FISHING WOULD NOT BE CHALLENGING if you always caught fish, but when you are not catching, change and keep changing until you are catching. Change the underwater terrain that you are swimming your lure through, or the lure—or the way you are presenting the lure.
In early October last year, I launched my kayak near the Perry R. Bass Research Station on the north side of West Matagorda Bay. The light wind was from the northwest, tide was high and outgoing, and the water was 80°F. I went east along the shoreline toward Well Point.
The water was loaded with menhaden and mullet, and multiple baitfish were blasting out of the water every now and then as predators chased them. But, I fished this situation for 45 minutes using a 3.5-inch Egret Baits Wedge Tail Mullet soft plastic, and only caught one 12-inch flounder. So I paddled to the redfish farm jetty.
Starting from the beach, I drifted with the wind while tossing my lure up against the jetty, where it was two or three feet deeper than the surrounding area which was three feet deep. I let the lure drop into this gut before working it.
This method had produced trout on a previous trip, but on this day I only got one flounder hit. So I went around the jetty to the cordgrass-lined shoreline, and tried running my lure through the clear, shallow water over the sand bottom, but found no takers.
Then I changed to a pumpkinseed/chartreuse Bass Assassin soft plastic lure. I drifted out a couple of times—nothing. Finally I decided to anchor at the end of the jetty and try a couple of casts.
The lure was hit on the first cast by a 14-inch trout, and every additional cast, with very few exceptions, was a hit, hook up, or catch. I caught eight trout, missed eight more, and kept two 17-inch trout and one 19-inch trout.
Then I made a cast and hooked a crevalle jack. The jack nearly spooled me before I cranked way down on the drag (do this and you will lose the fish), fought it half way back and finally the crevalle jack pulled off. I did not want to boat the fish, but I did not want to lose all my line either.
Finding fish on this day required working different underwater terrain, habitats, lures, and depths, but by continuing to try something different, I finally found actively feeding fish and that is the challenge and the fun of fishing.
The Coastal Conservation Association sent this out by email on July 12, “July 11, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 200, a bipartisan bill that includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). This historic vote marks the first time the priorities of the recreational fishing sector are included in the reauthorization of our nation’s primary marine fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.” The Senate still has to vote in favor of this bill and the President needs to sign it, but it is well on its way to finally giving the recreational fisher a share of the red snapper fishery in The Gulf of Mexico. Last year our recreational snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico federal waters (more than nine miles offshore) was only three days long. This year, Texas Parks and Wildlife is managing both the inshore and offshore red snapper fishery, and we had an 82-day season starting on June 1.”
The CCA email goes on, “There are 11 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. who have a $63 billion economic impact annually and generate 440,000 jobs. This legislation will help ensure that the economic, conservation and social values of saltwater recreational fishing will continue well into the future.”
On Friday July 6, I went offshore with Brian Tulloch. First we went to the three-year-old Matagorda Artificial Reef located12.5 miles from the Matagorda Jetties and seven miles directly offshore from Matagorda Beach. This reef is 160 acres and the habitat is made up of 1,600 pyramids. Each pyramid weighs 6,000 pounds and stands eight feet high.
There were seven boats drifting the reef including our boat and everyone was catching red snappers. These snappers were mostly a little less than the legal size of 16 inches, but we boxed a couple and then headed for rig 538, 30 miles offshore.
At 538 we joined seven other boats and enjoyed bending our rods on snapper that were between 17 and 26 inches. Many of the boats had families with children who were really enjoying the experience of catching snappers, and later would appreciate eating these great tasting fish.
So we, the recreational fishers of Texas, are finally getting the attention and respect that we deserve relative to participating in the taking of red snappers, and our children will have a greater respect for this fishery and everything needed to support it, because they have experienced the thrill of catching these beautiful red snappers.
Location: Palacios Harbor Marina: The predominant wind in Matagorda is from the southeast, and when the wind comes from the southeast, wade or pier fishing at Palacios Harbor Marina is wind-protected.
From Business 35 turn south on Margerum Blvd. To fish from the pier, park in the boat launch parking lot. To fish Lookout Point, the peninsula on the west side of the entrance to the harbor from the bay, drive to the end of Margerum Blvd, park and walk to the water.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]