by Nate Skinner
S UMMERTIME T ROPHIES
ON E AST M ATTY
he sound was unmistakably distinct. If my eyes were
closed I could’ve easily envisioned the show taking place
before me. Gills flared, salty water foamed, and a yellow
mouth with large fangs trying to shake itself free from the hard
plastic hooked to its lips.
This was what I was after, and it was the
reason this bay had developed its gem status.
As the large sow came closer, my heart began
to pound. The blow-up had produced an
adrenaline rush that was now on overload. I
was seconds away from landing a potential
In an instant the dream turned into a
nightmare. The lure came flying back towards
me and the fish plunged in the opposite
direction. It seemingly happened in slow
motion, almost as if she paused for a split
second to give me one last glimpse of her
massiveness before descending out of sight.
My face immediately turned white as a ghost.
“There will be more,” came a nonchalant
remark from the bow of the boat. “After all,
we are fishing on East Matagorda Bay,”
laughed Capt. Kendall Kersh.
His statement was true. That day rendered
plenty of heavy specks that allowed me to
shake off “the one that got away.” Fishing for
large trout on purpose never felt so good.
Certain bay systems along the Gulf Coast
seem to produce trophy speckled trout every
year. These results could be considered
cyclical at times, as some seasons are better
than others. One estuary that is in a particular
hot streak for affording monster yellow
mouths to the anglers fishing it is East
The theories and reasons behind these
colossal catches vary, many of which are
unknown. One variable that has played a
tremendous role in enhancing this productive fishery in recent
years, has been plentiful rains during the spring and early
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Matagorda Bay
Ecosystem Leader, Leslie Hartman, says freshwater inflows
from abundant precipitation increase the overall health and
diversity of an estuarine ecosystem.
“Because East Matagorda Bay lacks direct freshwater
influxes from any major rivers or creeks, significant rain events
benefit the system,” she explained. “Freshwater deposits
nutrients into the bay, while eliminating
problems associated with dissolved oxygen.
This is an issue found in super saline water
because it contains excess salt, leaving less
space for oxygen. Freshwater mixing into the
bay allows more room for oxygen throughout
the water column.
Recent wet years have also helped stack
up concentrations of trophy trout within East
Matagorda Bay. Typically, during the late
winter and early spring months, mature specks
take refuge along the Intracoastal Waterway
as well as in the rivers, bayous, and creeks
that are connected to it just north of the bay.
With these areas full of freshwater after heavy
rains, hefty sow trout were forced to remain
inside East Matagorda Bay, along with the
mullet and other baitfish they feed on. Here,
they have been gorging themselves and getting
heavier all spring long. Their weights will
just continue to increase as the spawn kicks
into full gear with the rising summer
There are plenty of charted hotspots to
locate fat specks within East Matagorda Bay
and they can be found on Hook-N-Line chart
F108. This chart also indicates public boat
ramps that can be used to access the productive
estuary both in Matagorda, which is on west
side of the bay, and Sargent, which lies to the
east. The chart can be purchased at
During the summer months, anglers
preferring to wade fish should focus their
efforts out in front of marsh drains, guts,
coves, and bayous along the western portion of the south
shoreline. Some excellent starting points would be Eidelbach
Flats, Kain Cove, Cleveland Bayou, Hog Island, Boiler Bayou,
and Spring Bayou Cove.
The best scenario for fishing these areas will be early in
(Continued on page 14.)
Capt. Kendall Kersh and Matt Saunders show why East Matagorda Bay has gained a reputation
for producing monster specks.
Photos by author.
JULY • AUGUST • SEPTEMBER 2 0 1 7