Action Despite Warm Water in Matagorda
I N THE MONTH OF AUGUST, it is essential that you start fishing when the water temperature is at its coolest.
When the water gets close to 90°F, fish find the deepest spot around and settle on the bottom, with no interest in feeding. My brother James and I arrived at the southwest shore of West Matagorda Bay at sunrise, 6:40 a.m. The water temperature on that day started at 86°F and by late afternoon was 90°F. The incoming tide was pushing water into the coves and bayous, and we each caught a couple of undersized redfish and one keeper by quietly working the shorelines and guts in the bayous.
At about 8:30 a.m. we moved to a sandbar that runs parallel to the shore about 150 yards into the bay. The sandbar attracts baitfish because they use the shallow spots, holes, and grass to hide from predators, and the baitfish feed on small fish, shrimp, crabs and larvae in the grass.
Trout move along the sandbar busting these schools of mullet, menhaden, and sardines. We wade fished both on the top and the sides of the sandbar, using pumpkinseed/ chartreuse Bass Assassins with a little piece of scented Fishbite attached to the 1/16-ounce jig head hooks.
Trout were more cooperative than the redfish, and we caught six keepers between us. But the bite stopped at 9:30 a.m. Regardless of the lure used or change of technique in working the lure, we could not get anything going, so it was time to head for the dock.
If the surf is calm, even though the water temperature may be 87°F, fish will probably be there and be feeding. Last year in early August the wind was out of the northeast at five to eight mph, the surf was breaking on the first sandbar with a light roll at the second sand bar, and the water visibility allowed me to see my boots while standing waist deep.
I went 1.5 miles down the beach, just a little past Three Mile Lake, parked and proceeded out to the second bar. Fishing with an H&H white/chartreuse soft plastic lure with a rattle bead, I caught six trout and three gafftop sailfish. Only one trout was a keeper, it was 15 and ½ inches.
That’s how it goes in the surf. Some days the trout are big and some days they are little. The sunrise was spectacular with the sun shooting orange rays from behind a grey/black cloud and then making its appearance in a hole in the clouds. While I was enjoying the pretty sunrise a dozen brown pelicans came over me in a V formation. A little later, dolphins were feeding and jumping out by the third bar—a fine morning indeed.
August is one of the best months to fish offshore. I went offshore with Steve Garza on August 12, an extremely hot day with the water temperature reading 88.5°F. We had to go around a lightning storm on the way out.
We attached the boat to a rig 21 miles out, where I went scuba diving and spearfishing. Five curious ling came up to me, but they were less than the legal keeper size of 33 inches.
Then I went to the bottom at 80 feet, and saw hundreds of red snappers measuring 15 to 20 inches. I shot an 18-inch snapper and surfaced. Even though all those snappers were on the bottom, the guys on the boat did not catch any.
Next we headed for a wreck 50 miles out and stopped on the way to fish behind three shrimp boats. Near one of the shrimp boats, we caught two kingfish and two of my favorite offshore fish, dorado.
On the wreck, red snappers between 22 and 29 inches were biting. On the way home we dropped bait next to a large floating log, and caught a 17¼ inch tripletail (keeper size is 17 inches).
Of course last year we were hit by Hurricane Harvey on August 26 and were drenched for days after the hurricane came ashore. On September 3, I went offshore with Brian Tulloch.
When I arrived at Matagorda Harbor at 6 a.m. to wait for Brian, it was deserted with the exception of five work boat crewmen standing around a truck—no boats, people, trucks…nothing. It was like I was the only person left in the world.
Most people were either still suffering the devastation dealt by Hurricane Harvey, or like Jose Rivera, they could not get to the harbor because of flooded roads. But Brian, Robert Bourland and I pulled out of the harbor and proceeded down the Old Colorado River, dodging many logs in the dirty brown water, to the jetties where there was still nasty brown water.
About two miles offshore, the water change was abrupt, with mud brown giving way to dark green. We caught red snapper, kingfish, and barracuda, but no ling, dorado, tripletail, or kingfish.
A juvenile laughing gull landed on the boat, tired and hungry, possibly blown offshore by the storm. We gave it a six-inch mullet, which it tried to eat all at once, but the mullet would not go down so the juvenile gull had to work it back out and peck at it.
The bird was pooping all over the deck, so we decided to get it off of our boat and send it to a nearby shrimp boat. To do that, we covered its head with a towel, tossed it up in the air, and it flew off. This post-Harvey offshore trip was not as fish-productive as our usual August trips. Hopefully we will not have to deal with a hurricane this August.
THE BANK BITE
The Surf: Whether you are fishing with live shrimp, artificial lures, or bait that you catch with a cast net, the chances of a good day in the surf are high in August, especially if blue water is up to the beach and the tide is incoming. However, you should use a four-wheel-drive vehicle on the beach and be sure to stop at CJ’s or Stanley’s in Matagorda and buy a beach permit before going on the beach.
Email Mike Price at ContactUs@fishgame.com