I n March, fish feed when the water is moving and is relatively high.
On March 24 last year, Jeff Wiley and I went through Braggs Cut and into the Diversion Channel where we found brown, fresh water, and dodged logs on our way into West Matagorda Bay. As we ran ten miles west, the water changed to dark green, and finally clear light green.
The water level in the bayous, lakes and along the shoreline was high enough to paddle a kayak in, but not high enough to hold fish. Each of us caught six or seven rat reds in the bay, but no big fish. So we paddled back to the boat and had lunch.
The afternoon was a different story. Incoming tide had pushed water into the lakes and bayous, and this moving water was stirring up the feeding activity. I saw small shrimp jumping out of the water near the shoreline.
I ran my Chicken-on-a-Chain Bass Assassin on a 1/16-ounce jig head with a little piece of Fishbite attached, over the spot. It was taken by a 16-inch flounder.
The flounder destroyed my Bass Assassin, so I put on a white Sparkle Beetle and headed into a bayou. I dropped the lure into a hole on a bend, and a 17-inch speckled trout went for it.
Encouraged, and thinking a redfish would make this a Texas Triple, I paddled the shoreline of a lake adjacent to the bay, and was soon rewarded with a strong hit by a redfish. This completed my catch of a keeper trout, redfish, and flounder and qualified me to bragging rights (even if only to myself) on a Texas Triple. Rising water and current had certainly turned the fish on and I went on to catch and release several more redfish.
Of course, not every day in March will produce. Fishing in this winter-turns-to-spring month has some special challenges. Algae is sometimes abundant because the water is very clear and warming. At times it is difficult to find a place to swim your lure without getting covered with algae. The best way to deal with this is to fish a leeward area. The wind will push the algae away from the shore and you will be able fish there.
Low water can also be a problem, so study the tides and winds prior to going out. A wind with east in it, southeast, east, or northeast, will push water in, and a north wind will push water out.
If you go out when the water is high, you will probably find more fish feeding in the backwaters. If you have a strong outgoing flow and you position yourself at a spot where a marsh is draining and then fish across the flow, you will have a good shot at hungry fish.
One day last March, I fished a stretch of the shoreline where there was algae in the water, and the water was low and slowly incoming. I did not do well at all. On that same day some friends fished deep holes at the back of a bayou, and did very well. These deep holes on the south side of back bayous are places free of algae on a south wind and they can hold fish.
In early March the water is usually very clear, and this enables the fish to have a good look at your offering. Live shrimp is best in this situation, but if you are going to use soft plastics, select a lure that looks like the real thing.
I like Egret Baits Zulu shrimp in natural and brown colors, and Egret Baits Wedge Tail minnows in black and bone flash colors. If you prefer a hard bait, you can’t go wrong with the ED Special, it looks and acts real. The ED Special is available by calling the man who makes it, Eddie Douglas at 979-245-5901.
The weather prediction is wetter than normal for March 2016. This creates another factor to consider when going fishing. I was on my way to meet a fishing friend at Matagorda Harbor and go fishing in West Matagorda Bay.
On the drive I went over the Colorado River on FM 521. We hadn’t had rain for a week, so I figured the river would be a pretty light green color, and we would be able to fish on the east end of West Matagorda Bay. But the river was raging brown and loaded with logs, so I knew that West Bay was not a good place to fish.
Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) had decided to release water because it had been raining upstream. To see the water flow above Matagorda go to www.lcra.org Hydromet and click on Bay City.
East Matagorda Bay does not get the fresh water input like West Bay does and has good water clarity even after we get a lot of rain, so we fished East Bay on that day. Another approach when the Colorado River is spewing brown water is to launch at Palacios and fish the west end of West Matagorda Bay.
Location: Palacios Jetties and Piers: Approaching Palacios from the east, highway 35 goes along Tres Palacios Bay into this picturesque little town. About a block after leaving the highway you will see a new store called The Point. The store is owned by Bryan and Yen Tran and Bryan has been fishing in this area for 30 years. He stocked his store with fishing tackle and bait using his extensive knowledge of what actually catches fish.
When you continue past The Point you will come to the north side of West Matagorda Bay on South Bay Boulevard. At 4th Street a public pier is wheel chair accessible and has public restrooms. At 6th Street and South Bay Boulevard a public boat launch with a jetty is a good place to fish.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]