A friend of mine owned a Volkswagen Beetle, and when I asked him how he liked his car he said, “I really like it, my car has enthusiasm!”
People who love to fish are like my friend’s car, enthusiastic about their fishing, and that makes them fun to fish with. Darryl Fenner is a fishing guide on Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Last January he was visiting a mutual friend in Matagorda and, of course, we went fishing. I found out that he is an enthusiastic fisherman who loves to be on the water in search of that special catch.
I took him to a five-foot-deep hole near the shoreline of the Diversion Channel. There are deep holes in several places, both in the Diversion Channel and in the adjacent lakes and bayous before the Diversion Channel meets West Matagorda Bay.
When the water is cool (it was 57°F on the day we went) fish find slightly warmer water in a gut or hole, like the one Darryl fished, which was surrounded by two-to-three-foot deep water. We also had moving water flowing over the hole. This enabled predators to stage in the hole, waiting to attack baitfish that were swimming with the current.
Darryl positioned himself about 15 yards from a log, which was next to the hole, and expertly dropped his morning glory/lime, four-inch Shad Bass Assassin soft plastic into the deeper spot. He caught three redfish and a flounder before going in search another promising spot, and his enthusiasm was evident when I took his photo with a keeper red.
On another January day, the fish were enthusiastic. We had a light wind out of the southeast and clear 54°F water on the south side of West Matagorda Bay. The water was so low that we had to anchor a half-mile away from the cove we wanted to fish, then paddle our kayaks into the cove.
Jeff Wiley and I had arrived in the afternoon, just as an extra-strong, full-moon-driven, outgoing tide changed to an extra-strong incoming tide. We were fishing a gut at a point where the water dropped off from one to three feet. Soon after we started throwing soft plastics, we both hooked up with hard-hitting and hard-fighting, keeper-sized redfish.
Then Jeff found trout, lots of trout. Every time the pumpkinseed/chartreuse or red and white Bass Assassin soft plastics dropped they were hit. Most of these trout were small, but they were feisty and fun to catch and release. We managed to catch and keep nine trout that were between 15 and 20 inches.
In addition to redfish and trout, we caught flounders and black drum. All things considered, it was a great winter fishing afternoon.
Timing your fishing so you are at your spot when the tide changes can be difficult. For example, when you go to West Matagorda Bay, you check the high and low tide times and the speed of the current generated by the tidal movement at Port O’Connor, www.tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov.
However, you are not fishing at Port O’Connor. So the best thing to do is to know that if it is high tide at Port O’Connor at, say 2 p.m., it will be high tide at your special spot at 2:30 p.m. In other words, you should pay attention to the tidal predictions and to the actual tidal situation at your fishing spot and keep records of it.
Another way to find actively feeding redfish in January is to go fishing on a warm day following cold weather. Fish will leave deeper water in search of baitfish on the flats as the day and water warm up.
It was the afternoon of January 22 when Jeff and I went to Oyster Lake. The previous several days had been very cold and rainy, but on this day the wind was light out of the south, and it was partly sunny with air temperatures from 50°F to 68°F. There was a new moon, so the tide was moving, and the water temperatures were from 52°F to 57°F.
I paddled my kayak in one to three feet deep water and saw a mud boil, the tell-tail sign that a redfish on the bottom was disturbed, then I saw another redfish take off. I watched the wake of the redfish and lobbed my lure 20 yards to where I figured the fish had moved and worked it back. It must have hit the side of the fish, because the fish fled in a hurry.
Then I started fan-casting by sending the lure to one side of a half circle and making a cast every 10 feet. I covered the half circle, thinking that fish was in there somewhere.
On the fourth cast, a 25-inch redfish took my lure and fought like a 28-inch red, but I finally landed it. The rest of the afternoon delighted us with more redfish action.
In January look for a deep area surrounded by flats. On cold days concentrate on the deep spot, but on warm days try the flats, and bring along an enthusiastic fishing partner.
Email Mike Price at
Intracoastal Waterway at Matagorda CR 259 goes east at the Matagorda Cemetery in the village of Matagorda. You can fish the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in several places along this road, but you may want to try the west side of Little Boggy, a creek that drains a couple of lakes north of the road into the ICW.
At this spot there is an oyster reef in the Intracoastal Waterway that you can cast to while standing on the bank, and sometimes it holds redfish on an outgoing tide. Kayakers can launch near the bridge on high water and paddle into the lakes north of the road in search of redfish.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]