Fish are cold blooded, so their metabolism slows as the water cools; therefore, in December you usually want to fish in the afternoon when the water is at its warmest, and the fish are most active. Typically Matagorda Bay waters are from 57 to 60°F in the morning and warm up about 75°F in the afternoon. Another water temperature consideration is timing your fishing trip to take place after a norther blows through. In December north winds blow water out of the bays and then the wind shifts to the south and calms down. This shift along with incoming tides, bring warmer water from the Gulf of Mexico into the bays.
I went to the south shore of West Matagorda Bay, near Cottons Bayou in early December. The wind was out of the south. It was two days after a front had come through, and the tide was incoming. Redfish had moved onto the sand flats in the afternoon, and could be seen cutting wakes through the shallow water. They were so eager to take a lure that when my fishing friend, Gordon Bradeen, left his red and white top dog topwater lure floating on the surface as he ate a sandwich, a big redfish took the lure and swam off. Fortunately Gordon grabbed the rod, but his sandwich went into the water.
When the water temperature drops to 60°F or less, some fish head for deeper water because it is slightly warmer. This makes the Colorado River a favorite winter fishing spot for trout. Depending on the amount of fresh water in the river, you can fish many miles north of the locks. Or you can go south of the locks in the Diversion Channel. Even if there is fresh water in the river and Diversion Channel, you may catch trout because salt water is heavier than fresh water, so there will be a layer of fresh water on the surface with saltwater close to the bottom. In addition, the Colorado River offers boaters protection from strong winds. Another popular way to fish the river in December is to use lights. Night fisherman put lights in or over the water to attract bait, and of course trout are attracted to the bait fish. The trout will hit artificial lures, live bait, or dead bait in this situation. There are many houses along the river that are available for rent, and have docks which work well for this kind of fishing. You can find Colorado River houses for rent at www.matagordabay.com .
Patient fishermen work the south shore of east Matagorda Bay in December with a Heddon Super Spook top water or a slow sinking Corky from MirrOlure, lures that simulate mullet. They realize that big trout eat large bait fish, but they know that you have to be prepared to do a lot of casting and wading in order to get a few hits.
Drift fishing East Matagorda Bay in December may pay off. On December 17th I returned from fishing in West Matagorda Bay, and went to the cleaning table at the harbor with a couple of redfish. Another fisherman was putting a near limit of 17-22-inch trout onto the cleaning table. He caught the fish drifting in East Matagorda Bay early in the morning on a high, incoming tide.
Regardless of the type of fishing that you choose, swim your lure slowly when fishing the cold water. And be prepared for a subtle bite, quite the opposite of aggressive hits when the water is warm.
THE BANK BITE
Location: LCRA Park at the Mouth of the Colorado River