The View: May 2014

The View: May 2014
Before I hit the hay, I check the weather one more time. The NOAA coastal waters forecast calls for north winds at 5-10 knots. Every inch of the bay should be fishable for tomorrow’s charter, so I begin etching a plan for my first sunrise stop.

However, something changes during the six hours from my head hitting the pillow to the alarm clock ringing – wind, and lots of it.  

Is East Bay off-colored? I wonder what West Bay looks like? Is it too rough at the jetty? I wonder if the water in Oyster Lake will hold? Will the birds work? Are the tides too high? I wonder if the redfish are in the grass? Will they eat Bass Assassins in off-colored water? Should I drift or wade?

Take for instance a May day a year ago. I had every intention to work East Matagorda's deep shell with plum and pumpkinseed Bass Assassins. When the weather allows, East Bay normally gives up at least one or two specks a day from 5-7 pounds during May. We don't put a knife in those fish, but release them gently back to the bay.

Plans change by the minute in the guiding business, especially when a thunderstorm blows up in the Gulf and gusts 30 knots before sunrise. Instead of heading east, I pointed the bow of my boat west to more protected waters.

We arrived on the south shoreline of West Matagorda Bay to find lots of finger mullet. Water was in decent shape but fading fast, so I eased the boat along the grass line and sunk my Power Pole in the mud. Redfish and trout greeted our offering right away, but only undersized fish, so we moved to reefs around Maverick Bayou.

The first piece of shell we found was about the size of a golf green, and black drum were all over it. The first fish came in at the 14-inch minimum, the next was a inch longer, then longer, then longer, until we were full-blown drum anglers.

Most saltwater enthusiasts have never tasted the sweet, white meat of a juvenile drum – trash fish – some call them. What many folks don’t realize is most restaurants offering redfish on the menu are actually selling black drum.  Wild redfish are a protected gamefish – only farm-raised redfish can be legally sold. And, if drum has ever crossed your palette, you would never utter the word “trash”.

Admittedly, black drum are not the sexiest species on the saltwater scene.  Still, smiling faces and bending rods are what charter captains get paid to do.

As for those days in May when weather isn't a factor, East Bay, West Bay, the surf and jetty are all players. A two-day stretch of early May last year had guide boats shoulder to shoulder on the granite with 3-5 pound trout the norm.

Grass beds in West Bay should begin producing on Bass Assassins, MirrOlures and small Super Spooks. Mid-bay reefs in East Bay should be on fire as well.

From now through the end of fall, possibilities are endless.