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Matagorda Bay

Fishing's Best East and West

by Robert Sloan




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If you're looking for big trout and lots of them you might want to head to the Matagorda Bay complex right about now. That's because this area, located close to 90 minutes southwest of Houston, Texas is one of the best kept secrets on the entire Gulf Coast.

Of course, on the Texas coast, there's Baffin Bay, the Laguna Madre and Galveston's East Bay. They're all known for producing big trout. But when it comes to catching big trout on a daily basis during the fall and early winter months, you're going to be hard pressed to do better than the Matagorda Bay area. You'll not only find big trout here, but the bays are basically free of pollution and the number of fishermen working these waters are minimal when compared to places like the Laguna Madre and Galveston Bay area.

There are three options here. You can fish East or West Matagorda bays, or you might even make the run out to the jetties and fish the surf. They are all viable options that can really produce some big fish during the next few months.

Capt. Charlie Paradoski has been guiding on the these bays for over nine years. During that time he's learned a thing or two about the trout here. One is that East Bay is the hot spot from about October till December.

"The reason East Bay attracts so many big trout is that it's like one big estuary,'' says Paradoski. "It's basically free of pollution. There are healthy shell reefs everywhere. Put those two together and you've got a body of water that will attract and hold lots of trout."

Paradoski says that West Matagorda Bay is good, too. As is the surf along Matagorda Peninsula. But over the years he's found that East Matagorda Bay is the place to fish when you're after trout in the 10 pound class.


Both of these areas are shallow water bays. About the deepest water you'll find on them is around 6 feet. But overall, it'll be more like 2 to 4 feet deep.

The main difference between these bays is that East has tons of shell. West doesn't have that much.

About the best access to either bay is via Matagorda Harbor that's situated on the Intracoastal Waterway. The Matagorda Harbor facility is about two years old. I've fished my way up and down the Texas coast and can say from experience that you won't find a better place to put a boat in, buy tackle or even clean you're fish.

At Matagorda Harbor there are multiple boat ramps, plenty of wet boat storage, along with a great shop that sales live bait and tackle for both inshore and offshore angling.

Once you put in at the harbor you can head east and take the first deep channel boat cut on your right and that'll lead you into East Bay. Or you can make your approach into East Bay from Caney Creek Marina or Linda's Marina, located on Caney Creek below the town of Sargent, near the far east end of the bay.

If you head to West Bay from the harbor you'll have to clear a pontoon bridge and the Colorado River locks. It's not a hassle, and something pretty different if you take Culver Cut or the channel at Mad Island Reef to access West Bay.

Another option is to put in at the harbor and take the flood and discharge channel to the Matagorda Jetties. It'll be about a 20 minute run. Or you can bypass the harbor and take your vehicle across the swing bridge to Farm Road 2031. Along that road are bait camps and ramps at River Bend Marina, Allen's Landing and Rawling's.

If you don't have a boat, fishing is very limited in this area. If you've got four wheel drive a very good option is to take 2031 to the beach, turn left and work the surf. When it's green to the beach fishing for both trout and reds is fantastic. During the fall the reds will be thick in the surf.

Capt. Mike Mosley based out of Sargent on the east side of the bay is partial to the surf when it's green to the beach.

"When the surf goes green I'll run out past the jetties and head either west or east in my boat,'' says Mosley. "When you get a green tide that's loaded with bait you're going to catch some big trout."

Another option of Mosley's is to fish West Bay. He says that your best option on this bay will be to fish the south shoreline.

"The main difference between East and West bays is that West will offer a firm bottom for wading, which is the best way to catch fish on West Bay,'' says Mosley. "Some of my favorite water is on the lower bay from about Green's Bayou to Airport Flats. There are scattered shell reefs along that stretch. When you've got green water along the south shoreline of West Bay your best bet might be to cruise the flats until you locate lots of mullet. That's a sure sign of trout."

Paradoski, one the most experienced guides on the middle and upper Texas coast, prefers to do his fishing on East Bay, year round.

But when it comes to fishing for big trout all the guides and experienced anglers will be fishing on East Bay. All those shell reefs attract lots of trout. And the great thing about East Bay is that you can wade or drift it. Or you might even chase the birds.

"You never know what's going to work best on East Bay," says Paradoski. "If the fish are feeding on mullet shallow you'll do best by wading. But a lot of the time you'll have some wind and the best option is to drift the reefs. That's an especially good tactic between fronts."

"One thing you don't want to pass up are the birds. They can lead you to big schools of trout."

When drifting or working the birds Paradoski says he'll be fishing Bass Assassins, Gamblers, Hogies or Kelly Wigglers. A 1/4 ounce head is best on a drift. He'll go with a 1/8th ounce head when wading. Top colors are shad or pumpkin seed with a green tip. He'll also tie on a Mirrolure when drifting.

The one draw back of wading East Bay is that it's got a lot of soft bottom mixed with shell. That can make for some tough wading. But big trout and soft bottom go together like gin and tonic.

Forget about using live bait for East Bay trout. You'll have more fun and probably catch heavier trout using artificials.

During fall and early winter trout will be feeding voraciously on mullet. And they won't be at all too shy about hitting topwater plugs. Paradoski says his favorites are a Ghost and Super Spook. His favorite color is shad. But a red/orange combination is good, too. Bone will also work.

"I'll fish those topwater plugs with lots of action,'' says Paradoski. "The faster the better. And when a trout blows up on one and misses I'll stop the lure and twitch it. If I'm missing too many fish I'll tie on a Corky."

If you have never been to Matagorda you're going to find that this place is all about fishing. In fact it's just a small fishing village with a couple of grocery stores, a hotel, cafe and scattered bait camps.

If you plan on staying in the area, especially during the fall trout run, you'll need to make a reservation for a room right now. The only hotel near the harbor is Fisherman's Hotel at (409) 863-7434. This is a clean hotel right across the street from the harbor boat ramps.

For daily fishing reports, live bait and tackle and weather conditions call :


Harbor Bait & Tackle - (409) 863-7620

C & R Seafood &Bait - (409) 863-7200

Rawling's Bait Camp - (409)863-7669

Caney Creek

Linda's Bait & Marina - (409) 245-0506 (Linda's also has RV hookups and cabins)

Caney Creek Marina - (409) 245-3691

Guide Services

Capt. Floyd Ciruti - (979) 533-0893

Capt. Charlie Paradoski - (281) 343-0221

Capt. Mike Mosley - (409) 244-0926

Capt. Don Wood - (409) 863-7334

Capt. Bill Pustjovsky - (409) 863-7353

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