Friday, March 16, 2012

March Redfish Action

March is a transitional month, partaking of lingering cold fronts, but graced with warm breezes saturated in the perfume of huisache and citrus blossoms. For the novice fly fisher, the problem with March is not temperature, it is wind. Fly fishers lacking experience in the salt have a particular aversion to fishing on windy days; but traveling fly fishers do not have the luxury of planning around the weather and making plans on short notice. When your charter lands on a high wind day, guide and client just have to go out, regardless of the wind. This kind of compulsory attendance, while seeming like punishment, has forced me to discover that there are plenty of opportunities awaiting the fly fisher on a windy day in March.

When you live near the water, and you're fishing for fun like I was last Monday, you might take your time getting to the water. The forecast called for clouds and breeze, so Julie and I decided to target the bay in the afternoon, when sometimes the clouds give way to the warming sun.

After launching the Stilt, I headed for one of my favorite westside lagoons. Parker Lake is shallow by comparison to more popular westside venues, and thus most anglers avoid it in favor of deeper waters. My boat was the only one in the four-square-mile back lagoon, and I ran back as far as I could before shutting down. On the way, huge single reds erupted and fled, leaving muddy trails as they fled in indignation.

I was hoping for some pods, since the water was murky: I was afraid that I would not be able to see singles cruising steathily through the discolored water. But not encountering any groups, I eventually shut down before the decreasing depth made the decision for me. The prop dug into the mud as we came off plane, but I was sure that the Stilt could get us up again.

I left Julie sunbathing, and went on a wade toward even shallower, but slightly clearer water where I might be able to spot cruising gamefish glowing in the afternoon sunlight. Alas, the reds weren't feeding in Parker as best I could determine. So I quickly returned to the boat and headed east onto the sand, directly east of the Arroyo's mouth. As we traveled across the increasingly clear and shallow water, the sea breeze came to a virtual halt. We passed beyond the edge of rippled water, and entered a glassy expanse in which the distant dunes of Padre Island sketched a white line over a horizon that was otherwise seamless in the surreal conditions.

I was happy to see a few redfish moving ahead of the planing Skiff, so I shut down in gin-clear water, and gave the water and fish a chance to settle down. Leaving Julie behind, I took my TFO rod and Ross Vexis and waded barefoot eastward, keeping the declining sun over my left shoulder. After only 60 yards, I spotted three reds approaching head-down from the northeast. Since it was so calm, I opted to wait until I could cast about 10-12 feet to one side of the pod, knowing that even at that distance, the fish would perceive the presentation. Sure enough, one of the reds briefly turned toward the fly before resuming his course. I casted the fly a couple of feet closer, and saw the fish move together toward it. In seconds, they were chasing the fly side by side, obviously intent on winning the prize. Moments later, I hooked up on one and saw the other two reds take up a position behind the hooked fish and circle me for a while before heading away.

After landing the 24-inch red and photographing it, I resumed my wade only to spot another, larger red within a few minutes. He was swimming quickly towards me so I false casted only a couple of times before shooting enough line to intercept him before he came close enough to spot me. He didn't hesitate to take the chartreuse Clouser, and I was fighting my second red within 15 minutes of leaving the boat.

Obviously there were plenty of redfish on the sand, but I'd had enough. It was classic redfish action, but I put my rod away, rejoined Julie, and headed in.

No comments: