A fter putting my boat on the trailer, I talked with Jim Sides from Palacios Paddle Sports, a kayak fishing guide service. Jim had just put his kayak on his truck after fishing in Carancahua Bay. He had limited on redfish, and fishing on the north side of West Matagorda Bay, he limited on trout.
“Fish move to the north side of the bay at this time of year,” he said. It was late October, and my wife and I had just returned from fishing Turtle Bay on the north side of West Matagorda Bay.
We had birds working over redfish, which were feeding on shrimp at a spot where an outgoing tide was pushing water out of back lakes. In addition, we found trout in water from four to six feet deep in Turtle Bay, so like Jim, we had had a good day.
Typically, water temperatures are in the low 80s at the beginning of October and close to 60 degrees at the end of the month. This big change, along with the shortening days, causes the fish to actively pursue food in anticipation of cooler months when crabs, shrimp, and baitfish are harder to find. North winds drop temperatures and, at times, blow hard enough to require prudent fishermen and women to seek the protection of leeward shorelines.
On October 18 last year, my wife and I went to Zipparian Bayou on the east side of West Matagorda Bay. The wind was howling at 15 to 25 mph out of the northeast. We fished from our kayaks using the shoreline as a windbreak and, by working at it, managed to catch a couple of redfish.
I was going south and I spotted the wake of a redfish going north. I didn’t have time to pull my arm back for a cast and the fish was only ten feet in front of me. I flicked my three-inch yellow Wedge Tail Egret Baits minnow so that it would swim across the path of the fish, and the 24-inch redfish went for it. My wife, Janet, had paddled to the east shore of the cove and was drifting out using her drift anchor, when I noticed a big bend in her rod. She landed a 26-inch redfish using a Chicken-on-a-chain Bass Assassin.
For several days before this strong wind came up, the wind had been lighter, but still out of the northeast. Mike Miller and Eddie Vacek fished the Lavaca Bay side of Smith Point where Lavaca Bay and Keller Bay meet. This location is close to the far northwest side of West Matagorda Bay. They enjoyed limits on trout each day.
East Matagorda Bay can offer spectacular fishing under the birds in October and November. White shrimp use the outgoing tide to guide them offshore where they grow and spawn. Trout and redfish feed on the shrimp from below, while gulls, terns, and brown pelicans gorge from above.
When you see this, approach in a manner that will not disrupt all this great feeding activity. Circle to the windward side of the birds, cut your engine, and drift to the action. Of course, you should be respectful of other boats and fishers in the process.
Another fun way to fish East Matagorda Bay in this month of temperatures dropping is to kayak the back lakes. I have found redfish, flounders, and trout chasing bait in these back lakes on rainy, cloudy and windy October days.
Redfish cruise shorelines in the fall. This is good because you can see their wakes and fins. It’s challenging because you have to get a lure to them without losing it to oysters. I was using a pearl/chartreuse Mambo Mullet from Egret Baits, which had a ¼-ounce factory installed jig, and swam the lure over shallow oysters in about 12 inches of water. A 20-inch red hit the Mambo Mullet and I put it on the stringer. Then a 17 ½-inch flounder hit the lure, and this was soon followed by a 16-inch flounder.
But then I got both of the Mambo Mullets that I had with me caught in oysters and lost them. I like this lure because it has a wedge tail that creates movement and sound, so you do not have to work the lure. You can just swim it straight over the oysters, but I found that ¼ ounce is too heavy for this situation. So I switched to a pearl/chartreuse Bass Assassin on a 1/16-ounce jig head. It attracted fish as well, and stayed above the oyster reefs.
Falling water temperatures and shorter days trigger feeding in the bays and make the month of October a fine time to be out there casting.
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Location:In the village of Matagorda, a bridge goes over the Intracoastal Waterway carrying vehicles to the beach. Under this bridge, on both sides, you will find places to bank fish. Most of the time water is moving swiftly, so use a ½ ounce weight or more to keep your bait from moving with the current. Live bait is best, but fresh dead shrimp will attract a bite as well.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]