So I sat down last night and thought it'd be great to ask our guides for fishing reports ahead of the weekend. I blasted a text out expecting a few responses...
I was immediately blown away by how many updates I received. I hunkered down to write this and the first thing I thought was, "this is gonna be a Big Ol Mess".
These are great fishing reports that we at Captain Experiences are excited to share. We can't thank our Damn Good Guides enough for this info, and wish everyone and their families the best during these times.
As you'll read, many of our guides, charters, lodges, and outfitters have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus (like our Galveston fishing charters). While some can't offer trips right now, you can still beat the post-COVID rush and reserve your dates. Our 100% Trip Guarantee ensures you can always book confidently with Weather Protection, Free Cancellations, and our Best Price Guarantee.
Please comment below on what you think of our first fishing report, and of current conditions. Help spread the word by sharing the Big Ol Mess to support these local, family-owned, small businesses!
Big Ol Mess Table of Contents (to make it less of a Big Ol Mess):
Texas (North to South)
Outside Texas (West to East)
Texas (North to South)
Catfish are biting in the lakes of North Central Texas, White Bass are set to go off, Black Drum and Jack Crevalle are tearing up the Galveston jetties, bank-crashing Redfish are everywhere from Port O'Connor to South of Rockport, and offshore action for Kingfish and Cobia is kicking off any day now.
Sadly, the big story is Coronavirus. While everyone's daily life is affected at this point, Galveston, Rockport, Port Aransas, Port Isabel, and South Padre Island seem to be all but shut down.
"During the spawn there is a lull period when fish are not biting but once it is over, males and females are starving, and then game is on! It's that time, so fishing is awesome. But until the virus is contained, I am very careful at this time. I still use hand sanitizer and practice good sense.
Fish are ready is all I can say. I say use your best judgement and let the virus start clearing, but book your fishing trips according to the current news on the virus."
In the absence of a group to fish during these trying times, and to keep my distance, JD goes out each day to fish, to be on the water and to "enjoy God’s blessed creation". He has been catching several nice Stripers each day and the 27th was another good outing:
From JD: "Since the limit on Stripers each day is 10 fish person, 2 over 20 inches, I would call it a great day of fish. I have been keeping my catch as although I love to eat fish, I also furnish some to those that may not be able to get out and catch them themselves. The days have been beautiful on Lake Texoma, and makes it pleasant to be one the water." - JD
"Because of the virus no fishing is taken place right now. Everyone is cancelled." - John Brett
"On Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Bridgeport, and Eagle Mountain Lake, the fishing has been slow for everything except for Catfish. The recent rains have muddied up the water and Catfish are the best option right now on those lakes." - Kolby Kuhn
"Squaw Creek Reservoir is closed right now due to the Coronavirus. Lake Whitney Striper fishing is good right now and the Catfishing is good too. Water temps are in the low 60s on most of these lakes." - Kolby Kuhn
"Tuesday we caught 154 Catfish on Livingston, Wednesday we caught 18 Largemouth Bass and 22 Crappie on Rayburn, and Thursday we caught 137 Catfish on Livingston" - Scott Pierce
"With the recent rains this past weekend, there has been a heavy flow of water from the Llano River into Lake LBJ. As the water subsides, there will be a great opportunity for catching White Bass this coming weekend at the confluence of the Llano river and Lake LBJ." - Greg Welander
"Decker Lake... Fishing around vegetation with a drop shot rig and swimbait." - Ander Meine
"Tons of huge black drum and sheepshead on live shrimp and blue crabs also a few big reds! The jacks are starting to show up as well." - Captain Jason Woods
"Big Redfish and Black Drum action has been on fire at our Jetty's. When conditions are right the Speckled Trout, Redfish and Sheepshead have been easy to catch. Our offshore Red Snapper season opens June 1." - Captain Shannon LeBauve
"Fishing in Galveston bay has started to pick up. We are catching Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder in the Lower and West Galveston Bay areas. We have been using live shrimp and popping corks to catch the majority of the fish over shell humps. The Galveston jetties have been on fire for Bull Redfish, big Black Drum, and Sheepshead.
We are using live shrimp and cracked crab for bait. Spring is here and fishing has been great with the warmer weather. We are still able to fish for the time being with the virus so get out and let's go fishing." - Captain Michael Meza
"Went out on a 36 hour trip last Sunday. We landed Blackfin Tuna, Cobia, Beeliner Snapper, and Grouper. Wahoo bite has been consistent too." - Captain Lee Crisler
"The City of Galveston has imposed a shut down of all charter for hire boats at the current moment. They are letting private vessels fish and commercial vessels fish. Now Galveston County on the other hand is allowing our businesses since we are below the 10 person CDC threshold and can essentially maintain space on the vessel. Vitamin D and UV have proven good for this issue. So businesses outside of the city can still operate but boats leaving from Galveston proper are out of luck.
There are still families wanting to get out there and wanting to book. We are getting calls but cannot do much about it other than move boats.
You can use any ramp outside of city limits. Depending on where you fish, you could use some up toward San Leon or the Texas City Dike or some in West Bay.
A lot of guides don't know what's going on and are canceling trips just because. This is supposed to be our 'hey you made it through winter, here's some help before summer' but many aren't getting what they need to stay in business. I pray we don't loose to many guides over this." - Captain Mike Regan
"State offshore water temperature is above 72 degrees, lots of activity seen yesterday. Kingfish and Cobia should be here any day now. Redfish, Speckled Trout and Flounder are great inshore and on the beach front." - Captain Paul Pennington
"East Bay has been productive catching Speckled Trout and Redfish while throwing shrimp under and a popping cork. West Bay has also been productive wading the south shoreline throwing Down South Lures and topwaters" - Captain Sid Halliday
"The Redfish fly fishing the past couple of weeks has been good, and even great at times. The weather has been decent, with mostly warm days with mellow wind, but we’ve had an impressive run of fog and cloudy weather.
With the warmer temps each day often topping out around 80 degrees, the water temperature has been great. Low to mid 60’s in the mornings is common, with afternoon temps already in the low 80’s in some shallow areas. For the most part, that is a pretty solid range for these Redfish, and it shows.
Most mornings, tails are easy to find, and bank crashing is often happening by the time we get to our spots. Even on the foggiest or cloudiest mornings, we're still able to see fish consistently, thanks to their activity.
In the past few days, larger schools of fish have become pretty steady in the morning as well. For three consecutive days, we were finding schools of 20+ fish ripping down the bank. Each day we'd see a dozen or so of these schools each morning. Finally! It seems like it’s been a bit later than usual to start seeing these large schools consistently. Definitely a welcome sight.
The tides lately have been awesome. We’ve been fishing strong falling tides in the mornings. This is a big reason for all the activity out there early. As things turn, the fish have been fairly active on the incoming tide, but our mornings have far out-fished the rest of the day.
We've also seen Jack Crevalle moving around both inside and outside of the ports, and we’ve seen a single Triple Tail, signaling that Spring/Summer is on the way. So we're keeping a couple heavier rods in all our boats… just in case.
Fly selection has been all over the place. Most days, a crab is the first thing out of the box. There have been a few fish, and even a few schools of fish, that were a bit more selective. We watched a couple of schools turn their noses up at crab and kwan style flies. Many of the fish landed right now are spitting up smaller grass shrimp, while others are chasing baitfish on the surface in the middle of the flats. So choose your fly and fish it confidently.
Many days we are finding a very good number of solo tailing Redfish near the bank or mangroves, or further out on the flat. We highly recommend the topwater game for these since you'll just catch a glimpse of their tail before seeing them ten feet away again. A few days we ended up feeding a couple dozen fish on the surface. Always a good time, so keep a rod strung up with your favorite topwater fly on it.
We’ve been fishing all over the place. Seadrift and closer to Port O’Connor to the South side of Rockport and Port Aransas. Everything seems to be fishing just fine, so we're just mixing it up. We might be finding a few larger Redfish South of Rockport, but it might just be random luck.
With everything going on currently with the Coronavirus, we're finally starting to experience cancellations, which we obviously don't want for our guests or our Rockport fly fishing guides. Sadly, it's the reality at hand, so we're doing our best to support those we can in our community. We'll do our best to share the knowledge as we learn things, but we intend to continue guiding until the state tells us otherwise. We know this is inevitable, so we're just hoping to enjoy every moment on the water that we can with folks right now, and see what happens later on." - Captain Jeff Johnson
"Spring is certainly here. The waters are warming up and the fish are certainly eating more. Black Drum have been very consistent on shell this week the days I fished on my own and with my wife. Redfish have been a little less consistent, but that's just around the corner.
Hopefully we will be out of quarantine down here in a week or so, but that's just my hope. Once shelter in place is lifted I will be fishing again with clients and on my own." - Captain Ryan McLaughlin
"Pretty crazy here now, we can't fish with the shut down at this time." - Captain Randy Seidel
"Good trout last week" - Captain George Strader
"We are still in quarantine and shelter in place they say it's illegal to take out clients so a forced vacation" - Captain Jaime de la Fuente
"South Padre Island is closed currently for guided fishing" - Captain Douglas Dunkin
Outside Texas (West to East)
Beyond Texas Takeaways:
Bluefin Tuna and Rockfish out of San Diego, California were heating up ahead of the Coronavirus shutdown. Small Olives, Midges, and Woolly Buggers are getting the job done on the Lower Mountain Fork River of Oklahoma. Louisiana inshore fishing is absolutely ON, and Florida fish will be all the more hungry post-Coronavirus.
"San Diego Bay is currently closed to all charters greater than four people. If you have a party of four or less we currently have Bluefin Tuna fishing available in Mexican Waters and also local rock fishing and kelp bed fishing.
Local 6 hour Rockfish fishing and kelp bed fishing is extremely good right now and although we don't have recent reports, the bluefin were around Ensenada the last time we hooked up on them." - Captain Nick Matina
"Man I wish I had a report. This virus won't allow charter operators to run right now. Even then no one is booking sadly." - Captain Shaun Uyeda
"On March 26th, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a statewide stay at home directive that goes into effect at 12:01 am on Saturday, March 28th. Under the directive, people may leave their homes for essential activities, including health and safety reasons, for necessary supplies and services, to take care of others, and for outdoor activity:
'To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana provided they remain open to recreation. Montanans are discouraged from outdoor recreation activities that pose enhanced risks of injury or could otherwise stress the ability of local first responders to address the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., backcountry skiing in a manner inconsistent with avalanche recommendations or in closed terrain).'
We will continue to go fishing during these difficult and uncertain times but adhere to staying at least six feet away from other people.
Fishing has been good and continues to be good in all our area waters. We are seeing a higher volume of local anglers out fishing for this time of year. This is due to the nicer weather we have been receiving, but also because of all the business closures throughout our state. Naturally, unemployed anglers are taken to the rivers to consume their downtime.
We are seeing very few guide trips out on the water since most of our clients are not able or willing to travel to Montana currently. The Trout are mostly hanging in the deeper, slower-moving water (walking speed). We have not had any reports of Rainbow Trout sitting in the shallow water on their spawning beds yet, but keep an eye out as these Rainbows will soon start making their beds for the spring spawn. Please don't bother them if you do see them on their beds.
The Gallatin River near Bozeman, MT is in good shape with good water clarity. Nymphing is the primary game on the Gallatin River using Palomino Midges, Baetis nymphs such as a Hogan’s S&M size 16, stonefly nymphs like a Pats Stone in black with olive legs size 4-6. Red San Juan Worms and egg patterns are also catching some fish. We are seeing some fish feeding on adult Midges on the warmer days during midday from 12 to 3, so keep an eye out for rising fish.
The Madison River is fishing very well from Earthquake Lake down towards Bozeman. Most of the boat ramps are accessible now, which allows us to access a majority of the River. Like the Gallatin River, the nymphing game on the Madison River is best with the same patterns as on the Gallatin River. Consider fishing a size 6-8 olive stone fly nymph. This will mimic the Skwalla Stones that we should start to see in the upcoming month of April.
This is a great time of year to be on the Ruby River. Because the flows are lower, it's easy to navigate without trespassing, which is always a big concern when fishing the Ruby River. There have been fewer anglers fishing the Ruby, and the fishing has been equally as good as the Gallatin and Madison Rivers. Keep your eye out for fish working the surface between one - three o'clock on midges.
The Missouri River in both the jet boat section and the drift boat section is fishing very well. Egg patterns, San Juan worms, Soft hackle Sowbugs, Pink lightning bugs, Disco midge, Hogan’s S&M, Green Machine are all great nymphs to have in your box while on the Mighty Mo.
Getting out on the water is a great way to pass the time, all while social distancing yourself from other people. Montana is a large state, and we have plenty of water to fish, so there is no reason you should be fishing within 100 yards of another angler. Get outside and enjoy the time you have off while you can. Also, give your loved ones a hug and stay safe out there." - Nate Stevane
Flows at Lawson are at 27.7 CFS as of 3/27/2020. Plenty of open water from Downieville - Lawson - Dumont. Water temperatures are fairly cold, so nymph rigs fished in the deeper areas are better this time of year. Have noticed stonefly activity in the creek today. Stonefly and trailing with a smaller midge were working the best for me today. Suggest a #16 or 18 red zebra that was extremely successful. Clear Creek is considered a freestone, try your efforts during the warmest period of the day. - Ken Robak
"Blue Wing Olives in size 20-22 working nicely mornings and late afternoons. Midges predominate through the day in sizes 22-24. Woolly Buggers in sizes 12-16 in deeper water with a midge trailer 2 ft below." - Chris Schatte
"Wednesday we did a meat haul with Sheepshead, Bull Redfish, and Black Drum. Today we went looking for Speckled Trout and as you can see we found them!!!" - Captain Jimmy Corley
"Went out yesterday had a lot of fog until about 10:00am. Then a cold front pushed through and winds showed up for the rest of the day. We fished with live shrimp and spinner baits- we call it 'Bass Fishing for Redfish!'" - Captain Joe Gaudin
"Fishing together with Capt Preston we hit the Bull Redfish and Sheepshead for an early morning start. Then more Bull Redfish and slot Redfish for a grand finish." - Captain Chad Rudolph
"This craziness has taken over so we're on hold waiting. Looking to see if our reserved guests do come out. Their decision in this environment. As of now, we're open for all guests." - Ron Hellyer
"Blackfin Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Grouper fishing and the Cobia migration are just starting to get good! We will be closed for a week or so to let the virus do its thing." - Captain Tyler Allen
"Well they just closed all the boat ramps marinas and beaches. So no fishing this weekend." - Captain Rudy Neumann
"We are all on the stay at home plan right now but I was able to get out Wednesday and we caught a few Blackfin Tuna and a dozen Mangrove Snapper on the bottom" - Captain Scott Gaul
Thanks for reading the first version of our Big Ol Mess Fishing Report and be sure to comment with questions and feedback!
-Jonathan [email protected]