Fish Talk: May 2008

Fish Talk: May 2008
Mike Grigar of Johnny’s Sort Shop in Eagle Lake decided to take this 29”-8lb trout to the taxidermist. Mike was fishing East Matagorda with Capt. Bill and used an “opening night” Assassin.
Looking for a fun time on the water? Well, look no further, May fishing means we'll be hanging up the waders, lighter winds, plenty of bait in our bays, and plenty of fishing opportunity. We have waited patiently for some warmer, milder weather and look out, here she comes.

East Bay

Let's start this month's Fish Talk over in East Matagorda Bay. By the time you read this, water temperatures should be rising toward the 80-degree mark and the trout should have vacated the mostly muddy environs of winter and early spring. We should also see a healthy population of shrimp and other bait in the bays. The structure types I find myself working most often during the month of May in East Bay are shell reefs and hard bottoms with drop-offs.

When I mention drop-offs I'm including some rather subtle depth changes, 6 to 12-inches difference in the form of a shallow gut, drain, grass bed, or even a reef can be enough to attract and hold large numbers of various bait species and also the predators that follow them.

Another element of structure is dirty water. Sometimes water that looks too dirty as you look down from your boat can end up being good enough to fish. I always say you need to check it a little closer before moving on. Remember this, if you can leave a mud trail while wading you can catch fish. My clients and I have caught limits of trout in off-colored to dirty water more times than I can ever recall. Off-colored water is actually preferred hunting grounds for trout and reds and also offers protection from larger predators such as shark and dolphin.

While wading or seeking a desirable area, it's always a good idea to locate bait before committing a serious fishing effort. During May I look for jumping mullet and shrimp along shorelines and reefs. Drifting is another option. Be on the alert for off-colored to streaky water, sea gulls, and of course slicks. While I'm drifting deeper water I'll be looking for slicks out in the middle of the bay and I keep two rods at the ready. I normally rig one with a Bass Assassin and the other with a She Dog. When the water is clear with lots of sunshine I choose clear Bass Assassins with glitter like bone diamond, 10W40, or opening night. For off-colored water I lean toward roach, morning glory, or even June bug Bass Assassins. Good top water choices will include 83MR-GCRCH, 83MR-CRBC, 83MR-CRBN, or 83MR-CHPR She Dogs. Quality trout have been taken while drifting over slicks and chunking top waters in the middle of the bay.

West Bay

West Matagorda Bay is a different ball of wax. Here again, you need to fish structure like sand bars, guts, and grass beds. My first choice would be grass beds such as the big areas from the Cullen Houses all the way down to Airport Flats. Normally, if you are able to locate bait you will catch a few keepers. Redfish should be abundant close in to the shorelines and like I mention continually, try to fish an incoming tide. On a high tide, Oyster Lake and Crab Lake will produce redfish and maybe a few flounder.

My baits for West Matagorda Bay are the same as I mentioned for East Bay. However, in West Bay the trout and reds have always shown a liking for paddle-tailed baits. My favorites are the 4-inch Assassins in strawberry and white, chicken on a chain, and roach.

One final topic I want to address in this month's article, and one that I know many readers are probably tired of hearing about it so I will be very brief, is the use of live croaker as bait. I choose to mention this simply because the season for it is once again upon us.

Dad, mom, and the kids or grandparents and even the everyday fisherman with a bucket of croaker on any given day out fishing are not what concern me as regards the conservation of our fishery. What I view as the greatest threat here is the so-called "professional" fishing guide that runs multiple trips per day pulling in limits of trout each trip. This happens day in and day out over a period of about three months and can really take its toll on our resources. I have listened to all the pros and cons and my final stance is that this particular method can and does impact the trout population.

I firmly believe that if something is not done in the next 3-5 years, our bays will end up like Port Mansfield and guess what we will have a 5 fish limit here too. This is OK for me, although I feel it will be our own fault for having abused our resources.

Yes, as most everybody reading already knows, I have caught my share of big trout over the years and at the same time, like you, have witnessed the enormous explosion of fishermen now using our bays. As an experienced professional concerned with the conservation of our fish stocks, I have made a stand in this area that few are willing to take publicly. I urge all who share my concerns in this matter to do the same. That's it, I'm off my soapbox.

Until next time God Bless! Capt. Bill