Fish Talk: March 2010

Fish Talk: March 2010
John and Robin Desimio drifting East Matagorda Bay, lots of trout and reds on Chicken-on-a-Chain Assassin lures.

I cannot believe it's March already. Time sure flies. Any who have fished the Matagorda Bays at this time of year understands the potential March holds for great fishing. Dodging the freeze bullet over the weekend of January 9-10 was a godsend. Here locally it seems our fisheries came through in good shape. Down south between Port O'Connor and Rockport there was a fish kill in the back lakes but not in the major bay waters.

Concerns regarding our fishery sent me on a scouting mission as soon as the weather broke, hoping to find some decent catches of trout and reds in both East and West Matagorda Bays. What a relief to find that we had been pardoned once again from the treacherous elements we all fear.

January was a fairly decent month for fishing if you're counting in between cold fronts with a few limit days on trout and reds. Some local fishing buddies reported catching trout in the 25-29" range on Corkys late January while fishing mud.

Let's talk the reality of current and possible future factors that can influence fishing. Let's say our present fishery is acceptable for now. What if we venture into the future a bit? Take into consideration that we currently see a great increase in fishing pressure than say five years ago. Will this continue? Where does that leave us and what will the future bring? Don't discount the twenty years of unusually warm winter water temperatures (except this year) and the way this seems to have brought increased numbers of sharks and dolphins that feed heavily on our trout. Please also include the other elements of nature, namely freezes and red tides, and the impacts they can have on a fishery. If I could snap my fingers and change what I see, I wouldn't be writing this now.

Recent Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW) surveys have been disheartening as I view them, depicting a downward trend in our trout fishery. I don't have the answers. Yes, I spend much of my time on the water and have a heartfelt desire to protect what I care about. Many look at a fishing industry in technical terms but I have come to know it as part of who I am. Whether or not that makes a difference is a personal matter.

What I find in the TPW survey reports is akin to the 1989 freeze level which is extremely disturbing. Ask any guide or angler that has been fishing the Matagorda area for the past twenty years whether they believe our spotted seatrout populations have declined.

What is the answer and who will take the initiative? I personally recommend a five fish limit on trout, upping the minimum size to 16 inches, with one trout over 25 inches. Fishing is my livelihood and whether that recommendation affects me in a negative way or not; this is the position I have chosen. If we all refuse to leave our comfort zone and expect someone else to fix the problem our hands may stay clean but the issues will remain. The defining mark of lunacy is expecting something to change while at the same time continuing to do the very thing that got you where you are.

As a fishing guide I can ask my clients to stop at five but, when the law allows a ten fish limit, my words do not always have the desired impact.

March fishing will bring little change to my fishing plans and I will spend the majority of my time in East Bay. The same tactics used last month will continue such as fishing mud and shell, keying on mullet, and fishing slow.
I'll still be throwing Bass Assassins and Corkys. Drift fishing will be a must out on the mid-bay reefs while keying on jumping mullet, slicks, and off-colored streaks in clear water. Plastics may be your best bet but I also like 52M Mirrolures in the 808 color. Either of these could be the ticket to a big girl while drifting. If the weather allows I may even head over to West Matagorda Bay to fish for a few reds. Your best success here will likely come on low tide around shoreline guts and sandbars.

Take care and God Bless - Capt. Bill