T he day after thanksgiving, last year I went fishing with my grandson Ian. While we were launching our kayaks in the back waters of East Matagorda Bay, another kayak fisherman was returning from fishing in the bay and the back lakes and bayous. He held up a stringer with a limit of reds, and a limit of trout. Encouraged by his success, we paddled into the lake.
Ian was 12 years old and had very little fishing experience, but he listened to my instructions, “Let the lure drop when it hits the water; fish like to strike on the drop. If you know you are fishing over a shallow oyster reef, hold your rod tip high and run the soft plastic lure over the reef. You will not get your lure caught. Predators like to hang in holes in the reef and will come up to take your lure.”
His first fish was a 14-inch redfish. He hollered, “Granddad look!” And held up his net, “What is it?”
I showed him how to remove the hook and gently return the fish to the water. Then he caught a 13-inch trout and a 12-inch flounder, and released them after learning what species they were.
There was a small bayou where water was draining into the lake, and I told him to drop his lure into that spot. Soon Ian had a big bend in his rod. I had not taught him how to keep his rod tip up and reel as you lower it a bit when he has a big fish on. However, he instinctively handled his rod and reel correctly, his jaw jutting out in determination as he worked the fish to his kayak.
With the fish in his net and the net in his lap, he looked over at me with a huge grin and held his hands far apart. I measured the hefty trout at 21 inches.
Ian was hooked on fishing. He took the fish home to Dallas, cooked it and shared it with his mom, dad, and sister.
November offers many different fishing options. Friday the Thirteenth is supposed to be an unlucky day. However, with a degree of creativity and many casts, I enjoyed a good day of fishing last November 13th in the backwaters of East Matagorda Bay even though the wind was blowing 15-20 mph out of the northeast.
Using an Egret Baits Zulu shrimp I caught and released a 19-inch redfish. Then I changed to an Egret Baits Wedge Tail Minnow and caught and released a couple of small trout and a small red. Finally I worked a keeper fish, a flounder, up to my net when it spit out the lure and swam away.
Flounders are hard to hook because they have a boney mouth making it difficult to get a hook set, and they sometimes bite a bait or soft plastic just below the hook. So I changed to a Flounder Pounder, a lure with hooks on the tail end of the soft plastic, thinking, “I’ll get those flounders.”
Well, I didn’t catch any flounder, but I was pleased to learn that large trout will hit a Flounder Pounder, and I caught a 19-inch and a 22-inch trout. My wife’s comment was, “Nobody told the trout that only flounders were allowed to hit that lure.”
Redfish roam the surf in November. The way to fish for them is to use a long rod to help get your bait well offshore. Set up a two and a half foot leader with a swivel at the end that connects to your line and a snap swivel with a weight attached on the other end. Put 12-inch leader lines with circle hooks on each swivel. Use fresh cut mullet, if you can get it, for bait. You may want to put out two or three rods and then sit in a comfortable chair with your favorite beverage and wait for the rods to bend.
Texas fishing regulations state that you can keep one redfish that is over 28 inches. Large redfish are breeders and many fishermen and women return them to the water. The jetties are also a great place to catch reds in November. November is one of the best months to fish the surf and bays of Matagorda because cooling water and weather along with shorter days trigger fish feeding activity.
Olivia Haterius Park: About 15 minutes west of Palacios on Highway 35 turn left onto Highway 172 and follow it to Olivia Haterius Park. This park has a bulkhead to fish from, a place to launch boats and kayaks, and a children’s play area. It is a great place for family members who like to fish as well as those who like to do other outdoor activities. Buy your bait in Palacios (or use a cast net) because there are no bait shops in Olivia.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]