Fly Fishing for Tarpon in Port O'Connor Texas
Let me first express my affection for the Port O'Connor (or POC for locals) fishery. I reside a few hours north of this area. It holds a special place in my heart. I am a rocky mountain trout fishing guy originally. I think my affection for this place is born out of the fact that it is really the first saltwater area that I was able to get to know well. It was very intimidating at first, to come out to Matagorda Bay, or Espiritu Santo Bay. It is very big water for a trout river fishing guy. Regardless, I have spent a lot of time in the area and am rather fond of the area after overcoming my fears of the saltwater. The POC area is rich with features most fly fisherman look for in a fishery. It has a great assortment of areas to fish, such as natural passes, jetties, mud and grass flats, back lakes, and sandy coasts. All this being said, I am getting away from the topic I planned to bring up, which is my trip report from my last fishing trip here with Kevin Townsend.
Kevin Townsend, or KT to many, has been a guide in POC for ten years with a large focus on big Texas tarpon. I have fished with KT for redfish, jack crevalle, and tarpon. He is a very capable guide and now a good friend. This trip we were obviously out to try and find me that first silver king.
We had some very good weather to deal with over the weekend. This is extremely beneficial while chasing tarpon at POC because of the unique migration pattern they have coming through the area. The tarpon at POC are almost exclusively large breeding females. They come into the bay systems, through the natural passes and jetties. However, they are much more regularly found these days beyond the barrier Matagorda Island. So, when the weather is good, it is a real treat to chase them out in the gulf compared to the bay system.
So, we spent our entire fishing time out in the gulf. We spent time everywhere from 100 yards off shore, out to four and a half miles out in our search. Early in the day we found some great signs of life. We spotted some very large bait schools. Unfortunately, despite the vast groups of bait we found, there were not larger fish chasing them. Not even jacks or Spanish mackerel. So, our search continued.
Our search often entailed stopping and waiting in known tarpon areas that have proven good targeting spots in the past, as well as cruising at a pace slow enough to spot any rolling fish if there were any close enough to spot. Some of these efforts were made a bit more difficult by the large swell we were experiencing for most of the day. We were riding 3-4’ swells all day. This obviously puts a damper on the day a little. It even caused one of our team to try chumming for the tarpon with their breakfast. Bless her heart.
Our search also took us out to some old oilfield structure in the bay to see if the tarpon had been coming by there. Again, we were foiled and unable to spot any tarpon coming through this area. However, we were given worthy distraction around our structure. We cast to and hooked several mackerel, jacks, and bluefish.
Then we were given an awesome opportunity on one giant cobia. We spotted this beast cruising around one of the pilings in the area. KT estimate he was a 60 lb fish. I’ll assume it was a 40-50 lb cobia (They always look bigger in the water, right?). Either way, what a fish. My first cast at this fish was about 30’. I sent it out and had a great line. The cobia turned on it, but was beat to the punch by a bluefish. I was unable to get the fly out of the bluefish’s path. A funny thing happened. That cobia swam circles trying to follow right on the back fin of that bluefish. I don’t know if he just found it interesting, or wanted to harass the blue until it gave up what it was eating? Hard to say. Rather interesting though. I was able to get a second shot on the cobia, but he was wise to our game now, and gave my fly a sniff before taking off.
Back to the tarpon search. We were able to search about 5 or 6 miles of coastline before giving up and heading for the cantina. Unfortunately, due to some extreme weather conditions around Texas prior to our trip, the tarpon have been missing in action for almost a month. For more information on that check out my podcast with KT where we discuss it thoroughly.