TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

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By jeff89
Sorry for the late report, but anyways...

I had read, stalked, creeped on, and drooled over Capt. Sparrow's articles and reports regarding the lower laguna madre and fantasized about the east side sand flats enough. I needed to go see what this was about. It really did sound like a mystical area that doesn't get much fishing pressure. Ankle deep, gin clear, water with redfish crawling is a fly fisher's wet dream. And well, I didn't want to wait until July when low winds are reliable enough to go. It just so happened that last Saturday, 3/25, a window presented itself. A short, day-long window. I didn't have anything better going on, so I loaded the boat in ATX and headed south for Harlingen. I remember the wind was blowing it's a$$ off on the drive down that Friday, but the weather kept suggesting that it was going to lay over night. I trusted it. Pulled into Harlingen and found a clean/cheap motel and settled in for the evening. But it's still Harlingen and my paranoia convinced me to bring the push pole and stake out stik in the room with me. I hardly slept as I couldn't stop thinking about redfish and possibly even gator trout snaking around on the sand.

Wake up. Coffee. Headed out for Adolph Thomae park on the river east of Arroyo City. It's Saturday morning and I'm sitting in line with everyone else that checked the weather out the previous night. Evidently, the only other nearest boat ramps are Port Mansfield or Port Isabel. Still, I got on the water before sun up. I sent out GPS coordinates to my parents in case something went wrong and headed east. The little 10hp Merc was running like a champ and the Gheenoe was turning heads, boy.

5 miles from the ramp and I had reached the mouth of the Arroyo, but still, I continued east. The Shallowsports, Majeks, and Pathfinders started dropping like flies as I continued further east to the skinny skinny. Eventually the lower unit slowed me down as it couldn't handle the shallow draft. Pulled it up and broke out the push pole and continued east.

Finally in ankle deep water, I stopped and observed while I still had low light conditions. It's crazy out there. Sand flats for milesssss. And I couldn't see any other boats either.

Slammed some crackers and water, loaded the fly rod and backpack, and started the barefoot wade. Redfish #1 came to hand after I spotted her, back out of the water, crawling around digging up crabs. You definitely cannot put the fly right in front of these fish. You have to get the general direction they're heading and place the fly out in front and twitch it as they approach. It was true hunting. Love it.

Only caught one other red this trip. It was definitely a learning experience in this water. I don't think it's even possible to do it from the bow. The fish sense the boat and just start drifting away before you even have a chance to launch a fly 60-80'. Wading is the way to go. I blew a few more shots where I would cast and leave the fly in one spot, hoping the fish would head that direction and I would get impatient and pick up cast again trying to get closer...and the fish would blow up and bolt off. I'm sure if I were to leave it and let the fish find it, I would've been more successful.

5 hours is a long drive for a one day trip. I'll probably wait until this summer when longer low wind, weather windows will present themselves; but I could see myself playing on these flats for a few days in a row. I also think the same style of fishing is available in Yarborough flats. Getting there is another story with Y-pass effed up.

Push pole is working great by the way, Cuervo :dance:

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By karstopo
Enjoyed the report. Looks beautiful there. I wondered about the technique and stealth needed in gin clear water. I would guess the fish would be a little spooky in that clear water. Sensing the boat out 60-80 feet qualified as spooky. Nice report.
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By kickingback
Cool report! Thanks for sharing! Glad you caught a couple. The water is so clear thee it is so nice looking! Can't believe you didn't get more!
What flies were you using? Clousers or Decievers? Top?
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By GoDoe
You found yourself a little piece of heaven. And look, you got a catered lunch too. Even on the busiest of days we almost always have the ankle deep water to ourselves.

I use a mini dumbbell weighted fly on those bare sand bottoms. Then when you strip it it will drag along the bottom like a crawling crab. I like to use something just dark enough that I can see it to make sure I have it in the right place. It is so hard to be patient and wait on the fish to come to the fly. You can sure tell when they see it though.

How far of a run did you end up making from the launch? If you are like me then you were planning your next trip on your drive home.

Cool stuff. Thanks for posting.
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By Piscator
Like you I have read all those articles and waiting for the opportunity. I had opening a few months ago and a storm was forecast for that weekend. I will get down there. Have the skiff now and need to make a few clear water flies.
By flydoc
Have you ever tried driving the beach from the south to reach the east shore?? Never done that so don't know if it's doable or crazy but looks like alot of area to explore.

I imagine most the locals hang the west shore but your rig looks very capable to make the run across. Does'nt get any better chasing happy reds on the fly in the sand. Thanx for the detailed adventure.
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By eightweight
Jeff89, you're the man.

I've been reading those same articles from Scott, and thinking about those crystal clear flats for several years now. Planning, someday, maybe, to haul my Tarpon 160 down to Harlingen, launch at the park, and paddle across to those beautiful sand flats. Would love to take a small tent, sleeping bag, and make a muti-day expedition of it. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but, it's on my bucket list.
By Copperspoonfly
The boat launch from Arroyo city is several miles from the Lower Laguna Madre. If you head out of Arroyo city and go north, wouldn't it be easier to just launch from Port Mansfield and head south?
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By texasproud11
Would love to see more pics of your gheenoe! Is that an NMZ? How do you like that particular setup with the cooler, no centerbox, and platform. Would you change anything?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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By jeff.mladenka
Man, I don't like the new format of this forum haha...some how my old account handle is broken or something, but I am the OP, jeff89...

Copperspoonfly - I had thought about that and fishing 9 mile hole, but my experience around Mansfield reminds me that it's deeper than the LLM around Arroyo City. I just didn't want to deal with the hellish chop in my little rig. The run from the ramp to the mouth of the Arroyo really isn't bad...I personally wouldn't paddle it though. That'd make for a long day.

Texasproud11 - I'll try to take some more pictures of it next time I'm out. It's a Gheenoe Classic 15'6". I don't think I would change anything, I like the bare bones lay out. If money were no object, I'd get automatic tilt/trim. Anyways, I get so many comments at the gas station as it is....she really is perfect for what I do. A couple years down the road, if I still have the Gheenoe, I'll probably re-power with a 20hp 'hatsu... :twisted:

eightweight - about like a devil's river trip...just a bit more salty and sticky at night haha

GoDoe - Thanks for the fly suggestion, that sounds like it would work well. I can see the fly now, making little puffs of sand as you strip it and a redfish tracking it down. Just ball parking the trip via google earth, it's probably 10-12 miles from the ramp to the sand flats. It was pretty eerie as the mainland disappeared behind me and padre island showed up in front of me. Felt a little bit of anxiety due to the possible danger you can get yourself into that far from safety...kind of addicting.

kickingback - tan seaducers
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By thAbstract
Enjoyed reading your report! I did a guided trip (first time on the LLM) back in 2015 and can't wait to get back. We used spinning rods only, but I just started fly fishing last year so next trip I wil be fly casting!!!
By StrykerDM
Man I need to go fish that. I actually grew up down there in A small town near Harlingen and never was really a fisherman back then (before I saw the light). I need to haul to yak down there one of these weekends to visit family and fish.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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By Duck'n
I am meeting with Dr Sparrow in two weeks for a little casting work and to discuss a guided trip. I cannot wait!
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