Weather patterns have finally stabilized after a rollercoaster ride through the spring months. Calmer winds recently have given us so many options that we are sometimes left wondering which direction is the best one to take when leaving the dock. While I still enjoy sight-casting redfish in our backcountry lakes, some of them have become so inundated with seagrass that it’s nearly impossible to get a lure to the fish.
Many areas of Matagorda, Espiritu Santo, and San Antonio bays have hard sand shorelines with patches of grass and guts near deeper water. San Antonio Bay has many mid-bay reefs with deep drop-offs. Fish use these areas this time of year as they search for forage and also because the drop-offs offer cooler water during the middle of the day.
Wading deep or anchoring on drop-offs adjacent to deeper water have been the key to catching lately. I am not a fan of neck-deep wading but it is sometimes necessary to find a steady bite. Holding steady when you find a decent bite is imperative to staying in the fish. I watch too many anglers walking forward as they reel in a fish. After a few fish, they have wandered into the area where the fish were holding and the bite shuts down. This can be a real headache when you have worked hours to find the bite, only to lose it shortly thereafter.
Some of the areas we fish are strongly influenced by tide movement. Matagorda Bay, with its two openings to the gulf, is a great example of how tides can affect fishing success. As the tide moves in and out it delivers bait to game fish. When the tide is slack the fish tend to become inactive. When I notice this I relocate to areas that are less tide-dependent in Espiritu Santo or San Antonio Bay. I mention this to encourage anglers to study the tide charts before heading to places such as Matagorda Bay’s south shoreline.
If fishing this close to the passes isn’t to your liking, the mid-bay reefs in San Antonio Bay have been producing nice catches in recent weeks. You might have to hop from reef to reef to find fish but the hunt is half the fun. Remember that finding bait on a reef is always a primary key to finding fish there.
I have many customers that get excited when they notice a flock of birds hovering and diving. I wish I could share their excitement but I know what lurks under those birds so often in our waters – dink trout, skipjacks, and gafftop. Contrast this with East Matagorda Bay where fishing the birds often produces quality trout and redfish. There is one significant exception, though. If you happen to find birds working close to the crown of a San Antonio Bay reef, you could be in luck. The trout under those birds working close to a reef are usually of better quality with fewer non-game species present.
Now that we are getting into the middle of summer, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting an early start to your day. I put a lot of effort into arriving at my first spot when the sun is only a rosy glow in the east, still below the horizon. I am not saying you cannot catch fish later in the morning or mid-afternoon, but I can tell you I have more confidence and success when fishing the early morning hours than in the hottest part of the day.
The use of a handheld spotlight comes in handy when leaving the dock before sunrise to signal other boaters and to avoid channel markers and other obstructions. Likewise, a small headlamp on the bill of your cap is very handy when tying knots and organizing gear for your first wade.
There are already more boaters on the water than only a month ago. Please use your best judgment when fishing or boating around others. If you think you might be too close to another boat you probably are. Give as much room as possible to all anglers, whether they are wading or fishing from the boat.If by chance you are a kayak angler, you definitely need to familiarize yourself with channels, sloughs, and other waterways you plan to travel before navigating in poor light conditions. Here on the middle coast, nearly all the bodies of shallow water – back lakes, Shoalwater Bay, Dewberry Lagoon, and others – have very limited access in the form of navigable channels. I see way too many yakers trying to fish in the middle of these travel lanes. I fear it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.