Ed Bell's "The Hard Way" - Part I

Waterfront property for sale. Indianola, Texas


Fishing at the End of the Road
Indianola offers a wide variety of fishing options for
boat, beach, marina, kayak and wading anglers.

by Gary Ralston


Indianola sits on the western shore of Matagorda Bay. Its southern border is Powderhorn Lake and either location can be a great choice for fishermen.
Matagorda Bay Options
Across Powderhorn Bayou, the Powderhorn Ranch shoreline is a prime location to find reds, trout and flounder, almost year around. The bottom is wader friendly and numerous sand bars parallel the entire shoreline. Trout and reds can be found on top of the bars and in the deeper guts that separate them. The bottom gradually tapers off to 5'-6' of water several hundred yards from shore.
The tops of the sand bars are a prime spot to find flounder on nighttime gigging forays. The entire shoreline can be good for flounder, particularly in the spring and fall.
The Powderhorn shoreline is protected from south, southwesterly winds, but winds of speeds much over 12-15 mph any other direction will stir the water. This might not present too much of a problem if you're bait fishing, but it will cancel a flounder trip.
Drift fishing is also popular as a means of finding fish. Once located it's easy to slip the anchor over the side and fish from the boat or wade. If you're not interested in getting your feet wet, just keep drifting and be sure to circle back through areas where fish were picked up.




This shoreline is also popular with anglers coming out of Port O'Connor, about six miles to the south. One of the prime fishing areas starts just below the old ranch house and extends southerly to an area where a couple of sloughs connect small lakes with the bay.
Another favorite destination in Matagorda Bay are the spoil banks along the ship channel and the gas well platforms a little further to the east past the channel. Trout are plentiful at times around the spoil banks and well pads. Any of the wells can also harbor large triple tail.
Powderhorn Lake
The lake is an excellent fishing destination and redfish, trout, and flounder can be found virtually anywhere in the lake, especially from late winter to fall. One of the most popular areas is Perry's Flat located on the southwestern end of the lake. This is a shallow sand flat good for wading, drifting or just anchoring and bait fishing. There's a small slough in the pocket at the back of Perry's Flat that's an excellent spot for picking off reds and drum with dead shrimp or mullet, alive or cut.
At the most extreme westerly end of Powderhorn Lake is a narrow strip of water (Coloma Creek) that will take you under Hwy 1289 that leads to Port O'Connor. Only a low profile boat will make it under the bridge, but if you can, there's often nice catches of reds and occasionally flounder, to be had. This little lake (actually there are several and all are shallow) may not be navigable very far from the bridge depending on the tide stage.
Small boats can also be launched directly into Coloma Creek on either side of the bridge at this location. The better launching location will be on the Powderhorn Lake side of the bridge.
The shoreline from Perry's Flat towards the bay offers plenty of opportunities for whatever type of fishing you're interested in. This long shoreline is also popular with nighttime flounder fishermen walking with lanterns or riding on the deck of a well lit flounder boat.
At the eastern end of the lake, East Pocket is good for reds and trout and the pass that leads between oyster reefs and marsh from the lake to the bay is another popular spot with anglers. You'll want to anchor either next to the marsh or near the reefs. Quite a few boats traverse the area and you don't want to be sitting in the middle of the pass as boats run through.
Working the Birds in the Lake
From the spring to the fall keep an eye out for flocks of gulls "working" schools of trout that are feeding on shrimp. The shrimp come to the surface to avoid the feeding fish, which could also be reds, and make easy targets for the gulls that swoop down and pick off the shrimp.
If you haven't worked birds before, you will want to approach the school quietly and set up a drift to take you to the birds rather than runnning up to them under power. All you'll do with the latter method is scatter the fish and birds very quickly.
To access the bay or lake you can either launch at the Indianola Fishing Marina located at the end of the road at Powderhorn Bayou. Another choice is to launch at the Indianola RV Park located about 2 miles from the Bayou inside the Lake. If you were going to fish the bay the marina would be the most logical choice and the RV park if you were heading into the lake. However it's a relatively short run to the bay from the RV launch and one I've made countless times.
Indianola Bay Front
All of the approximate three miles of bay front from Indian Point to Powderhorn Bayou is fishable. And since there are no reefs or other natural structure present, one area can be as good as any other - just depends where the fish are feeding from one day to the next. The fish do, however, move up and down the bay front following baitfish being forced along by the action of tidal currents.
Spots frequented by anglers are mostly between the LaSalle monument and Indian Point. As you move closer to the Pass the shoreline is piled with concrete rip rap to slow erosion. The rip rap does have a tendency to attract bait fish and gives trout and reds a reason to hang around the area. A block of granite placed on the beach about a mile above the pass is another spot that fishermen frequent. The granite is intended to be a location marker for the old Indianola courthouse from the 1800's.
For boaters that fish the shoreline near the pass, just be aware there is still some concrete structure from the old town in the water. Most is within 300 yards of Powderhorn Pass and consists of old walls and cisterns. The only time you might bump into something is if you come between the ends of the piers in this area and shore. Other obstructions are in the vicinity of the granite marker and an area about 1/2 mile below the marker toward the pass where there is a noticeable rise in the elevation. The obstructions here are within 20 feet, or so, of shore. At least the ones I've bumped into.
There is at least one sailing ship from the 1800's near the bay front but it should only pose a hazard to shrimp nets.
Night Fishing
Many years ago, Ed Bell held court at his fish camp located on Indianola Point. Not the same 'court' as a Judge Roy Bean, but he was quite a character for this small town, just the same, and also quite a liar. Well, not really a liar, per se, but that's what he was invited to do at the Smithsonian and places like the Texas Folklore Festival. He also spoke at schools and where ever he was invited to spin his tales. He had around 500 tall tales in all and could really entertain. (Read Ed Bell's - The Hard Way, Part I)
Ed started camping out in a tent at Indianola in the 30's and his primary objective was to fish, fish, fish. And he caught plenty. In the 40's he and his wife, Alma, started the fishing camp at Indianola Point. (Funny, before they were married, Ed told Alma he would never take her to Indianola) They offered row boat rentals early on, then small outboards as they became an option. Ed Bell's was the place to go if you wanted to fish the 'ocean', at Indianola. According to Bell, a good day's fishing from a boat in his fleet meant 300 speckled trout. And, that's no yarn!
One of the best times to go to Ed Bell's Fish Camp was at night. Powderhorn Bayou (or Pass) is a narrow stretch of water between Powderhorn Lake and Matagorda Bay. Each day there are currents that flow into and out of the lake pretty much on schedule. And with that water flow are small crabs and shrimp (some shrimp not so small) that are the staples for the mostly speckled trout that lie downstream of each current to feed on the offerings.
The Indianola Fishing Marina was reopened in 2004 and night fishing is back. The marina owners have recently expanded the night fishing area to include a location further into the bayou across from the boat slip. This is the area where Ed Bell's lighted pier was located. It has spaces for campers which would be a nice place to park for awhile to explore Matagorda Bay or Powderhorn Lake.
In addition to great trout fishing under the lights, the marina offers hamburgers and hot dogs, in addition to steaks and seafood. You can also buy tackle and supplies at the marina store along with live and dead bait.
Be aware, it does get crowded early, especially in the summer months and the very best location for trout is usually on the right corner. It's fun to watch the action, even if you're just there to eat a cheeseburger.
Fishing the Bridges
There are three bridges at Indianola commonly used by fishermen. The first is located on Brighton Avenue about one-half mile from Hwy 316. This bridge is mainly used by castnetters trying to pick up mud minnows, mullet and shrimp to be deployed eslewhere.
The next bridge on Brighton is over a small slough on the western edge of Old Town Lake. This area is subject to tidal currents and offers occasionally good fishing for reds. It's also a spot to catch bait with a castnet. A peninsula a extends from the bridge area into the lake and fishermen frequently fish the easternmost tip. It's a good place to set out rods and relax in a lawn chair while waiting for some action. The shoreline to the lake is also easily accessible in most areas.

The eastern edge of the lake in the vicinity of the LaSalle monument is another location frequented by anglers. Just be aware there are alligators in this area as well as the first bridge and they can appear just about anywhere in the bayous, sloughs and lakes around Indianola.
The next bridge is located on Comal which would be the road taken off Brighton that leads to the the Indianola RV Park located on Powderhorn Lake. This is a fairly wide bayou and it's closer to Powderhorn Lake. There is a small sandy area on the western side of the bayou. Up the bayou on the left is the Indianola Cemetery. You can visit the cemetery by taking the first right past the bridge.
Contact Info:
To check weather conditions, availability of bait, fishing reports, etc. you can call the Indianola Fishing Marina at 361-552-5350. You can reach the Powderhorn RV Park at 361-552-7481.


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