Texas enjoys bountiful fishing destinations spread across the state. Lone Star State anglers can choose from a wide variety of freshwater or saltwater options. We’ve researched three great angling opportunities for each month of 2019, featuring a collection of different species.
Images by Vic Dunaway
Speckled Trout: East Matagorda Bay
January is one of the best months to be fishing on this middle coast bay. It’s loaded with mullet, shell and mud — everything that trophy trout need during the coldwater months. Guide Charlie Paradoski says that he’ll be fishing anywhere he can find mullet.
That’s usually going to be along the very popular east shoreline where numerous reefs can be found. About 99 percent of the fishing done here is out of the boat — as in wading. It’s the best way to catch big wintertime trout.
A top lure is the slow-sinking Corky Fat Boy. The paddle tail Assassins in purple chartreuse or purple/pink are go-to lures on just about any given day.
Other Options: East Galveston Bay Speckled Trout: Wade-fish the north side of the bay for big trout. Best catches are usually in 3 to 5 feet of water. Best time to fish will be just after a cold front. Toledo Bend Crappie: Fish the “Chicken Coop,” a deep-water area with lots of shad and crappie, with a live minnow. Best depths will be 25 to 30 feet deep.
White Bass: Nueces River
The Nueces River is a South Texas water that’s full of spawning white bass right now. You don’t hear a lot about this river — actually 315 miles long — but at this time, the boat ramp parking lot in George West will be loaded with trucks and boat trailers for the next few weekends, and it’s all about the white bass.
Two hot lures at this time are micro spinnerbaits or plastic jigs. Running or bouncing these lures along the bottom in fast-moving water is the best approach to boat loads of fish. Darrin Kemp, a veteran on the Nueces during the spawning run, says schools of whites will hold and feed in 3- to 4-foot-deep pockets on the downcurrent end of shallow shoals.
Other Options:Choke Canyon Lake Bass: Fish tube jigs around trees and brush near the dam at about 15 to 20 feet. Expect a very soft bite. Guadalupe River Rainbow Trout: Wade-fish below Canyon Lake dam. Use corn or cheese, or nymphs on a fly rod.
White Bass: Sabine River
The stretch of the Sabine River above Toledo Bend is where you’ll find the best run of white bass in Texas right now. It not only produces lots of white bass, but big ones in the 2- to 3-pound class. You can put in at just about any ramp on the river and find good numbers of white bass.
Some of the best areas will be at the mouths of feeder creeks connected to the main river channel. Males will move up the river from Toledo Bend the first couple of weeks in March. Then the heavier females will show up.
The only glitch is high water. That can make finding spawning white bass tough. In that situation, ease up feeder creeks where you’ll find isolated pockets of whites stacked up along the bank.
Other Options:Angelina River White Bass and Crappies: This is a well-known river with good runs of both white bass and crappies now. Trinity Bay Speckled Trout: Chase big trout with a Mirrolure Catch 2000 along shoreline in 2 to 3 feet after a cold front.
Speckled Trout: Baffin Bay
This is a very popular bay to fish for trophy trout. Wading works best, but you can also ease along with a trolling motor and fish the rocks scattered throughout the bay.
Trout will be feeding on mullet, so mullet imitations work great. A great choice is a Corky Fat Boy in gold/black or white/red. Warm, sunny days will produce the best bite in 3 to 5 feet of water. Fish lures slow and expect a soft bite.
If you catch a big one, remember to use CPR — catch, photo and release. Due to the many rocks in this bay, it’s usually best to hire an experienced guide.
Other Options:Toledo Bend Blue Cats: Set trotlines in 15 to 25 feet of water on humps. Use live perch or fresh-cut bluegills. Lake Raven Largemouth Bass: Look for bass to be on the beds in 2 to 3 feet of water.
Bream: Toledo Bend
Even though we’re on the tail end of the crappie spawn on Toledo Bend, you can still find some on the beds. This is also when lots of big bream will begin to move up to spawn in 2 to 4 feet of water.
Catching these tasty panfish is big time fun. They will stack up along sandy shorelines at the mouths of creeks on the lower and middle sections of the lake. Where you catch one, you’ll usually catch a bunch. There is no size or bag limit on bream.
Along clearwater shorelines you can sight-cast to bedding bream with tiny streamers and nymphs. Tiny tube jigs also catch plenty of bream. The spawn should be good well into June.
Other Options:Village Creek Bream and Bass: This stream is loaded with bream and bass. Access can be had at Village Creek State Park in Lumberton. Lake LBJ Largemouths: Work your way along the clearwater shoreline and fish jig/crawfish combinations around the rocks.
Redfish: Port O’Connor
The many clearwater flats you’ll find along the middle Texas coast out of Port O’Connor load up with hungry redfish in June. The water is warming, and plenty of crabs and baitfish will be on the flats.
Some great fishing areas will be along Matagorda Island, Blackberry Island, Dewberry Island and Lighthouse Cove.
An assortment of lures will catch reds. A topwater plug like a Mirrolure She Dog will be good over the shallow grass early and late. Another good topwater lure is the Super Spook Jr. Best colors are bone, or blue/chrome.
Soft plastics also catch shallow reds. Two great ones are Assassins and DOAs. Fish them on lightweight 1/8- or 1/16-ounce jigheads. The Assassin screw lock heads are best.
Other Options:Lavaca Bay Redfish and Trout: Find them along the sandy shorelines or over shell on the many reefs. Neches River Bass and Perch: Hot lures include crankbaits in silver or bone or a Stanley Vibra-Shaft willow leaf spinnerbait.
Speckled Trout: Sabine Jetties
Located on the Louisiana border, these offer some of the best trout fishing you’ll ever find along the rocks — almost all done with lures. Guide Jerry Norris says he’ll start early with topwater lures on the inside of the east jetty, then move to the Gulf side of the west jetty as the sun warms things up.
His go-to jig is a bone or chartreuse Assassin Shad rigged on a 1/4-ounce jighead. Fish jigs near bottom in about 6 to 8 feet of water. Always watch for pods of mullet moving up and down the rocks. That’s usually where you’ll find one or two big trout. You’ll need a Louisiana fishing license to fish the Gulf side of the east jetty.
Other Options:Sabine River Mixed Bag: Fish for reds and trout where the river flows into the upper end of Sabine Lake. Bass fishing is best north of the Interstate 10 bridge. Bessie Heights Marsh Reds: Toss spinnerbaits and topwater lures in this shallow area to catch reds all day long.
Redfish: Port O’Connor Jetties
These jetties attract a ton of reds, which can be caught on fresh dead or live baits all day long. The end of the north jetty is about 50 feet deep. Drop anchor and fish straight down on bottom. Bring weights up to 6 ounces to keep baits on bottom near rocks. The current can be very strong at times.
The best bite will be during a major feeding time. If the bite doesn’t develop within about 30 minutes, pull anchor and move to the end of the south jetty. Eventually, you’ll catch slot reds in the deep water.
Other Options:San Antonio Bay Speckled Trout: Fish a live shrimp about 3 feet below a popping cork along shell reefs for 15- to 18-inch trout. Lake Fork Crappies: Fish edges of drops, creek channels and around bridge pilings with a live shiner on a No. 2 straight shank hook.
Crappies: Sam Rayburn Reservoir
When it’s just about too hot to fish, that’s when the crappie bite on Sam Rayburn Reservoir can be as good as it gets over brushpiles.
Guide Bill Fondren says he’ll be fishing brush in 18 to 25 feet of water with live minnows. He’ll fish minnows on bare hooks, and also on Stanley Wedgetail jigs.
Not every brushpile will be holding crappies. It’s important to fish one for about 15 to 20 minutes, then move on to another one if you don’t get any bites.
As we begin to get cool fronts through, the depth that crappie will be feeding at can vary from one day to the next. If you catch one or two crappies, usually there will be lots more in the brush.
Other Options:Freeport Surf Speckled Trout: Wade-fish the line of surf from San Luis Pass to the Freeport jetties. Look for bait, or birds working in the first or second gut. McFadden National Wildlife Refuge Redfish: Fish for redfish along ten-mile cut with wake baits in gold and black, or throw gold spoons.
Red Snapper and King Mackerel: Port Mansfield Offshore
The run from Port Mansfield to the jetties that lead to the Gulf of Mexico is about a 30-minute boat ride, but it’s well worth the extra effort that’s required.
A ton of snapper can be caught at the rocks that are located within state waters out to 9 nautical miles. Some excellent rocks will also be located one to two miles off the beach in 30 to 40 feet of water.
The best way to catch snapper is to use soft plastic jigs or Snapper Slappers tipped with squid or a chunk of a sardine.
King mackerel can be caught around big pods of pogies that are pushed to the surface by feeding fish. Some of the best lures are going to be 1-ounce silver spoons or Super Spook topwater plugs. Spoons are especially good because they can be cast extremely long distances with relative ease, a valuable asset for chasing kings.
Other Options:Choke Canyon Catfish: Catch catfish on juglines or trotlines. Use dead shrimp for channel cats and live perch for blues. Canyon Lake Largemouth Bass: The water is fairly clear, so scale back and use small lures.
Speckled Trout and Redfish: Sabine Lake
Sabine Lake is where you’ll find some of the very best fishing under the birds this time of year. Catches of trout and redfish will be pretty dependableuntil we get the first good cold front that comes through.
Look for reds to be schooling and eating shad on the surface. Gulls will be feeding on the shad, as well. Anglers who follow the birds will usually find the fish, too. A good pair of binoculars is an invaluable investment for this type of fishing, as they can potentially allow you to spot birds more easily.
Some outstanding lures for redfish will include a gold/black Rat-L-Trap or a gold spoon. When trout are schooling on the surface, they’re not too picky. In fact, they’ll hit just about anything that won’t eat them first in this situations.
Traps are very good, as are soft plastic swimbaits like a Deadly Dudley or Yum Money Minnow in glow or bone colors.
Other Options:Freeport Jetty Redfish: Anglers should fish live baits on the bottom about 20 feet off of the rocks. Those who prefer to fish lures should cast them at the end of jetties. Port O’Connor Redfish: Those hoping for reds should fish cracked crabs or fresh dead mullet in the deep cuts leading from the bay to the Gulf to entice those bull redfish that are schooled in the pass.
Redfish and Trout: Laguna Madre
The middle Laguna Madre is the warmest area of the Gulf Coast during December, and the fishing will be worth your time if you plan a fishing excursion there. It’s not unusual for folks to do a cast and blast.
Shoot ducks in the morning and catch fish in the afternoon.
Wade-fishing works best along the Intracoastal Canal in 2 to 4 feet of water. Best lures will be soft plastic jigs like an Assassin or D.O.A. rigged on a 1/8-ounce jighead.
Top colors are shad, white/red and purple/chartreuse.
Another option is to drift fish the open flats. If you find jumping mullet, you’ll more than likely find scattered reds and trout.
Other Options:West Galveston Bay Speckled Trout: Fish waist- to chest-deep water in south shore coves with mud and shell with slow-sinking mullet imitation lures. Lake Conroe Catfish: Catch channel cats under lake bridges. Toss soured grain and fish stinkbait on bottom about 15 to 20 feet deep.
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