TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


#2280241
Hey guys. I’m extremely new to this and have what I’m sure is an extremely simple question to answer. I went out my first time a month or two ago and the water levels during high tide seemed awesome. Walked away catching 6 fish and got hooked. I went back to the exact spot yesterday...and there was hardly any water. Why was this and what websites are y’all looking at to see what water levels are? I drive from N.Houston and that’s quite a drive to be “guessing” what water levels are. Thanks guys! Image


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#2280260
https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/map/i ... gion=Texas
https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/stati ... id=8772447
https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/stati ... id=8771972

These monitoring stations are all up and down the coast. I really don’t leave home to go fishing without looking at one or two closest to where I want to fish.

There’s the predicted tides and tide levels based on the position of the moon and sun as it relates to a spot on the coast and there’s the actual levels influenced either positively or negatively by factors like wind speed and wind direction, the nature of the particular bay or estuary and whatever.

Actual tide levels here in Texas hardly ever track exactly along the predicted levels based on the tide tables. Go to New England where I used to live, predicted levels and actual levels are often very close to being in complete synch. But the tides their a massive as compared to Texas. We are lucky to have a two foot swing at a pass at the Gulf of Mexico on any given day. Tides on the Atlantic shoreline in New England are often 10 feet or more from high to low. The tides swings approximately every 6 hours up there. High now, about 6 hours later it will be dead low.

Inches matter a ton here with such little swing. Most of the bays, marshes and estuaries here are really shallow. Get a big west wind, the water just blows out the mostly east/west lined up passes, blows out of the bays and marshes. It’s just physics. Get a big east wind for days, get a ton of water piling up on our coastline and filling the bays.
#2280263
Image

Screen shot Freeport NOAA readings on water levels.

In my experience, 2.0 and higher above MLLW, water is into the cordgrass or shoreline vegetation. 2.0 covers all living oyster reefs that I’ve come across. Something around 3.5 to 4.0 puts water on streets in the lowest neighborhoods in Surfside.

Levels between 1.5 and 2.0, water is mostly out of the cordgrass and shoreline vegetation. Oysters will likely still be covered.

Levels between 1.0-1.5, oysters or tops of reefs start appearing exposed.

Levels 1.0 -0.5, some of the back areas of the marsh will start to get to be too shallow to navigate.

Levels 0.5-0.0, most shallow reefs are mostly exposed, large parts of many marshes become unnavigable.

Below 0.0, many marshes have huge areas without water and only the drains and channels remain with water to navigate.
#2280270
Every marsh seems a little different. Some are closer to a major pass and get more water flow and up and down movement.

You really have to be alert to water drops in an unfamiliar marsh. Some become unnavigable pretty quickly and there’s no walking out considering bottomless mud or razor sharp shell. People have died of exposure in Cow Trap off the ICW after becoming stranded after a big front blew out the water. You can’t necessarily count on cell phone service.

Being aware of what’s going on with the weather is important. Don’t ever count on the predicted wind shift times. Fronts speed up or slow down and arrive earlier or later than forecast or with more or less intensity than predicted. Build in a large margin of safety into any plan. And as it has already been made clear, you can’t count on actual water levels to track with predicted.

When everything is stable in the weather, nothing scary or iffy is in the horizon weatherwise, the conditions are not particularly hot or cold, the water levels adequate, that might be the time to venture out into lesser known waters. Fog is a big issue this time of year.

What would you do if you were on the north shore of Christmas bay and a fog with about 50 feet of visibility rolls in? That kind of thing happens. Often, a very visible wall of fog will roll in off the gulf on an otherwise flawless winter day. Do you think you could strike out across the two miles of open water and paddle to the other side of the bay? There’s about zero chance of making it without a navigational aid. What’s your navigational aid? Do you know how to use it? How reliable is it? Batteries fail. Signals get lost. In the saltwater environment, almost everything goes to c**p sooner or later.

I keep an eye to the sky. Out in the bay and marsh here, the sightlines are mostly long, no interfering trees or tall structures or landforms to block views.

The tides, the weather, the fish all follow their own rules. We mostly all try to make observations to figure out the rules as to make predictions, but we don’t direct the moves they make. We are the followers, the fish lead. It’s a fluid and fluctuating puzzle that is never static. I love it that no two days are ever alike. The water and wind is never exactly the same day to day, the tide levels vary, the available light varies, the fish are free to shift in position or forage or to do whatever is driving their needs at the moment.

Saltwater fishing probably isn’t the thing for someone who values certainty and predictability above problem solving and adaptability.
#2280279
imaoldmanyoungsalt wrote:Very well stated Karst................but now I'm a little nervous about my next adventure! :shock: :D


No, I bet you’ll be fine. I think about a couple of kayakers a year or two ago that went BTB with a big offshore blow expected. The wind was so much, no human powered craft could make headway and consequently, they had to be rescued well out in the gulf and dang near paid the price of their lives by not thinking about the what ifs. Bad things happen in bays and lakes and marshes when people ignore the signs and forecasts.

There’s a bit of an attitude in the kayak community that amounts to so long as I’m wearing my pfd and have my safety gear, I’m golden. The PFD does nothing to prevent hypothermia, to prevent a lightning strike, or to aid in navigating, or for making headway or a kayak being swamped by large waves in windy conditions. The PFD will aid in the recovery of the remains.
#2280957
TroutSupport.com wrote:Simple.. check the NOAA chart for predicted vs actual like Karst mentioned, but also if the wind shifts to hard north or NW at 25... expect that the water levels will drop.

Thanks man. I’ve been watching it on a regular basis now and keeping an eye on it. Thank for the wind tip. Good info to have


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#2281452
In my experience, 2.0 and higher above MLLW, water is into the cordgrass or shoreline vegetation. 2.0 covers all living oyster reefs that I’ve come across. Something around 3.5 to 4.0 puts water on streets in the lowest neighborhoods in Surfside.

Levels between 1.5 and 2.0, water is mostly out of the cordgrass and shoreline vegetation. Oysters will likely still be covered.

Levels between 1.0-1.5, oysters or tops of reefs start appearing exposed.

Levels 1.0 -0.5, some of the back areas of the marsh will start to get to be too shallow to navigate.

Levels 0.5-0.0, most shallow reefs are mostly exposed, large parts of many marshes become unnavigable.

Below 0.0, many marshes have huge areas without water and only the drains and channels remain with water to navigate.


I'm late to this thread; I'm just searching around TKF tonight catching up on the last month or so of posts. Those ballpark tide heights and descriptions will mean a lot to the newer guys on the "New to Fishing" board after a few trips and surprise high or low waters.
#2281498
Inland, most of the rivers and streams can really get up and rise to the top of their banks or over in the really big floods. The closer one gets to the gulf, the effect tends to lessen. The Brazos River is a good example. It’s been at the top of the high bank at 2004 in Lake Jackson, but by the time it gets to the mouth 15 or so miles downstream it might raise the levels just inches over the predicted levels.

I think the rivers with runoff do move fish.
https://www.tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/o ... ty_nowcast

Take a look at the salinity model for Galveston bay. While not to be taken as 100% accurate, the model does give an indication on how the Trinty River can freshen up a large portion of the bay. The bay levels might remain pretty close to the otherwise predicted levels and in line with other readings away from the bay, but the salinity, especially at the surface, will drop and can drop so much that forage and predator fish are shifted out of areas. Freshwater runoff will also affect water colors and water clarity.

The Brazos River might pump 50,000 cubic feet per second or more of muddy, fresh water on a good flood. That water flows over and then pushes out the saltwater in the channel. That muddy fresh water flows out into the gulf, but also in both directions into the ICW and all the way to the Freeport harbor to the north and to at least the San Bernard going south. I know that in a big Brazos rise, I’m unlikely to find good water anywhere near the river. Sometimes, back marshes can hold good water even in a flood event. So it’s possible that even with a big Brazos flood, there might be pockets of good water and fish up in the Jones Creek lakes or maybe McNeil cut or somewhere back in the Cedar Lakes or Cow Trap. The San Bernard River has a say in the matter too.

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/tx/nwis/current/?type=flow

Look at the current river flow data. The Trinity River is pumping 60,000 cfs near the bay. The Brazos 40,000 cfs. That’s a lot of water. The bay levels aren’t raised that much, but the salinity is definitely dropped.

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/stati ... id=8771013

Eagle point measures salinity. 3.5 parts per thousand is about fresh. Gulf water out well offshore will be close to 35 ppt. The actual water level at Eagle Point is about 1/2 foot above predicted.
https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/stati ... id=8771341

The reading at the North Galveston jetty is about 1/3 foot about predicted. The Galveston railroad bridge is pretty close to predicted. So there might be a bit of added water height due to extreme Trinity River runoff.
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