Port O'Connor Double

Here's where you can catch speckled trout and redfish from the same waters on our Texas Coast. (May 2006)

The swells coming in off the Gulf of Mexico were spaced out at about 30-second intervals -- and that's about how long it took for us to hook up with one bull red after another at the end of the south Port O'Connor jetty.

"I'm about worn out," said Chris Davis as he slipped the net under a red of roughly 35 pounds that I'd just reeled to the boat. "Let's pull up the anchor and move down the rocks about 100 yards, and see if the trout are biting.

I cranked the big Yamaha outboard and eased forward as Davis hauled the anchor rope; the current moved us down the jetties. Once we were over our spot, he slipped the anchor. The line came tight and the stern of the 22-foot Pathfinder was upcurrent of a place we called "the Rock."

We lobbed live shrimp into the blue-green water; the current moved the baits over the rock, which sits in 16 feet of water about 10 yards off the jetties. We were rigged up with slip-corks, so that our baits were suspended just over the tip of the submerged rock.

Then, both corks went down almost in unison, and we were into solid jetty trout in the 2 1/2- to 3-pound class. We caught two limits of trout and never moved from that one spot! And the best part about that day of nonstop action on both trout and reds? There were virtually no other boats to horn in on our action.

I've fished out of Port O'Connor for over three decades, and I can say from experience that this is truly the sportfishing jewel of the entire Texas Gulf Coast. Why? That's simple. Fishing for trout and reds, the two most popular sportfish along the Gulf Coast, is as good as it gets here year 'round, but especially during May. Fly-fishing on the clear-water flats is outstanding year 'round. If deep-water action is what you prefer, then head to the jetties, or fish the shell pads around the rigs. There are islands to wade. And the many passes that lead from one area to another are where you can find reds and trout feeding on shrimp, mullet and shad.

Port O'Connor is on the Middle Texas Coast about 2 1/2 hours from Houston and San Antonio. Apart from the great numbers of fish, what makes this area so attractive to anglers is the great scenery. The gin-clear flats stretch for miles. You can beach your boat on one of the many islands and make a day of fishing, hiking and camping. There are miles of kayak trails to paddle.

Pass Cavallo lies at the opening of Matagorda Island. Running close to 30 miles, the beach along Matagorda Island is completely undeveloped. You can wade it or fish from a boat. For the most part, the best fishing out of POC is with a boat. There is limited wade-fishing along the town beach and jetties. That's where you'll also find a fishing pier.

In short, POC is a paradise for the light-tackle angler and the flyfisherman. And as the currents warm during the month of May, the fishing for trout and reds is outstanding. The many islands spread out from the town of Port O'Connor to the eastern tip of Matagorda Island offer more flats action than you can imagine.

The best way to access the islands is via the narrow and snaking pass that leads to Barroom Bay. From there you can cut through Big Bayou and head to Bayucos Island, and from there you can run through the pass to Saluria Bayou and on out to Grass Island and Farwell Island. That's a lot of territory to cover in one day, but that should give you an idea of how much prime real estate there is to fish at POC.

I've fished out of Port O'Connor for over three decades, and I can say from experience that this is truly the sportfishing jewel of the entire Texas Gulf Coast.

Espiritu Santo Bay, between Blackberry Island off the Intracoastal Waterway and on over to Matagorda Island, is a favorite fishing area for guide Dwayne Lowrey. "There are hidden reefs all over Espiritu Santo Bay, along with numerous rigs," he said. "The reefs offer excellent trout fishing. Ditto that for the rigs. The biggest rig in this bay is easily identified. It's huge, and dwarfs the other, much-smaller rigs. The big shell pad beneath the big rig provides good fishing for both reds and trout, day and night. It's well lighted for night-fishing.

"The rigs in Espiritu Santo Bay and the adjacent West Matagorda Bay don't get that much fishing pressure. I've fished them for years, and can guarantee you the numbers of trout that feed around those rigs will blow your mind."

The best way to fish the rigs is with live baits under slip-corks. Most of the rigs are in 10 to 14 feet of water. It's tough to beat a live shrimp fished under a slip-cork around the rigs.

The jetties at Matagorda Island, leading to the Gulf out of West Matagorda Bay, hold big time numbers of trout and reds from May through October. The jetties are accessible only by boat, unless you have a plane that's capable of landing on the beach.

I've always done best by fishing isolated rocks along the channel side of the jetties. But there are a few spots on the Gulf side of the north jetty that hold trout as well. The hole at the end of the south jetty is a hotspot for big reds. The best way to catch them is with a jig that's heavy enough to work the bottom in a strong current.

"The backwater lakes along Matagorda Island offer protection from the wind," remarked Lowrey. "But over the past few years they have become very popular among a whole lot of shallow-draft boaters. The most popular lake is Pringle. But other lakes south of Pringle, like Contee and South Pass, are worth a shot as well."

Pringle, the biggest of these lakes, offers the best opportunity for getting into a combination of reds and trout. What most anglers do on this lake is set up a drift with the wind. The water, only 1 to 3 feet deep, depending on the tide, is usually loaded with lots of grass. A popping cork or something like a Mansfield Mauler is best when fished with a 1/8-ounce jig. The noise of the float attracts trout and reds, and when they get to the float, they usually gulp down the jig.

The lakes along Matagorda Island are spread out for over 20 miles. Most offer reliable wade- and drift-fishing options.

The many islands between Blackberry and Matagorda islands offer excellent wade-fishing options. Most have scattered oyster reefs that attract plenty of reds and trout.

There's definitely no shortage of live shell reefs in the bays and off the islands of POC. That's both bad -- if you don't know where you're going, it's very easy to run up on the shell, and that's definitely not a good thing for a fiberglass hull -- and good -- because once

you get to know your way around, drift-fishing or wading various reefs is an effective way to pick up scattered trout and reds.

I run guide trips on the flats out of a 17-foot Mitzi Skiff, whose ultra-lightweight hull can be poled across the flats in some pretty skinny water. The light-tackle and fly-fishing options on the flats are incredible. I've poled across flats that were both loaded with reds and, typically, holding trout at their edges. Example: On a recent trip, I poled up on a flat and found that reds were everywhere in the gin-clear, ankle-deep water. After catching a limit of reds, three of us worked our way along the edge of the flat; there it dropped off into an adjacent channel, and, sure enough, there we found some nice trout.

Another very good option is to run out of Pass Cavallo and fish the wrecks just outside the breakers on the beach. Numerous wrecks will be found along Matagorda Island. During the warm-weather months, you can catch reds and trout that are mixed in with tarpon, Spanish mackerel, sharks and huge jacks.

The fishing experience that you'll find at POC is unbeatable for year-round action.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

For guided trips out of Port O'Connor, e-mail me at sloan288@aol.com and I'll be able to steer you in the right direction for fishing and lodging.

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