Laguna Madre Fly Fishing Report(Archived fishing reports going back to 6/25/01 also available here.)
8/30/11 OMG, what a great three days I had with Doug and Steve Gauntt this past weekend. The redfish parade was on every day--reds streaming toward us from the north, many oversized. I will post photos and the storyline later. A new video will follow, as well, titled, The Redfish Parade on the Lower Laguna Madre. Time is all I need to do these things, but between guiding, teaching, doing psychotherapy, and tending new relationships (oh yes), there's not much of it. But please know that the fly fishing on the LLM has been "storybook" of late.
8/22/11 At this moment, I am aboard a Southwest flight headed for home. I have spent the last week fly fishing in Colorado, which was an enjoyable change of pace, but not a substitute for stalking reds and trouts in the shallow clear waters of the Lower Laguna.
I have written less in the past few months about the fly fishing on the LLM. I have been to Holland, Virginia, the Northeast, and most recently to Colorado. In between, I have guided as much as I could fit in. So, what are the headlines at this stage in the season? Westside Shines in Places, Sand Action Disappoints So Far, and Big Trout Flourish. Rather than getting into a narrative to catch you up, I think I will simply share some photos that do a much better job of telling the story,
Beginning in late June, I started taking Rosie with me on guided trips. That might sound irresponsible, but it all started when my client--Tony Woodward of Colorado Springs, who happens to be a veterenarian--encouraging me to bring her, rather than leave her in the care or Rex and Shary White, who were more than willing to watch her. So I took her with us. It proved to be a high catching day, and Rosie fit right into the program. Indeed, the guys said that her presence enhanced their enjoyment. So began a new phase in my guide career.
The weekend with Tony Woodward and his fellow academic veteranarian Cody proved to be a memorable weekend, with Tony landing his largest redfish to date. Cody did well, too, especially for his first visit to the LLM.
After returning from Holland, I had the pleasure of guiding the son-and law of my first dance partner (in first grade), Cynthia Izaguirre (Champion). Her son-and-law Jeremy Coffman had never fly fished in saltwater, but we had a great day that started off slow. Indeed, by midday we hadn't found any sight casting, but when we pulled into a lagoon to the south of the Arroyo, we heard explosions that seemed too loud and violent to be gamefish. They turned out to be over-sized reds cruising in pairs along a shoreline. For almost two hours, we had one shot after another. Jeremy managed to hook two, but broke off when the huge fish reacted violently to the hookset. He was a bit
There were other noteworthy charters, but I have to include Doug and Connie Gauntt, two of my favorite old clients from north Texas, who came in early August.
6/30/11 It's been a long time since I've posted a fishing report. I have been moving, and the process has been interminable. Nonetheless, I have been guiding quite a bit, and have a lot to share with you. But not now.
Suffice to say that fishing was difficult in the spring due to unusually high winds. The effect of El Nina, which produced the F5 tornados in Alabama and Missouri, was to "suck" even more wind out of the Gulf toward the low pressure systems to the north of us. But in the last two weeks, the winds have subsided, and the fishing has been good to superb. Just this last weekend, I guided my old client Doug Gaunt and his buddy Dick, who accompanies him on one of his trips each year. Both of them are excellent anglers--Doug with his fly rod, and Dick with his open-face reel casting a gold weedless spoon. In the two days of fishing the guys landed and released 55 redfish and a few trout, including several reds over 28 inches, and one 26" trout. The tides have fallen, so we are fishing much skinnier water, which supports more visibility of tailing, waking and cruising (with sunlight) fish. I will be posting a few photos from this trip in a day or so.
Report by Randy Cawlfield, that I posted on the Kingfisher Inn site first:
7/15/11 Capt. Randy here! Summer is in full swing and fishing has been great as the weather is stable and the fish have been in a cooperative mood collectively. A good day on the water is always made better for me when I can enjoy it with my boys. So, Saturday was a great day! Truett (now 16) continues to improve his fly fishing skills. In a few years he may well be
guiding some of you during his summer breaks from college. And my 5 year old, Nolan, is coming into his own as an angler.
Saturday morning we woke up plenty early, but found ourselves dragging a bit. I had picked Truett up at the airport the night before; he had spent the previous week in Lubbock at the state FFA convention. Because of a flight delay and luggage issues we arrived home at 1AM. So 5 AM came early. Summer fishing with my boys is a pretty relaxed endeavor. The fish are more predictable and I do not feel the pressure to catch fish before the sun gets high in the sky. Understand, we catch plenty of fish early, but in the mid to late summer, I expect consistent fishing opportunities at most any hour of the day. This day did not disappoint. Based on a tip from a good friend and fellow fly fishing guide we started the day at a westside venue very near the intercoastal. As the skiff came to a gentle halt I climbed up on the platform and Truett tied on a Kingfisher spoon. For about an hour we had opportunities to cast spoon flies at groups of large trout moving up the shoreline with real determination. After working out a few kinks Truett was able to place the fly in perfect position and catch a nice trout. We all thanked her and gently slid her back into the clear, shallow water.
Next we made our way even further west into a secondary lagoon in search of redfish. Again, we were not disappointed. The lagoon is very shallow this time of year and fish were scattering soon as our boat arrived at our intended location. We considered wading, but elected to pole and let Truett do the hunting/ fishing with his fly rod. The photo you see is the result of teamwork; taken by a proud papa. After spending a couple of hours in this venue we moved east to the sand. The fish had not yet congregated on the sand for the day and we were satisfied so we called the day a little early and motored on home.
The fishing is great! Hope you can make it down. Give me a call and we will get you on the calendar.
4/13/11 Guided a couple from Bend, Oregon, on Monday. I hadn't been out in a few days, but I knew that the birding would probably be "on." The trouble was that the wind had been so strong out of the south that I doubted we'd be able to fly fish. I looked at the forecast the night before,
We left about 7:00 and headed for the only possible action on a windy, overcast day -- "birding" over podding redfish. This time of year, the reds congregate and feed on the brown shrimp that is maturing in the seagrass meadows.
The wind was about 15 out of the west, and scheduled to shift to the north by late morning or early afternoon. I knew that the fish didn't care about the wind, and the birds actually liked it, because it permits them to hover over the tailing reds without expending much energy. We planed into the area where birding is common, and didn't see anything for a couple of miles. My heart was starting to sink when I spotted the first group of birds. After that, it got better and better. When we left five hours later, the wind was 30 out of the north, and there were birds as far as you could see, hovering over feeding redfish.
Andy had never caught a redfish on a fly, and wondered if the weather would preclude that possibility. But as we poled toward our first group of fluttering gulls, we could see two more pods just beyond the first group. The fish were gathering and beginning to feed in earnest, and our spotters--the laughing gulls--were on top of the action.
Andy caught a couple of reds, and suddenly the wind came to a virtual standstill. The gulls sat down on the water, and followed the reds around. Meanwhile, we could see sweeping pods that had been invisible in the rougher water.
Neither Andy, his wife Kim, or I counted how many fish he caught. It didn't seem to matter. But he hooked at least a dozen reds, and landed almost as many. He landed four nice trout, too, that were feeding around
I have rarely seen clients happier. Indeed, they both were beaming when I took them to the dock at 1:00. I think I will seem them again. They were delightful company, and appreciated every aspect of the day's action.
4/4/11 Fished with Bud Rowland of big trout fame two days ago. I drove to Port Isabel and joined him at his waterfront home. Planning to fish the sun on a fairly windy day, we skipped the tailing possibilities and had breakfast at Ted's on the Island before heading out in his Ibis with dog Mattie around 9 am. The tide and the sun were just not working for us, but we did catch a few reds blind casting from the drifting Ibis. From my experience fly fishing with Bud, he will do whatever it takes, and that means blind casting all day long if that's what the conditions call for. He has more stamina and sheer will than anyone I've ever fished with. Not long ago, we went out on a winter morning for big trout down near Mansfield. And wow, they were there! But after getting a couple of shots at 28"+ trout with the help of the sun, the clouds killed our chances for sight casting. So we set up on both ends of the boat--Bud casting right handed, and I left landed, and proceeded to catch 14 reds blind casting spoon flies. Personally, I don't usually blind cast, and will run out of gas looking for conditions that support sight casting. But after fishing with Bud--and Skipper Ray, too--I realize that if a fly fisher has a long cast (most of my clients don't), you can always catch fish. I am thinking also of a day when Skipper and I were guiding a group out of Kingfisher, and it was cloudy and windy. We set the guys up with poppers and had them wade Payton's Bay, making their best downwind casts. They caught a lot of fish, and had a great time. Knowing when to switch to blind casting takes a lot of accurate reading of the sightcasting prospects and your clients' skills. Sometimes, it's a real winner to let go of needing to see the fish. It's hard for me to do.
3/2/11 Chip and I planned to go fishing this morning, but when I got up it was cloudy, chilly, and blowing from the north. I'd already got dressed and told the dogs the good news when I first looked outside and said, Oh darn it! So I called Chip and we decided to can it. But then, only 30 minutes later, the clouds started to break up and the wind slowly subsided. I called Chip back, and he was on the road within minutes.
We headed south, way south, hoping for big
Still we got several strikes and landed a few up to 26 inches long before knocking off. We discussed the redfish action after returning to the boat, and agreed that they were already keying on brown shrimp, and would soon be tailing under birds. The spring birding action is poised to begin.
It was a great day, and we were grateful that we hadn't wimped out and headed in before checking all the right places. Photos to follow.
2/22/11 It's been a cold winter down here, and I haven't been on the water
I had the privilege of dining with Doug and Kevin at Calesa in Harlingen on Saturday night, which was a real treat. It's a great place to eat.
Unfortunately, the wind was so fierce at daybreak that we opted not to go out on Sunday. Doug and Kevin know how good it can get on the LLM, and I'm sure they will be back again.
12/4/10 I went out fishing with Randy Cawlfield and his son Truett today. We hadn't fished together in quite a while, although we are in regular contact over upcoming fly fishing clients and lodging logistics. The tides have fallen, and are approaching their winter lows, so instead of fishing north, I suggested that we head south where we tend to fish in January and February. It was early in the fall-winter to give up on Paytons, but I was hoping that we would find some giant trout in the super low conditions of S. Cullens Bay. We arrived at S. Cullens fairly quickly, thanks to the combination of a 70 hp Yamaha pushing a 475 lb skiff in Lamivent mode.
There were fish in S. Cullens, but the tailing sheepshead drowned out the more subtle signs of redfish, which weren't tailing at all. So instead of staying there, we headed east and south, thinking that we'd end up in north Paytons, 15 miles north. We cruised slowly along the edge of the sand, finding quite a few reds and big trout spread out over too large an area to justify stopping. But when we neared Green Island, we ran into quite a few redfish. So we shut down and poled for a while before we spotted tails popping up in the glassy conditions. We piled out of the Stilt, and spent a couple of hours sight casting to one tail after another before we headed back to the dock in time for Randy to preach in Brownsville. Imagine that! Putting preaching before angling! Perhaps that's why we did so well--we had our priorities straight. And while I'm not much of church goer, my meditation practice always takes precedence over anything else, too. Randy and I have a lot in common, and it's mostly something that you can't really talk about.
After I snagged a tailing red off the front of the Stilt while Randy poled me, I got off and followed Truett around with my Nikon d7000 in video mode. I got some fine footage (is that still what they call it?) of Truett stalking and hooking up on a couple of fine reds. Of course, my presence could have prevented him from catching more, but he never complained and did quite well regardless. I will be posting tha
11/26/10 It's a windy and chilly Black Friday, a good day for tying flies. It's nice to have some unpressured time with Kathy to visit and relax. Cold fronts pass quickly this early in the fall/winter, and the forecast calls for perfect fly fishing conditions on Sunday. We're taking the dogs out then, and may get some video to share with you. A thought for the day: If you never blame the fish or complain about the wind, you will eventually master your art. Remember Hewitt's words, "The fly is not the problem. It's what's on the other end of the line." This perspective puts everything within our reach if, that is, we are willing to accept responsibility.
11/24/10 Capt. Scott here. I have just posted a new video on YouTube, which covers the three consecutive days of flyfishing that I describe in my 1/10/10 fishing report below.
11/8/10 It is unusual to have three clients in a row use the word "fantastic" to describe their fishing experience. But that's what
Saturday dawned cold and still. I didn't know it til later, but the temperature was 41 at daybreak. Maybe that's why I was chilled to the bone on the ride from our house to the Kingfisher dock, where I picked up Steve Novak and John Hunter from Beeville. I had donated a trip to the local CCA chapter, and John had purchased it. So it was a chance to "give back" to the organization that has made my life so much easier, and richer. Indeed, the Lower Laguna is a different place altogether than when I wade fished there as a kid. Catching a couple of game fish back then was a big deal. Today, it's commonplace to catch 10 or more apiece on a decent day. We owe a great deal to the Gulf Coast Conservation Assn, which became the CCA. If you're not a member, please consider joining. Working closely with the Texas Parks and Wildlife, the CCA has literally transformed the coastal ecosystem.
I took the guys way south, where we found a few reds cruising the shallows of South Cullens Bay. I poled them on the Stilt for a while, and let the rising sun thaw out our numb fingers. Soon it became clear that the reds weren't where we would sight cast to them. I knew they would probably come in later in the day, but we would have to wait patiently for hours, and then there was no guarantee that they would show up. So with some hesitation, I pulled the plug and headed north. On the way to where I believed the fish would be, I saw an area (which will go unnamed) that "called" to me. So I veered off my northward track and headed west to see why I felt the pull to go there.
Suddenly we ran into a wall of retreating reds, and so I shut down immediately. Tailing reds appeared almost immediately--in small pods of 4-6. For the next four hours, we poled the area in almost dead calm conditions. It was "storybook" fly fishing. Big, aggressive reds seized the fly without hesitation: the strong outgoing tide had really turned them on. Steve landed the first one -- a fat 27 inch red. Thereafter, Steve and John took turns, and had one shot after another until we headed in hours later. I don't know how many they caught, but they ran from 23-27 inches in length.
The next day I guided David Cole from Ft. Worth. I had met David at the FFF Coastal Conclave in Lake Charles a couple of years ago when Kathy and I were invited to speak. Since then, David had tried to come down and fish, but had been deterred by poor weather conditions on every occasion. Finally, we seemed to hit it right. We left the dock before sunrise, and headed for the same area where I'd fished the day before. The reds were there tailing in pods, but it was hard to get close enough to cast to them. Finally, David hooked his first red on a fly rod--a heft 27-inch red. He had achieved what he'd come to do--to catch at least one red. But as it turned out, it wasn't his last one.
I made a risky decision, and decided to leave the reds and go north onto the sand. I believed that the calm conditions would allow us to see tailing reds in the far eastern expanse of the LLM, where 8-9 inch water often attracted pairs and big single redfish that were cruising and tailing in the most sensitive and beautiful conditions. Here's a shot of David looking toward Padre Island in the distance.
Once the fish recovered from the boat's intrusion, singles, pairs, and triples began to tail in all directions, often 100 yards apart. Before long, David and I were poling up to one tailing group after another. Approaching them in the Stilt was effortless in the dead calm conditions, and they were especially tolerant of our approach. But David would only get one cast before the reds would slip beneath the surface, and begin to slowly depart from the area, leaving only a subtle wake on the mirror-like surface. It was frustrating at first, but David eventually got into a groove and landed three nice reds. We saw the last one approaching from at least 200 yards away.
The next day, I guided my old client Dr. Kirk Brown and his friend David from Dallas. We headed to the same spot where I'd fished the past two mornings. The reds were happily tailing in small groups, and we went from one group to another in the Stilt.
"Fantastic!" said Steve and John. "Fantastic," Said David Cole. "Fantastic," said Kirk and David. It's a weekend that I will remember for the rest of my life.
10/29/10 Capt. Scott here. I just guided Richard Back and his buddy Bob for the second time in less than a year, and finally got the video done from their last trip! Anyway, here's some classic tailing and "backing" action for redfish in one of our favorite places on the Lower Laguna.