Cedar Bayou

Cedar Bayou

Andy Dear | Thursday, 30 July 2020

My first recollection of hearing about Cedar Bayou was in the 1970s when I was just a kid. Back then, it was considered a far off mysterious place that only those with considerable knowledge of the Texas bay system dare travel to. In the minds of fishermen, Cedar is one of those mythical places, not only because of its remote location and stellar fishing but also because of it's unique and interesting history. The most famous of which is the legendary pirate Jean Lafitte, who was rumored to use Cedar Bayou as a safe haven to regularly escape capture by the British Navy.

  Cedar Bayou separates San Jose Island from Matagorda Island, and the Gulf of Mexico from the inland bay system, specifically MEsquite Bay, and is one of only a few natural passes on the Texas Coast. More than anything, Cedar Bayou is known for its propensity to silt in and close up, which subsequently wreaks all kinds of havoc with the ecosystem on the interior bay system. When it's open, all forms of life from gamefish to seagrass flourish. When it's closed....not so much. Over the years there have been numerous efforts to dredge the mouth of Cedar, and its adjacent estuary, Vinson Slough to keep it open. But, as we all know, mother nature always wins, and it inevitably ends up silting back in.

  The one and only time I was at Cedar Bayou was back around 1995 or so. We made the long run over there early one morning with the intention of wade fishing for speckled trout with spinning rods. I had been warned about the treacherous currents and the soft sand that seems to magically disappear underneath one's feet with the undertow. Not to mention the sizable sharks that are commonplace in the passes that open up into the gulf.

  We beached the boat just after sun-up and proceeded to lay the hammer down on the local population of specks. But, to everyone's dismay, there was not a redfish to be found anywhere. I chose to wade up the Matagorda side of the bayou towards the Gulf to try and hunt down a Redfish or Flounder to round out the already impressive stringer of trout that was going to be table fare later that night. As I neared the gulf, I could see the mouth of Vinson Slough on the other side of the bayou, about 50 yards away. There appeared to be something "flapping" in the marsh at the mouth of Vinson, but because of the distance it was hard to tell exactly what it was. Oddly enough, it looked like a trash bag waving in the breeze. The peculiar thing was that it would "flap" even when the breeze would subside.

  As I waded up a little further, I could see that it was a VERY sizable Redfish that had gotten caught on the outgoing tide at the mouth of Vinson Slough, and was stuck in a stretch of water much too shallow for it to swim back out to safety. Without even thinking I threw my gear up on the beach, swam across Cedar Bayou, and wrestled this big fish out of the marsh. I tried to revive it in deeper water for several minutes in hopes it could be released, but it had been beached just a bit too long and was very obviously not going to live. Rightly or wrongly, I made the choice not to let it go to waste, and added it to the stringer hanging from my wading belt. To be honest, I am not sure this was even legal, but I was bound and determined not to let this beautiful specimen lay there and die in the summer heat, only to become a rotten meal for the local contingent of coyotes and raccoons....let them find their own damn meal.

  When I rejoined the two other anglers I was fishing with, one of them inquired "Was that you swimming across the Bayou with that big redfish in tow?" "Uhhh yeah...that was me" I replied. I proceeded to tell them how I had bravely fought the rip currents and endless soft bottom to rescue a dying gamefish, only to be just a few minutes too late. To which my buddy retorted "Well just so you know, last time we were here just a few weeks ago, we saw two Bull Sharks pushing 8 feet long with their dorsals out of the water right there where you swam across".

  The only thing I could think about on the boat ride back was "Well now you have an outlandish tale to tell your children one day about how you braved the shark-infested waters of Cedar Bayou to wrestle a dying Bull Redfish out of the marsh with your bare hands, only to swim back across with a stringer of fresh dead fish in tow". I shared that story with Jackson a while back, and he just looked at me like I was an idiot. And honestly, I can't say that he was at all incorrect in his assessment.

Hope you all have a great week,