September 4, 2020
The Texas Gulf Coast is littered with bays that hold fantastic fisheries. For some of our favorites, check out this FishAnywhere.com blog. And while this post hits some of the larger bays of the area, there are some sleeper bays that may go unnoticed to everybody else, but we here at FishAnywhere.com truly enjoy. Espiritu Santo Bay is one such bay.
Just southwest of Matagorda Bay is this pristine estuary, Espiritu Santo Bay. Translated as “Holy Spirit”, the Spanish explorers named several areas along the coast this particular name, and for whatever reason it stuck here. As civilization was built up in surrounding areas, Espiritu Santo Bay remains untouched. All these years later, the name still fits.
Longer than it is wider, Espiritu Santo Bay is technically part of the San Antonio Bay ecosystem. Overall the bay is 16 miles long, five miles wide, and is actually quite shallow. There are cuts to Matagorda Bay where waters from the Gulf of Mexico enter the bay. Tucked into the bay is little known Pringle Lake, another estuary with fantastic fishing opportunities.
The topography of the bay is aided by the lack of development in the area. Grass beds are abundant and oyster reefs grow large. Matagorda Island protects the bay from the Gulf of Mexico, and also offers pristine fishing grounds on the south side of the bay. There are a variety of species caught through Espiritu Santo Bay, the only dilemma is where to start.
You have two choices to make at the start of your Espiritu Santo Bay fishing adventure: location and species. The season may help determine your answer, or experience of the area will point you in the right direction. If you’re not sure, consider booking a trip with a local guide.
If you’re looking to fish among the tidal flats of the bay, visit during the spring or fall months and get hooked up on trout or redfish. Spotted seatrout, also called speckled trout or “specks”, and redfish (or red drum) are two of the most highly sought after species of the bay. Heck, they are among the most popular throughout the Texas Gulf Coast. They both move to shallower waters as the temperatures change. Anglers can drift fish shrimp or crab along the tide currents to trigger a strike. You can still catch trout and redfish other times of the year, you’ll just need to move to deeper waters; it’s a bit more difficult, but still possible.
If you’ve got flounder on your mind, visit the bay during the Spring season. The month of April, specifically, sees an influx of flounder into the system as they migrate their back from the Gulf. Flounder are flatfish that are brown on top and white on the bottom to camouflage themselves as they hide from predators and wait for prey. Due to the “sideways” shape of the flounder’s mouth, they can be difficult to get a good hook-set on. It is best to wait a moment after feeling the initial hit to set the hook. If you miss the Spring migration, head back to the bay during October for the fall migration back out to the Gulf. This is also the perfect time to schedule your redfish trip, as the reds are also in peak migration season in late-October and November.
Throughout Espiritu Santo Bay anglers will also see good numbers of tripletail and jack crevalle. Both are fun to catch, especially the jack crevalle that typically averages 6 pounds. There is yellow coloring across the jack’s body, which starts with a compressed head and ends with a forked tail. Most anglers will add a top-water plug when fishing for jack crevalle, and release their catch since typically jack crevalle don’t taste as good as other available fish. Tripletail, on the other hand, are delicious.
Due to the shallow water, skiffs or even kayaks are preferred when fishing Espiritu Santo Bay. Or try your hand at wade fishing. If you’ve never experienced wade fishing, hire a local guide that knows the area for safety reasons. They’ll know where the drop-offs and ledges are located and can steer you clear of dangerous areas.
The area close to Port O’Connor, including Bayucos Island, provides great fishing grounds as the tide moves in and out of the bay. If you’re near Pringle Lake, there’s an area called the Army Hole that is a well known fishing spot. Visit this area when the temperatures are a bit colder and the sky is overcast, and we can almost guarantee some rod-bending excitement.
Most anglers will enter the bay from Matagorda Bay, but no matter how to get to the bay you’ll see just how special this place is. Local anglers know what a productive location it is, and appreciate every chance possible to experience the bay’s fishing grounds that not many people access. If you’re looking for something away from the beaten path, check out Espiritu Santo Bay.
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