Redfish Haven: Texas’ Matagorda Bay is well known to redfish fans as being one of the best places to find consistent action with these great game fish. A plentiful food supply and ideal habitat create a perfect zone for the fish.
The sun began its slow creep up from the horizon, sending rays of orange bouncing off East Matagorda’s clear-green waters. Capt. Bink Grimes didn’t have to acknowledge the beautiful irony before us as we walked out onto the deck of his newly constructed Sunrise Lodge. Today would indeed be a special spring day — especially one for rod-bending redfish action.
Walk This Way
Wade-fishing is as Texas as a good ol’ country song. From shallow, open-water sand flats to backcountry lagoons, anglers quietly depart from boats on a lure-chunking foot patrol, throwing everything from topwaters to plastics into schools of hungry fish. Grimes has honed both the technique and the timing; after all, he wrote the book on it: Wadefishing Texas, the source for fishermen up and down the Gulf Coast.
“We like to wade on the south shoreline of West Matagorda and work parallel guts that drop from knee-deep to waist-deep,” says Grimes. Matty — as the area is commonly called — is made up of two large bays, West and East Matagorda; in spring, both have strong neap tides that usher in clear, green seawater.
Riding those waves are bay anchovies. Commonly called glass minnows, anglers around here know they are really redfish and seatrout breakfast, lunch and dinner. Says Grimes, “We get that spring flood around spring break, and depending on how mild a winter we have, those glass minnows begin to show en masse.” The glass minnows pile into the shoreline grasses and guts for a game of hide-and-seek with predators. Redfish give themselves away with slicks and mud boils, but other species are in proximity, helping Grimes put his clients on forearm-burning action. “I get pretty excited when I see lots of pelicans divebombing because I know that the bait has arrived. Redfish will be close,” he says. “Real close.”
Weather or Not
Like Grimes, Capt. Ray Sexton has been guiding wade-fishermen for years. “Last season, I probably fished out of my boat twice. My clients prefer to wade because it is so much fun, and the success rate is high,” he says. Sexton looks forward to inclement weather. “I love it when we get those late-season fronts that drop air and water temperatures. Those events really get those redfish biting,” he says. He likes late-season fronts because the northeast wind pushes the bait and fish up along the long southern shorelines. “Glass minnows and mullet really get disoriented, and I like to be fishing in that.” As indication of his redfish prowess in inclement weather, Sexton released with his clients just the day before our arrival more than 100 fish in an afternoon. According to Grimes, both bays have been producing consistently good-size reds, and recently biologists have noted a real bloom. “The estuaries are holding healthy numbers of fish. Our numbers are strong and the fish are heavy, and we have seen a recent average of about 24 inches or six pounds on most trips,” says Grimes. He notes East Matty specifically. “We have seen big schools out in open water of East Bay. Typically we get more tidal flow because of the proximity of Mitchells Cut. With a good push of water from the Gulf, those redfish really pile up out in the middle,” he says. Grimes like to put his clients on good topwater action there too. “Something about East Bay — the fish just go crazy over topwaters,” says Grimes.