WOODS, WINGS & WATER: Quiet shorelines await this winter

Dec. 30, 2012 at 6:30 a.m.

Low tides have concentrated redfish in the deep guts and bayous on the south shoreline of West Matagorda Bay.

Low tides have concentrated redfish in the deep guts and bayous on the south shoreline of West Matagorda Bay.

Most honest anglers tell you they steer clear of West Matagorda Bay because they fear the Diversion Channel.

Years ago, the Colorado River was diverted from its natural flow into the Gulf of Mexico to a direct fresh water in to West Bay. In doing so, the far east end of West Bay, which once held 12 feet of water, became a delta since sediments were dumped from the rise and fall of the river.

To put it bluntly, it can be a mariner's nightmare if you are not privy to the channels and boat lanes. And, with each flood, all aids to navigation change, as derelict logs, stumps and debris clutter the channel.

The diversion of the river and the lock system has long been a heated debate over coffee in many Matagorda bait camps. Some old-timers speak of how good the fishing used to be before the Colorado River shoaled the area. Nevertheless, the diversion project has done what it was intended to do by depositing nutrients from fresh water inflow downstream, creating marsh and nursery habitat for shrimp, baitfish and juvenile trout and reds.

The marshy area dumps fresh recruits of shrimp into the bay during the fall, providing "working the birds" action along a five-mile stretch from the Diversion Channel to Shell Island. Clumps of shell and mud around Shell Island and Twin Island hold trout. The shrimp burrow in the mud and use the shell for cover, and anywhere there is structure, a trout is normally nearby.

If all you target is redfish, the grassy north shoreline is littered with clumps of shell and large schools of reds. Hang out within a short cast of the grass and wait for the next school to approach. A charging school gives away its position by the pronounced "V" in the water, not to mention every shrimp along the grass line bounding to the surface. Give a soft plastic a ginger toss in front of the melee and set the hook.

Spots like Green's Bayou, Cotton's Bayou, Middle Grounds, Oilfield Cut, Tom and Jerry's, Pipeline, Cullen House Cut and Fence Bayou all could have their own panorama immortalized on the canvas, but we all know it is so much better in person. Small top waters worked in the sloughs on the falling current and tight to the grass on the swelling tide is a memory waiting to happen.

When anglers speak of the Port O'Connor jetty, they associate it with Port O'Connor and not West Matagorda Bay. From Matagorda, it is about 28 miles, compared to a six-mile jaunt from Port O. It's worth the extra fuel from Matty just to tangle with acres of bull redfish.

My college sweetheart grew up in Matagorda County and on one of the first trips home to meet "the" parents, I was introduced to Oyster Lake. High tides had cluttered trout and redfish amid the mine field of shallow reefs where a quart of shrimp and a popping cork was all it took for us to box a limit of redfish.

The nearby Collegeport marsh came alive as the sun weakened and waterfowl danced from wet rice fields to shallow coastal flats. A trout bounced on my Jumpin' Minnow as a gregarious flight of green-winged teal buzzed the boat.

I asked her to marry me a short time later.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).



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