COASTAL FORECAST: Matagorda

COASTAL FOCUS: Upper Mid Coast
August 25, 2016
COASTAL FORECAST: Galveston
August 25, 2016

Water Temps Move Fish

I n early September waters in the Gulf of Mexico and East and West Matagorda Bays are at their warmest. Warm water makes for great surf fishing. Later in September, as water cools, fish move, both in the bays and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Surf

Tiny waves rolled over our boots as we shuffled into the surf. To the east, a hole in the dark clouds showed yellow, orange, and red, while shafts of light shot out from the top. Flocks of brown pelicans in single file glided about two feet above the waves, going west. 

I stopped on the first sandbar in waist deep water and cast my ED Special broken-back lure with three treble hooks, and commenced to vigorously whip the rod tip so that the lure would have lots of back and forth action about 18 inches beneath the surface.

On the third cast I felt a fish smash my lure, and I worked the fat 20-inch trout up to me. I kept it in the water, playing it to tire it out before using my Yak Attack Fish Grip to control the fish while I removed the hook with needle nose pliers. I don’t use a net when fishing with a hard plastic lure with multiple treble hooks. That catch was followed by a 17-inch trout and then an 18-inch trout. Then sand trout started hitting. My fishing partner and I caught 35. 

The conditions on this early September day were: clear water, small waves, wind from the north at five to eight mph, incoming tide, 86°F water, and partly cloudy weather at 82 to 90°F. As I drove down the beach to the entrance with the wind blowing through my truck windows and Robert Earl Keen singing about catching a five-pound bass on my stereo, I thought, wow! What a great morning! 

Fishing the Corners

On another day in September, the surf was too rough to fish, so I went to the south shore of West Matagorda Bay. I paddled my kayak into a bayou and saw redfish working the shorelines on both sides, but they wouldn’t take my red and white Bass Assassin soft plastic on a 1/16 ounce jig head.

Then I moved to a cut between a peninsula and an island where the water was from three to five feet deep and the outgoing tide was pushing water through. There I found some hungry fish.

I was swimming my lure parallel to the shoreline, when the first flounder lunged off the bottom and took it. The second flounder was on a corner. When you have currents moving past a corner, drop a lure there, because it is an ideal place for a predator to ambush its prey.

The water temperature was 87°F and the air temperature was 90°F. I went out in the afternoon to catch the outgoing tide, but you are better off going out in the morning at sunrise when it is a bit cooler. Typically the fish will be close to shore at first light, and soon after sunrise they move into the bay where it is deeper and a little cooler.

As the month of September progresses, you will find more fish patrolling the north shorelines in East and West Matagorda Bays. The last two years, my wife and I have gone to the north side of West Matagorda Bay and found the water teeming with bait fish and shrimp, and of course this brings in redfish, trout, and flounders. 

Barracuda in the Gulf of Mexico

When the Gulf of Mexico is at its warmest (87 to 90°F) in early September, some fish go in search of cooler water that has a higher oxygen content, but not barracudas. When I went scuba diving on the rigs last September, barracudas from two to five feet were the dominant fish.

There was no current, visibility was a plankton-clouded 40 feet, and lots of other fish were on the rig—queen angels, sheepsheads, lookdowns, blue fish, mangrove snappers, small groupers, and some large red snappers below the thermocline where it was cooler, but there were no ling or amberjacks. 

After the dive while fishing on the boat, my rod bowed, and reel sang, as a sudden jolt tensed the muscles in my arms. I cranked furiously as—I could—and hung on when the fish made long runs. I caught a fleeting glimpse as the silver torpedo leaped out of the water. When I finally worked the fish up to the boat I could see it was a 3 ½ foot barracuda. 

Baracuda on the rigs.

When a barracuda is aggravated, it darts about and leaps out of the water, while continuously opening and closing a large mouth filled with long needle-like teeth, which fit into holes on the opposing jaw. So it was time to decide whether or not I wanted to keep this fish for table fare.

I decided to let it go, carefully avoiding the teeth as I cut the line. I used to eat barracuda, but Dr. Tracy Villareal, a marine scientist with the University of Texas, and others have shown that some barracudas can harbor ciguatera, a disease that can attack the nervous system of people who eat it.

Greater Amberjacks are in season in September, though you may have to go farther offshore to cooler, deeper water to find them. Ling and kingfish are in season, not so water temperature sensitive, and can be found off the beach and jetties in September.

 

If the surf is calm, that’s the place to fish in September. One September morning my wife, my dog and I walked three miles down the beach and witnessed phenomenal fishing. We saw people of all sorts, fishing with all sorts of tackle, bait and lures, catching gafftop sailfish, speckled trout, redfish, sharks, ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and other species.

Email Mike Price at

[email protected]

 

THE BANK BITE

If the surf is calm, that’s the place to fish in September. One September morning my wife, my dog and I walked three miles down the beach and witnessed phenomenal fishing. We saw people of all sorts, fishing with all sorts of tackle, bait and lures, catching gafftop sailfish, speckled trout, redfish, sharks, ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and other species.

Email Mike Price at [email protected]

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