San Antonio Bay
The San Antonio Bay estuarine complex is located on the Texas coast, south of Matagorda Bay and north of Copano-Aransas Bays. San Antonio Bay comprises the majority of the system, which also includes Espirito Santo Bay, Mesquite Bay, Hynes Bay and Guadalupe Bay. Freshwater inflow comes from the San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers, and Green Lake/Victoria ship channel. Matagorda Island separates the system from the Gulf of Mexico, and water exchange takes place via Pass Cavallo to the north and Cedar Bayou to the south. As a result, there is little direct exchange between San Antonio Bay and Gulf waters.
Much of the land surrounding San Antonio Bay has maintained rural characteristics and supports farming and ranching activities. To the southwest, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge provides important habitat for many species.
Located along the San Antonio Bay shoreline of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is Mustang Lake. The entire upper end of this estuary has shallow, grass flats and hard sand bottoms that make for excellent wadefishing conditions. Mustang Lake is accessed by flats boat from the Intracoastal Waterway. Proceed north through the middle of the entrance to the cut, and then toward the upper end.
The Chicken Foot Reef Area, a multitude of oyster reefs in the middle of San Antonio Bay, offers productive blindcasting options for plentiful redfish and trout. Hopper's Landing, a marina near the entrance to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, is a good access point to these reefs.
On calm days, when the water clears, anglers in flat-bottomed johnboats or shallow-running skiffs can see the many shell reefs in the middle of San Antonio Bay, which lie about 3 feet below the surface. During the winter months, trout leave the flats for the deeper water around these reefs.
Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
by Chuck Scates & Phil H. Shook
The First Chain of Islands (South Pass) is a group of protected islands on the lower San Antonio Bay. They have numerous lakes and offer excellent shoreline wadefishing over clear, hard sand bottoms. The area is known to attract good numbers of redfish.
Welder's Flats, an expansive area on the east side of San Antonio Bay, does not consistently hold clear water, but tailing redfish frequently show in early morning. Some areas are firm enough to wade and others are too soft, but there are excellent driftfishing prospects for flyfishers.
Close by, at the entrance to South Pass Lake, is a small cut that is well marked, and just to the right of it is a wide sandbar. Clear water holds behind the bar, providing excellent sightcasting habitat. Flyfishers can wade the entire island between the cut and South Pass Lake and have a good chance at trout and redfish. South Pass Lake is the first lake on the inside of South Pass Lake and is reached after exiting Contee Lake.
On a high tide, at the back of Pat's Bay, a little serpentine bayou runs straight into Power Lake and a horseshoe-shaped sandbar. Large redfish cruise this backcountry lake. Power Lake's bottoms can be soft and difficult to wade, but the shorelines are firm for the most part. Entry requires a shallow-draft boat because Power Lake never gets much deeper than .2 feet, out in the middle.
Leaving Power Lake and heading west down the San Antonio Bay shoreline of Matagorda Island, boaters will come to the Twin Lakes, tidal lakes that hold numbers of redfish and are excellent for fly fishing. Anchor at the mouths of these small tidal lakes and wade the shallow, grass flats and hard sand bottoms.
Just down from the Twin Lakes are the secluded shorelines of Cedar Lake. Cedar Lake has features similar to those of Pringle Lake, with hard sand bottoms and grasslines about 30 feet from the shore. This flat also provides prime habitat for cruising and feeding redfish.
From Panther Point to the Second Chain of Islands
The deeper tidal lakes are boggy in spots, but boaters who start at Panther Point and idle slowly northward will find an extensive shell reef that runs for about 3 miles. At normal tides, most of the reef is about 2 feet below the surface. The west side of the reef drops off to about 6 feet. This is an excellent place to cast shooting tapers or intermediate-density lines for trout holding along the reefs.
The stretch of shoreline from Panther Point to the Second Chain of Islands is good for wadefishing, with many channels and depressions. With its many small creeks, it is similar to Green's Bayou on the Matagorda Peninsula.
Boaters heading to the First Chain of Islands should also check out the Point of Ayres shoreline. Redfish will hold on this stretch of shore, which is good for wadefishing.
Shell structure, points, reefs, flats, islands.
Flyfishers should target shell structure and points and use rattle flies, whistlers, and other attractor fly patterns when the water is slightly off-color around the reefs.