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Lying in Chambers County, Texas, East Bay (East Galveston Bay) is a twenty miles by five miles bay that extends to the east of Galveston Bay. East Bay further extends then to Rollover Bay near the Gilchrist town. With a northeast to southwest orientation, it physically separates Bolivar Peninsula from mainland Texas since the bay covers the entire north of the former and lies on the south of the latter. The current from the Gulf of Mexico enters East Bay to its east at Rollover Pass in Gilchrist and its south at Port Bolivar. The waters of East Bay mainly come from Oyster Bayou, which lies on the bay’s easternmost point and where Intracoastal Waterway merges too.
During the conquest of Texas by the Spaniards, Bolivar Peninsula served as the landing area for imported and exported goods that rolled to or from Rollover Bay. For easier access, Rollover Pass was created centuries later by dredging a natural channel in the area. The pass separated Gilchrist into two, and this turned the town into one of the most productive locations for fishing along the Texas coast. Likewise, this improved fishery and habitats in the East Bay because of the improved flow of water from the Gulf of Mexico to the bay. Since then, fishing and ranching became the main driver of the economy in this area until 1944, when the oil industry made its way to its peak.
Aside from the previously mentioned activities, the East Bay area also offers multiple outdoor pursuits for outdoor enthusiasts. Bolivar Peninsula, for example, has a 27-mile stretch of beaches surrounded by pristine waters where visitors may enjoy surfing, sunbathing, paddleboarding, and kayaking aside from fishing. Bird watching, golfing, parks, tours of historical landmarks, and shopping may also be enjoyed here and in nearby locations such as Galveston.
Look no further than East Bay if you happen to come across Texas and are looking for the best fishing location. East Bay is considered to be among the most angler-friendly bays along the Texas coast, alongside Galveston Bay. Aside from its accessibility, the waters here offer a great fishing opportunity that is available all the months of the year. Just take any good map of the East Bay that details the best places to fish. Some of the top spots are the reefy and wide grass flats areas such as West Bolivar Flats, Hanna's Reef, Elmgrove Flats, Robinson Flats, Fat Rat Flats, Northwest Flats, Pepper Grove Reef, Cow Shed Reef, and Smith Point.
The reason for East Bay’s fishing productivity is the plentiful oyster beds in its water system. This creates an ideal habitat for two of the Texas coast’s favorite species—redfish and speckled trout. Occasionally, the black drum can also be spotted here, but they also feed along muddy flats. Due to the bountiful oyster beds in the bay, redfish grow quite big in this area and they are actively looking for food. These fish can be found congregating along the southside of the bay where tidal creeks are. As much as redfish, speckled trout also hang around the grass beds but most of them are found in the open waters such as Hanna Reef, a known hot spot on the west side of the bay for large trout. Offer up crab, shrimp, or mullet to the reds and trouts to land these two. If you are fishing from the shallow grass flats, wading can be an option too.
Since East Bay is protected from the southeastern winds due to the surrounding land, flounder is also a good catch here. These flatfish prefer to dwell at the muddy bottom of shallow waters where they can bury themselves and camouflage to easily ambush their prey. Spot them at the far eastern end of the bay. This species remained popular on the Texas coast as they can be hooked via conventional casting. However, many anglers up for more challenges do flounder gigging or bowfishing. These fishing techniques are not just more exciting but they commonly yield plentiful results!
Species commonly found around reefs and other structures like docks and bridges are sheepshead and cobia. Both pelagic by nature, it is easy to catch them with light tackle. If you are on a boat, cast your bait as near as possible to the structures then lift the bait up gradually until you locate them. Other species available throughout the East Bay are shallow-water dwellers who spend most of their time feeding on small baitfish and crustaceans along seagrass beds and flats. These are crevalle jack and mangrove snappers, which can be caught by fly fishing using streamer flies and topwater poppers. Adult crevalle jack leaves these shallow waters and dwell in deeper areas just like croaker. To catch the latter, a nice depth should be maintained to fly fish in spots like channels or holes.
Many anglers access the bay by taking a fishing charter or a boat, but it is also possible to do shore fishing and kayak fishing. These methods are gaining popularity because it allows an angler to sneak up on schools of fish while being respectful to the environment. In addition, most kayak anglers practice catch-and-release to conserve the species.
With the mild and temperate climate in the East Bay area, fishing can be expected here year-round although some fish bite on certain months. For example, flounder are technically year-round fish but its peak season (also called the “flounder run”) runs from October to December when they migrate to the Gulf of Mexico. Since this is the same case for redfish and speckled trout, you can never go wrong visiting the East Bay at the end of the year. However, flounder gigging is prohibited in November to protect spawning females, so be careful not to run into them in this period.
During spring, most anglers follow species such as black drum and cobia during their spawning season because they are easier to target as they school up and stay in shallower areas. After this period, they disperse and are thus more difficult to catch. Spring until fall is also a great time for wade fishing and drift fishing on the shorelines.
If you want to reach most of the fishing locations in East Bay and nearby waters, taking a fishing charter is the best option. It will give you the best guide in the area and your equipment will be taken care of. Most fishing charters offer guide service, accompanied by free rentals of tackles and equipment.
The pristine waters along the shorelines of East Bay are something that should not be missed in an East Bay visit. Families and friends can enjoy sunbathing, playing, shark tooth hunting, and surf fishing along the beaches.
The National Anahuac Wildlife Refuge near East Bay is a sanctuary to several bird species. Grab your camera and enjoy spotting Avocet, Rosetta Spoonbill, Great Blue Herons, and Warblers, among others.
Golfing here offers a unique experience because of the scenic water views of the golf courses. This is a favorite activity of most visitors and locals who want an alternative to beach fun.