Capt. Kelley
1/25/2011 11:26:00 PM

It's Gonna Get Muddy

For many this is a given, but this time of year its always worth considering. Chasing Trout and Redfish through late Winter and early Spring is going to include a key ingredient, soft mud bottoms with grass or lightly scattered shell. I've seen small slash guts with a mud bottom on hard sand outside beaches hold every fish in the neighborhood. Feeling is the mud bottoms hold warmth and offer a greater comfort zone relative to coolder hard surfaces like sand or shell. "Mud bottom" is a general term and not all of it is going to produce. The focus on mud bottoms is an important one and there is little question it is steering the angler into the right direction. Studying Trout and Redfish in the back lakes of Matagorda Island and other marshes, I've noticed as temperatures warm, there is a sizeable migration off of mud heading toward sand/grass and shell leaving the warmer mud environment. Year after year, like clockwork, as temperatures warm in April, the size of fish holding over mud tends to get smaller and the fish seem to scatter. When it's cool with water temperatures in the 40's & 50's, mud is going to be the place to be.

There are a lot of muddy bottoms to choose from, and in the back lakes the choices are endless. There are other considerations such as mud bottoms off the taper or on the quick dropoff side of oyster reefs. Mud guts on hard sand outside beaches may be few and far between but make a mental note of their location for future reference.

Focus On Water Levels

Another thing to keep in focus on this time of year is the correlation between water levels and fish movement. When there is little water in the bay due to a passing cold front or lingering low tide, there is no doubt the fish are going to be in the deepest part of whatever shallow water environment they are holding in. Over shell, expect the fish distant from the crest of reefs and farther off the shell taper. As water levels increase, expect the fish moving shallower and nearer to shorelines or the crest of shell reefs. The correlation between fish location and water levels was never more evident than here lately.

With very low tides, I came off a duck hunt looking to bend a rod on some Redfish with some guests from Florida. As I left one lake and ran through a gut entering another, I noticed a couple of Redfish shooting off near the mouth of the gut. As I headed farther into the lake (on slick calm glass conditions) there was no mistaking the concentration of large Redfish from the mid-slot into to the lower 30" class foraging, pushing wakes, and kicking mud. We don't get much respect from the boys over there when it comes to fishing, but when they got a look at our Redfish they just about flipped. The fish had positioned themselves in the deepest "swale" or depression that the area in this lake had to offer. What happened next left the Florida boys with a Texas Redfish experience they won't soon forget. Days later, I made another run at these fish but strong overnight storms had piled up a bunch of water on the Island and in the back lakes. Without hesitation or slowing down, I guessed that the fish wouldn't be located in the deeper area where they were but guessed that they would be foraging closer to the shorelines. My first guess was correct and sure enough that's where they had relocated (within about 300 yards from the low tide conditions and deeper area from days before). The push shallower and retraction deeper as water levels rise and fall is a pattern I've witnessed time and again, year after year.

Keeping a muddy bottom focus through March will get in proximity of concentrations of Trout and Redfish, recognizing water levels and how the fish are relating to them will narrow things down even further.

Fishing Report

The last push of duck season saw us doing a little bit of fishing. As of Sunday, Capt. Doug reported slow Redfish action in upper SAB with overcast skies and chilly temperatures. Redfish concentrations on the island dumped into deeper areas with fish pushing the upper end of the slot on low water conditions. Trout reports are pretty scarce as of right now.

Good luck in your fishing and stay safe out there!

Capt. Kris Kelley
Castaway Lodge, Inc.


Capt. Kelley
1/16/2011 9:45:00 PM

Clockwork Orange

I've written a number of reports mentioning fish concentrations "sticking" in the back lakes and holding tight to patterns one might witness during early Spring months. Picking up decoys the other day I came across a Stingray scurrying along the bottom. The last few days I've been noticing finfish including Mullet and other smaller bait fish balling up around low tide fallouts. Schools of bait fish in the back shallows is peculiar this time of year but to run across a Stingray is equally strange. Hard heads, stingrays and other such less desirables typically dump out of the back lakes and bays in general during Winter months. Their return around late March and warming temperatures in April are a sign of warming waters and transitional fishing approaches.

Their presence seems consistent with schools of Redfish working the back lakes. Under even the most adverse conditions, locating concentrations of Redfish has been like "Clockwork Orange". They've been adjusting to high and low water conditions but moving short distances from deeper water. One thing is certain, given rising water levels, the fish are pushing shallower. With water levels falling, they are concentrating in deeper pools or depressions near deeper water. Yesterday, conditions were pretty tough for locating fish visually with overcast and misting rain. There is one thing that can overcome these conditions and put the advantage toward the fisherman. That would be big fish stacked up in less than a foot and a half of water. Redfish pushing the upper end of the slot were shoulder to shoulder foraging on sand eels, crabs, and smaller finfish.

I don't think anything is going to break this cycle heading toward February. Even on gutted extreme low water, I think the fish are going to hold tight in the deeper areas of the back lakes. With the food source staying put, why relocate?

Duck Hunting

No complaints over the last week with our guests taking limits including fully mature Pintail, bull Redheads, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, and Mottle Ducks. We're looking at a pretty good cold front hitting late week and that should set the stage for a great finish to the duck season.

Capt. Kris Kelley
Castaway Lodge, Inc.


Capt. Kelley
1/10/2011 6:00:00 AM

Mud Trails Tell No Lies

Yesterday dangerous pre-dawn weather did some damage here with an airboat reported sunken near South Pass and patios and carports uprooted currently laying on roof tops. I watched the radar as the front line approached Tivoli with a big red band turning to maroon/purple as it approached Seadrift. I told our guests to "sleep in" and it proved a good call as heavy rain and gale force winds hit. We suited up as the tailing edge passed over and managed to find some nice air traffic working the decoys. I was surprised that the storm didn't disrupt the birds more than it did. We managed 7 man limits of puddle ducks and had planned on rescheduling the fishing. As the sun peaked through around 10:45 and winds moderated, it just made sense to follow up the awesome hunt with a nice afternoon fishing.


Concentrations of Redfish on the Island have been highly visible amidst fairly low water. We've yet to pursue them without fast action and great success. I came off a hunt with Russ B. and his brother Ernie on Thursday quickly locating fish to 29" pretty much shoulder to shoulder in a back lake that was holding a little water. The Florida boys were pretty amazed at the fast action; size; and density of our fish population. "Everything's bigger in Texas"! Sunday's rough pre-dawn weather didn't seem to bother them either. A dramatic 8" water level rise relocated the fish from Thursday nearer to the shorelines but they weren't hard to find. What ensued was a brutal run of bowed-up drag burning that left no doubt that despite the weather early, conditions were right.


Capt. James E. has been steadily working on the Trout to 22" with paddle tails wade fishing area shell/mud. Thursday, James reported scattered fish with limits coming with a grind. Trout fishing really seems greatly improved starting around September and it looks like we are heading for more of the same easing into Spring.

NOAA is downplaying the mid-week forecast somewhat. I'm sure the Arctic blast is going to continue taking temperatures down but the wind forecast has backed off from earlier predictions. That's good news heading into the seventh inning stretch of the Waterfowl Season with guests coming in from Illinois; Maryland; Georgia; and, Texas.

On The Horizon

Now is the time to consider the Spring fishing schedule. We've got a special running through February 15th that you just can't beat. Take some time out and come see us.

Capt. Kris Kelley
Castaway Lodge, Inc.


Capt. Kelley
1/3/2011 4:44:00 PM

Redheads & Redfish In The Decoys

Visiting with Kevin Chaumont aka "Chambo" and his dad here the last couple of days here at The Lodge. I've guided them from here to Mexico over the last 5 years. They are from Louisiana and always a pleasure to hunt with. I'll never forget hunting with them in a nearly dry creek bed outside Cuahtemoc, Mexico hammering Mexican Mallards. The scenery was just unbelievable and I never would have imagined the birds being so desperate to hit the small pools in the creek bed.

Capt. James managed their limits on an unusual number of Teal on the Island yesterday along with a token Wigeon and Pintail. The group pulled off the birds and began working on Redfish managing a quick bite in deeper swales in the back lakes. I've been very impressed with the number of fish holding tight in the back country and the recent rise in water levels should keep that holding tight for awhile.

Coming up off the Island this morning, Capt. James just called to let me know that they managed their limits on ducks this morning and had an unusual visit from a Norther Mallard drake that they let slip away. James said "I just kind of stared at the Drake Mallard and when I realized it was a shootable bird, it was too late". I've been there and seen that before myself!

It looks like we're heading for a lot of slick water this week with mild winds and a chance of rain through mid-week. Speaking of "slick-offs", on one such morning a week or so ago we had a pod of about 30 Redfish tailing just outside the blocks, what a sight to see!

Killin N Grillin
Direct TV Channel 608 (Pursuit Channel)
Tuesday @5:30pm
Friday @ 8:00pm (Under Construction)

The show just aired the first episode featuring an alligator hunt here at The Lodge which will air again tomorrow evening. The second episode will feature an airboat redfishing trip with "grilled Redfish on the half shell" on the menu. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year, we hope you are starting it off with a BANG!

Capt. Kris Kelley
Castaway Lodge, Inc.



Thanks for a great day on the water! Good weather, good fish and good company.... it doesn't get any better. You do a fantastic job. I hope to meet up with you again sometime soon.

Brett H.
Houston, TX

Kris, thanks again, Mark and Trish had a blast, just being on the water. James did a great job not just with the fish, laughing and joking, and of course giving me a hard time for missing fish. He made the trip really enjoyable for everyone. You’ve got a great business going for you and Wen

Brian M.
San Antonio, TX

Hey Kris! Thanks again for the great fishing trip and EXTREME patience you had helping us get our limit. You are truly a professional and know how to produce even when the fish aren't biting and the conditions are all wrong. This sister's trip will always be a wonderful memory.

Sissy Lastinger
Melbourne, FL
I have hunted the Louisiana coast my whole life and I am always the one that runs the trolling motor and nets the fish and does the duck calling when I hunt or fish. I just want to say even if you have your own place you really owe it to yourself to come down and spend some time with Ms. Wendi and D
Kevin "Chambo" Chaumont
Lake Charles, LA

Tracy, Joe, Dennis and I had a great trip with Kris the fishing was great the food was outstanding. We had some tough weather and Kris still found the fish. I'm planning on return to Seadrift to fish and visit as soon as I can.

Rick King
Midland, TX
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