Good day, bad day, what is the difference?

June 25, 2011 at 1:25 a.m.
Updated June 26, 2011 at 1:26 a.m.


It is amazing how quickly fishing success can improve with the right conditions. Likewise, it's amazing how it can deteriorate so quickly with a little westerly wind, high pressure, a bright moon, weak tides, elevated salinity levels and boiling water temperatures.

If you had the pleasure of fishing June 4 to 13, it was a solid 10 days. However, June 14 began a week of the slowest fishing I can remember, not just in Matagorda, Port O'Connor or Galveston, but virtually everywhere along the Gulf Coast.

When more than a dozen guide boats in a variety of Texas ports report the same success, or lack of, you dig for answers. Here are a few theories:

Begin with westerly winds. There is something about a west wind that turns fish off. Air becomes hotter, skies become hazier and waters muddy. Tides drop, shorelines begin to boil and there are few places to hide.

High pressure is always a menace to anglers. Bass fishermen curse it. In my years of fishing the coast during the summer, my best days have come with southeast winds and low pressure. Showers build in the Gulf, cloud-cover provides shade and the fish are hungry. Likewise, some of my slowest days have come with high pressure dominating the region. The old saying goes, "fish get lock-jaw."

Some say they never catch fish on a full moon, but I beg to differ. Some of my best days have come around a bright moon. Normally, you get an early, mid-day and late-afternoon bite on a bright moon, but you have to be there when they are biting. My experiences have told me the bite is fast, then shuts off for no reason.

Some say the fish bite at night on a full moon, but that is not always true. The fish bite when the moon is overhead, underneath and rising and falling on the horizon. Fishing the moon is a mystery - as clear as East Matagorda Bay on a southwest wind.

Weak tides most often make for a tough day of catching. The past week of tough fishing coincided with pretty good tides. Incoming tides in the morning were perfect for ushering in baitfish along with trout and redfish along shallow sand and grass shorelines. The problem arises when stiff westerly winds in excess of 25 knots push against the tide, holding it up and not allowing it to flood the shallows like it is intended to do. That was the case last week. We had perfect tides for traditional summer haunts that consistently produce and the winds would not allow us to fish these locales.

The drought has allowed salinity levels to rise tremendously. The cowling of my outboard is caked with enough salt to sprinkle over fries after a day on the water, and fish have adjusted to elevated salt levels by seeking more brackish waters. Many reports indicate good catches of trout, redfish, flounder and sharks upriver in places like the Trinity, San Jacinto, Colorado and San Bernard rivers.

Thankfully, lighter winds and much needed rainfall allowed catches to improve dramatically this week.

Nevertheless, on a tough fishing day last week, after wading for several hours with only a handful of fish to show for the effort, one of my clients said, "I understand tough fishing; if you catch a bunch every time you go, there would be too many people out here."

I guess that is one way to look at it.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain. You can reach him at or



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