I t was mid-February and the water temperature was 59°F. Jeff Wiley and I waited until late afternoon to launch our kayaks in the Old Colorado River to give the sun time to warm the water, and then we paddled across the river to Parker’s Cut.
If it is mostly sunny, water temperatures will increase by around 5°F as the day progresses. A boat was anchored where we pulled our kayaks out of the water.
Parker’s Cut used to be an opening between the river and West Matagorda Bay. Now there is about 200 yards of land between the river and the bay. Jeff and I speculated that the people in the boat walked over to the bay to go wade fishing. We carried our kayaks to the bay and re-launched.
Parker’s Cut is a good winter fishing spot because five bayous converge and the water, in places, is three to five feet deep. In the winter, fish tend to be in, or close to deep water because the water temperature on the bottom is slightly warmer.
I started dropping my realistic looking Egret Baits five-inch Wedgetail Mullet into the deep water and worked it very slowly. The reason I chose that lure is that it is realistic looking. In the colder months, algae drops out of the water, making it very clear. Fish are more likely to strike a bait that looks like their normal food.
I worked the lure slowly, because fish are cold-blooded and as such when the water is cold, their metabolism slows down. Their bite becomes faint, like a small child tugging on your shirt sleeve.
I felt that light tug and waited until I could feel the lure move, then set the hook. It helps to use braided line in cold water because the feel of the bite transfers to your hand more distinctly than it does using monofilament line.
I caught four trout, but only one at 16-inches was over the legal keeper size. Jeff was fishing where the water depth changed near the shoreline, and he laid into a real rod-bender. He thought it was a redfish until he saw the black and white specks breaking the surface. The handsome trout had a large girth, measured 24-inches, and weighed five pounds.
We saw three guys wade fishing. They were from the boat anchored on the river side of the land bridge. When they waded across the bayous going out, they didn’t have any problem with the depth of the water, but the tide had come in while they fished. As they made their way across the now deeper bayous, we heard loud complaints as the cold water flowed into their waders.
Normally, tides are on the low side in February. If you add a north wind to an already low tide, you can get water that is too low to run a boat in. Or, you can anchor, the tide goes out, and your boat is stuck. So check the tide tables and consider the wind before venturing out on your fishing trip.
On another day last February, I was fishing with Mike Miller in West Matagorda Bay. He was catching trout while I wasn’t. I think the reason Mike hooked up and I didn’t, was that he was wade fishing, and I was drifting in my kayak. The bite was really faint. Because he was stationary and I was moving, he could feel it and I couldn’t. His line was taut, while mine had slack in it at times.
One day last February my wife and I went to Phillips Bayou on the south shore of West Matagorda Bay. We had a strong outgoing tide, 55°F water temperature, a cloudy day with a high air temperature of 68°F, light south wind, and a barometric pressure of 29.8.
The redfish were turned on and we enjoyed a good day. On the same day, Eddie Vacek was fishing Greens Bayou on the west end of West Matagorda Bay.
“I got a hit or a hook up on every cast,” he told me.
Also on the same day, four guys who were kayak fishing at Keller Bay told me they caught 100 trout and kept 20.
NOAA weather predicts that we will have a warmer and dryer winter than normal. Normal for February is 2.5 inches of rain.
If this amount of rain is spaced over several days, it will not affect the water visibility or salinity very much. However, if we get a lot of rain over consecutive days, fresh water will pour into the rivers and creeks that drain into the bays and make fishing more challenging.
To see how much the Colorado and Tres Palacios Rivers are rising, go to www.weather.gov/hgx/. Then go to the bottom of the page and click on “Local Rivers, Lakes, and Bayous.” Then click on Colorado and Tres Palacios Rivers.
When cold water makes its way to the beach, red snapper follow. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, and consequently you will sometimes find red snappers in Texas waters.
Less than nine miles offshore, it’s legal to take four snappers that are at least 15 inches in Texas waters. You can fish rigs and bottom structure. We should have at least part of the new offshore reef in February. This reef is about 7 miles off Matagorda Beach. Chris Ledford from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Artificial Reef Program told me that “Reefing started in October, 2016.”
The coordinates for the reef, BA-439 – Matagorda – are: 28 31’ 01.100” N and 095 46’ 53.190” W.
Night Fishing at Palacios Pier: In Palacios, the main pier at South Bay Boulevard and 5th Street is lit up at night and a great place to fish. The lights attract bait fish which in turn bring in trout and other predators. The pier is wheelchair accessible, and has restrooms at the beach end.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]