September weather usually yields many days that are calm enough to enjoy surf fishing. However, until you arrive at the beach, you will not know whether you can venture into the surf without being tumbled by waves.
When I think the surf may or may not be calm enough to fish, I put my kayak on my truck so I can either wade fish the surf on Matagorda Beach or go into East Matagorda Bay.
One September day last year, the wind was light and variable and small waves were breaking on the first sandbar. These were conditions that I determined would be OK for wading, with no waves knocking me around. The water temperature was a comfortable 84°F and water visibility was 15 inches.
Even though these conditions were conducive to good surf fishing, I only caught three gaff-topsail catfish. The one condition that made all the difference for catching trout and other quality fish that day was that the tide was outgoing.
An outgoing tide moves baitfish and shrimp offshore and predators follow. An incoming tide does the opposite, so your potential for a good fishing day in the surf is much higher if you fish when the tide is incoming.
On another September day when the sea was calm and the tide incoming, I saw hundreds of golden mullet eyes, as schools of these fish traveled from right to left. Every now and then, the mullet erupted into a fountain going every which way, obviously being chased by a predator.
I waited until I saw mullet scattering on the surface or a very tight school of mullet, then I threw my lure in front of that school, allowing it to drop beneath them.
The strike came quickly. Sometimes my lure was broken off by Spanish mackerel. On other casts beneath mullet, I caught speckled trout.
Keying on mullet that are being attacked in the surf is a good way to find speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and other predators. Jack crevalle will also bust a school of mullet.
I was fishing off Matagorda Beach from my boat when I saw mullet being scattered. I cast to that spot, hooked a fish that ripped line off my reel, and almost spooled me.
Reeling rapidly when the fish ran towards me and lifting my rod and reeling when it stopped running, I would gain a little line on this hard charger. Then it would garner another burst of energy and almost spool me again. Finally, I started making progress and brought the fish up to the boat and saw that it was a jack crevalle.
Then two sets of shark fins merged on my fish, and the line went slack; the sharks had taken my jack crevalle. September is prime time to find jack crevalle in the surf, gorging on mullet.
They range in size from five to more than 30 pounds. They are not good to eat, but they are sure a challenge to catch and release, if sharks do not get to them first.
Spanish mackerel are another species attracted by large schools of mullet in the surf. If you want to catch them it is best to use a wire leader, because their teeth will slice right through monofilament line. However, when you put a wire leader on, trout will avoid your lure.
Another fish that will chase mullet is tarpon. I was standing on the bow of my boat next to the Matagorda jetties on a blue water September day when I saw striped mullet jumping out of the water. Looking through the clear water, I watched a couple of four- to five-foot tarpon chasing them.
On another day in September last year the wind was light and variable, and the tide was incoming, but it was too rough for wade fishing. This happens when the wind has been blowing strong, usually from the south or east for a couple of days before you want to fish. Even though present conditions (light and variable winds) look good, the sea has not settled yet.
So, on that day I went to a kayak launch spot on the west end of East Matagorda Bay and paddled my kayak east as the rising sun illuminated a hole in the clouds.
I went out of the bayou and into a cove adjacent to the bay, looking for signs of fish feeding and saw a redfish on the shoreline make a big splash attacking baitfish.
I moved to where I could cast just ahead of the fish the next time it showed itself on the shoreline. As I paddled toward the fish, I kept my eyes on the last place that I saw it and quietly lowered my anchor.
Soon the redfish hit more baitfish, and I cast my Egret Baits Chicken on a Chain colored three-inch Wedge Tail Minnow with a little piece of Fishbite on the hook in front of the fish. I worked it perpendicular to its path, and the red took it.
The surf is my first choice in September, but if it is too rough to wade fish and you have a kayak, head for East Matagorda Bay.
Kayak Rentals: There are two places to rent kayaks in Matagorda County: Matagorda Adventure Company rents kayaks and offers guided kayak fishing 832-779-4157. Grassy Point Bait in Palacios 361-972-5053 rents kayaks.
Email Mike Price at [email protected]