M ay fishing out of the Matagorda area offers plenty for anglers who venture into the Gulf as well as those who stick closer to shore.
Going more than fifty miles offshore requires a boat designed for long distances and rough seas—and a knowledgeable captain. The reward is catching bigger, wilder, and more exciting species than can be found closer to shore.
On May 22 we left Freeport aboard Chip Homesly’s 48-foot Viking as the sun was setting. We motored throughout the night at eight knots.
I was resting on the forward seat of the flying bridge, in front of where Ken Richardson and Buddy Wolf were driving the boat. They were throwing around stories about the “biggest snapper I’ve ever seen” and the “70-pound wahoo.” Their conversation entertained me while I felt the sea breeze wafting through the opening in the zip plastic curtains, and listened to the swish-swash of the waves and the rumble of the diesel engines.
Chip backed into Cerveza, a platform 80 miles offshore, a little before daylight, and we dropped Shimano Butterfly vertical jigging lures to 50 feet of depth. If we didn’t get a bite, we dropped them another 50 feet.
At between 150 and 200 feet we found the bite, and Ken fought a 30-inch blackfin tuna to the boat. At the same time I had a fish on. I could tell by the way it pulled and ran that it was bigger than Ken’s blackfin. It took fifteen minutes of serious lifting and reeling before I wrestled the 55-pound amberjack close enough to the boat to gaff. After we caught a couple more tuna, the bite was off; so we rigged for trolling.
Using ballyhoo on two hooks under an Islander jig with a skirt, we put five lines out: two using outriggers, two on each corner, and one in the middle. Then we trolled between Cerveza and West Cerveza.
Our first taker was a 10-foot sailfish, and we enjoyed the process of catching and releasing it. The next taker was a 20 pound female dorado, which leaped and ran to everyone’s delight. The following fish was another green and gold dorado, a little smaller than the first one.
For lunch we enjoyed sashimi (raw tuna) with wasabi, soy sauce, and ginger. Then we found a sort of weed line that consisted of Sargasso weed clumps and a brown slime and followed it hoping for a strike. After about 15 minutes an 18-pound wahoo obliged.
Last May brought high winds from the southeast and very high tides to the bays. Finding the fish can be a challenge when water moves over the marsh.
Usually I fish the back waters in lakes and bayous working the shorelines and reefs. However, when Allan Berger and I went out, the 15-25 mph southeast wind and strong incoming tide had pushed water over areas that were usually dry.
Neither of us found fish in the back lakes. Then we found that under these circumstances fish were hanging out in the bay about 20 yards out from the entrance to a back lake. In that area Allan caught a 19-inch trout, a 14-inch trout and I caught two redfish that were 24 and 25 inches.
After each of us caught the first fish, we continued to fish the area where that fish was found, and it paid off. Once you locate fish, if you move your cast about 10 feet each time, there is a very good chance that you’ll hook up with additional fish.
High winds cause some interesting and potentially dangerous situations. On May 13, Mike Miller set out from Port O’Connor in his boat by himself to meet Eddie Vacek 20 miles away on the south shore of West Matagorda Bay. The wind was blowing 25 mph out of the SE and thunder storms were threatening.
Mike got to the jetty near Airport Lakes when he lost his prop. He put his anchor out, but it did not hold. The wind blew him all the way to Picnic Beach on the west side of the Port O’Connor jetties. Finally he was able to push the bow of the boat up on the beach to stop it from moving and work on the prop problem.
Mike is an air conditioning expert and very mechanical. He had an extra prop, but he did not have a nut. The old prop had come off because he had used a non-stainless-steel cotter key, and it rusted.
In the meantime, Eddie was worried about Mike, and he went out in his boat looking for him, but did not find him. After several hours Eddie called the Coast Guard. They started looking for Mike, and finally found him seven hours after he had lost his prop.
Mike had fashioned a nut out of the terminal of a battery. It had taken him all that time to do that. Just as the Coast Guard arrived, he was ready to run, so they escorted him back to Port O’Connor. Now Mike carries an extra prop, nut, stainless steel cotter key—and a VHF radio.
Far offshore waters in May can yield some world-class fishing. Predator fish are very active in East and West Matagorda Bays because water temperatures are just right. The bays are loaded with bait fish, but before you go on an inshore or offshore trip, make sure you are comfortable with the weather and bring along emergency supplies.
Location:Oyster Lake is located at the intersection of West Matagorda Bay and Tres Palacios Bay. It is about 2.3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Fresh water flows into it from creeks, and salt water flows through the lake with openings to the Intracoastal Waterway and Tres Palacios Bay.
You can drive up to the shoreline of Tres Palacios Bay and fish or launch a kayak. Wade fishing is good because there is a hard sand bottom on the bay side. To get to Oyster Lake turn south from FM 521 on FM 1095, turn left on 378, right on 373, and left on 365. It takes about 18 minutes to get to Oyster Lake from FM 521.
Email Mike Price at
Email Mike Price at [email protected]