Listen for the Sound of… No Sound
K nowing when to change your location or lure is one of the challenges anglers have.
Last June I went to the south shore of West Matagorda Bay with Jeff Wiley and my wife, Janet. The 84 degree water was tinged brown from recent rains, and the tide was incoming.
I fished the shoreline but did not find any fish, and Janet tried a bayou with the same non-productive results. Then she paddled her kayak about a half mile out into the bay while I continued to search for fish in the back waters. Jeff waded out into the bay fishing the surface with a MirrOlure Top Dog. He got a dozen blowups, but no hook ups.
Janet found bait fish exploding in an effort to escape redfish, and she dropped a Chicken on a Chain Bass Assassin into those areas. She came back to the boat with two keeper reds, and said she had additional hits and hookups. Under these circumstances, Janet had the right approach, use a soft plastic and fish the guts out into the bay.
On that day, we arrived at our fishing site well after sunrise and both the air and shallow water were getting warm. Long-time Matagorda fisherman, Eddie Vacek and I were talking about locating fish in June and he said, “When it is hot outside, those fish are on the shoreline very early in the morning and then they move out into the second or third gut in the bay. They will move back onto the shoreline in the evening when it cools down.”
Wade fishermen will tell you the terrain in the bay varies continuously in depth, and these deep areas hold fish. It is also deeper in the bay than on the shoreline, and therefore, a little cooler. This is why Jeff and Janet had fish hitting their lures. But Janet was landing fish while Jeff was left with only blowups. Sometimes fish will attack, but not eat, topwater lures. That’s what happened to Jeff.
The sound of surf pounding the beach is welcome and tranquil for the casual beach walker, but for the surf fisher it is disappointing. Some surf fishermen and women like to wade out past the first, or even the second gut, because that’s where the action is. Unless you have a calm day, you are asking to be pounded like the beach.
I lived on the beach for two years. Each morning, well before daylight, I went out on the deck and listened for the sound of…no sound—no surf bashing the sand. When the sea was so calm that I couldn’t hear waves, I put on my wading belt, picked up my rod, and walked over the dunes.
Picture standing in waist deep water while the sun spreads yellow and orange light through the clouds to the east. Add shrimp, sardines, mullet, and menhaden blasting out of the water because they are being chased by trout, spanish mackerels, jack crevalles and other species. It’s worth getting out of bed early for; but when you add “fish on” to that scene, you are pretty close to nirvana.
That’s great if you are catching a species of fish that you want, such as trout, redfish, or Spanish mackerel. At times, however, cutlassfish or ribbonfish, one- to three-foot-long, slender, silver fish with sharp teeth are in the area. If you are fishing with soft plastics or shrimp, you will usually come back with one half of your lure or bait bitten off.
If you do hook a cutlassfish, just return it to the water because it is mostly bones with very little meat. Small sharks patrol the beach waters and will hit both artificial lures and live or dead shrimp (though they prefer bait fish).
The minimum keeper size for sharks is 54 inches, and you usually do not catch sharks that big in the surf. To safely remove a small shark, carry a gripper and needle-nose pliers; grip the shark’s mouth and remove the hook using your pliers.
Sometimes you get into gafftopsail catfish. Their dorsal and pectoral fins are poisonous, so again use the gripper and needle-nose pliers to remove the hook from the fish. Many people keep gafftopsail catfish, because they are good eating.
June first is the opening of red snapper season in federal waters. The length of the season will be announced on the website www.gulfcouncil.org. In 2014 and 2015 the season was only 9 or 10 days.
When you are fishing in the bays and your lure or location is not working, make a change. Pick the right days to fish the surf, and come prepared to remove fish safely.
THE BANK BITE
Matagorda Beach Matagorda has 22 miles of beach, and June usually has several calm days. When you drive on the beach use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, I have seen many people get stuck in their two-wheel-drive cars and trucks.
Look for birds working close enough to cast to. Lots of shell on the beach indicates a cut through the sand bar. Places with current flowing in and out of cuts often have predator fish cruising through in search of prey.
Email Mike Price at
Email Mike Price at ContactUs@fishgame.com