T HE WINTER OF 2017-18 saw more cold weather on the upper Texas coast than had been around for a few years.
We experienced not only freezing temperatures—although brief—but one event of significant snow, and a couple more periods of light snow. Global warming is evidently coming at us in a gradual way?
In spite of the cold spells, no reports surfaced of significant fish kills, so the most obvious result of the weather was some discomfort for those engaging in outdoor pursuits, especially on or near the water.
Besides our coastal winters being normally mild, however, they are also of a relatively short duration. Still, this in no way makes the arrival of spring less of a relief.
With warmer spring breezes and tidal waters, come fishing conditions that are more productive and enjoyable. All segments of our habitat in the Galveston area offer renewed opportunities for the angler seeking both sport and fresh seafood.
Bait species show more regularly in tidal streams that are part of the bay system. The return of shrimp and forage species such as shad, mud minnows, and finger mullet will be the key to action with croaker, sand trout, and the smaller black drum.
Flounders return from the Gulf to begin hunting for food and shelter for breeding in more protected bay waters. Speckled trout and immature redfish spend more time in the bays or in close inshore waters such as the surf near passes and the Gulf outlets of coastal streams.
As the water warms, more offshore species will be found hunting near the surf zone and these passes. Among these will be Spanish mackerel. Bigger game such as tarpon will also hunt these spots, as well as some sharks from ankle biter size to an occasional one in the true monster size.
More common, yet largely unappreciated are bluefish. Nowhere near as popular as they are on the east coast, blues spawn in the Gulf in cooler water. They can be big enough at times to be great light tackle sport.
Blues are also good eating when handled properly. Blues should be cleaned promptly, well bled, and thoroughly washed. All red meat should be removed from the fillets. They fry up nicely and taste pretty darn good.
Fishermen with boats can venture out farther and often reap rewards. Rigs and bottom structure close to shore often hold legal-sized snappers, quantities of sand trout, and sometimes groupers.
Ling will feed in these areas at times, occasionally king mackerel also. Bull-sized redfish are always a possibility.
Inshore waters are not as well-populated with gamefish as they will be in only a month or so, but a warm current can make them well worth a try.
Bait is always a big key to fishing success, and spring is when schools of mullet and quantities of shrimp, along with several other types of baitfish, squid, and small crabs begin to be more active in the surf and nearshore waters.
Although it’s still early in the year, good fishing can be had—and really good fishing is not too far in the future!
Location: Again, when temperatures are still on the cool side, deeper water will be more productive for all species. On warm days bay reefs and sandbars in the surf will begin to hold fish. The immediate area of passes and river mouths should be productive. Night fishing can pay off in the deeper water of passes and the ship channel within the protection of the jetties—especially under lights.
Species: Trout, reds, and flounders will return with warm tides, and should be hungry. Nearshore waters of the Gulf can harbor both inshore and some offshore species, depending on water and weather conditions. As always, tidal movement is important.
Baits/Lures: Cooler water favors the use of natural baits that leave a scent trail in the water, but plastic jig tails and flashing spoons will draw strikes as well—especially on warm, sunny days.
Best Times: Anytime a potential fisherman thinks some time near, or on, the water is favorable for one’s mental well being is a good time to fish—and sometimes a good fish dinner might be the result!
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]