D ecember this year is supposed to be warmer than normal, but the whole earth is warmer than normal, and that seems to be the new normal. In 2016, with the exception of a few really cold and wet days, December’s temperatures were higher than the usual 40°F low and 70°F high. On several days, the fish were really turned on.
On December 14 the skies were overcast, and it was 60°F when I went to the south shore of West Matagorda Bay. The water in the back lakes and bayous was really low, green, and had 18 inches of visibility. When the water is low, grass shrimp, crabs, and baitfish have to leave the protection of grassy areas and move into deeper water, and then they become easy pickings for redfish.
I had just barely enough water to float my kayak, six inches, as I paddled into the bayou and witnessed two schools of redfish chasing grass shrimp in a gut that was 18 inches deep. I saw eight reds break the water at the same time, gulp shrimp and then roll back beneath the water. When water in a back bayou is less than 12 inches deep and you find holes or guts that hold 18 to 24 inches of water, you will find redfish.
In late December, on a mostly sunny day with an air temperature of 75°F, I fished a winding bayou on the north side of West Matagorda Bay. I was kayaking by a spot where water drained from the bayou into the bay and I heard splashing.
When I went around a corner, my kayak drifted over a school of redfish that, unawares, were resting on the bottom. I scared the hell out of them and when they all scattered simultaneously they scared the hell out of me, so my lure did not hit the water in search of those reds. The water was pouring out of the bayou, and a dozen red drum were coming my way, chasing little shrimp and baby pinfish. This time I placed my pearl/chartreuse three-inch paddletail Bass Assassin in front of them and caught a 22-inch keeper.
Then I headed into the bayou looking for more of this fun action. Soon I hooked a 24-inch redfish. But there was a problem: the strong fighting red ran past the bow of my kayak and headed out of the bayou. It swung the 15-foot kayak such that it would be going out of the bayou instead of in.
In the process the bow got hung up on the bank, and the stern was stuck on the opposite side of the bayou. Now, like all fishermen, when I have a big fighting fish on, I hold the rod tip high and lean back. I learned that if you are doing that and the kayak is suddenly stuck, you are going in the water.
It was only a foot and a half deep, but I filled up my waders with water as I fell in, and let go of the rod to catch the two-way-radio and Yeti water container. I quickly put them into the kayak and grabbed the rod before the fish could take off and run with it, and finished fighting the fish standing up in gooey mud.
On December 17 the tide was outgoing and the air temperature was 75°F when Eddie Vacek and his nephew, Jake, went to the south shore of East Matagorda Bay and fished from Eddie’s boat. They had a good day in warmer than normal weather and both limited on trout that were from 17 to 22 inches. They caught one redfish.
Even though we are experiencing warmer than normal weather, we still have blue northers that visit with a vengeance. It was on such a day that my 13-year-old grandson Ian and I kayaked a spot on the north side of West Matagorda Bay.
It was shallow water (one to three feet deep) adjacent to deep water (12 feet deep). The air temperature was 44°F and the water temperature was 50°F. The wind was whipping at 20 mph and there was a light drizzle just to add to the misery. But the fish were biting.
Ian was using a yellow Sparkle Beetle from H&H Lures and I was fishing a five-inch Wedge Tail Minnow from Egret Baits. We were fishing the change of tide, from outgoing slowly to incoming slowly.
As soon as he started fishing, Ian hollered, “Fish on!” For about an hour and a half we had hits and catches galore, it was rare “fishing heaven.” Our hands were so cold we had a difficult time holding the paddles to return to our launch spot, but it sure was fun.
When most days are on the cool side and the water temperature is cool and then a warm spell intervenes, the fish are ready to eat. And if it is absolutely miserable, but you have an irresistible itch to get out and fish, find a shallow spot next to a deep hole.
THE BANK BITE
Matagorda has a new launch spot for kayak fishers. It is located 2½ miles south of the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge and goes into East Matagorda Bay. There is a place to park and launch your kayak, and there are many bayous and lakes nearby. If the wind is coming from the northwest, west, or southwest you will be on a leeward shoreline. This spot will also work on a southeast wind if it is under 10 mph.
Email Mike Price at ContactUs@fishgame.com