I t Was Super Bowl Sunday, the Patriots were playing the Falcons, but Jeff Wiley and I decided to have our own Super Bowl in West Matagorda Bay. We went fishing on a beautiful day with a southeast wind at 10 to 15 mph, incoming tide, clear, trout-green water that went from 60°F to 66°F, and air temperatures that warmed from 68°F to 77°F.
I anchored the boat near an island on the south shore. When there is an incoming tide, water flows from the bay around both sides of the island. Predator fish stage near habitat such as oyster reefs and depth changes, facing into the current, waiting for bait fish.
Jeff was sitting on a log, casting up current, and I was in my kayak on the east side of the island.
“You should try that reef out from the corner of your kayak,” he said. “I have seen some action there.”
In winter months, you have much less bait fish activity than during warm water months. It’s important to pay attention to the bait fish movement you see because, quite likely, the bait fish moved because they were being pursued by a trout or redfish.
I lobbed a yellow Sparkle Beetle from H&H Lure Company into swirls on the surface, and laid into a 22-inch redfish. We caught several undersized reds and one more 23-inch red, and then called it a successful “Fishing Super Bowl.”
Wind is always a factor when planning a fishing trip. In February, if you go fishing on a day when the wind is over 15 mph, especially if there is any hint of west in it, your chances of catching fish are reduced because the water is off color. So look for light winds without the dreaded “W” in them.
On February 18 last year, Bob Turner and I went to the south shore of West Matagorda Bay on a day when the winds were variable from south to southeast at seven mph.
Bob fished where the lakes and bayous meet the bay, while I paddled my kayak to a lake near the beach. Even though the water temperature was only 58°F, Bob found active redfish, and he caught his limit of three.
The lake I was fishing in is 12 feet deep in some areas. Trout like deeper water when the water temperatures are below 65°F. I drifted the lake and got a hit or catch on each drift. Two big trout evaded my net by shaking their heads and throwing my soft plastic lures, but I landed 16- and 18-inch keepers.
February is the month that flounders begin to return to the bays after going offshore to spawn. I was wade fishing in the lake in two feet of water when I hooked something large and flat.
I thought, “I hope it’s a flounder, not a stingray.” It was a flounder. In order not to scare the fish, I put my net deep into the water so the flounder would not see it, worked the fish over the net and landed the 19-inch flounder. On the way back to where Bob was fishing, I picked up a redfish, so I had bragging rights to a Texas Triple.
Red snapper are partial to cool water. This is why as summer progresses and water temperatures warm to over 80°F to a depth of 100 feet, you have to go farther offshore in deeper water to find them. However, when sub-65°F water makes its way to the beach, you will find red snapper less than nine miles offshore in Texas-regulated waters. You can legally keep four snapper per person, as long as they are at least 15-inches.
So if you find habitat (structure), you will find red snapper. We have some rigs that are visible from Matagorda Beach, and they could hold snapper. In addition, an artificial reef is now completely finished and beckoning you to fish it.
The reef is called Matagorda Brazos A-439 and is located seven nautical miles directly offshore from Matagorda Beach or about nine miles from the Matagorda Jetties. The reef covers 160 acres and has 1,600 eight-foot-high pyramids. Water depth is 60 feet. Small fish can swim in and out of holes in the pyramids, and one side of each pyramid has the top half open to allow turtles to move in and out.
THE DRUM RUN AT THE JETTIES: February is when black drums gather near the jetties before spawning. To fish for them from the Matagorda Jetties, use a light slip sinker weight (from ¼ ounce to ½ ounce) so the bait bounces just over the bottom with the current, a Kahle type circle hook (size 4 or 5) and cut fish or shrimp for bait. When using a circle hook, wait until you feel the fish swimming, then slowly raise your rod and start reeling. The circle hook catches in the side of the fish’s mouth, and it is easy to remove once the fish has been landed.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]