Wednesday, November 23, 2011

East Side Magic, part 4.

Here's the last installment of the article, which should appear in the winter issue of Tide magazine. I just heard that the photo that the editor wanted to use for the cover (see part 1 of this article) did not scan clearly enough to use on the cover, but--good news--he wants to use another photo of mine that was shot digitally. Here's the photo, which I have titled Sunrise Magic. I guess I'm partial to "magic," huh?

The quality and challenge of this sightcasting venue is only exceeded by its beauty. In between fish, Dave and I remarked at the dream-like quality of the scene ahead of us, in which the sky was perfectly reflected by the unbroken surface. An unnamed client of mine, who was so moved by the pristine beauty of the sand on a calm morning, said that he didn't need to catch fish at all to make it worthwhile. He went on to imagine holding hands in groups and singing Kumbaya, and at that point I interrupted his fantasy, thinking he'd gone a bit too far.
As Dave and I quietly enjoyed the beauty of the scene, and scanned ahead for more tails, I told him of fishing the area with my friend Pete Prata the week before, in which Pete and I would approach each pod with the intent of a double hook-up. Pete, who was spin fishing at the time, gladly accepted the exquisite burden of making the first cast. With my encouragement, he would approach from the south and cast his gold spoon near the pod. I would, in turn, approach the fish from the west. Once Pete cast his spoon into the fish, usually hooking up, the reds did what they always did––head west for deeper water. By anticipating their departure route, I was able to cast my fly head-on to the broken pod, often hooking a second red within moments of Pete's hook-up.
The great thing about this action is that the area is hardly fished. During weekends, in particular, game fish will migrate onto the sand, in part, to escape the crisscrossing boats. But sheer avoidance of boat noise does not account for the main reason the reds can be found in such conditions. Indeed, a careful observation of the sandy bottom reveals almost continuous tiny perforations and trails made by worms and crabs that live mostly beneath the sand. Besides these pinhole-size openings, larger "divots" give testimony to the efforts of bottom-feeding sheepshead, black drum, and redfish to rout these food sources from their hiding places.
The boats capable of entering this area at lower tides comprise a distinct minority, and the anglers who know enough to park their deeper-draft boats and wade onto the sand on a calm morning are few and far between. But while the outward appearance of barrenness turns most people away from the sand on a dead calm morning, the redfish know better. And those of us who are willing to make the counterintuitive call to go east instead of west on a calm morning on the Lower Laguna Madre may be rewarded by unparalleled sight casting opportunities.
Capt. Dr. Scott Sparrow is a fly fishing guide, psychotherapist, professor, cofounder of Kingfisher Inn (, and author of Healing the Fisher King: A Fly Fisher's Grail Quest(

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