‹ Galveston Bay Fishing Report with Capt Paul Marcaccio
Weather, Water and Equipment
Remember fish are cold-blooded creatures. Their bodies take on the temperature of the element (water) in which they live. Fish caught in winter feel as cold as ice, while those taken in the summer feel warm and as a result the meat spoils much faster. Weather extremes, sweltering heat in the summer and bitter cold in the winter, can make for difficult fishing.
Many people cut down on their number of fishing trips during these extremes. There is no chart that says that weather extremes make for bad fishing, but that's only if you aren't familiar with how the fish react to the weather. A point to keep in mind is the temperature of the water isn't the same in every location.
In the winter, surface water is coldest until it reaches about 38 degrees Fahrenheit and then it sinks to the bottom. Consequently, fish caught in very shallow water in a sudden freeze are often filled, whereas those caught in areas where the water is deep simply go to the bottom to escape the freeze. The cold slows the body functions of the fish and it will remain near the bottom almost in a stupor during a cold spell.
The temperature varies in bodies of water in the heat of summer, too. Shallow water becomes the warmest, and when this occurs, fish move into deep water where the temperature is more to their liking. The deeper water is where the oxygen content is more consistent, whereas in shallow areas the oxygen content depletes as the temperature rises. The rising temperature in shallow water causes an increase in the salinity level. When fishing in hot weather, you will score most consistently by and on an incoming tide. An incoming tide tends to cool the water on flats where the bulk of marine food is located. During the middle part of the day – from about 10:00am until 4:00pm – the best fishing is generally in middle parts of the bay where the water is deeper and cooler.
At this time of year some excellent speckled trout fishing can be enjoyed around the pipe stands and gas wells in lower Galveston Bay, as well as the spoil banks along the ship channel. When beachfront waters clear sufficiently for speckled trout fishing, the best time to go is early in the morning if you’re wading. After 10:00am, as the shallow surf warms, speckled trout move to deeper water, This is when you can do well fishing from the T-head of a beachfront pier. Heat of the day fishing can be very good in the deep water around the north and south jetties. Except for Spanish mackerel, ling and a few other surface feeders, the best fishing at the jetties is at the bottom of hot weather. Go on an incoming or high tide because the water exchange from the open Gulf of Mexico will be a little cooler.
Summer fishing always poses a problem for those using live bait. You need a constant circulation of water in the bait tanks. When you’re hauling bait from the bait stand to your fishing location, put chunks of ice in a Ziplock bag in the container. It will lower the temperature of the water and keep the bait from becoming over active and subsequently dying. Cool water has a calming effect on bait, especially shrimp. Cool water is important for fishermen also. Never leave the dock without plenty of drinking water for yourself. While we are on the subject of things for yourself, don’t forget your fishing bag. You know the old saying, “Don’t leave home without it.”
Unfortunate experiences linger in my memory. If you spend enough time on the water, sooner or later, you will have your own tales to tell. Most of us expect to return to the marina sometime after a full day on the water without any mishaps. We all know the weather in the afternoon will be just like the stillness and sunshine of the morning. But, sometimes it does not turn out that way. My fishing bag goes with me on every trip. The Galveston Bay complex can change quickly to thunderstorms on these pleasant days of summer and even in the winter preceding these major cold fronts. Pack an extra jacket (water-resistant), long pants and an extra cotton shirt. Also, place an extra hat, just in case. No one likes to spend the entire day out on the water without one. Everyone should carry a first aid kit. In addition, take your cellular phone with extra batteries, which can come in handy if you need to call 9-1-1. A handheld VHF radio will also suffice. In your first aid kit, place a box of matches, they can be used to start a fire if you wind up on deserted shoreline. Fishing pliers are essential. Many times I have had to use extra ones in my bag, because a friend didn’t bring his or we lost them overboard. Throw in a folding fillet knife or, if room permits, an electric fillet knife with an extension cord.
The insect life aboard my boat would amaze you. You can bet, if you start to wade fish early one morning and get close enough to the grass line without much wind, you will find a swarm of gnats, flies, live bugs or our infamous mosquitoes, feeding on your body. Any type of insect repellent (can, tube or spray) can be a skin-saver. In addition, sunblock and lip balm can keep you out of harms way in the sun. Sunglasses don’t last forever, even if they are tied around your neck. Carry an extra pair. If you wear bifocals, take a back-up pair. Without them it can be a long, out-of-focus day out there.
If you take food, it pays to add a little more than you intend to eat. Carry some emergency rations like candy bars, peanuts or raisins. Place them in a plastic bag. Speaking of plastic bags, throw some extra ones in your fishing bag. You’ll find plenty of uses for them, and they work well when you are packing your fillets. If you are curious as I am about how well other boats are doing, or if you just want to scan the horizon for flocks of birds, binoculars can come in handy. A small, lightweight pair will fit in the bag.
Remember that this is a small bag, not a suitcase.
Based on your own experience, you’ll probably come up with some other items that are important for your area. Of course, it pays to take an extra spool of line and maybe a good back-up reel, plus all that tackle you think you will need.
As Always, good luck and have fun outdoors.
See Y’all on Galveston Bay
Capt. Paul Marcaccio