FISH GO TO THEIR FAVORITE holes when water temperatures drop because it is a little warmer in deeper water. In February, water temperatures vary from 50°F to 65°F, so early in the month on a cold day you will catch more fish if you are near water that is more than four-foot deep.
Here are some of my favorite winter kayak fishing holes:
Chinquapin: Live Oak Bayou goes from Lake Austin on the north end, to East Matagorda Bay on the south end, and it holds fish when the water temperature is in the low 50s. You can launch your kayak at a bridge nine miles from where you turn off FM 521 onto CR 262 (Chinquapin Road). From the bridge take the right fork. It is a 15-minute paddle to Live Oak Bayou.
Three Mile Lake: To get to Three Mile Lake, go 1.8 miles east on Matagorda Beach and then turn north. You can launch into the lake nearest to the beach and go north. The confluence of the bayou going east, the bayou going south and the lake you launched into is mostly more than four feet deep.
If you fish this spot on a sunny, warm day when the water temperature starts at around 55°F and goes up to about 60°F, the fish will come out of the holes and be looking for baitfish on the shorelines and flats. Buy a beach permit at Stanley’s in Matagorda and use a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
East Matagorda Bay: There is a kayak specific launch location 2.5 miles south of the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. This will give you access to water in East Matagorda Bay that’s more than four feet deep. Go east from the launch site through the bayous and into the bay, the water gets deeper when you leave the bayous.
Do this on a light wind, say less than 10 mph. If the wind is light from the southeast, you can paddle into the bay, put your drift anchor out, and slowly drift back to the shallow area.
Winter water is very clear, so a good soft plastic to use is a Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom/Chartreuse Tail four-inch Sea Shad Bass Assassin. Use a 1/16-ounce jig head so that the lure sinks slowly. Allow it to sink to the bottom, then work it slowly. Two other lures that match the slow lethargic movement of a cold mullet are: Paul Brown’s Fat Boy and Catch 2000 both from MirrOlure.
Parker’s Cut: To fish Parker’s Cut, cross the Old Colorado River near the LCRA Nature Park, sign-in and portage your kayak across 150 yards of land to re-launch into West Matagorda Bay.
This is a wind-protected spot on any wind, but a strong wind may make the crossing of the river hazardous. Where the bayous converge is a hole about five feet deep that holds fish when the water is cold. The bayous leading to the bay are also deeper than four feet.
Oyster Lake: Just before you get to the bridge at Oyster Lake is a gravel road going west to the bay. This spot is protected on a northeast wind and it drops off to more than four feet deep about 100 yards from the beach. If you have the right conditions, a light northeast wind and a moving tide, drift into the bay fishing close to the bottom and working your lure slowly.
Be very sensitive to the bite when the water is cold. Trout will not slam your lure; instead, a trout bite in cold water feels like a small child tugging at your sleeve. Redfish on the other hand, will hit hard even in cold water.
In early February most flounders in the bays will be 12 inches or less. The larger flounders go offshore in November to spawn and begin returning in middle to late February. Bait activity in colder months is mostly limited to mullet and mud minnows.
Like trout and redfish, baitfish will go deep when it’s cold. On warm days they’ll come out of deep water and into shallow water in search of food. So, when you see one mullet jump, it means that a trout or redfish was probably chasing it, and you should cast to that area.
Lots of white pelicans spend their winters on East and West Matagorda Bays, and they, along with their brown pelican cousins, eat mullet. Therefore, fish where the pelicans are fishing.
Also look for loons, they also eat baitfish. If you see wading birds on the shore line, it means that they have found small prey, and the food chain could go up to the predator fish that you are targeting.
The combination of outgoing tides and north winds create very low tides in February, but all of the holes mentioned here will hold water under these circumstances. The chance of fish being in these holes is higher when the water is low because that is where the fish will have to go.Another weather factor in February is fog. Fog will appear when the temperature and dew point are the same. Live Oak Bayou, East Matagorda Bay, and the bay at Oyster Lake may have boats running in the fog, so it would be better to go to Parker’s Cut or Three Mile Lake if there is fog.
Little Boggy: County Road 259 goes east, past the cemetery in Matagorda to a bridge over a creek that drains two lakes and Little Boggy Marsh. If the water level is high you can kayak into the lakes in search of redfish. You can also bank fish at the spot where the marsh meets the Intracoastal Waterway.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]