Neither torrid weather nor high-season crowds can cramp your style at these tested angling locales
Certain areas along the upper coast are known for producing outstanding results in the summer. Whether it’s trophy-caliber fish, or just a lot of them, these tried and true locales have allowed anglers to stay hooked up for years. We should all plan to pursue gamefish and other species in waters surrounding these classic summertime spots.
It’s no secret that jetty systems lining passes connecting estuaries to and from the Gulf attract plenty of fish. The number of boats that can be found around the granite structures on any given Saturday is proof of that. Still, certain strategies and tactics will help you become more successful, even in the summertime crowds.
Washouts and areas where water is flowing through the rocks are key. Try to focus on the down-current side of these hot spots, as gamefish such as speckled trout and reds will use them as ambush points to feed on baitfish, shrimp and crabs being funneled through the rocks by the tide. Stretches with visible humps of rocks or deep drop-offs out from the granite also are prime locations. Boat cuts and the ends of jetties always are worth targeting as well.
Casting free-lined live shrimp along the jetty rocks is a surefire way to get bit. The key is to use as little weight as possible. A small lead split shot will usually do the trick. You want enough weight to cast the bait, but still be light enough to allow it to drift slowly with the current through the water column.
Among artificial options, it’s hard to beat Rat-L-Traps and various Bill Lewis crankbaits. These lures bounce off the granite nicely as they are retrieved, and that’s usually when a fish strikes. You’ve pretty much got to be willing to lose some hardware if you’re going to catch fish on lures along the granite. If your bait isn’t in and amongst the rocks, you’re wasting your time.
Both the north and south jetties leading into Galveston Bay are worth their weight in gold, and the Freeport jetties can produce big time as well. In recent years, the Sabine jetties have become one of my favorite summertime hotspots.
Live oyster shell reefs will forever be gold mines for catching fish along upper coast bays. They are epicenters for life below the surface, as they attract hordes of baitfish and crustaceans, as well as the predators that chase them. Places such as East Matagorda Bay, Trinity Bay, East and West Galveston bays are rife with oyster reefs, and most of them have charted, well-known locations. However, knowing where they lie and being able to consistently catch fish over them are two completely different things.
Edges of reefs, and even the muddy bottoms surrounding them where the shell is more scattered and away from their midpoints, often are the best places to fish. For some reason, many folks seem to think that the best thing to do is to drop their anchor smack dab on the middle of the reef and start fishing. This not only disturbs the fish that are in the area, but it also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when considering how fish feed.
Just like at the jetties, fish near oyster reefs are going to ambush their prey around specific points. These may be drop offs, deeper areas, or even humps and shallower portions of a particular reef. Working the edges of a reef stealthily by using a trolling motor — without plowing right through the heart of the area with an outboard motor — is the best strategy.
Look for surface activity and slicks, and make plans to cover some water. When a strike occurs, try to home in on where the fish are holding. Chances are, you’ll find them there the next time you return to that particular reef.
Popping corks and live shrimp rule when it comes to fishing oyster reefs. For the artificial enthusiasts, soft plastic jigs and swim baits are the staples.
The Intracoastal Waterway might be the most overlooked hotspot on the upper Texas coast. It offers miles upon miles of protected banks, not to mention, canals, rip rap, drains, back lakes and marshes, providing anglers with tons of options, no matter what the weather is doing. From flounder, redfish and trout, to black drum and sheepshead, the Intracoastal Waterway usually has them all.
Some of the most aggressive action along the Intracoastal Waterway occurs near points and cuts when false tides or currents are created by passing barge traffic. This strong and short-lived period of moving water usually prompts the fish into feeding. Almost anywhere there are eddies created by the current is a good spot to try. Depth changes, structures like rocks and cuts leading into marshes and back lakes also are key grounds to focus on.
In addition to the aforementioned areas, there are other locales that will afford opportunities for bending rods over the next several weeks; however, the three I’ve mentioned will provide anglers with a foundation from which to catch fish all summer long. Temperatures are heating up, and so is the inshore bite. Get out there and focus your time on tried and true areas that you can rest assured will be holding fish.