Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
This series of protected coves and bayous off the West Bay offer some of the best habitat for fly fishing on the Galveston Bay system. A good strategy employed by experienced flyfishers is to fish points and back ends of bayous from Maggie's Cove eastward to Dana Cove on strong incoming tides, then fishing back toward San Luis Pass as the tide falls out.
Dana Cove, located in Galveston Island State Park east of Carancahua Cove and past Butterowe and Oak Bayous, has a firm bottom for wading and is known for holding school-size trout as well as larger trout and redfish.
Veteran upper coast flyfishers put Butterowe Bayou, a narrow, wind-protected creek opening to the bay, at the top of the list of prime, year-around fly-fishing destinations. Like other West Bay coves, it is best fished on a strong incoming tide. Cast to the grassy points along the bayou, where flounder will hold. Work the outside points and move out to the flats on the outgoing tide. Trout and redfish will target baitfish holding around the points on outgoing tides. Kayaks will get you to prime spots around this bayou and neighboring Jumbile, Carancahua, Oak, and Dana coves.
Carancahua Cove, another exceptional West Bay fly-fishing destination located in Galveston State Park, offers walk-in wadefishing over firm bottoms. It has two reefs at the mouth of the cove with a hard sand bottom separating them. The bottom gets soft toward the back end of the cove and around several small channels.
Once a dominant reef and favorite fishing spot in the West Bay, Carancahua Reef has been worn down by oyster boat activity; but it can still be good for trout action. Flyfishers should work the edges of the reef where the bottom changes from mud to shell. There is good open-water driftfishing around the reefs. Shooting heads and stripping baskets are recommended for prospecting the deeper water here. The area is productive but also draws lots of boaters and anglers because it is frequently mentioned in fishing reports. Carancahua Reef is located in front of the Jamaica Beach subdivision and is accessible by boat from a number of marinas in the area.
Jumbile Cove, another favorite of veteran West Bay wadefishers for years, is located just west of the Jamaica Beach subdivision on the West Bay side of Galveston Island. It has a wide entrance that takes the brunt of a north wind but is an excellent choice in south or southeast winds. Jumbile offers first-rate trout, redfish, and flounder habitat with marshlands, hard sand bottoms, sandbars, and broad, open flats that connect with deeper cuts. These nearshore coves and cuts are among the most productive and accessible features on the West Bay and are ideally suited for wadefishing. It is important to wear a personal flotation device and to be cautious when crossing to opposite shorelines. Waders crossing these canals and cuts frequently encounter pockets of deep water, soft bottoms, and depressions.
Many anglers watch for bird activity on open flats, signaling that trout are feeding in the area. Also look for active baitfish and shrimp activity on the surface in the far, back reaches of coves and bayous. Redfish and flounder often will corner baitfish in small fingers of the coves. Sightcasting can be excellent during these active feeding periods, as waking and cruising redfish up to 30 inches long can be seen moving in and out of the coves in water 1 foot deep or less. The area also is a haven for southern flounder. It is fairly common in these coves to see the"flounder flop," an airborne maneuver used by the flatfish to round up and stun baitfish.
When the more open water in Jumbile Cove is muddied by north winds in late fall and winter, the shorelines of several adjacent narrow bayous provide alternative fishable water and protection from the wind. Gold spoon flies fished slow near the bottom have proven effective in these bayous and coves during late fall flounder runs.
You can access Jumbile by boat or kayak from launch ramps at Sea Isle or Jamaica Beach subdivisions.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication