Where Are They?
I N THE MONTH OF APRIL, water temperatures are typically between 70°F and 80°F. This stimulates the fish to feed and move. Sometimes you find the fish in the backwaters, sometimes they are at the confluence of the bay and the backwaters; sometimes they are in the bay, and sometimes they are on the shoreline.
On April 7 last year, Jeff Wiley and I fished a gut on the south shore of West Matagorda Bay. The water temperature was 72°F, tide incoming and then outgoing strong. Initially the wind was from the northeast, which later switched to the southeast.
We launched at Matagorda Harbor, but could not go through the Diversion Channel into the bay because the water was too low. So, we went through Braggs Cut, the Intracoastal Waterway and Mad Island Cut.
In the back of a bayou I found several schools of redfish working the shorelines, and I found trout foraging where the water dropped from one foot to three feet deep. Jeff also got into redfish in the gut. When the water temperature was close to 70°F on the south shore of West Matagorda Bay, working a deep gut paid off.
On another day in early April, with water temperatures between 70° and 73°, we had an incoming tide. It was a partly cloudy day with air temperatures starting at 63° and going up to 84° with winds from the south 10- to 15-mph.
I decided to launch my kayak into a lake on the south side of East Matagorda Bay. Throwing a Chicken on a Chain colored Bass Assassin I caught 22- and 25-inch redfish and a 17-inch trout, plus some undersized reds in the lake. Then I decided to fish the bayou that led to the bay, the confluence of the bayou and the bay, and out into the bay, but I didn’t get any hits.
So on this day and under these circumstances, the fish were holed up in a backwater lake that was from one to three feet deep.
Jeff Wiley and I were on the south shore of West Matagorda Bay on April 20th last year. Jeff decided to work the shoreline of the bay, and I paddled my kayak into a cove. In late April the water temperature can climb into the high seventies and on this day it was 76°.
I worked my way around the sides of the cove, running my soft plastic Sparkle Beetle lure over shallow oyster reefs and allowing it to fall to the bottom in the center of the cove, which was three feet deep. I only managed to catch one 17-inch flounder and a couple of little redfish.
Jeff wade-fished along the shoreline of the bay, using a gold spoon, casting both into the bay and up against the shoreline. He did all the good, catching two 26-inch reds.
Two other fishermen were near us, and they boat-fished about 100 yards off the shoreline and caught seven keeper-sized trout. So on this day and under these circumstances the fish were on the shoreline and in the bay.
Four days later, after the wind had blown hard from the north for two days, it dropped to five mph out of the north. I was not sure whether the bay had enough time to allow sediment that had turned it brown to fall out of the water. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find trout-green water with visibility of 12 to 18 inches. The water temperature had dropped to 70°, and the tide was coming in slowly.
Bob Turner was fishing with me, and he tried the shoreline with no results and then he drifted in his kayak out into the bay and caught a keeper-sized redfish. He got on the two-way radio and told me they might be biting in the bay. I had started fishing at the mouth of a bayou, and then I went into the bayou, but could not find a bite.
While I was fishing the backwaters, I kept hearing fish jumping in the bay, and I saw bottlenose dolphins working the bay. So after getting Bob’s call I moved into the bay and drift-fished. Before long, I had a solid hit and watched the yellow mouth of a good-sized trout trying to shake off the lure as I worked it in. I put the 21-inch trout on the stringer and re-drifted the same area where the action continued.
Bob and I both caught good numbers of trout and redfish near sandbars in the bay on that day. When the water temperature is between 70° and 80° the fish could be anywhere, but when the water temperature is below 70° or warmer than 80°, fish look for deeper water.
The other factor that I thought of on this day was a comment from Tim Garcia from El Campo. “Those fish get riled up the day before, and one to two days after a norther,” he opined.
The month of April brings multiple fishing challenges: strong springtime winds, low or off-colored water, the occasional norther, and fish that are scattered. However, the plentiful amount of forage fish and hungry predators, makes it also one of the best months of the year to fish East and West Matagorda Bays.
One of the keys to catching in April is to patiently work backwaters, the bay, shorelines, and points where bayous and lakes meet the bay until you find them.
The Bank Bite
River Road on the Tres Palacios River: River Road goes south from FM 521 a half mile east of the bridge going over the Tres Palacios River. Take River Road until you come to a bridge. You can bank fish next to the bridge or along the bank. Shrimp fished on a bottom rig will attract trout, redfish, flounders, or catfish. Fishing from the bridge can be especially productive when water is high and outgoing.
Email Mike Price at ContactUs@fishgame.com