WOODS, WINGS & WATER: More water in the bays mean more fish
Water is a powerful thing.
Just ask anglers who have had to fight a lack of water for most of the past two months. When water levels are below normal, it eliminates back lakes and shallow reefs and flats, and, if the wind is blowing, it eliminates the middle of the bay where most often the deepest water is found. It is tough to find fish when only 25 percent of fertile fishing grounds are available.
The good news is better tides arrived this week. Strong incoming currents ushered in warm water, and the fish followed.
"The tides have made all the difference," said Matagorda guide Michael Rolf. "Water temperatures are rising, and we have been getting limits of redfish, black drum and some days over 20 trout a boat."
Thursday morning, I fished for five hours with a charter and caught only a handful of undersized redfish. We knew we were fighting the bottom end of the outgoing tide all morning but kept hoping the bigger fish would show around noon with a rush of water covering the reefs.
At 12:05 p.m., we finally caught our first slot red. At 1:05 p.m., we finished our legal limit of redfish and then played catch and release.
"Redfish and a few trout are showing in the back lakes with more water," said guide Harold Dworaczyk of Bay Flats Lodge in Seadrift. "We are catching them on TTF Flats Minnows and live shrimp under a Mid-Coast Nexus cork."
As is often the case this time of year, the prevailing incoming tide is the strongest in the afternoon. Hence, captains like James Plaag wait until the afternoon to make a wade. Of course, not everyone can fish until dark but playing the incoming current stacks the odds.
"There is no sense fighting it," said Plaag. "We know the fish are going to show up with the tide, so we schedule our trips around it."
Plaag said his charters have been profitable wading or drifting, depending on the wind.
"When we can get on the deep shell, we do," he said. "But when the wind is pumping out of the south, we have been wading with MirrOlures, Bass Assassins and Top Dogs."
The sister lakes of Sabine and Calcasieu have experienced fall-like fishing patterns when winds have allowed. Kirk Stansel of Hackberry Rod and Gun and guide Randy Foreman, of Sabine Lake, both said trout have been solid under diving birds.
"Both trout and reds have been found in the middle of the lake," said Foreman. "The trout have been up to four pounds, and flounder have been solid as well on the flats on the incoming tide."
Stansel said redfish have been the mainstay during windy days, but there are plenty of trout to be caught when winds are less than 15 knots.
This week, water temperatures averaged 65 degrees in most bays. As water readings inch closer to 70, expect even better fishing.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).