Mid-Coast Bays: June 2022

Mid-Coast Bays: June 2022
Merman shoulder tackle box; check it out at Jimmy Burns’ Waterloo Pro Shop.

Some things were consistent throughout the month of May. One was the redfish bite– which has been outstanding in the protected backwater areas of our local bay systems. Another was non-stop wind– that seemed stronger than I remember from past years. 

Hopefully by the time June rolls around the wind will have calmed to more angler-friendly velocity. Meaning five to ten mph overnight, and building somewhat during the day. A lot different than we’ve been dealing with in May.

With typically lighter winds in June we will be wading major shorelines in San Antonio, Espiritu Santo, and West Matagorda. Our daily focus will be the areas providing the best quality trout. Lighter winds will also allow the option of wading San Antonio’s mid-bay reefs that have long been an early-summer favorite of mine. West Matagorda also has some great shell reefs that lie along the Matagorda Ship Channel spoil banks. Many of the reef areas mentioned lie in depths we can wade and over the years we have identified the best producers depending on wind and tide influence.

Back to San Antonio Bay and how we fish the open-water reefs. The majority of these generally run in north-to-south orientation, some of which have fingers that protrude to the east and/or west.  These “fingers” as I call them offer windward structure that often becomes especially attractive to both bait and predator species as they disrupt the currents created by the predominantly southerly winds that flow along the main reefs this time of year. The game fish we are targeting will hang around these areas and use them as ambush points. Imagine these fingers as points on a shoreline and consider how the fish use the points that you normally fish in certain areas.

There are also a few major reefs in this bay that run east to west, although without the fingers I just described. On these types of reef structure you typically find numerous cuts or low spots where water will pass through, and these also make prime ambush spots for both trout and redfish during feeding periods. The south face of these reefs will generally have a steeper taper to the deeper water, whereas the northern face will have a slower taper that fades to sand and/or mud bottom. I normally fish the down-current or north side. Most of these east-west reefs are too deep to wade at the ends or points, but those that are shallow enough can also offer current flows that work as natural funnels for game fish to intercept bait.

Please note that wading spoil reefs in West Matagorda requires extra caution as ships navigating the channel can cause dangerously powerful wakes, capable of swamping your boat if it is anchored shallow on the reef. It is therefore wise to keep a sharp lookout for ship traffic and be ready to vacate the area quickly when one is heading your way. There are also some sharp drop-offs, especially on the channel side. You would be wise to wear some kind of flotation device, the auto-inflate PFD would be a good choice, just in case you lose your footing and slip into deep water. Treading water or attempting to swim with all your fishing equipment in tow could spell disaster for even the strongest swimmers as the currents are often very strong in this area.

My go-to lure choices when fishing either San Antonio or West Matagorda reefs will be my tried and true Saltwater Assassin 4” Sea Shad (paddletail) or the 5” Shad (straight tail). I rig both of these on Bass Assassin 1/16 ounce jigheads. The colors we normally carry are Purple Chicken and Laguna Shrimp – both of which should have you covered for any situation or water clarity condition.

In closing I would like to mention a new wading product I have been using that you can find at the Waterloo Pro Shop in Victoria. Jimmy Burns at Waterloo now offers the Merman over-the-shoulder wading box that fills the void created when NuMark closed its doors and ceased production of the shoulder box we all loved for many years. The Merman includes a plier pouch and place to attach your stringer. The strap is adjustable to accommodate anglers of every size. The antimicrobial fabric protects against mildew. I’ve noticed while using it that it will last you a very long time without fading or other workmanship issues. Check it out!

Fish hard, fish smart.