COASTAL FOCUS: Upper Mid Coast
March 25, 2017
March 25, 2017

Fishing in Off- Colored Water

O n April 25th, 2016, I was trying to figure out where my wife Janet and I could go fishing. We had received about three times the normal April rainfall, and most of the rain had fallen in just a few days.

A tremendous amount of fresh water was flowing into West Matagorda Bay from the Colorado River and the Tres Palacios Rivers because of recent rains. The road to the beach in Matagorda was covered with water, and the locks were closed to barge traffic. Large logs were a major hazard in the Diversion Channel and West Matagorda Bay.

I could go to East Matagorda Bay, because it does not have a river dumping huge amounts of water into it, or I could go west to Keller Bay, which didn’t get quite as much rain and is fed by Keller Creek rather than a river.

We opted for Keller Bay. When we arrived at the south shore, I was relieved to find that the water had visibility of one and a half feet, and bait fish were active.

By April, flounders are back in the bays after their journey offshore to spawn, and Janet caught a 15-½ inch flounder using a yellow Sparkle Beetle after just a few casts. Then she landed a 21-½ inch redfish. I tossed my Chicken on a Chain five-inch Bass Assassin soft plastic lure into the mouth of a bayou, and it surfaced in the mouth of a large trout that was angrily shaking its head.

According to long time Bay City fisherman, Eddie Douglas, trout will do this instinctively to get rid of a parasite which in this case was my lure. It worked. The lure came out, and the trout swam off.

I caught several more fish that were undersized and returned them to the water, while Janet scored a Texas Triple by adding a trout to her stringer.

If you fish water that is mostly fresh and milky-brown colored, you can still stimulate a bite even though the fish may only barely be able to see your lure. Of course, first you have to find the fish.

Last April, Eddie Vacek, an experienced Matagorda fisherman and a friend, went to a bayou on the north side of West Matagorda Bay. He motored up the off-colored, mostly fresh water bayou and then tossed a cast net several times, catching 15 mullet that were between 8 and 12 inches. Then he made a cut on the mullet that went from the dorsal fin back to the anal fin in order to put out a strong smell, and hooked the mullet with a size 8/0 J hook entering under the jaw and coming out the head. They quietly poled up the bayou, tossing the mullet under popping corks and limited on redfish in 30 minutes. 

If you are going to use artificial lures, it is really best to have some visibility, say about eight inches; but with artificials, you can take advantage of the ultra-sensitive ability of fish to smell, hear and feel movement.

When fishing with soft plastics use a dark color, which the fish can see better in low visibility water. Use lures that make noise and create vibrations such as the Egret Baits Wedge Tail Minnow, which has a tail that flutters.

Some lures, both hard and soft, have a rattle built in. Spoons flutter, as well as reflect any sunlight that may penetrate the water. Add smell by using lures with built-in scent such as Gulp, or add scent to soft plastic lures by putting a little piece of Fishbite on the hook. 

In December, I witnessed an example of how sensitive fish are to noise and vibrations. I was kayak fishing in a bayou in 1-1/2 foot-deep water, when very faintly at a distance of about three miles I heard duck hunters shooting. As soon as the shots went off several redfish created mud boils and swam off and then, 30 minutes later, the same thing happened. 

When the wind is light, I like to drift fish Half Moon Reef on the West side of West Matagorda Bay. In early April last year, Mike Miller and I drifted over the artificial structure that makes up Half Moon reef. He was catching trout between 17 and 21 inches, but I was not even getting bites.

We talked about it afterwards and determined that he was working his lure on the bottom while I was staying above the structure, so that I would not catch my lures on structure. Mike lost five lures, but he also caught his limit of five trout. 

If you have a torrent of fresh water pouring into West Matagorda Bay, go to East Matagorda Bay or try Keller Bay. Even if the water is off-color, you can stimulate the bite with live mullet or artificial lures. 


Email Mike Price at

[email protected]



Oyster Lake: Bank, Wade, or Kayak Fish Oyster Lake. There are several places to bank, wade, or kayak fish at Oyster Lake: You can fish next to the bridge, and you can fish a bulkheaded sand peninsula. If you have a strong outgoing tide, you may want to wade fish the point where water flows from Oyster Lake to Tres Palacios Bay. Trout like to feed at this spot and under these circumstances.

To get to Oyster Lake turn south from FM 521 on FM 1095, turn left on 378, right on 373, and left on 365. It takes about 18 minutes to get to Oyster Lake from FM 521.


Email Mike Price at [email protected]

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