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