The year’s third month offers good angling, despite wiggy weather
The transition from winter into spring is finally here on the upper Texas coast, and many anglers have been anxiously awaiting warmer temperatures and more consistent conditions. Truth be told, however, perhaps the only thing consistent about March is inconsistency.
March has a reputation for being consistently inconsistent, at least when it comes to weather. Strong springtime winds might gust; late-season cold fronts could roll in; air and water temperatures could heat up in a hurry. It’s likely all of these variables and conditions will occur at some point during month three of 2021.
The good news is, no matter what March throws our way, there will be a variety of species to target, as well as a plethora of tactics, strategies and hot spots to keep you hooked up during this transitional period.
If I could describe March on the Gulf Coast in a word, it would be “wind.” You can bet on the wind blowing pretty hard at some point this month, and from multiple directions. This makes back lakes, satellite bays and protected marshes a good option, especially when gusts have a southerly or easterly factor to them, as this will result in high spring tides.
One of my favorite protected areas to fish during windy conditions has, and will always be, Moses Lake in Texas City. I cut my teeth catching flounder and redfish in the satellite bay. I still keep it as a well-trusted option for catching fish when gale-force winds prevail.
Gold spoons, bright colored jigs and popping cork rigs are my go-to baits for chasing reds and flatfish in Moses. My favorite areas include mudflats with scattered oyster shell along the southeast and eastern zones of the lake, as well as rip-rap and rocky banks along its western edge.
Wade-fishing protected shorelines is another good option this time of year, especially if you’re interested in speckled trout. The north and south shorelines in the back half of East Galveston Bay are both prime choices, as well as the east shoreline of Trinity Bay, and the coves along the southern perimeter of West Galveston Bay.
Stretches of shoreline with mud, shell and drains leading to and from the marsh in these areas usually are productive. Look for rafts of mullet stacking up along the shallow flats of these shorelines as March wears on. When the mullet get thick, you can bet trout are there as well. Topwater baits and slow-sinking twitch baits will produce plenty of strikes.
If you like to pursue fish that put up a grueling fight, then March is perfect for you. By the middle of the month, the black drum run usually is in full swing. Catching large specimens of 20 to 30 pounds in areas where they are staging to spawn is fairly common.
Some of the best places to find schools of monster black drum include the end of the Texas City Dike, the Bolivar Wells, the edges of the Galveston Ship Channel, the Pelican Island Bridge and both the North and South jetties. Black drum tend to feed the best when the current is moving, and freshly cracked crab fished along the bottom in depths from 15 to 40 feet will produce plenty of hookups.
The jetties also are a great area to catch sheepshead right now. The toothy critters can be found lurking between and alongside the granite rocks, and catching them isn’t rocket science. Pitch a live shrimp rigged with a light split shot weight up against rocks, and hold on. Where there’s one sheepshead, there’s usually a whole lot more.
For most anglers, flounder become by-catch this time of the year, at least compared to the fall when folks specifically target them. That said, there’s always a springtime flounder “run,” as the species makes its way back into the bays, marshes, bayous, creeks and back lakes from channels and passes. An outgoing tide is usually best for chasing flatfish, as they can be found stacked up at the mouths of these areas, feeding on baitfish funneled to them by the falling tide.
One of my favorite areas to pursue flounder in the spring is Chocolate Bay. The shorelines adjacent to marsh drains in this satellite bay always are loaded with flatfish at this time of the year.
One species that doesn’t seem much affected by the up and down weather patterns of March is the red drum. Redfish can be found almost anywhere right now. From the jetties and open bay waters to the shallow reaches of the marsh, they’re everywhere there’s food. Watch the weather, and then go chase them according to what areas should be the most productive with the conditions.
Green’s Lake in West Galveston Bay and its surrounding marshes always have been a favorite of mine for chasing reds during the spring. There usually are swarms of shrimp getting chased by schools of redfish in these shallow areas. A lot of times, these schools will have gulls or terns hovering above them. Once you find them, they’ll eat just about anything you throw.
It’s hard not to get fired up about the return of warm weather and more favorable on-the-water conditions. Don’t let the unpredictability of this month prevent you from making memories in the waters of the Galveston Bay Complex.
Spring into action and go catch what’s biting. More consistent patterns are headed our way.