W hen the wind comes from the west, southwest, or northwest, it turns the water brown in East and West Matagorda Bays. This makes for challenging fishing.
It is possible to find a spot with fairly clear water, and you can even use a northwest wind to your advantage. Last May I went to West Matagorda Bay when the wind was from the west at 13 mph. I selected a bayou on the south side that had a peninsula projecting well into the bay, and I fished on the leeward side of this peninsula.
I found 18 inches of water visibility, which is about what I like. It was clear enough for the fish to see the lure, but not so clear that the lure scares the fish. After I arrived, the wind switched from the west to the northwest and pushed water into the bayou. This increased the movement of water over an oyster reef that I was running soft plastic lures over.
Trout were feeding on the reef. On this day, there was a foot of water over the reef, it was loaded with bait, and moving. I have fished this reef on other days when the water was only a few inches above the reef, and trout were not there.
To keep from snagging my lure in the oysters, I used a light, 1/16 ounce jig head and a small light lure, a yellow Sparkle Beetle from H&H Lures. The first fish was a 16-inch trout, soon after a 22-inch trout, then an 18-inch trout. Finally I laid into the fish of the day, a head-shaking, hard charging, 24-inch speckled trout.
On May 25 last year, the wind was from the south at 10 to 20 mph, a strong tide was incoming, and the barometric pressure was 29.98 and rising. I went to East Matagorda Bay and took advantage of the high water to paddle my kayak far into the back lakes and bayous.
I found bait fish that were getting busted, and got a couple of strikes on an Egret Baits five-inch Wedge Tail Minnow, but did not get a hookset because I was using too small of a hook for that soft plastic. I switched to a yellow Sparkle Beetle and started working my way out of the bayou when I glanced over at a little clump of grass in the shallow water.
Adjacent to it I saw what I thought was a redfish back. I lobbed my Sparkle Beetle in the vicinity, no hit. I tried again, no hit.
I tried a third time. Something took it and started swimming toward me. I waited and then set the hook. At first I thought it was a big redfish, but soon I saw that it was a very big trout.
The fish fought well, and I netted it. Unfortunately the lure was buried in the gullet of the fish, so rather than return it to the water I kept the 26-inch trout.
To find out what happened in West Matagorda Bay under these conditions, back at the harbor I talked to Charlie Paradoski, a Matagorda guide, and some other fishermen who had gone west. They all did very well. They said that there were rafts of mullet in West Matagorda Bay, and the reds and trout were really hitting.
Offshore fishing in May can be awesome. Warming water brings ling and king mackerel into waters less than 100 feet deep or about 30 miles offshore from the Matagorda jetties.
If you venture beyond 100 feet, you may catch amberjack, tuna, dorado, or wahoo, but first you have to go through the jetties. According to the Bay City Tribune, on June 16 last year, Ouinton Edwards and Kristy Van Orden went through the jetties in a 29-foot Panga fishing boat at a high rate of speed, jumping as the boat hit the waves.
“The waters were pretty choppy,” Matagorda County Game Warden, David Janssen said. “They decided to turn around because it was too rough, and once they turned around the vessel capsized.” Neither passenger was wearing a lifejacket. Edwards swam to the jetty and Van Orden drowned.
On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend last year, Brian Tulloch took some friends offshore in his 27-foot catamaran. A south wind was pushing water in, and a strong outgoing tide was pushing water out.
These forces collided where the jetties meet the Gulf of Mexico. “With a strong ebb tide (outgoing) and river flow from the recent floods,” Brian said, “there were three sets of four foot breakers at the river mouth. “ I used full power and ran straight into the waves and got out with no problem.”
He was concerned about getting back in through the jetties because the south wind had increased to 15 knots, he had lost one of this two engines, and he had to go through the turbulence at the jetty entrance.
“I realized that if the tide was flowing out against the incoming seas,” he said. “We would have three rows of breakers to face. I planned to anchor in the lee of the west jetty until it turned to flood (incoming) again. Fortunately we made the last of the flood and although rough, there were no breakers.”
Outdoor adventures come with risks, so each of us should evaluate the situation and our limitations, and base our decisions on the safety of ourselves and our passengers.
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The Colorado River Piers: FM 2031 from the village of Matagorda to the end of the road at Matagorda Jetty Park is seven miles. The road runs parallel to the Colorado River.
There are two piers available for public fishing off FM 2031. The pier near the LCRA RV Park is lighted and has a cleaning table. The second pier is about a mile north, it has easy access, but it is not lighted.
You might want to use a fairly heavy weight or a weight with prongs when you fish from these piers, so your bait goes to the bottom and stays in one place. The tidal movement and, at times, fresh water outflow can create formidable currents, and you don’t want your bait to be hanging high in the water column.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]