Fishing in Matagorda Bay: All You Need to Know
Nov 4, 2020 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Part of the seven major estuaries on the Texas Gulf Coast, Matagorda Bay is a sight for sore eyes. This beautiful shallow bay will give you something to smile about, as fishing in Matagorda Bay is out of this world. The sheer abundance of wildlife will have you in awe of the most important thing we have – nature.

Aerial view of Matagorda Bay in Texas

Matagorda Bay owes much of its natural beauty to its location – it’s the mouth of several rivers, including the Colorado and Lavaca. It also exchanges waters with the Gulf of Mexico through 5 inlets, separated only by the Matagorda Peninsula. This narrow stretch of land is a rich habitat for a variety of species of fish, as well as birds and other wildlife, especially near the Colorado River delta.

As a renowned fishing location in the region, Matagorda Bay is a paradise for any avid inshore angler. Here you’ll find swampy terrain, an abundance of wetlands and tidal marshes, as well as coastal prairies with native grasses, all hiding a number of prized game fish. Let’s dive into what makes fishing in Matagorda Bay special, so you can best prepare for your next adventure.

What to Catch

An infographic showing the top fish species to catch in Matagorda Bay, including Sheepshead, Redfish, Black Drum, Speckled Trout, and Flounder

Starting with the most important question – what fish to go after. Let’s just say you have numerous options. With such nutrient-rich waters in and around the bay, you’ll have a hard time sticking to one target fish. Luckily, you don’t have to! Read on to figure out what your species of choice is.

Redfish

There’s hardly a fishing list in Texas that doesn’t include this inshore favorite. Redfish are known for their striking beauty, the hard fight they put up, and the delicious meat they provide after a long day of fishing. You’ll find that they tick all the boxes of a prized game fish, so it’s always a good idea to cast a line for them.

A woman holding a Redfish on a boat while fishing with her son in Matagorda Bay

You’ll find the waters of Matagorda Bay to be prime Redfish fishing grounds. Encompassing such a big area while staying shallow throughout, anywhere you go on the bay you’ll get to target these lovely creatures. Visit some of the smaller bays and the marshes for some peace of mind and a nice day of soaking in natural views and going after big Reds.

Speckled Trout

Continuing the list with another Texas favorite – Speckled Trout are revered in the state for their game and food qualities. Targeted by novice and experienced anglers alike, these sought-after beauties are a joy to reel in. Known for their characteristic “specks” on their back, which is how they got their name, you’ll spot them hiding out in the marshes and grasslands of Matagorda Bay.

A man holding a Speckled Trout on a boat

While you’ll find prized Specks in any part of the bay, the East Matagorda Bay is known for an abundance of these striking creatures. Specks are a great introductory species when it comes to inshore fishing, so they’re the ones to go after with the little ones. And you’ll be happy to hear that you’ll get a mouth-watering dinner once you’re back from your escapade.

Flounder

These ones might not be the most photogenic, but they’re surely a tasty treat for any angler looking for some excitement. Flounder are one of the most popular fish in Texas, and for good reason. Their tender meat is a reward for trying out one of the most unique fishing styles around. We’re of course talking about gigging, the best way to head out and fill your bags with prized Flounder.

A man holding a Flounder after a day of fishing

The best spots to find some nice Flounder are the coves and flats near major passes, especially the Colorado River delta, as well as the Intracoastal Waterway, Oyster Lake, and Pass Cavallo at Port O’Connor. So dare to experience this adrenaline-filled adventure, get a trident, and get to gigging!

Sheepshead

When it comes to beauty, few fish species are as remarkable as Sheepshead. These black and white creatures are a sight to behold, and reeling a big one in will make for an amazing photo op. Not the most hard-fighting fish, Sheepshead are the perfect target for a laid-back trip with the family, making some new memories.

A man holding a Sheepshead

And you’ll find them in great numbers in Matagorda Bay – it’s right up there with Corpus Christi and Galveston Bay. And the taste? Heavenly. If you decide to go after prized Sheepshead, your efforts will certainly be rewarded. The reward is a delicious meal for the whole family, giving you a pleasant ending to a fun inshore adventure.

Black Drum

The docile cousin of Redfish, Black Drum has a lot more to offer if you give it the time of day. Reaching some impressive sizes, this inshore beast is a sight to behold. And given how abundant Black Drum are in Matagorda Bay, make it your target, and you’re guaranteed to have some angling fun.

A man holding a Black Drum

Not only that, but you’ll get to reap the benefits of a delicious meal back home. Known for its tender meat, Black Drum is one of the tastiest fish found in these waters. Not only will your gain some bragging rights and a nice photo, but you’ll also get to treat your family to a wonderful dinner. You can’t ask for much more, can you?

And More!

While we’ve listed the top most common species you can target in the bay, there’s still plenty to explore. As we’ve said, these waters are very rich, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find almost any inshore fish here. Striped Bass, Croaker, Jack Crevalle, and Ladyfish can be found in the bay, while heading a bit up the Colorado River will put you on trophy Largemouth Bass. Talk about variety!

How to Fish in Matagorda Bay

So now that you know what you want to go after, you’re probably wondering how. Worry not, we’ve got you. As you know by now, Matagorda Bay is not small, so there’s a variety of ways you can go about a fishing adventure here. Read on to learn more about them and pick the one you’re most drawn to.

Charter Fishing

This is an obvious one. With the impressive size of the bay, hopping aboard a fishing charter will help you see most of it, if not all. You’ll be able to move around and look for those hot spots and schools of fish, covering a lot more ground compared to fishing on foot. So you’ll get to fill your bags, all with the wind in your hair and sun on your skin.

A boat on the Colorado River

What’s more, you’ll get to go out with a professional charter captain. This is an advantage you shouldn’t take lightly, as captains in the area are locals who have been fishing in Matagorda Bay for a long time. They have all the tips and tricks, and they’ll help you find the fish, as well as show you the best way of reeling in your targets.

Fishing on Foot

Fishing in Matagorda Bay is a way of life, and most locals go out on foot and find their way to the most productive waters simply by walking. It’s a way of life in this part of the state, and if you’re looking for that authentic experience, it’s the way to go. As the waters are pretty shallow here, wading through them while casting your line is very popular.

A view of a beach in Matagorda Bay

Another great way to target your fish without getting wet is visiting one of the piers that stretches into the bay. You’ll get that sense of community, as locals tend to gather at these spots for a day of fun in the sun. Port Lavaca State Fishing Pier is especially popular, and anglers flock to this hotspot from all over Texas. Or visit the stunning Magnolia Beach for some surf fishing!

Kayak Fishing

Looking for some more excitement? Hands down the most interesting way of exploring Matagorda Bay, kayak fishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the area. With calm, shallow waters, there’s hardly a better place on the Texas Gulf Coast to paddle out in search of some trophy fish.

A man kayak fishing on a bay

Fishing from a kayak is truly an immersive experience, and while it’s definitely a workout, it’s also very rewarding. There’s a variety of spots along the shores of the bay you can launch from, so just head on down and become one with the water. East Matagorda Bay is especially nice for some paddling, while Oyster Lake is very popular in the West Matagorda Bay.

Where to Go

Are you ready to head on down and try your luck? Hold up, you still need to figure out where exactly to cast your bait. The sheer variety of fishing spots around Matagorda Bay make it difficult to decide where to go, but we’re here to help. Keep reading for a list of top spots, and pick the one that speaks to you.

An aerial view of houses in Matagorda
  • Port Lavaca State Fishing Pier: This is a well-known pier on the edge of Lavaca Bay that sees tourists flock to it every year for their chance of reeling in a big fish. Trout, Redfish, Black Drum, Sheepshead… they’re all in the cards!  
  • Oyster Lake: This calm and peaceful lake will show you a great time and an enjoyable outing. Especially popular among kayak anglers, the Oyster Lake Park is a launch point with access to the lake as well as the bay. Big Trout are known to roam these waters, as well as Redfish and Flounder.
  • Matagorda: The eponymous town on the banks of the Colorado River, Matagorda is a fishing haven. With access to both West and East Matty, as well as the mouth of the river, you’ll have no issue finding big Trout, Redfish, Sheepshead, and Flounder.
  • Port O’Connor Jetty: Nestled on the edge of West Matagorda Bay, this stretch of rocky structure is a local favorite. Take a walk and cast a line for prized Specks, Redfish, Sheepshead, Black Drum, and many more.
  • Magnolia Beach: Saving the best for last! This sandy beach gives camping a new dimension. Bask in the sun, enjoy the views, and do some surf fishing for the ultimate natural escape. You’ll get company in the form of trophy Trout, Sheepshead, and Redfish.

Seasons and Regulations

By now, you’ve probably gotten a good picture of what your Matagorda Bay fishing adventure will look like. The only thing left for you to decide on is when to embark on it. When it comes to seasonality, you don’t have to worry – this is a year-round fishery, and whenever you decide to come, you’ll have something to go after. If it’s Flounder you’ve set your sights on, we recommend visiting during the “Flounder Run” from October to December.

How about regulations? When it comes to Matagorda Bay, you’re looking at Texas state regulations, so you’ll have to get a Texas Fishing License. Take a look at the video above for more information on this, or read more about it on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. You’ll find all the information you need, so you can head out and spent your time fishing with peace of mind.

Tournaments

Another important question to ask yourself is – am I competitive? If the answer is yes, you’ll be glad to know there’s a variety of fishing tournaments happening in Matagorda. One of them is the legendary Matagorda Mermaid Tournament in July, the longest-running offshore women’s tournament on the Texas Gulf Coast.

A pair of anglers on the water before the sunrise

Another well-known tournament that promises a lot of fun and adrenaline is the Texas Trio Classic. It’s dedicated to those inshore favorites – Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder. It’s a great event to join if you’re looking for a real kick and are up for some heavy competition.

Why Matagorda Bay?

Are you still on the fence? Take the leap! Matagorda Bay is one of the biggest and most beautiful estuaries, and it’s bound to leave you breathless. With an impressive array of habitats, there’s hardly another place with such natural variety. The fish are no exception, and the only way to find out what Texas fishing is all about is trying it out. Its calm waters will sooth your soul, and its abundance will leave you in awe.

A view of the Milky Way from a pier in Matagorda

Have you ever visited Matagorda Bay? Have you tried fishing in the area? Tell us all about your adventure, and feel free to ask any questions. We love to hear from you!

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