The View: December 2023

The View: December 2023

I want to begin by applauding TPWD for stepping up to further conserve our trout fishery. Coastal Fisheries Division will be conducting another round of public scoping meetings soon, introducing a new regulation of 3-trout with 15-20 inch retention slot. At the time of this writing the new regs were approved for publication and scoping by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, hopefully with finalization and enactment coming in the months ahead. This is a win for conservation and a win for our bays. Things can only get better for our speckled trout population, barring another major act of nature.

We at Sunrise Lodge continue to protect our speckled trout, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been catching trout. We have encouraged catch and release and many of our anglers have adopted that practice. However, with more conservative guidelines for harvest on the horizon, keeping a few will not be frowned upon.

The shell reefs in Matagorda are full of fish and our trout really began to eat lures a lot better in October. We expect that pattern will only continue to improve in December. MirrOlure Soft-Dines, Bass Assassins, Down South Lures and Lil' Johns are our go-to lures, along with topwaters whenever conditions are prime. Raymond Shoals, Boiler Bayou, Pipeline Reef and Cleveland Reef hold good fish during winter; and, when tides are extremely low, shoreline redfish move off the flats to these mid-bay reefs.

Locales receiving the most tidal flow often hold the majority of schools. Brown Cedar Flats, Chinquapin Reefs, Bird Island, Half-Moon Reef and The Log are all proven wintertime spots holding healthy specks.

Drifting is also an option, especially with the low tide levels that are common during winter solstice occurring later in the month. East Bay is often 2-3 feet below normal in December, depending how hard the north wind blows.

When the wind really blows, never discount the Colorado River. Low tides in West Bay drain the delta at the mouth of the Diversion Channel and funnel all fish to the deeper channel. We had some really good days in the river in early November after the first real cold front of fall. Nighttime is even better under lighted piers as fish seek the warmth of deeper river water.

We will continue running lots of cast and blast trips for ducks in the morning and drifting for trout and redfish in the afternoon. Duck numbers look solid and we really cherish our private marshes loaded with pintails, gadwalls and teal. The Christmas holidays are a great time for a duck hunt. Give us a shout if you would like to enjoy decoying duck action at sunrise.

Around this time of year I normally write a Christmas gift suggestion column in various publications to help spouses buy for their angler. So here are a few ideas:

-A new reel is always good. A light, sensitive piece of graphite to complement the reel is even better. I use a Waterloo HP Lite and the Salinity models for spinning tackle.

-Maybe a gift certificate to Matagorda Outfitters or a guided fishing or hunting trip would bring a smile.

-I purchased a new Mossy Oak Turtle Box Bluetooth Speaker as a gift for a friend. I also added a pair of Bart’s Bay Armor wading boots.

-A pile of soft plastics stuffed in a stocking with Seaguar fluorocarbon leader material and dozens of new jig heads is a thought; not to mention a load of Skitter Walks, Super Spooks, Top Dogs, Corkys and MirrOlures.

-Duck decoys and a pair of breathable waders or even a gift certificate for a guided fishing trip would look good under the tree as well.

-Maybe a shotgun, shotgun shells, or a new hunting jacket. How about a solid set of waterproof rain gear for fishing.

-Another good thought would be taking one of your favorite fishing photos from the year and enlarging it on canvas to hang somewhere in the house or office.

Merry Christmas to everyone! Be kind to others and find a way to bless someone.

Thank you Lord for your blessings and allowing me and my family to make a living in the bays and marshes of Texas.

Sunrise Lodge and Properties is a full service hunting and fishing lodge and real estate company servicing Matagorda and surrounding coastal counties.