Mid-Coast Bays: July 2017

Mid-Coast Bays: July 2017
Working the edges of drop-offs is often very effective when water temps rise in summer.

I feel fortunate that we had such a long stretch of mild temperatures through May and early-June. But now the heat of summer is upon us. Winds have finally calmed allowing us to explore more open bay waters and the surf. I really enjoy fishing during the cooler, breezier months but our backwaters and protected shorelines become quite congested, especially on weekends. Now, with calmer days, anglers have many more options at hand.

With summertime heat, it's no surprise that much of the trout population heads for deeper and cooler waters. Often, when I mention deeper water, anglers from other parts of the coast are surprised when I tell them deep for our area is 6- to 7-feet. On average, our local bays are about 5- to 10-feet at their deepest. Of course, I’m not speaking of the ICW or the Matagorda Ship Channel jetties, which we all know are much deeper.

So, how should you approach these areas? Typically, I prefer to be in my fishing location by civil twilight, which is approximately 30-minutes before sunrise. This time of year most fish will take advantage of the cooler mornings to feed, which is part of the early start strategy.

Whether I am wading or fishing from the boat, I like to start the day in an area adjacent to a drop-off, beginning in a couple of feet of water and then gradually working toward the deeper edge. Always be on the lookout for slicks and active baitfish. Birds working over a shallow area are another indication that feeding fish are present. But, be aware that birds working over deeper water might only be covering skipjacks and gafftops.

Working drop-offs and deeper water, I prefer to use Bass Assassin’s soft jerk baits. The 4.5-inch Lit'l Tapper in Chicken on a Chain and the tried and true 5-inch Saltwater Shad in Mississippi Hippie have been steady producers. These straight tail plastics are great for working the water column vertically, which is a good strategy when fishing deeper water.

I have been catching good numbers of trout lately in San Antonio and Espiritu Santo bays but, the best quality fish have been coming from West Matagorda. This bay has two passes to the Gulf making it ideal for fish taking advantage of what the tides deliver. Gary and I call these fish “tide dependent.” They feed predominantly when the water is moving, whether it be incoming or outgoing. It's almost as if the currents ring the dinner bell.

The south shoreline, wells and spoils of West Matagorda Bay are all good areas to start your day. Because these areas hold good fish there will be many anglers there as well. Please remember that good fishing manners and boating etiquette are not a choice – they’re a must.

Always maintain a respectful distance away from other anglers. In my fifteen years of guiding I do not recall seeing so many discourteous boaters coming in so close. It is never OK to pull right up alongside other fishermen because you may have noticed a bent rod or it is your favorite spot and you’re hellbent on fishing there. We also see boats cruising very close, as though to discover if somebody might be catching fish. It shouldn't have to be said but, if you are within casting distance of another boat or wading angler then you are way too close. This type of behavior does nothing but ruin the fishing for everyone. Please do your part in giving boaters and wading anglers a wide berth.

Redfish of late have been pretty much hit and miss for me. I am sure that will change soon, but for the last several weeks redfish have been very scattered. When I do come across some it's usually just a few keepers with multiple undersized mixed with them. Luckily, the trout bite has been so good I can't complain too much but, I think we can all agree there's nothing like the fight of upper-slot redfish on light tackle.

The grass in the back lakes is thick and abundant as it usually is this time of year. If you prefer to fish the back lakes, try to focus your efforts in and around sand pockets. Opt for a soft plastic on a weedless Texas rig or a Johnson 1/4-ounce weedless spoon.

I sincerely I hope everyone is blessed with great times and good catches with family and friends this summer. Remember to cover up, lather on lots of sunscreen, and stay hydrated. Always be courteous – not just on the water but in life as well.