East Bay- Anytime & Often
You don’t need a huge bay for good fishing. A small bay with great structure plus marsh embossed borders can fill the bill.
That’s the case of East Bay, the smallest of the major bays in the Galveston Estuary. For years it was the best redfish bay on the upper Texas Coast, but back in those years it was also the best kept secret. East Bay is still the best upper coast redfish bay, but that’s no longer a secret, and the bay now gets heavy play from boaters and waders alike.
Starting with Hanna’s Reef on the southwest end, East Bay is rich with structure: scores of deep oyster reefs and pipe stands, Hanna’s Reef is a favorite of anglers who like to anchor their boats to fish cuts and drop-offs along the reef. Drift anglers favor the deep reefs to the northeast of Hanna’s Reef and Intracoastal Waterway and those who like to fish the birds. Areas like deep or Whitehead come to this writer mine………
Recently, Mike Heidemann and I tested the waters in East Bay. With a stiff North wind we found protected shoreline. I knew fish were holding, especially on an outgoing tide, flushing the bait out on the flats, but to both our amazement, we had no idea what was to follow.
Using lime-truse Assassins and pearl chartreuse Mirrolure, Mike and I found a bonanza of fish. Mike limited on reds to 27 inches and I had only 1 redfish. Then Mike caught another fish, thinking it was another red. He made the statement, “I’ll work on your limit”. This time when the fish surfaced, it was a huge speckled trout. Later we weighed the fish on a certified scale at Eagle Point Camp; it was a healthy 8.7 pounds and 27-3/4 inches long. Mike and I scored numerous other big trout that day. Our total that afternoon was 13 trout and 5 reds.
The boarders of East Bay offer excellent wade fishing, especially the stretch along the Bolivar Peninsula side. This stretch from Goat Island, the bay’s junction with Lower Galveston Bay, back to Elm Grove, offers excellent fishing for speckled trout, redfish and flounder. When the wind is light and parallel to the length of Bolivar Peninsula, some of the bigger coves can be fished by drifting. Whether you drift or wade, a boat is needed to reach these waters because you have to cross the Intracoastal Waterway that runs the length of Bolivar Peninsula.
The whole of Chambers County side of East Bay can be waded, with the best action generally on the flats behind the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Access is either by the refuge or near Smith’s Point.
Some of the best redfish action in this bay is during the oyster season. Working oyster boats make the bay quite sandy and at times downright muddy. This isn’t conducive to decent fishing for speckled trout. The working oyster boats, however, stir up a lot of marine life upon which redfish feed. Don’t bother to fish in the immediate vacinity of the oyster boats. Instead, fish the flats and along the saltgrass marshes on the Bolivar Peninsula side of the bay.
East Bay is like West Bay in that it is a Galveston Estuary body of water little affected by fresh water runoff from heavy rains. This bay has two close connections with the Gulf of Mexico. Consequently the salinity level in this bay remains fairly constant, The connection with the Gulf of Mexico is Rollover Pass about 20 miles from the tip if the Bolivar Peninsula. The other connection is the Lower Galveston Bay at the mouth of the entrance to the seaway between the North and South Jetties.
Rollover Pass deserves special attention; it offers boatless anglers excellent flounder and golden croaker fishing every fall and spring.
There is no lack of fishing facilities (tackle and bait stands, boat-launching ramps, eating establishments) on Bolivar Peninsula. They are located all along the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s a different story on the Chambers County side of the bay. There are launching facilities on the roads leading to the bay, but all the concession stands selling bait; tackle, ice and food are located near Smith’s Point.
Located near Rollover Pass in East Bay, is two very important Bayous’ (Yates and Big Pasture). Wade near the mouths of either on a falling tide, and you will be rewarded with good stringers of spec’s and redfish. The bottom is a little soft. Wear proper boots with ray guards. Move slowly, always keying on nervous mullets or shad. Use top waters in this area for those speckled trout or redfish. Best bait is Baby Spooks or She Pups. Colors should be light in clear water and dark colors when the water is off-colored.
Access to most of the south shoreline by boat is through String Ray Cut or Seivers Cut. Boat launching from the end of the Dike is by far the closest, unless you use the Bolivar Ferry and make use of a few ramps along the Intercoastal Waterway.
Look forward to seeing some of you wading or drifting East Bay.
Capt. Paul Marcaccio
BOI/ U.S.C.G & T.P. & W License