Does freshwater runoff affect the Matagorda Bay system? “The west end East Bay salinity almost never changes,” says long time Matagorda fishing guide, Tommy Countz.
“First time I ever seen this,” continued Countz, “drift fishing down on the east end, I had a 15 year old that caught a 27 inch trout that weighed 7 lbs. Two days before a buddy of mine who had done a drift had two 8s and a 7. I know of two different people who have caught trout over 10 lbs drifting over the middle bay.”
He describes the big trout producer area as a big mud flat, but no shell around it.
“Some guides and other anglers have been using live bait, but we have been using Gulp on a lead head, probably fishing in 6 feet of water,” continued Countz. “It’s been good when the wind is down and you can get out and fish.”
West Bay is a different situation. There was fresh water from the Colorado River entering into the bay.
“When you get these southeast winds it pushes the freshwater back onto the north shoreline, you can run down the bay maybe seven or eight miles and get into the saltwater, the Cullen Houses….all the way down to Greens and beyond. Every morning there is just tons of bait up against the shoreline. All the rain keeps the water a little bit cooler. Fish and everything seems to be a little more active. We have been limiting out most times, wade fishing, catching good trout, and some redfish mixed in.”
Favorite baits: MirrOlure soft plastics, pre-sccented, the Marsh Minnow and the Soft Shad, mainly in black/chartreuse tail. Dark colors have been the best producers. Countz and his customers have picked up a few trout on topwaters first thing in the morning.
“The differene right now,” explains Countz,” is these fish aren’t real aggressive, just picking up the bait and you have feel them. You might think you’re hung on the bottom. Start watching your line. If the line moves, then you start cranking down. If you set the hook too fast, they will drop it. Once they get it, they try to swallow it all the way down. People who don’t fish that much, they have to catch a fish or two realize what they need to be doing.”
Learning how to fish a topwater: “I remember when I first started sight casting for the redfish. You could watch them in the clear water swim up to take the bait. The knee jerk reaction is to jerk it away from them. I’d jerked it out before they even got it good.
“Finally I watched the fish swimming up toward the topwater, shut my eyers until I felt the rod bend over, and then I started hooking them. After that I kind of lost that buck fever. I have more ice water in my veins now than I did 40 years ago.
“With a plastic you have to learn how the fish wants it … do they want it fast, want you to swim it, do they want it slow. Sometimes you have to flick, flick, flick and stop, letting it settle to the bottom and start it all over again. Once you figure out what the fish want on that particular day then you start doing well with it.
“That’s the problem I have with customers. I watch them how they are fishing. Once I figure it out I have to explain it to them, watch them, and correct what they are doing wrong.”