Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Julie and I went to the Arroyo this past Saturday, to get a break from school and taxes and therapy and such. I thought that the conditions could be right for big trout, but this time of year the water begins to rise and then the big trout action moves from Stover's Point onto the sand. I wasn't sure if the change had begun or not, but thought that the only way to find out was to show up and see. We took Rosie for the outing, which is a separate source of pleasure for both Julie and me, as we've come to love her enthusiasm for the water. She is the perfect companion: she joins me as soon as I'm off the boat, and walks just behind me, sometimes touching my leg with her nose, but never getting ahead of me or making any noise whatsoever.

We headed for the far west side of Cullens Bay between Cullens House and Stover's Point, knowing that shallow clear water could be found near the mangrove covered islands. It's often the only place to see fish during the windy day of early March, when the water clarity is reduced by the combination of wind and the flow of water into the bay. The water was off color elsewhere, but not brown and orange as it would be if brown tide had possessed it, but a subtle tint of blue that bespoke of the incoming Gulf water that would effectively replace the winter bay water with new blood.

We poled into the clear water with the 10 knot East wind, and saw almost nothing. A few signs of nervous water alerted me to the presence of a very few game fish that were prowling the shallows. Knowing that one or two good shots might be all the day had to offer, I staked the boat and grabbed my six weight. Rosie joined me while Julie stayed on the boat, looking like a tiny Eskimo in the Frog Togs and layering. It was only 65, but the breeze on the bay can take the warmth from your body like a pickpocket; so better to wear more than less in the early spring.

I waded slowly, enjoying the clear water. It affects me deeply, and it really doesn't matter if there's any fish at all. After about 20 minutes, however, I saw a huge fish push away from the shoreline and make way toward me. Hoping that it would keep moving and pushing a wake, I slid sideways to intersect what I was certain was a 8+ pound trout. The wake came within casting distance, probably 80 feet out, and then disappeared as the big fish settled into a slower mode. I casted my Mother's Day fly ahead of the wake, not sure any more exactly where the fish had gone. After driving 65 miles,  sleeping overnight in the trailer, driving 20 miles by boat, taking great care to prepare my gear and terminal tackle, and finally making a fine cast in the area of a great fish, I still needed some luck. The fish still needed to see it, and as luck would have it, the big trout certainly did not see the fly. She disappeared and that was all.

We then headed east onto the sand, which was crystal clear. We ran for miles without seeing much, then angled back toward the mouth of the Arroyo and headed west toward home. We both felt cleansed by the time on the water, happy and "good tired." There's something about the Laguna Madre that takes care of the loose ends and the regrets.

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