.87394
(26.46915, -97.397899)

Port Mansfield

Port Mansfield The Saucer

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Corkies, soft plastics in red/white, LSU, Rootbeer/Chartreuse.
CONTACT:
LG Outfitters
956-371-0220
www.lgoutfitters.com
TIPS: Fish the edges of potholes on warm days with sub-surface plugs and soft plastics. On cloudy or cooler days, fish deeper water such as guts and drop-offs near spoil islands.

LOCATION: Port Mansfield
HOTSPOT: Land Cut Spoils
GPS: N26 52.27008, W97 27.7995
(26.871168, -97.463325)

Port Mansfield

Port Mansfield Land Cut Spoils

SPECIES: speckled trout
BEST BAITS: Topwaters, Catch 5s in smoke, pinfish patterns. Soft plastics in LSU, gold or chrome spoons.
CONTACT:
Captain Danny Neu
979-942-0165
[email protected]
TIPS: Fish topwaters early on mild days, and throughout the whole trip when clouds dominate. If the fish are sitting deeper, switch to suspending plugs in natural patterns, or soft plastics on small (1/16-1/8 ounce) jigheads.

LOCATION: South Padre Island
HOTSPOT: Andy Bowie Park Shoreline
GPS: N26 11.55918
W97 10.53294
(26.192653, -97.175549)

South Padre Island

South Padre Island Andy Bowie Park Shoreline

SPECIES: all species
BEST BAITS: Fresh Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp
CONTACT:
Quick Stop
956-943-1159
TIPS: Fish two hook rigs with 1 to 2 ounce sinkers (spider weights are best if the surf is sloppy) in the first or second gut (the latter on an outgoing tide) to target pompano and whiting. You can purchase live shrimp and keep them alive in sawdust for easy portability, or fresh shrimp. Use long-shanked hooks. You’ll be impressed by the size of some of these “bull” whiting.

 

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