WOODS, WINGS & WATER: Better days are on the horizon
My starched Texas flag normally takes a beating from sustained 20-knot winds this time of year. The same could be said for Texas bays, raked and rolled at times by the same ardent gales. It's a fact of life along the coast - the wind blows in late winter and early spring.
Gusts blowing 20-25 knots are not what I call conducive fishing conditions. However, 10-15 knots, which is the average wind speed this time of year, gives anglers a fighting chance.
The southbound breezes create swelling tides, which allow anglers a leeward option and more room to fish, especially in protected back lakes areas.
Guide Lynn Smith said back lakes come to life with more water this time of year.
"The tides get so low you can't get back there," he said. "Then, the winds switch and begin pouring in during the day, and the fish show up."
Smith said live shrimp under a popping cork is good for long drifts, but waders score with small topwaters like She Pups and Super Spook Jrs.
"You can make long wades in the back lakes and catch both trout and reds when tides are high," said Smith. "Just look for flipping mullet or small minnows."
The same scenario occurred this week in Matagorda. Tides were 2 feet below normal, and good water was scarce then the wind switched to the east and pumped new water to the bay.
"It rose a foot in the morning," said guide Michael Rolf. "That water covered up the reefs, and the redfish and black drum showed up."
Rolf likes to work skinny water littered with mud and shell. His shallow draft boat allows him to bounce from reef to reef.
"The trout showed up a few days last week, but it is only going to get better in the coming days," he said.
Calmer days allow anglers a chance at the reefs in the middle of East Matagorda Bay. Live shrimp under a cork is best for speckled trout, redfish and black drum, but waders tossing Corkies, Catch 5s, soft plastics and topwaters score for bigger specks.
Midbay reefs in East Matagorda Bay are not always "trout green," but that is not a reason to write off drifting deep shell and mud. Most pros prefer dancing Bass Assassins, TTF Flats Minnows, Gamblers, Kelley Wigglers or Norton Sand Eels over the shell, but when water clarity is stained, it helps to go with something with a scent like Gulps under a popping cork.
"Rig a Gulp on a jig head and pop it hard," said guide Tommy Alexander. "The fish find them in the off-colored water by the sound and scent. Sometimes Gulps are better than live shrimp because the trout can see it better in the stained water."
Sand and grass flats on the south shoreline of any bay system begin to hold large concentrations of glass minnows, mullet, shad and shrimp as waters warm and high tides persist, setting up what traditionally proves to be steady action on incoming afternoon tides.
"Our best bite has been the afternoon," said guide James Plaag of Silver King Adventures. "Corkies and red Bass Assassins have been good for limits of fish this week, even when the wind has been howling."
Lakes off the Intracoastal hold redfish with bloating tides. Most back lakes are wadeable, but many choose to stay in the boat and drift with live shrimp, Gulps or topwaters.
Stay patient. Weather patterns are beginning to stabilize. Sunshine, warmer temperatures and fast fishing are on the way.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.