On Galveston: January 2010

It is holiday time again. I hope everybody has a Merry Christmas and is looking forward to a Happy New Year, and I hope your fishing is as good as ours because it has just been impeccable. East and Trinity Bay are red hot right now. There are lots of fish being caught in all sizes, from schoolies under the birds to good seven and eight pounders on the flats. We had a lot fresh water in Trinity Bay, a little over a month's worth of pretty good river flow. That flushed out all the backwaters, pushed the fish down to the southern end of the bay, and created a pretty good stack up in the middle. Some days there would be literally 50-100 different flocks of birds working throughout the middle of the bay and along the reefs on the west side.

Personally, I prefer not to work birds much because of the traffic. You have to fight people to get to 'em. I have been sticking to a mud and shell pattern for about three weeks now and I plan to continue on through January. For this style, I start at about two feet deep, working my way out as the sun gets higher and fish roll off of the flats while monitoring the tides. If you have a good incoming tide, fish tend to stay along shallow breaks, ledges, and drop offs. Swimming baits such as the Sea Shad or the Norton Bull Minnow have definitely been the key to success. The bigger fish seem to have abandoned the shrimp diet and moved on to mullet and shad. The little fish are the ones still out in the middle, chasing what is left of small shrimp under the birds. Occasionally, you will catch a trout with a big mullet or shad in it, which gives you some insight into the change of diet. For the most part, the trout we have been catching range from 18-24 inches. On really good days, we'll release ten or so fish over 24-25 inches. We don't keep those big ones.

Overall, Trinity Bay fishing is very good. The water looks bad on top, but the area where the birds are working is clean and green underneath. We can see it in our prop wash. I think the Trinity River, at its highest stage, was coming about 70,000 cubic feet per second out of the dam. That was two weeks ago; now, it is down to about 12,000, which is still tolerable. For more than a month, it ran over 35,000 cubic feet; we received a lot of water in that time. Since we were so salty from the drought, though, it mixed in pretty well, and the bay will continue to improve as these competing northers and south winds churn the waters, mixing them back into normal levels. The trout are well into their winter patterns, unbothered by the weather, and it looks like we have a great winter ahead of us, unless we're surprised by some extremely cold weather, but I don't foresee that.

As for the back bays, there are a few fish starting to show up in Burnett, Scott, and San Jacinto bays, but none to write home about. It hasn't gotten cold enough to force those fish up the ship channel into the warmer bays. In East bay, birds are working an identical pattern to Trinity down the middle, from the Refuge towards the south end, and along Hannah's Reef. The north and south shorelines are holding some pretty good fish in shallow water, as is the Refuge. A lot of kayak and lake fisherman go to the Refuge and they are catching a fair number of fish. No big ones reported yet, however.

There is a big row boiling in my backyard about the closing of Rollover Pass. A lot of people have jumped on that bandwagon. They are voicing their opinions to Jerry Patterson, our Texas land commissioner. As yet, there is no resolution, but it is an important issue. We do not want that pass closed up into the back of East Bay from the gulf. We don't agree with the reasoning behind this decision either: erosion on the Bolivar beachfront, silting in the Intra-Coastal Waterway behind the beachfront, maintenance costs, and other issues. It is a proven fact that the Bolivar beachfront has been eroding 5 feet per year for the last 100 years. That is just part of living on the coast. They are just going to plug up a great fish pass and there are probably more big trout caught at Rollover Pass in the summer than anywhere else on the upper Texas coast. It will kill the place; people have been fishing there since the mid-1950s, and many are really up in the air about it.

Despite this worry, fishing is good. As we get into slightly colder temperatures, the MirrOlure and Corky type baits will start working, especially over the deep shell reefs in Trinity and East bays. If we get a good cold front that cools the water down into the low 50s for a couple of days, we are going to have some pretty good action using 52m MirrOlures over the reefs in 6-8 feet of water. Working a slow presentation with Corkys over that deep shell could produce some pretty big trout in the next week or so. The rest of December and the beginning of the New Year look good. I think our fishing is going to hold until early January, and then it will just be the hard-core grinders that do their winter gig in late January and February. Right now, I just can't believe how many fish are being caught. I knew we had a lot of fish; I just didn't know we had this many. All walks of life are catching them, from complete novice anglers up to professionals. Everybody is catching fish, and that is a good sign. It is good for the economy around here.

Have a very Happy New Year, and I hope you are catching fish. See you next month.