Gulf Coast Gut Punch

| February 19, 2021

It was good while it lasted. And now we get to find out how bad it can get.

I’ve been tuning in hard to the information coming from the Texas Gulf Coast, and what I am hearing isn’t good. My latest listen was the Bite Me Podcast, essentially coming to us from Houston, Texas, but with increasingly important coverage along almost the entire Texas Gulf Coast.

What I am gleaning, when I combine all sources, is that deeper areas of the uppermost Coast will probably have a better survival rate due to the fact there is more deep water up north. Think Houston Ship Channel and their deeper areas and their access to the open deeper water.

Mid Coast with its shallows and flats quickly gets a lot more desperate, and the temperatures in middle of our popular bays, like Matagorda, has hit 32-degrees at the surface. There is less deep access, and the fish that make it to the deep, say in the Port O. area intracoastal waterway, are getting churned out of safety by barge traffic. I assume that traffic is limited voluntarily, but if they’re moving, you know they move a lot of water when they pass us by. Tough deal.

Down in Port A. local thirty-pound-class tarpon are floating, and I received a photo of many hundreds of small baitfish and trout floating along the jetties.

When it comes to fish floats, I learned that the larger fish don’t surface right away. Large trout have been found already (by Wednesday), but I am hearing mostly about trout and other more sensitive fish. The guys I was listening to on the Bite Me Podcast said there are places where redfish and trout are huddled up – places they will not go, will not fish and will not reveal. And many will die there. Apparently, it is fairly common for less scrupulous folks to come in and harvest these fish. Sad.

The best I can tell, the further we go south, the damage isn’t as bad. We’re talking from about Corpus Christi down to South Padre Island the Lower Laguna Madre. IF THE Lower Laguna Madre had been hit by such intense cold? It would probably have taken this disaster to a whole new level – because that bay is so very shallow over such a large area. THERE ARE ongoing rescue efforts on South Padre Island, as the huge sea turtle population down there is stunned by the cold. They have moved their warming/recovery staging area for the turtles to the Convention Center because of the huge numbers of turtles being rescued.

What does this mean for fly fishing the Texas Gulf Coast? Well, we are not far enough out of it to know for sure, but if the freezes of the 1980’s are any indication, we are in for some tightening of regulations to help regenerate the fish population. Wouldn’t that be just fine with the vast majority of we who fly fish? Imagine guides taking people out, not to be in with box limits in an hour, but to catch-and-release, commune with nature in recovery, and if they must; keep one or two fish for the night’s meal. You can bet changes are on the way.

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Category: Saltwater Fly Fishing Texas, Science and Environmental

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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  1. shannon says:

    Lower Laguna Madre South Padre Island has “thousands if not 100s of thousands” big dead trout floating now – – according to my reliable source down there.

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