Autumn is a hot time in the northernmost part of Galveston Bay
In the northernmost region of the Galveston Bay complex lies Trinity Bay — a wide-open part of the estuary receiving freshwater from both the San Jacinto and Trinity rivers. This influx of fresh water pumps Trinity Bay full of nutrients and oxygen, helping it earn its reputation as a fall fishing mecca filled with hotspots.
The reason for incredible rod-bending action throughout Trinity Bay in autumn is pretty simple — fresh water is the lifeblood of an estuary. The many marshes, back lakes, creeks and bayous in the Trinity and San Jacinto watersheds are nursing grounds for many estuarine organisms. Baitfish, shrimp and other crustaceans thrive in these areas upstream.
When cold fronts pass through, they produce strong northwest winds that cause tide levels to drop. As the water is blown out of shallow regions in the upper reaches of Trinity Bay, baitfish and shrimp are forced to leave and enter main bay waters where predators like speckled trout, redfish and flounder are waiting in ambush. This pattern sets up a feeding frenzy of epic proportions.
Among the most common signs a school of fish is aggressively feeding nearby is bird activity. During the fall, Trinity Bay is full of birds hovering over stretches of water. These flocks typically include terns and gulls working over swarms of shrimp, shad and other baitfish forced to the surface by hungry predators below. When anglers encounter bird action like this, the fish are usually willing to strike just about any type of bait.
Two of the best areas in Trinity Bay to find working birds this month are Jack’s Pocket and the Anahuac Pocket. When approaching a school of fish under the birds, the best tactic is to ease toward them from an upwind direction. Anglers should kill their outboard motors a few hundred yards out and allow the wind to push them toward the action. A trolling motor also is key because it allows some mobility while stealthily approaching.
Once in casting distance of water where the birds are working, fire your offerings and expect to hook up with some fast, furious excitement.
Trinity Bay also is littered with shell pads near wellheads and platforms. Some of these structures have been removed over the years, but plenty can still be seen above the surface and shell pads remain along the bottom.
Productive well locations include the “C Lease” wells in the northern half of Trinity Bay, and the “Sun Wells” in the middle of the bay, southeast of Umbrella Point. The biggest factor in catching fish around these wells is knowing where the shell pads are in relation to the structures above the surface.
The best way to find these shell humps is to thoroughly fish the water surrounding a well or platform until you get a bite. Once a zone of water seems to consistently produce strikes, there’s a good chance a shell pad lies nearby on the bay bottom.
Veteran Trinity Bay guide Capt. Tim Young is an expert on fishing the wells. He knows where every piece of shell is around these structures. I can’t tell you how many times he’s pointed out exactly where the fish would be as we idled up to a well. Just about every time, our rods would be bowed within minutes.
The east shoreline of Trinity Bay is covered with mud and oyster shell that provide excellent wade fishing during the fall. Some notable hotspots include The North Ridge, Little Hodge’s Reef, Little Pipeline Reef, Hodge’s Reef and the Vingt-et-un Pocket.
It’s important to understand that the farther north in Trinity Bay you go, the closer you are to freshwater runoff. Because of this, the lower half of Trinity Bay is going to be more productive during wet periods and the days immediately after significant rain.
Hook-N-Line Fishing Map F102 contains all the hotspots mentioned above. It’s available for purchase at www.hooknline.net.
Pick up this chart and go experience the phenomenal fall fishing Trinity Bay has to offer. I’ll see you there.
Additional Galveston Bay fall hotspots
Along with Trinity Bay, there are some other excellent areas for anglers to find outstanding success this fall. In upper Galveston Bay, the shorelines from April Fool Point to Eagle Point, and from Eagle Point up to the Seabrook Flats are hard to beat, especially as water temperatures drop into the 60s.
Just about every reef in the front half of East Bay will be concentrating plenty of trout and reds this month as well. Stephenson Reef, Whitehead Reef, Richard’s Reef, Hanna Reef and Bull Shoals are exceptional options.
Areas around the Texas City Dike also will be productive during the fall, especially for flounder. Mosquito Island and the Texas City levee offer walk-in-and-wade, kayak and bank-bound anglers some promising waters to target. Anglers with access to a boat should check out Halfmoon Shoal, another honey hole near the Texas City Dike.
Satellite Bays like Moses Lake, Chocolate Bay, Bastrop Bay and Christmas Bay also are worth exploring. Because they’re somewhat off the beaten path, these spots sometimes receive less pressure.