FIND REDFISH FUN ON SHALLOW GRASS FLATS WITH LIVETAREGET AND MUSTAD

from The Fishing Wire

Find Redfish Fun On Shallow Grass Flats With LIVETAREGET and Mustad

Redfish are not a complicated lot; they love to eat, and with seasonal spawning aggregations intensifying their schooling nature, fall presents one of the best times to find these hardy fish in great numbers. Habitat options are many, but from the pristine flats of Florida’s Gulf Coast to the vast expanses of Texas’ Laguna Madre waters, shallow fields of swaying seagrass offer tremendous opportunities. These shallow pastures offer prime grazing opportunities for a fish that’s perfectly designed for nosing through bottom cover to root out meals. During low tide, the fish slip into adjacent depths of channels and cuts, while higher stages find them moving progressively higher onto the flat.

Find the Fish

Singles and small groups of redfish can be surprisingly stealthy, but when you pack several dozen or more reds into a feeding school, it’s hard to miss their rumbling, water-rippling movement. On clear days, over a mottled bottom of sand and grass, the herd will cast an auburn hue in the water, so keep watch for such masses and the waking convoys.

Also, take note of shrimp or baitfish flipping from the water. These forage species are much happier below the surface, so take their acrobatics as a clear sign of predation. Likewise, spotting a glossy sheen on the water’s surface typically indicates a recent feed in which predators left a slick of baitfish oils in their passing. This could be any number of predators, from jacks to mackerel – but on fall grass flats, it’s often redfish.

Mullet Moments

While the sardines, crabs, shrimp and pinfish packing the grass flats won’t go unnoticed by redfish, the vegetarian mullet couldn’t care less? So what’s the connection? It’s pure opportunistic feeding. The less energy a predator expends to intake calories, the more they retain. For redfish, that means mingling with mullet often rewards them with a finfish or crustacean meal that they didn’t have to work for. Mullet schools displace these meals while churning across the shallow grass flats and savvy reds are quick to pick off the freebies. For anglers on the lookout, locating a mullet school, either by spotting their wake or seeing their characteristic leaps, is a great way to connect with opportunistic reds.

Best Baits

Lead head jigs, like the Mustad Inshore Darter in the 1/8- to 3/16-ounce range with paddletails or shrimp bodies are one of the most common redfish baits for targeted casts. For a bottom-hopping look, try the LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp. Another highly effective option is a popping or clacking cork with a LIVETARGET Rigged Shrimp below. Chugging the cork creates a commotion that resembles feeding fish, and the vulnerable bait is an easy sell.

For searching, weedless spoons are considered one of the top redfish baits, as they cast like a bullet – even on windy days – and easily traverse a range of shallow habitats from grass to oyster shells. Tip: Spoons are given to spinning on the retrieve, but adding a Mustad Nickel Round Split Ring and a Mustad Barrel Swivel minimizes line twist.

And don’t overlook topwater baits. With their subterminal mouths, reds are definitely built for bottom feeding; however, their inherent feeding aggression won’t allow a surface bait to pass without interception. A little awkward, not always pretty and far less efficient than, say, a speckled trout’s topwater attack, a redfish is a persistent creature and theirs is one of the most aggressive surface assaults you’ll ever see. It’s kind of a surging, crashing bite, but once a red locks onto a topwater target, it’s nearly a guaranteed hook up.

A little tip for greater topwater efficiency over shallow grass: Replace stock treble hooks with Mustad Kaiju Inline Single Hooks. Face the front hook forward and the rear hook backward. You’ll give up the number of hook points, but once a big red gets the bait, that’s a caught fish.

About Mustad

Mustad has led the global hook market since 1877. Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry, while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. With the addition of TUF-LINE and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.

Winter Stripers On the Run How To Catch Winter Stripers

Stripers On The Run

Cold weather means good striper fishing and there are a variety of ways to catch them in the winter.  These tips will point you in the right direction where you fish.

    After Santee Cooper Lake was dammed in the 1940s, stripers trapped upstream of the dam became landlocked.  From that, biologists discovered striped bass could survive and even thrive in freshwater.  Since then, they have been stocked in most suitable lakes.

    Stripers grow big and fight hard. They are fun to catch but it takes skills to hook them consistently.  On lakes through-out the nation, fishermen and especially striper guides have developed specific techniques for catching fish.  Winter is a good time to use these methods to catch them.

Planer Boards

    Jim Farmer (http://castawaybaits.com) developed a planer board that met his needs and sells it.  He wanted a board that did not interfere with the fight when a fish was hooked, was reversible so it could be changed to either side of the boat and was highly visible.

    “Planer boards allow you to get bait out from the boat in a controlled method,“ Jim said.  You can put up to ten boards trailing baits out to cover an area over 100 feet wide as you troll.  This allows you to cover a lot of water.

    You can troll live bait or artificials.  Jim says he sets the bait to follow the board from three feet behind it to the length behind the board that is almost as deep as the water you are trolling. If the line is longer than the depth of the water, you are more likely to get hung up while trolling.

    Artificials that work best are lures that do not pull a lot on the boat and possibly trip it.  Bucktails and shallow running plugs like jerkbaits work well.  If you need to get your bait down deep, other methods work better.

    When you get a bite the board trips and slides easily on the line, much like a slip bobber. A stopper placed a couple feet above the hook stops the board from interfering with the hook and fish.

    When trolling shorelines of rivers and lakes put a couple of boards on the bank side of the boat. One should be running a bait in just a couple of feet of water, another a little further out.  When you get to the end of a section of bank holding fish you can turn the boat, reverse the boards and go back down the productive area.

    Planer boards also allow you to troll very slowly, important with live bait.  Moving at one mile per hour will keep the boards at their maximum spread and not kill the bait like moving faster will.

Shallow Trolling

Captain Dave Willard (http://crockettrocketstriperfishing.com/) has guided for stripers for many years.  He says big stripers love cold water and often get right on the bank in a couple feet of water this time of year.  He uses either planer boards or flat lines live bait to reach those fish without spooking them.

    Good electronics are critical for finding stripers year-round. In the winter Dave constantly watches his electronics. If he is finding all the fish deep he fishes for them. But if fish, especially big one, are not showing up deep he goes to points and banks and trolls.

    With his boat in eight to ten feet of water, he flatlines a lively baitfish and maneuvers the boat around points and along banks so the bait trails in the shallows.  A planer board will let you keep your boat further from the bank, especially important on a gently sloping bank, but may spook very shallow fish.

    When in eight to ten feet of water he likes to flatline a live bait behind the boat, too, especially when fish are showing up under the boat.  Nose hooking the bait and trolling it slowly with your trolling motor lets the bait move around and does not kill it.

    The old saying “big baits for big fish” usually applies to striper fishing but there are exceptions. He does have a big baitfish native to the waters he is fishing behind the boat. Big bait like blueback herring, gizzard shad, skipjack herring and others all work. But he will also try a small bait like a live threadfin shad to see if the big fish want a small bite to eat.  He tries to “match the hatch” and offer the fish the size food they are eating.

    Shallow trolling also works when the stripers are suspended over deep water.  This time of year it is not unusual to see the fish suspended down a few feet from the surface even when the bottom is 100 feet deep. Freelining a live bait with no weight or a very small sinker to get it down a few feet deeper works on these fish.

    Captain Dave says you may have to cover a lot of water to find feeding fish, but when you do you can catch several.  When you catch one go back over the same area until you don’t get any bites.

Deep Trolling

    When stripers are deep it can be hard to get a bait down to them and present it in a way to get them to hit.  You can sit on top of them and jig a spoon or drop a live bait to them, but you may spook them, and you don’t cover much water doing this to find stripers that are open water, nomadic fish.

    Captain Mack Farr (http://www.captmacks.com) likes deep trolling for them.  Two methods let you get your bait down to the level they are holding and allows you to cover a lot of water.  Leadcore line on your reel requires less equipment and is simpler, but downriggers also work.

    Spool up a heavy saltwater reel with leadcore line. It comes in 15, 18, 27, 36 and 45-pound test.  For striper fishing in lakes and rivers, 27 pound is a good choice.  The line is nylon coated for strength and the lead core makes it go down deep. 

    Leadcore line is color coded, with a change of color every 30 feet, so you can know exactly how much line you have out. Captain Mack ties a 30-foot 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader to the leadcore. A lighter leader will break if you get hung, keeping you from losing the more expensive leadcore, and is less likely to spook the fish.   

    You must find the depth the bait and stripers are holding with your electronics. You need to troll your bait just over the fish since stripers will come up a little to take a bait but seldom go down to it.

    A depth of 30 feet is fairly common this time of year, and balls of baitfish are critical. Watch for loons diving on bait to find the right area then use your electronics to locate the specific area and depth.      You can experiment with different weights of line and baits to find the depth your rig runs.  Captain Mack says a good rule of thumb is letting out 300 feet of line, nine colors plus your leader, with a one-ounce bucktail tipped with a baitfish, will get the bait down about 30 feet when trolled at two miles per hour.

    A big bucktail with a live or dead five to six-inch baitfish is Captain Mack’s choice of baits.  You can troll crankbaits, too, and they will dive a little deeper, or a jerkbait type plug to run a little less deep but with more flash and action.

    Downriggers are heavy weighs that are lowered on a cable. The weight has clip to hold your line and releases when fish hits.  You can troll a variety of baits behind the downrigger ball and it will keep them at an exact depth.

    Electric wenches on downriggers help you get the cable up quickly while fighting a fish but they are more expensive than hand cranked ones. If you have several downriggers out you take a chance on the striper tangling in the cables while fighting it, even with electric wenches.

Casting

    Bill Carey (http://www.striperexpress.com/) guides for stripers but uses only artificial baits, and casting them is his preferred method of fishing. His go-to bait is a chartreuse or white one half to one-ounce Road Runner underspin with a nine-inch white worm trailer. He says this is his big fish bait. Bill also casts 5.5-inch Zoom Flukes and four-inch Sassy Shad plastics on one half to one-ounce jig heads.

    He runs structure like ditches, creek channels, humps and main lake points.  The best ones are shallow areas that drop quickly into deep water. Stripers will push baitfish up on these kinds of places and hem them up to feed.

    Find that kind of structure and make long casts across it, keeping your boat out in deep water and casting up to the shallow areas. Reel at different speeds to control the depth your bait is running.  Stripers may want your bait just under the surface all the way down to the bottom, to try all different depths until they show you what they want.

    Bill says big stripers are much like big bucks, they are loners. Big ones might run in a small group of two or three, but they are not usually in big schools. When you catch one big one, make repeated casts to the same area.

    Always watch for birds diving and surface activity.  Even in the winter, keep a big pencil popper tied on and     cast it to any activity you see. Also try it over the structure, even if you don’t see active fish.

    These methods will help you catch stripers this time of year.

Sidebar:

When the water warms stripers tend to go deep, holding just above the thermocline under baitfish where there is enough oxygen and the water is cool. You need good electronics to locate the bait and stripers.  Trolling bucktails a few feet above the depth the fish are holding will get them to hit. Trolling faster in warmer water is more likely to get bites.

    Getting a bait down deep and trolling it fast means either leadcore line or downriggers.  Both allow you to troll faster without losing depth control.  The fish are likely to be holding over deep humps and creek channels in hot weather so concentrate on those areas and find bait and stripers on your electronics.

    Line twist is a problem when you troll fast. A good barrel swivel in front of your bait will help prevent it. Also make sure your bait is not twirling in the water by dropping it over the side at the speed you are trolling and watching it.

    Tipping your bucktail with a live or dead baitfish always helps get bites but can cause more trouble with line twist. Nose hook the baitfish and be careful to put it on straight, so it does not twist.  




CHRISTMAS TREE CRAPPIES

No, not decorating with them, catching them from Christmas Tree brush piles

from The Fishing Wire

Christmas Tree Crappies

Ladson, SC – Sparkling like fresh lit Christmas bulbs, they dance and glow among the evergreen branches. Dozens, maybe hundreds of big crappies encircle the sunken brushpile, lively little orbs doing their best impression of holiday cheer. You see it happening right on sonar, screen shimmering with star-like bogeys. One cast, and you’re already imagining full livewells–and soon, golden brown fillets decorating your dinner plate.

Late fall through winter, crappies really do enjoy the company of a good balsam fir, though some anglers claim planted hardwoods last longer underwater and ultimately attract a few more fish. Surely, they find solace in the columns and complexes of aquatic cover.

Crappies come here to chew, too. Yet whether you find them huddled around submerged shrubs, tucked into fields of green foliage or suspended in the abyss, catching Christmastime crappies isn’t a guarantee. Especially so as plummeting water temps and declining metabolic rates induce sluggish, unwilling-to-chase attitudes.

In short, dropping a rapidly sinking lure past crappie snouts is a no-no.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2Olnet9uIpU%3Fstart%3D1%26feature%3Doembed%26wmode%3Dopaque

A Fresh Panfish Approach

A season of bigtime bass tournaments behind him and back on his favorite crappie lake, Major League Fishing star David Walker understands the situation all too well. It’s Walker’s favorite time to pursue crappies, white bass and other intriguing panfish, after all. This season, though, he’s even more excited than usual, given some interesting new arrivals to his crappie bag of tricks.

“I can’t believe more anglers haven’t discovered the magical properties of these baits for crappies,” remarks Walker, launching his boat near home at Douglas Lake, Tennessee. “But they will. And when they do, every crappie angler out there is going to catch a lot of fish.”

On Douglas and numerous other reservoirs around the country, winter means cooling water and receding lake levels. Dropping water, Walker knows, can consolidate crappies around remaining woodcover, docks, submerged vegetation or suspended in openwater. “When the water falls and a lot of my favorite cover is left high and dry, I’ll chase crappies like I’m bass fishing on a smaller scale,” Walker explains.

“I’ll target ends of points or go right down the middle of pockets in creek arms, looking for bait and groups of crappies on sonar. With live sonar, I’m also sniffing out isolated pieces of cover—sometimes, a single rock or log is enough to hold some fish. What’s also cool is that crappies school by size, and often, you’ll catch the biggest fish in the school first. But I always release those bigger 14- to 16-inchers in favor of 11s and 12s, which taste so much better in crappie tacos.”

Micro Finesse baits like the Shad FryZ, Micro TRD and Tiny TicklerZ exhibit some rare in-water traits.

Micro Swimbaits

“My new favorite crappie bait—a Z-Man Shad FryZ™ swimbait—is orders of magnitude smaller than bass-sized offerings. But its subtle, lively action, buoyancy and durability put it right at the top of my crappie lure depth-chart. I’ve been catching a ton of crappies on this little paddletail lately, part of the remarkable new Micro Finesse system.

“What’s cool is I can rig the Shad FryZ on a slightly heavier 1/10-ounce Micro Finesse ShroomZ™ jighead and retain plenty of weight for casting distance. Meanwhile, the bait’s buoyant ElaZtech® material slows its rate of fall. So, in terms of drop-speed, the lure flutters and fishes more like a 1/16-ouncer; it’s got that nice little tail-kick on the fall that attracts a lot of crappies.

“As veteran anglers know, crappies primarily feed up,” he continues. “So keeping your lure at or a few feet above their eye level is of utmost importance, especially in colder water.”

Z-Man bass pro David Walker says coldwater crappies respond best to baits with a reduced rate of fall.

Unlike traditional PVC soft plastics, which sink like rocks, Walker notes that ElaZtech baits float, slowing the drop-speed of the jighead. “That’s something you simply can’t do with other crappie baits, because traditional plastisol baits sink fast—often, shooting right through the active strike zones of coldwater panfish.”

To further tweak rate of fall, Walker spools with “straight 6- or 8-pound test braided line and no leader,” he suggests. “After trying those micro-thin 2-, 3- and 4-pound test braids, I realized thicker diameter braid, which floats, slows the lure’s rate of fall a bit more.”

While most anglers target shallow water fish, Walker prefers to pursue bigger, less pressured crappies in 15 to 25 feet of water. “Simply count the lure down to the right depth and begin a slow, steady retrieve. The hover can also be key to triggering reluctant fish. While retrieving, I’ll pause every 5- to 10-seconds. Let the bait stop and hang momentarily. That hesitation or hover—when the bait isn’t darting away—often makes a fish that’s been following commit; opens its big pouting jaw and gulps the bait down.”

Durable, buoyant and super soft, the easy-swimming Shad FryZ swimbait catches crappies all year long.

Crappie TRDs

“Man, I love feeling that thump of a big crappie inhaling my Shad FryZ swimbait. It’s an awesome pattern through at least the first of the New Year. After that, when fishing gets tougher and crappies don’t want excessive bait movement, I’ll trade the swimbait for a Micro TRD™, Tiny TicklerZ™ or LarvaZ™.

“If you’re a fan of the traditional TRD or TicklerZ for bass, all I can say is, the micro sized versions live up to their reputations for crappies and panfish, too.

“And in extra clear water, the LarvaZ shows fish a creepy-crawly bug imitation; perfect for vertical presentations—either right below the boat on a jighead or beneath a bobber. What’s really cool about these Micro Finesse baits is their durability. Especially for perch, bluegills and fish that nip tails and tear other baits to shreds, durable ElaZtech is the answer we’ve all been waiting for.

“As a bass angler familiar with the toughness of ElaZtech, I spent years trying to slice and customize bigger worms into panfish-sized offerings. They worked, but the Micro Finesse baits give me panfish profiles and actions I’m after, no knife needed. When it comes to small shapes and bait action, traditional plastics are simply too stiff; aren’t soft or pliable enough to move like living things—the exact opposite of natural, lively ElaZtech.

“As more and more crappie anglers discover these advantages—buoyant, super soft and easy to activate and surprisingly durable—we’ll all be sitting down for a lot more crappie dinners.”

About Z-Man Fishing Products

A dynamic Charleston, South Carolina based company, Z-Man Fishing Products has melded leading edge fishing tackle with technology for nearly three decades. Z-Man has long been among the industry’s largest suppliers of silicone skirt material used in jigs, spinnerbaits and other lures. Creator of the Original ChatterBait®, Z-Man is also the renowned innovators of 10X Tough ElaZtech softbaits, fast becoming the most coveted baits in fresh- and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest-growing lure brands worldwide.

There Are Many April Bass Patterns: Fishing Docks Is A Great One

April Bass Patterns: Docks & More

Here’s how to fish the cover bass hold on in the spring

    Bass fishermen look forward to April all year.  It is arguably the best month to catch bass since they are moving to shallow water to spawn, then back to deeper water.  If you go out and just cast to random places you will catch some bass, but keying on prime cover can greatly increase your catch.

    As soon as days start getting significantly longer in February, bass get the urge to spawn.  They start slowly moving toward bedding areas, no matter how cold the water.  When the water warms consistently into the 50s they move faster.  This movement is the pre-spawn.

    The spawn starts in colder water than many realize, with some bass spawning when the water is in the upper 50s, but the majority spawn when the water is in the upper 60s and low 70s.

    As soon as the females drop their eggs they head to structure and cover a little deeper near the spawning flats and don’t feed much, resting and recovering.  Meanwhile, males are guarding beds and protecting fry for a few days.

    A week or so after the spawn both males and females feed actively during the post spawn before moving deeper to their summer holes.  During all three stages of the spawn bass can be caught on a variety of baits.

    But where do you fish? If you are familiar with good spawning areas on your lake you know where to start. If not, studying a good map to locate pockets and small creeks, especially on the north side of the lake since they get more sun during the day, will head you in the right direction.

    A ditch or old channel leading into the spawning flats in the back of the pockets make them a lot better.  Bass use these channels as highways to follow to spawn, pausing along them to feed going both ways.  Stumps, brush, laydown trees, rocks and docks in the pocket give bass specific cover to feed and bed on.

    This is the time of year to cover water with faster moving baits until you find a concentration of fish or find the areas of creeks and coves they are using.  Both pre-spawn and post spawn have scattered, moving fish.  Locating them is crucial to consistent catches.

    Start at the mouth of the pocket and fish to the back with crankbaits, topwater and spinnerbaits. When you start catching fish, note the area of the pocket. Bass are likely to be in the same kinds of areas in other pockets.

     To catch bigger fish, stop and pick apart cover you find on the way into the pockets.  If you catch some fish near it, more and bigger fish are probably holding in the cover.  Docks offer a variety of things bass like, and they can be key.

    Many docks lining a bank going into the spawning pocket may look good, and you can catch fish by working them, but it can be a slow process.  The fish will be scattered among the docks.  A single dock along a bank concentrates the fish and is much easier to fish.

    Docks offer shade, cover and a good feeding area.  (for bass and crappie) Floating docks give shade, their floats will warm from the sun and warm the water around them a little, often making a big difference.  Cables for the floating docks are used as feeding cover for bass.

    Docks with posts are even better, with the shade, but the post offer vertical cover from the bottom to the top.  And the posts are sometimes set in concrete, so the bottom around the post will be hard, often uneven, and attract baitfish and crawfish.  The posts will have algae growing on them and baitfish feed on it, so they are a great feeding place.

    Many docks have the added advantage of brush piles under and around them.

Here are some thoughts from GMAN ON EARNING A LIVING IN THE FISHING INDUSTRY

GMAN ON EARNING A LIVING IN THE FISHING INDUSTRY

from The Fishing Wire

GMAN on Earning a Living in the Fishing Industry

Forestville, WI – The National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) 2023 Annual Conference kicks off in Fort Myers, Florida, January 6 through 8, and headline speaker Gerald Swindle can’t wait to get started.

“I hope you’ll be there to hear me because I plan to really bring it,” says Swindle. “This is not just a meeting for professional anglers, it’s for anyone making a living in the recreational fishing industry – and you don’t even have to be an NPAA member to attend because everybody’s welcome. This meeting is going to be a conference where we’re talking about how to make money.”

That’s something Swindle says other industry pros don’t generally discuss but it’s going to get full attention at this event, the focus of which is “Controlling Your Destiny!” With this conference NPAA is providing a first-class ticket to meet, network, speak with and glimpse the psyche of top professional anglers, industry representatives and sport fishing leaders across the country.

“This is your chance to see, hear and learn how top professionals do business,” points out the legendary bass pro from Guntersville, AL, who has appeared in 20 Bassmaster Classics, twice been named Bassmaster’s Angler of the Year, broken the magical 100-pound tournament limit twice, and earned roughly $2.5 million in prize money in the process.

NPAA president, Patrick Neu couldn’t be more thrilled than to have Swindle lined up for the event. “He’s the right guy to headline our speakers,” said Neu. “He’s an NPAA member, a social media icon, and a no-nonsense motivational speaker that knows this industry inside and out. He’s true to himself in every aspect of our sport and not afraid to speak his mind. In short, when the G-Man speaks, everybody listens.”

Swindle has plenty to say, of course, but we’ll let him speak for himself in the video link above. Just know that attendance is limited to 200 and tickets are selling fast – so, don’t wait to sign-up, meet, network, speak with and glimpse the psyche of top professional anglers, industry representatives and sport fishing leaders across the country.

The NPAA Annual Conference features business-related educational seminars, networking opportunities, and partner booths in a fun but professional format. It is a key component of the NPAA platform, which exists to help members grow their professional angling careers and run successful industry businesses. The event will also host a Benefit Banquet for the Future Angler Foundation (FAF), which introduces millions of potential new anglers and boaters each year to the thrill and fun of sportfishing and boating.

Additional seminar speakers will include Jason and Jay Przekurat, MLF Redcrest Champion Bobby Lane, Louisiana guide and Redfish Lodge owner, Mike Frenette, plus a myriad of other angling professionals from top guides to industry veterans, all sharing their knowledge freely in sessions throughout the weekend. Event central is the 5-Star rated Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport – Town Center, which is 5 minutes from the SW Florida Regional Airport (RSW) and just off I75 in Fort Myers.

The NPAA 2023 Annual Conference registration fees include all activities, meals, and a ticket for the FAF Banquet. More information on registration can be found on the NPAA Conference Page(Note: Non-members who pre-register for the Conference and opt to join the association prior to the end of the Conference will receive a $50 rebate on their Conference Registration Fee.)

For more information on joining the NPAA, attending the Annual Conference, and exploring the many benefits membership provides, visit www.npaa.net.

Captain Macks’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

Nice Lake Lanier Striper with Captain Mack

Also See:

Lake Hartwell Fishing Report from Captain Mack

Lake Lanier Fishing Report from Captain Mack

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Country Fishing – fishing reports on Lakes Sinclair and Oconee, and more. (subscription required)

Texas Parks and Wildlife Weekly Freshwater Fishing Reports

Texas Parks and Wildlife Weekly Saltwater Reports

I hope you enjoyed your
Thanksgiving and even
found your way onto the
lake! Fishing has been
good, and the weather
forecast is conducive to
fishing through the week.


This week’s lake level
dropped slightly to 1066.13,
down .14 feet from last
week. That is 1066.13
below full pool. Our surface
temps dropped almost 10
degrees during the first full
week of the month! This
week saw a stabilization
and the surface temp
remained steady at 57
degrees.


Striper Fishing


The Striper bite has been
pretty good, and with water
temps in the upper 50’s
water conditions are such that the fish can be comfortable almost anywhere. The patterns
reflect that as there are fish using a lot of the water column in a many places. The methods that
have been strong in the early part of the month are still effective, with the down line bite and
casting opportunities getting stronger. You can also add trolling as an options, with stealth
trolling the Mini Macks being a good pattern, with some activity pulling the big rigs.


The live bait bite remains good and there are fish being taken on free lines, planer boards, and
down lines. Shiners are still relevant, but Herring seem to be a little more prominent than they
were early in the month. Use the Gulls and Loons to locate the fish, or fish around areas where
the bait is concentrated. You may see bait that is suspended up in the water column, or areas
where the bait is tight the bottom, and either is very good. Adjust your techniques according,
with the free lines and planers best for fish cruising at various depths off the bottom.

Deploy the
down lines in areas where the bait is really hugging the bottom. If the timber will allow, drop the
down lines to the bottom and reel up couple of feet.


Trolling is becoming a stronger pattern, with the Mini Macks accounting for some very good
catches. Stealth trolling the Minis around the bait is typically a very strong technique during this
time of year and this pattern should get stronger with cooling temps. You can fish the Mini as a
down line or behind the planer boards. Keep in mind that the Mini is also very good for casting
to any surfacing fish you may see! In addition to the Mini’s, Magic Swimmers, Plastics swim
baits, flukes and buck tails will get the attention of the schooling fish.


Bass Fishing


The Bass are biting, but the patterns remain all over the board. As is the case with the Stripers,
these 50 degree water temps will keep the fish active, but they are comfortable in a wide range
of depths all over the lake. Deeper structures, primarily ditches, or areas with big concentrations
of bait, are all likely areas to search. The bait thing will also apply to shallow areas, so if you find
the bait you’ll likely have fish nearby.


We’ll start with the ditch pattern, as it is good and should get better as we move into December.
You may find fish in the ditches from 10 to 50 feet, and I think the shallow end of that spectrum
is best in the early hours. Swim baits on the lead heads, under spins, worms, jigs, and spoons
are all good choices on the ditches. Creek channels also apply to the above, just go to the back
of the creek beginning at 10 to 15 feet, and follow the old channel out to 50 feet. Fish any
structures you see, bait balls, and of course fish, along the channel or adjacent flats.
Another pattern that is gaining strength and may be overlooked is fishing the deep main lake
humps? Most of the deeper humps, 30 feet or deeper, still have very good natural structure on
the tops and sides. This usually consist of stumps and some rock, with some occasional old
pushed down timber. These may not produce great for numbers, but will often hold big Spotted
Bass. With the lake being down, more of these areas in are in a good depth range and are very
much worth checking out. Jigs and worms are very effective on the humps, and spoons make a
great change up.

One footnote on the falling lake levels: 5 feet low at this point in the year is
very normal, we have just had the good fortune of having a full lake for some time now. Take
this opportunity to locate some prime spring areas. As you move about the lake, take note of
some of the shallow structures, mainly rocks and stump beds, that are visible. While these
areas can be found with sonar, it may be an advantage to look it over while it is exposed. That
visual may help out a great deal next spring when water levels are back up. Knowing exactly
how the rocks are positioned, or locating secondary object around or adjacent to a structure can
be a plus!


Blow downs and docks are still very relevant, and in terms of consistency are an excellent
pattern. Worms and jigs are the favorites for the docks, with moving baits having more
application on the shallow docks. If you are targeting the blow downs, try spinnerbaits or jerk
baits to expedite the process allowing you to fish more areas, switching to worms and jigs if the
fish will not chase!


Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

What Are Some DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WORLD OF FISHING SONAR Over the Years?

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WORLD OF FISHING SONAR

from The Fishing Wire

Developments In the World of Fishing Sonar

The 2022 version of the open water fishing season was an interesting one on several levels. Some of the events/developments of the fishing season were good, some not so good. One of the developments that has really caught on in the past few months is the ongoing popularization of forward-facing sonar (FFS). First, a little bit of history regarding sonar.

My first exposure to fish-finders, depth-finders, sonar, fish locators, whatever they were called, was a Lowrance Green Box. It was an amazing experience for a young, curious angler. Instead of just seeing the surface of the lake, we could now see what was on the bottom of the lake. By today’s standards it was a very antiquated look at the bottom of the lake, but back then it was groundbreaking. We could see how deep the water was directly below the boat, we could see gradual and abrupt changes in the bottom structure, and we could see where the bottom changed from sand to mud. Every now and then we even saw what we thought might be a fish. Remarkably interesting times, and truly an era of learning more about fish and fishing. Some people were worried that with this new technology, fish populations would be in jeopardy. Due to the efforts of fishery managers, they weren’t.

Later, paper graphs hit the market. They drew an outstanding picture of the bottom of the lake and showed the history of the path of the boat. An angler could see what they were going over and what they had gone over. And you could definitively see if fish were in the area. But the paper had to be changed often, and when the wind was blowing or it was raining, that was an inconvenience. Paper graphs weren’t around for exceptionally long.

The next technology was liquid crystal graphs. The early versions of LCG’s were crude by today’s standards, but a huge improvement in what we were accustomed to using. No paper changing and exceptionally good displays. I recall a day on Rainy Lake when I was just learning about LCG units. We would see on the screen in water 20 feet deep what we thought was a fish, then we would catch a fish. Those really were the fish that we were seeing! Another very interesting time and era of learning more about fish and fishing. Some people were again worried about the impact of this new technology, and again, the fisheries people prevented over-harvest.

A few years later, side-imaging came into play. This technology enabled an angler to see what was going on off to the side of the boat. More learning and more interesting discoveries about what goes on in the fish’s world.

Most recently, forward facing sonar entered the picture. It has really impacted the fishing world. It shows what is in front of the boat, and when mounted to do so, will show what is all around the boat. Fishing guide and expert angler Mike Frisch says that he has learned more about fish and fishing while using FFS this past summer than he did in the previous 10 years combined. Mike has the transducer of his FFS unit mounted to a Rite-Hite Turret mount that enables him to scan all around the boat. The Rite-Hite Turret is a slick deal. He says that when he sees a group of bass to the side or in front of his boat, he can put an Ocho Worm exactly where it needs to be, and much of the time he can see how the bass reacts. If they look but don’t eat, he knows that a different presentation is needed. And the folks in charge of our fisheries will make sure that this new technology doesn’t negatively affect fish populations.

The wonderful thing about fishing is that we make it whatever we want to make it. Some enjoy the technology, others, like me and the young anglers that I take fishing, sometimes enjoy dipping a jig along a dock with a Lew’s Bream Buster rod: A long rod with no reel and 6 feet of line tied to the tip of the rod. Extremely basic but highly effective. However you like to fish, there is a way for you to enjoy doing so.

– Bob Jensen of fishingthemidwest.com.

How and Where To Catch January Lake Martin Bass With GPS Coordinates

January Lake Martin Bass

with Anthony Vintson

Spotted bass holding on deep rocks and brush on main lake points. Largemouth feeding around shoreline wood cover. If you want to have fun catching both on these patterns, head to Lake Martin this month.

Lake Martin on the Tallapoosa River near Alexander City is well known for its numbers of spotted bass, but as the BASS Elite tournament last February showed, there are a good many quality largemouth in the lake, and more big spots than many fishermen realize.

Anthony Vintson lives in Cullman and fishes Martin a lot.  After junior college he went in the Army for eight years and bought his first bass boat. He fell in love with tournament fishing and honed his skills on Martin, Smith and other area lakes as well as any station he was on that had a lake nearby.

Anthony is now a junior at Auburn where he is on the bass fishing team.  Auburn has produced some great pros that help mentor the team. And the team was fourth in the nation last year and is in the top ten this season. 

He fishes as many area tournaments on Martin and Smith as his college schedule allows.  This past year he had a limit weighing 15 pounds that included a six-pound largemouth in a local derby on Martin.

“January is a great month to find big schools of spots holding and feeding 20 to 40 feet deep on main lake points,” Anthony said.  Rocks and brush piles concentrate them deep. They will move up to feed but most of the time they are stacked up on deep cover.

Anthony goes out after a quick limit of spots in tournaments, hoping to put ten pounds in the boat. He then goes to more shallow wood cover to find a kicker largemouth or two.  This plan has helped him do well in many tournaments.

For spots, Anthony will tie on a jerkbait, drop shot, shaky head and jig and pig.  When trying for largemouth he likes a shaky head with a Rage Craw on it.  Those five baits will work all over the lake and cover the ways he fishes.

We fished the week after Thanksgiving on the second day of a strong cold front.  We found many schools of spots and caught a dozen small ones in the five hours we were on the lake, even though the heavy wind made it hard to stay on them. And we got some bites around wood cover, but the wind made it very hard to detect strikes.

Spots hit on all the first nine holes and there are quality fish on them as well as large numbers of smaller ones.  Anthony says you often catch several small keeper fish then a two pounder will hit. The smaller fish seem more aggressive. And the largemouth will bite much better under settled weather conditions on places like hole 10.

1.  N 32 43.599 – W 85 53.698 – Across from Ridge Marina a narrow point runs upstream from Fishbone Island.  Very deep water is all around it, with the river channel on the east side and an old channel on the west. Big rocks and several brush piles are one it, the perfect set-up for spots right now.

On this point and others Anthony will stop well off the point and ease in toward it, casting a jerkbait across the point and on the sides. He keeps two rigged, a shallow Strike King J300 in ghost shad and a J300D in chrome Ayu shad. 

He starts by casting the shallow one near the bank, switching to the deeper running one out from the point.  Spots will move in shallow to feed, especially early in the morning, and he can quickly cover the point with those two baits for active bass pushing baitfish up on the point.

As he fishes the point Anthony keeps an eye on his electronics, watching for brush and fish.  Spots will hold anywhere from 20 to 40 feet deep and will often suspend over brush piles or boulders and will hit a drop shot worm. If they are in the brush or right on the bottom, he will also try a shaky head worm and a jig and pig.

2.  N 32 43.296 – W 85 53.634 – Go down the river side of the island to the downstream point where you can see through to the other channel. It runs downstream, and the river runs in right beside it.  The big rocks on it above water run on out.  There are several brush piles here.

Work around the point with jerkbait. When you see fish or brush, use your drop shot to catch them.  Anthony rigs a green pumpkin Strike King Dream Shot worm on a VMC Neko rig hook 12 to 18 inches above a one quarter to three-ounce sinker.  The heavier sinker is used when the wind is blowing like it was the day we fished.

Anthony drops his bait right into the fish, jiggling the rod tip to make the worm move.  He will ease around the area the fish are in with a slow controlled drag, moving very slowly so his line is still at a sharp downward angle.  This moves the bait through the fish until an active one hits.

Cover both sides of the point before leaving.  If the wind is blowing down the side of the island or through the gap, try both windward and lee sides. Fish will move from the slight current on the windward side to the calmer lee side following baitfish.

3.  N 32 42.846 – W 85 53.596 – Going down the river channel, Chimney Rock, marred by graffiti, is on your right.  On the downstream end of the cliff a point covered with big boulders runs downstream, dropping fast on the river side.

There isn’t much brush here, but the fish hold on the big boulders. We saw fish suspended just over them from 20 to 40 feet deep.  That is the range Anthony expects the fish to hold when they are not up actively feeding. He will “wander” around with his trolling motor here and the other places until he finds them.

 If the fish are close to the rock let your sinker hit it then jiggle your worm. If they are holding well above it stay directly on top of them and watch your drop shot fall, stopping it so the worm is at the depth the fish area holding.

Fish all these places the same. Work around the boulders with jerkbait, then drop a worm to them.  Wind blowing on them helps the jerkbait bite a lot, and it can position the deeper fish as it funnels baitfish from the current it produces.

4.  N 32 42.193 – W 85 54.527 – Follow the river channel to the mouth of Kowaliga Creek.  The last island by the river channel before you can go over and into Kowaliga Creek has a small hump about 100 yards off the end of the island lined up with the sandy beach between two points. It comes up to 15 feet with the water down six feet like it was the day we fished it.

A hump coming up out on the end of a point like this makes it even better.  Stay off the hump and cast your deep diving jerkbait all over it. There are logs and brush piles on the hump where they hold. Fish in the cover on it will come up to hit a jerkbait at that depth.

    After working around the hump, try a shaky head worm and drop shot on it. You can cast both then get over the brush and fish with your drop shot straight down.  Anthony rigs a green pumpkin Strike King Baby Rage Craw on a one quarter ounce jig head and drags it along the bottom with little hops to make the tails wave.

    5.  N 32 42.318 – W 85 55.082 – Power lines with big airplane warning balls crosses the mouth of Kowaliga Creek.  On the left side going into Kowaliga Creek a hump comes up off the point on that side. It is under the gap between the third and fourth balls from the bank.

    This hump tops out 20 feet deep with the water down six feet and has brush on it. That is a little deep for a jerkbait but your drop shot works well here and you can catch fish on shaky head and jig, too.

    When working a drop shot to fish on the bottom, stay right over them and fish straight down then try a controlled drag. For brush piles start on the sides, especially if you see fish around rather than over the brush.  Then work into the brush so if you get hung and disturb the fish you have already fished the outsides of it.

    With fish suspended over the brush, play video game fishing, watching your bait as it drops then fishing it in the suspended fish. If you see fish holding way above the brush on these places your jerkbait may get deep enough to attract them.

    6. N 32 42.325 – W 85 54.876 – Across the mouth of Kowaliga Creek the second point on your left going back toward the river has danger markers all around it way off the bank. There used to be a long dock running out on this point so even with the water up it is very shallow. We could see the rocks above the water when we were there.

    Stop a long cast from the top of the point with your boat in about 20 feet of water and go all the way around it with both shallow and deep jerkbaits.  Watch as you go around it, there is a lot of brush and some stumps here. 

    Try drop shot around the brush under the boat. You can also catch fish here on shaky head and jig, fishing around the point casting from deep to shallow. Move your boat out deeper and watch for brush and fish, and work your jig or shaky head from a few feet deep out to 20 feet deep.  Rocks run well out from the top of the point and brush and stumps hold fish shallow enough that you do not want to get right on top of them for the drop shot.

    7.  N 32 44.320 – W 85 52.760 – The upstream point of Blue Creek is on a peninsular. There is a big rock pile off the bank on it that is marked but the big boulders on it were plainly visible with the water down.  Anthony says there is always a lot of bait here, a good sign this time of year, and holds big schools of bass feeding on them.

    Fish across the deep side of the rock pile with jerkbaits.  Also try drop shot on fish you see off it, and try dragging your shaky head and jig and pig from near the rocks to 20 feet deep.  Anthony fishes a green pumpkin half ounce Strike King jig with a matching Rage Craw trailer.

    8.  N 32 45.291 – W 85 52.850 – Up the river on the river side of the last island before the channel swings left and the lake opens up, a rock pile sits on the end of a ridge coming off the bank. The ridge and rock pile were visible when we fished and there is no danger marker on it.

    The river channel swings in right beside the rock pile. Get in close, you will be in 20 feet of water 30 feet off the bank, and fish your jerkbaits along the rocks.  Watch for fish and stumps on the bottom. There is not any brush here that we saw or that Anthony knows about, but the rocks and stumps hold fish.

    The ends of the rock pile are a good place to work jerkbaits and your jigs.  Bigger spots are often attracted to the jig and pig more than to the smaller baits, so try it if your goal is size rather than numbers.

    9.  N 32 45.615 – W 85 52.692 – Across the narrow gap where the river channel goes left, the upstream point runs downstream with the channel just off it.  Inside the point you can see the docks and buildings of Alamisco Camp.

    A good brush pile is out on this point and it was loaded with fish when we were there.  They really stack up on it when the wind blows through the gap from the north north west, like it was the day we fished.

    Fish jerkbaits over the brush first, especially when the wind is blowing.  Wind usually makes the jerkbait bite much better.  Then follow up with drop shot, shaky head and jig and pig. There are rocks and some brush other than the big pile scattered around this point that do hold fish, but the big one should be your main target.

    10.  N 32 51.023 – W 85 55.853 – For a change of pace to go after largemouth, Anthony goes up to the Wind Creek area where they are more plentiful.  There is a lot of wood cover in this area, both blowdowns and brush piles around docks, that largemouth love.

    One of the best is the left bank going in to the docks at Wind Creek State Park.  The bank across from the campground is steep and is lined with fallen trees, the ideal kind of place to find them. And tournament released fish constantly restock this area.

    Keep your boat in deep water off the end of the trees and cast a jig head worm to the wood.  Anthony fishes a quarter ounce jighead with a green pumpkin Rage Craw on it and moves it extremely slowly through the wood. 

    Although the cover is thick, Anthony uses 12-pound line since it is heavy enough to get the fish out but thin enough to get better feel of light bites.  Largemouth don’t seem to be as active as spots in cold water, so you must fish slowly and be ready to set the hook at the lightest indication of a bite.

    All these spots are good all this month. Decide if you want to catch a lot of small spots or quality largemouth and spots, and choose your baits and places based on that.  Try Anthony’s places and baits then use your favorite baits and find many similar places to fish them.

What is FIRST ICE PANFISH and Why Do I Care?

FIRST ICE PANFISH

from The Fishing Wire

First Ice Panfish

Once it gets cold outside, anglers in many states immediately start wishing for more of it. If it’s going to be cold out, it might as well be cold enough to freeze the lakes and rivers. Right now, ice fishing season is quickly approaching in many regions and one of the best ways to get in on the action is by targeting first ice panfish.

A trio of Wisconsin guides, Troy Peterson, Vince Moldenhauer, and Josh Teigen, all count early ice panfish as one of their favorite bites, and each has a unique approach to fishing this time of year. They each share their thought processes and methods for early-season ice fishing.

Moldenhauer Airboats to the Ice

Guiding on the Upper Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Vince Moldenhauer has a unique approach to ice fishing the big river for perch. He uses an airboat to reach prime ice fishing waters, primarily shallow backwaters.

To access these areas, Moldenhauer hauls clients and gear to the spots, as the ice on the river is generally not thick enough to cross safely. “We’ll even cross open water to get to some of the areas,” he said.

The best areas, according to Moldenhauer, are areas where perch spend much of their time during the winter. These places are out of the current and have vegetation.

“The key to finding perch on the river is to find areas with no current and green vegetation because it creates oxygen,” said Moldenhauer. “Some perch will live out in the current, but a lot of them stack up in the backwater spots in very shallow water. It could be 1, 2, or 3 feet deep and every year, the best spots can be a little bit different based on the water levels on the river.”

Targeting river perch that can weigh 2-pounds or more, Moldenhauer prefers 3 to 5mm tungsten jigs, small 1/16 to 1/32-ounce spoons, and live bait on tip downs.

“We typically drill a pile of holes and hole hop around,” he said. “When you find the right hole where they are grouped up, you can catch a pile of them.”

While the Mississippi can generally be a stained body of water for much of the season, the places Moldenhauer targets can be exceptionally clear. Because of this, he prefers the near invisibility of Seaguar’s IceX fluorocarbon.

“Most think of the river as dirty, but it gets crystal clear in these areas, and I believe that fluorocarbon is key to getting more bites,” he said. “I prefer 6 lb., which may seem a little heavy for perch, but we are always hooking into pike and bass, and you lose fewer baits. IceX performs great for us.”

Teigen’s Approaches Based on Water Clarity

Depending on if he is fishing a clear or stained body of water, Iron River, Wisconsin guide Josh Teigen adjusts his areas when targeting perch, bluegill, and crappie through the ice.

“On stained lakes, the best fishing for us is on the main basins of the lake,” he said. “Many times, they’ll be deep and suspended 5 to 7 feet off the bottom. It’s best to drill a bunch of holes, keep it moving and use your electronics to find the groups.”

Teigen also uses sound to his advantage when targeting stained water panfish and chooses noisy lures. “We like to use louder baits to call the fish in,” he said. “One of the best is a 1/12-ounce ACME Rattle Master spoon or Acme Google Eye Tungsten Jig, both tipped with a wax worm or two.”

For cleaner water, Teigen seeks out vegetation. “On many clear lakes, the weeds will stay green all winter,” he shared. “I look for the cabbage or sand grass that ends around 18 to 22 feet of water and will fish the same baits. On the clear water lakes, the morning and evening bite seems to be the best and it’s more of a midday bite on the stained bodies of water.”

Teigen prefers Seaguar IceX fluorocarbon line for both lake types, primarily the 3 lb. test.

“I prefer to use straight fluorocarbon for panfish and you can feel the bite very easily,” he said. “IceX is very durable and has a tiny bit of stretch, which is good for crappie because they have such soft lips. The invisibility is also key because the fish in clear water can get line-shy sometimes.”

Mr. Bluegill’s Ultra-Shallow Bite

Troy Peterson is known as “Mr. Bluegill,” and he guides anglers for them, along with many other species, throughout the year. As soon as the ice forms on the lake, his approach is to stick close to shore and search for vegetation and warmer water.

“Right when the ice forms, everyone is itching to get out and you have to be quick,” he said. “The first two weeks of the season can be excellent, but the fish get pressured and areas get fished out. I look for weedy bays and houses on the lake that have pumps or artesian aquifers because that will show you that warmer water is coming into the area. The panfish will stay in the areas as long as possible until it gets too cold and they will head out deeper.”

Typically, Peterson targets panfish in depths of 3 to 5 feet of water early in the ice season and he says that necessitates a stealthy approach.

“The first thing we do is drill a bunch of holes,” he said. “That way, we can fish one and then quietly walk to fish the next one. We also use longer rods, 4 to 5 feet long, so you can fish one, turn slightly, and drop into another hole without making muchnoise. The water and ice are clear and there isn’t usually a lot of snow on the ice, so you have to be very stealthy.”

To catch his early ice panfish, Peterson primarily uses 3 or 4-mm tungsten jigs matched with small plastics such as the Eurotackle EPM Minnow or Micro Finesse Stone Fly, both just a little longer than an inch.

With these finesse offerings, Peterson prefers a light fluorocarbon line. “2 lb. IceX is what I use for all of my panfish,” he said. “It has a very thin diameter and with small plastics – you get more action with a thin and supple line. It also has good knot strength. I’ve even landed pike on that line.”

Ice fishing is a way of life for many anglers and the action can be excellent at first ice. If targeting panfish is your preference, there are many different ways to get in on the action. The above three approaches work well for three of Wisconsin’s premier fishing guides.

Seaguar IceX Fluorocarbon is a low-memory, micro-diameter line with exceptional abrasion resistance. It is available on 50-yard spools in 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 lb. test sizes.

Other Seaguar lines for ice fishing include:

  • Smackdown Smackdown Braid for Jigging Rods from 10-65 lb. test sizes
  • TactX Camo Braid for Tip-Ups from 10-80 lb. test sizes
  • Gold Label Leader material from 2-80 lb. test sizes

About

As the inventor of fluorocarbon fishing lines in 1971, Seaguar has played a prominent role in the advancement of technologies to improve the performance of lines and leader material for both fresh and salt water anglers. Seaguar is the only manufacturer of fluorocarbon fishing lines that produces its own resins and controls the manufacturing process from start to finished product. Today, Seaguar is the #1 brand of fluorocarbon lines and offers a full spectrum of premium products including fluorocarbon mainlines and leader material, 8-strand and 16-strand braid fishing lines. Visit seaguar.com for more information.

Texas Weekly Saltwater Fishing Report

Also See:

Lake Hartwell Fishing Report from Captain Mack

Lake Lanier Fishing Report from Captain Mack

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Country Fishing – fishing reports on Lakes Sinclair and Oconee, and more. (subscription required)

Texas Parks and Wildlife Weekly Freshwater Fishing Reports

Texas Parks and Wildlife Weekly Saltwater Reports

Saltwater Weekly Fishing Report Week of November 23, 2022

Sabine LakeGOOD. 65 degrees. North end of Sabine Lake is good for trout drifting from Stout’s Island to Sydney Island using five inch glo chartreuse quarter and �¾ ounce jigheads following jumping shrimp. ICW nice trout casting into 15-25 feet of water working back up on the ledge suspended at 8 feet of water.

The Neches River holding nice quality redfish and trout off the buoys. Fishing towards Beaumont produces slot redfish in points and cuts. Bessie Height Marsh in the points and cuts with a Carolina rig, but the trusty popping cork and live shrimp will land some bites. Sheepshead and drum limits in the Neches River and marsh with Carolina rig, live shrimp fished off the bottom and live shrimp under a popping cork. Report by Captain Randy Foreman, Captain Randy’s Guide Service Sabine

Lake.BolivarGOOD. 65 degrees. As colder weather and Thanksgiving approaches the weather looks good through weekend with only a little wind. Now with the fishing, look for drop-offs. Fish will come to the surface as the surface water temperature heats up. Rocks hold the heat in, so twitch bait in drop-offs and around rocks. The Sloughs through goat island holding fish under birds. The deeper reefs. The jetty holding sheepshead on live shrimp. Yates sloughs holding redfish on grass lines. Thru Sievers cut holding trout and redfish under birds. Happy Thanksgiving everyone from the family here at Tail Spotter Guide Service.

Trinity BaySLOW. 57 degrees. Good catches of speckled trout, redfish, and black drum from the upper northwest corner of Trinity Bay and bays north of the Fred Hartman bridge. Both live shrimp and soft plastics account for the action. Anglers fishing Jack’s Pocket area of Trinity catching good speckled trout and redfish at times. Report by Captain David Dillman, Galveston Bay Charter Fishing.

East Galveston BayGOOD. 55 degrees. Open bay waters are too rough to fish until the wind subsides. Bayous and marsh lakes are good for redfish. Report by Captain David Dillman, Galveston Bay Charter Fishing. Now with the fishing, look for drop-offs. Fish will come to the surface as the surface water temperature heats up. Rocks hold the heat in, so twitch bait in drop-offs and around rocks. The Sloughs through goat island holding fish under birds. The deeper reefs behind Hanna’s holding fish look for fish under birds. Look for action in wind break areas. North shore of smith’s point holding black drum on shrimp. Happy Thanksgiving everyone from the family here at Tail Spotter Guide Service.Report provided by Captain Raymond Wheatley, Tail Spotter Guide Service LLC.

Galveston BayGOOD. 51 degrees. Protected waters of Moses lake and Dickinson bayou good for speckled trout and redfish at times. Some “bird fishing” in both areas. Live shrimp and soft plastics working best. Report by Captain David Dillman, Galveston Bay Charter Fishing. As colder weather and Thanksgiving approaches the weather looks good through the weekend with only a little wind. Now with the fishing, look for drop-offs. Fish will come to the surface as the surface water temperature heats up. Rocks hold the heat in, so twitch bait in drop-offs and around rocks. The railway bridge by causeway holding some drum and oversized reds on crab or mullet. Bull Redfish are in the channel on both jetties. On surf sides are holding sheepshead and trout on shrimp under popping cork or free line near the rocks. Redfish in harbor at both ends pelican island bridge still holding redfish. Happy Thanksgiving everyone from the family here at Tail Spotter Guide Service. Report provided by Captain Raymond Wheatley, Tail Spotter Guide Service LLC.

West Galveston BayGOOD. 56 degrees. Chocolate Bayou is best for speckled trout and redfish on soft plastics and live shrimp. A few redfish and speckled trout in the back of Greens Lake on soft plastics and live shrimp. Report by Captain David Dillman, Galveston Bay Charter Fishing. As colder weather and Thanksgiving approaches the weather looks good through the weekend with only a little wind. Now with the fishing, look for drop-offs. Fish will come to the surface as the surface water temperature heats up. Rocks hold the heat in, so twitch bait in drop-offs and around rocks. Carancahua and Green’s lakes holding redfish and black drum on shrimp at the grass lines and off the drop offs. ICW holding fish in calmer water. Some redfish and trout inside on soft plastic. Watch the tides. South of cold pass waders still getting trout and redfish in deeper waters. Jones bay holding a few fish early on soft plastic. Happy Thanksgiving everyone from the family here at Tail Spotter Guide Service.Report provided by Captain Raymond Wheatley, Tail Spotter Guide Service LLC.

Texas CityGOOD. 54 degrees. Bull redfish being caught by anglers fishing near the end of the dike on the channel side. Finger mullet, cut bait, and crab are the best baits. Catches of bull red from the Pelican Island bridge to Seawolf park and the Galveston jetties when conditions allow. Flounder being caught and released in the Galveston channel. Report by Captain David Dillman, Galveston Bay Charter Fishing. As colder weather and Thanksgiving approaches the weather looks good through the weekend with only a little wind. Now with the fishing, look for drop-offs. Fish will come to the surface as the surface water temperature heats up., Rocks hold the heat in, so twitch bait in drop-offs and around rocks. The rock barriers between Swan Lake to the dike holding redfish and trout on artificial. Texas roach, purple/chartreuse are hot colors. The dike is holding trout early at the end close to the rocks. Also holding bull redfish between midway to the end on crab or cut day. Happy Thanksgiving everyone from the family here at Tail Spotter Guide Service. Report provided by Captain Raymond Wheatley, Tail Spotter Guide Service LLC.

FreeportGOOD. 52 degrees. The Brazos and The Bernard Rivers have been fishing awesome for drum, sheepshead, redfish and trout throwing live shrimp off the bottom. Bastrop, Christmas and Chocolate Bays are good for redfish, trout and drum fishing under the birds throwing live shrimp or gulp under a popping cork. Report by Captain Jake Brown, Flattie Daddy Fishing Adventures.

East Matagorda BayGOOD. 65 degrees. If the wind cooperates this Thanksgiving drift fishing should improve. The Colorado river is good for trout with a few oversized redfish on artificials or live shrimp. Wade fishing is good with artificials in the bay. Report by Captain Charlie Paradoski, Captain Charlie Paradoski’s Guide Service.

West Matagorda BayGOOD. 65 degrees. Tides are high in West Matagorda bay and slot redfish are good. Wade fishing for trout is good. Report by Captain Charlie Paradoski, Captain Charlie Paradoski’s Guide Service.Port O’ConnorSLOW. 65 degrees. The water is muddy but clarity should improve along with the bite the Thanksgiving weekend. Sheepshead are good on dead shrimp. Mainly catches of oversized redfish with a few slot fish at the ends of the jetties on spanish sardines, or dead shrimp. Hardhead catfish are grouped up for the spawn. Trout are slow. Report by Captain Marty Medford, Captain Marty’s Fish of a Lifetime Guide Service.

RockportGREAT. 65 degrees. Fishing patterns are similar. Redfish are great in 2-4 feet of water before cold front in sand pockets using artificials, cut mullet, and shrimp. Trout are good, early morning topwater bite is holding strong in 2-6 feet of water near bait. Live shrimp on popping corks over sand pockets are also doing well. Drum are good in 4-6 feet of water on dead shrimp near inlets on outgoing tides. Sheepshead are great near structure on live shrimp. Report provided by Damian Hubbs, Mathis Bait Co.

Port AransasSLOW. 60 degrees. Cold and wet so there are few anglers out on the water, the weather is supposed to be calm while the stores are bustling with Black Friday shoppers over the weekend. Fish along the ICW edges and Redfish Bay in the deeper water next to the shallow, protected black drum redfish and trout on shrimp. Stay near the Fina docks for bull redfish, sand trout and black drum. Bull redfish and gafftop off the dock. Report by Captain Doug Stanford, Pirates of the Bay Fishing Charters.Corpus ChristiSLOW. 60 degrees. Cold and wet so there are few anglers out on the water, the weather is supposed to be calm while the stores are bustling with Black Friday shoppers over the weekend. With the gusty winds fish in Rincon Channel for trout and redfish. Indian Point Pier is producing catches of sand trout and big drum using live or dead shrimp. Report by Captain Doug Stanford, Pirates of the Bay Fishing Charters.Baffin BayGOOD. 66 degrees. The conditions this past week were not ideal for fishing, but when weather permitted fishing was slow. The tides are extremely high with a few limits of black drum on live shrimp under a popping cork in about three feet of water. Report provided by Gilbert Barrera, Baffin Bay Hunting and Fishing.

Port MansfieldGOOD. 54 degrees. Weather has kept us off the water a few days and the days we did get out it was extremely cold and windy. Nonetheless, we were able to get a few good fish each outing. With water temperatures in the low 50s had us working KWigglers Wigalo’s, 4-inch paddle tails and Ball Tails on the bottom. Working these baits very slow was key and the bite was very soft. In the dirty water we used Texas Roach, and Plum chartreuse. In the green water we used Bone Diamond, Mansfield Margarita and Lagunaflauge. Topwater bite was not applicable due to temps. Last sentence correction. Topwater bite was not applicable as a result of cold water temperatures. Report by Captain Wayne Davis, Hook Down Charters.

South PadreGOOD. 65 degrees. Slot trout are on the gas well flats. north to the Saucer on the east side, and in Laguna Vista Cove. Redfish are plentiful on the east side mixed in with trout biting a popping cork with live shrimp or cut mullet. Some puppy drum around the channel in South Bay. Sheepshead are on pilings in the old causeway. Good time of year for mangrove snapper in the upper Brownsville Channel. Stay safe out there. Report by Captain Lou Austin, Austin Fishing South Padre.Port IsabelGOOD. 65 degrees. Slot trout are on the gas well flats. north to the Saucer on the east side, and in Laguna Vista Cove. Redfish are plentiful on the east side mixed in with trout biting a popping cork with live shrimp or cut mullet. Some puppy drum around the channel in South Bay. Sheepshead are on pilings in the old causeway. Good time of year for mangrove snapper in the upper Brownsville Channel. Stay safe out there. Report by Captain Lou Austin, Austin Fishing South Padre.