Mid-Coast Bays: July 2020

Mid-Coast Bays: July 2020
Jill Hollis enjoying a good day on the water.

With everything that has been impacting our lives over the last few months it seems many people are trying to get away from it all by spending some relaxing time on the water. Many of my phone conversations with clients have been starting with, "Shellie I just need to get away. Please book me for your next opening…ASAP!" This has been very welcome to me, given that we lost so many days in March and April. And yes, the water has been unusually crowded for the time of year.

Fishing has been very good, even with the crowds. Last month’s strong winds have calmed considerably and we are once again able to fish some of our favorite open water areas. I get really excited at the boat ramp early in the morning and feel light winds because I know this type of weather opens up so many areas to fish. It also helps spread out the boats on busy weekends.

Calm days are another chance for anglers to get better aquatinted with structures in the middle of the bays. Most of our mid-coast bays have oyster reefs, old platforms, and sand flats that are excellent areas to fish during the warmer months. GPS maps are a good resource and starting point for finding them. However, GPS maps are not updated as often as we’d like and Mother Nature does change things up often, so to really get to know the structure’s features you have to either use your depth finder and motor around, or get out and wade to “feel” your way around. Please, whatever you do, don't use the very rude method of barging into a piece of structure where another boat is fishing. Some of these areas are very small and it’s easy to disturb their fishing.

While trolling around some sandy guts one day, sightcasting to redfish with two clients, a boat running past decided to stop and idle right up to us. Seriously, he came within 30 feet, motor running, and asked, "Y'all doing any good?" I was livid! We had just spent 20 minutes trolling a gut between shallow bars to reach a school of tailing reds. And these two guys thought motoring in close enough to hold a conversation was acceptable? I've seen a lot of bad boating etiquette over the years and I know there will be more but this day was one of the worst. Of course, the reds spooked and the opportunity was lost.

Here’s some tips for locating excellent mid-bay structure on your next calm summertime outing. The Ship Channel in West Matagorda Bay has lots of spoil areas that hold fish this time of year. Some are hard sand, others are soft mud, and many have oyster shells covering them. I personally like the areas with scattered shell but you will need to wade these to explore them fully. Generally speaking, working close to a dropoff is your best bet this time of year.

If wading is not your bag, check out the many gas platforms in the middle of the bays. All our local bays, West Matagorda, Espiritu Santo, and San Antonio, have these. Platforms usually have plentiful shell on the surrounding bottom and are known for holding fish.

The Hump in West Matagorda is a great area during the hottest days of summer because it receives lots of tidal current through Pass Cavallo and the Matagorda Ship Channel. Remember that the bite in these areas can be strongly tide dependent. Meaning that the fish will feed more actively when the current is running – either incoming or outgoing. If the tide isn’t moving the bite can become very slow, the same as many other tide-affected areas of structure.

All the sandy shorelines that border the bays can be productive. Start your day early in knee-deep water and work progressively deeper toward dropoffs as the day gets warmer. Fish tend to feed shallow overnight when it’s cooler and head deeper as the sun and temperatures rise.  

So, with July and August being our hottest months, it’s imperative to get an early start. Another good plan is to wait until late afternoon and fish into the evening hours when things start to cool off. I personally like to be fishing before the sun ever breaks the horizon and then be off the water by midday.

Judging by the number of boats on the water recently, I’m guessing the July 4th weekend is going to be bigger and busier than ever. I don’t know about everybody else but I’m thinking it will a good time to kick back, relax, and celebrate America’s independence with family and friends.

Happy Independence Day!