Mid-Coast Bays: May 2024

Mid-Coast Bays: May 2024
Sequoya Janacek caught this tailing brute by sight-cast along the ICW.

Summers here on the Texas mid-coast are not for the weak of heart. Remember the long, dry and hot days last year? Well, I sure do! We also had what seemed months of continuous high barometric pressure that made for some challenging days on the water. I know nobody can predict the weather months in advance but with so many warmer than average days we have experienced over the last couple of months I can’t help but cringe. Here’s hoping we do not have another summer like 2023 any time soon.

Think of fishing locations in May as a mix of late spring and early summer patterns. Water temperatures will be holding steady with cold fronts mostly in the rear-view. Consistently warm temperatures will have baitfish and gamefish species alike congregating on sandy bottom shorelines and along open water oyster reefs. In recent weeks San Antonio Bay has been holding some good numbers of speckled trout, albeit with lots of undersize fish in the mix. Given that we will still be experiencing days with late spring weather conditions, our days on mid-bay reefs may not be as frequent as we’d like due to gusty winds. This is when wind-protected shorelines of major bays will become go-to areas.

I have mentioned often how advantageous it can be to fish in or around cuts or drains into back lake areas, but some of these “ fish highways” can become poor choices due to boat traffic traveling to and from those backwaters. It could be foolish and maybe downright dangerous on busy weekends as many of these areas have only one navigable route in and out. I have witnessed many times ignorant fishermen blocking these cuts, making for heated arguments. Instead, when we have a good moving tide, whether it be incoming or outgoing, look to target the areas a few hundred feet either side of the channels. Fish will still be using the water movement as an advantage in feeding, and it’ll sure beat getting into a heated discussion or altercation.

Another area that shines this time of year, and I don’t talk about it perhaps as often as I should, is the Intracoastal Waterway. The ICW has some very productive and varying structure that makes it an excellent choice this time of year, especially with our higher springtime water levels and winds.

While I have waded the edges of ICW many times in the past, it can be dangerous with the unpredictable depth of the potholes and guts. Barge traffic can also make for some treacherous wading due to the amount of water they displace. Because of these I think it is more suitable for boat fishing.

Let’s talk more about the structure. If you are traveling south from Port O’Connor toward Charlie’s Bait Camp, the structure on both sides of the ICW is mostly sand with shallow areas of grass and deep potholes. I almost always prefer the north side of the ICW due to it offering more guts and potholes than the south side. From Charlie’s Bait Camp toward San Antonio Bay the north side has many oyster pads of varying depths, but typically a couple of feet.

Trolling motors come in handy along the ICW to help you cover more water while maintaining position parallel to the shoreline. You can also anchor to fish an area thoroughly before moving on.

If the baitfish are active, jumping with a lot of surface activity, I will opt to throw a small topwater like the Super Spook Jr. Soft plastics also work well but the oyster beds south of Charlie’s can be tricky. I will often use the cork and jig method, with my lure a foot or so below the cork. Scented soft baits are a great choice for this. My favorite for the erratic movement and impregnated scent is the Bass Assassins 3.5-inch Lit’l P&V in Slammin Chicken or Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom Chartreuse Tail. The Gulp shrimp is another good choice, not because of its action, but its pungent scent.

In closing, I must mention how excited I am for the new reduced bag limit for speckled trout; changing from 5 fish to 3 fish daily with the 15 to 20-inch slot. I strongly believe this is a big step in the right direction for helping our trout population rebound after the recent series of freezes and floods. Of course, it is going to take a few years to notice significant improvement, but this conservative move by TPWD can only help.