Wading West Bay: A Winter Wonderland For Wade Fishermen
By Capt. Joe Kent
When I first started fishing Galveston’s West Bay during the late 1970s, several fishing guides referred to it as one of the best kept secrets for winter fishing.
Since then, the word has spread and today this body of water is a popular spot for late fall and winter fishing, especially by wade fishermen. From late October through much of the winter, wade fishermen score well on the big three, flounder, reds and trout.
Upper West Bay in particular tends to be the favorite of anglers as opposed to Lower West Bay. Beginning in the vicinity of Jamaica Beach and running all the way to the Galveston Causeway, Upper West Bay holds numerous spots that are productive during colder weather.
We will discuss some of the favorite places waders choose and talk about the baits and conditions that produce the best results.
For starters, we need to mention that insulated waders are a must this time of year. Also, fishing with companions is highly recommended over fishing alone.
While there are spots that anglers without boats or kayaks can fish, they are limited and the use of a boat to get you to the better spots is almost essential for increasing your odds for good results.
Let’s start out by mentioning some of the spots that offer access to the bay for fishermen without boats. While actually across the line into Lower Galveston Bay, the shoreline from the Causeway Railroad Bridge down to Campbell’s Bayou is accessible by driving under the railroad bridge. You should plan on lots of walking if you fish this area.
Carancahua Cove behind the Galveston Island State Park near Jamaica Beach is a popular spot and offers easy wade fishing.
The Sportsman Road and Anderson Ways areas, just off of Eight Mile Road, are spots where wade fishermen can access the south shoreline of Upper West Bay. Starvation Cove is in the vicinity of this area and is quite popular.
All of those spots are easily accessible by boat as well.
For boaters, North and South Deer Islands and the surrounding areas are top spots for early morning wade fishing action. From Mecom’s Cut all the way to Green’s Cut, the spoil Islands offer great opportunities for taking all of the big three.
On the north shoreline of Upper West Bay lays the spoil area beginning at Harborwalk and extending all the way to the entrance to Chocolate Bay in Lower West Bay.
Off of Jamaica Beach is Shell Island that is covered by water at normal high tide; however, it is an excellent spot to fish for trout and reds.
While it will be impossible to fish all of those spots on the same day, the variety is good.
Live bait, especially shrimp and mullet, fished under popping corks is excellent; however, for waders it presents obstacles with the extra equipment needed to keep the bait alive.
Artificial baits are by far the best choice as they are easy to carry, allow you to cover more territory faster and present a wider range of baits.
Soft plastics are the top choice and the brand, color and style will depend on where you fish and the clarity of the water. Bass Assassins, Saltwater Assassins, Down South, Norton and corkies (Paul Brown Originals) are among the most popular soft plastic bait brands.
Gold and silver spoons, along with a variety of Mirrolures, are used by a good number of waders. One category of artificial baits may surprise you as the top waters are used during the winter. Super Spooks, Super Spook Jrs. and Bombers are credited with some big trout during cold weather. Pre-sunrise and dusk are the times that they are most effective.
The patterns of fish change as the water gets colder, with a shift to an afternoon bite rather than early morning taking place later in the winter months.
Tidal movement continues to be important with high tide offering the best results for waders along the shorelines.
When the water cools down, wrap up, put on your insulated waders and give West Bay a try.