Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

Fishing. The meaning of that word to fisherman is just as different as the fish they are targeting. I’ve been fortunate to go on some awesome fishing trips in some really cool places and met a lot of great people along the way. One of the best things about living in Texas is the variety of fisheries she has to offer and the Gulf Coast is one of my favorites! Matagorda holds a special place in my heart and I find myself going back there time and time again. We’ve had some bountiful fishing trips on that small stretch of Texas shoreline but we’ve also had terrible trips that make you question why you’re even out there in the first place! Regardless of what happens we always keep going back for more.

For the latest trip beyond the breakers I met with the crew for some offshore fishing from kayaks. The margin of error is small when fishing offshore and it’s even smaller when you throw kayaks in the mix so monitoring conditions is a must. The high summer temperatures of Texas are driven by southern winds off the coast which also drive large swells and big breaking waves making kayak fishing offshore impossible, usually. Every now and then Mother Nature throws you a bone and switches her winds from the north for a few days settling down the swells making kayak friendly seas. Apps like magic seaweed are crucial for planning offshore trips because they provide accurate reporting on swell and wave size as well as wind direction and speed. The rig we fish is around 5 miles down the beach north of the beach access road and about 2 miles offshore which makes for around a 30-45 min paddle.

Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

Time To Troll. . .

When I get about half way I like to start trolling a ribbonfish in hopes of catching something on the way there. Trolling out can be sort of a gauge to how good the fishing is, if you catch a king or a few Spanish mackerel (smacks) on the way to the rig then usually the rig will be on fire! We managed to hook up on 2 smacks and a small spinner shark on the way out which was a promising sign.

Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

When we finally arrived to the rig the visibility was outstanding and we could see huge schools of baitfish swimming in circles around the underwater structure. My favorite lure to throw out there is the largest chrome rat-l-trap or other lipless crankbait I have attached to at least a 2’ wire leader. The smacks love to tear into those crank baits and when the conditions are right you can get bites on almost every cast, many times seeing the fish chase the lure all the way back to the kayak. I parked my kayak at the base of the rig and was content landing smack after smack but after awhile the school settled down and the fishing slowed. Plenty of fish were to be seen underwater so I knew the fishing wasn’t over so I switched to my ribbonfish rig and started trolling again. While I was trolling I looked over to see a buddy with his rod bent over and the drag screaming! After a solid 5 minute fight he pulls a beautiful 40”+ king mackerel into his yak. Seeing him land that fish gave me a second wind to keep paddling around until I too could catch a king mack. As I was trolling I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see something brownish grey darting back and forth on the surface of the water right behind my bait. A few seconds later my rod tipped slammed down as the fish took the bait. After being pulled around for a little while I was able to confirm my suspicions as to what was chasing my bait, a little black tip shark. We had been out fishing for several hours and needed to get the fish we caught out of the kayaks and into a cooler and even though my last fish wasn’t the king I was after, I figured the shark was a good fish to end the trip on.

After releasing her we departed the oilrig and started the paddle back to shore. There’s nothing better than feeling your kayak scrape the sand of the beach as you’re riding that last wave in, signaling the end of another safe and successful day on the open water. After quick rest and a bottle of water we get the fish in the cooler, load the kayaks up and bask in the glorious air conditioning as make our way back home, reminiscing on our experiences practically reliving the day. Until next time, just keep paddling!

Offshore Gear List:

  • Shimano Curado baitcasting reel on 6’6” heavy action Ugly Stick rod
  • Shimano spool F5 spinning reel on a 9’ heavy medium action Shimano rod
  • Both rigs spooled with 30lb braid
  • Pliers
  • 2 well made rod leashes (do not forget these!!!) Several 3 hook wire leaders (for rigging ribbonfish) Several wire leaders with clasp for throwing lures Plenty of chrome lipless crankbaits 1oz and larger (break offs happen often)
  • Dozen frozen ribbonfish
  • Water and Snacks
Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

Smoked Spanish Mackerel

Spanish mackerel can be fantastic table fare when prepared properly and above all preparation methods, smoking macks is my favorite. Mackerel is a very easy fish to clean, since they don’t have scales you can leave the skin on easily remove it after cooking.

Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

I place my fish in a simple brine for anywhere between 3 and 12 hours before placing on the smoker. The brine only has 4 ingredients; water, salt, brown sugar and worcestershire sauce. First I add the salt, stopping when the water tastes salty but is not overpowering. Then I add just a little sugar since I don’t want the fish tasting too sweet. Then I add a few splashes of worcestershire sauce, which provides a little “kick” to balance out the sugar.

Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

After you’ve let the fish sit in the brine for the desired amount of time its time to take the fish out of the brine and allow to dry for at least an hour before placing them on the smoker. After an hour of drying a nice glaze will form over the filets and that’s when you know the fish is ready for the smoke!

Offshore Kayak Fishing Matagorda Bay

When it comes to time and temperature of the smoker I’m going to have to leave it up the personal preference so I guess that means you’ll just have to catch a bunch of fish so you can experiment more! When it comes to smoked fish I prefer a little extra time on the smoker making it a little tougher and jerky like but that’s just me. You can leave it on for as short as 30 minutes, pulling it off as soon as it turns white and becomes flaky. A squirt of lemon over the top and a side of some fried goodies and its time to conceive a food baby!

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