Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guiding old clients

Yesterday, I had the privilege of guiding Tony Woodward and his buddy Jim from Colorado. We could see that a cold front was forecast to pass through on early Sunday, and that they would only have one good weather day. Usually, I recommend rescheduling under such conditions, but Tony had fished the lower Laguna on many occasions, and wasn't into numbers, anyway. So I left it up to him and Jim. They came.

I suggested that we do a dawn-to-dusk trip on Saturday, to which they wholly agreed. I had a plan, and would have bet big money on it; but the day turned out to be difficult. I left the dock at the Arroyo City RV Park and picked them up near the county park. We left the dock earlier than most guides would have, in order to take advantage of early "birding" action. In fact, I navigated with a q-beam down the Arroyo, and found it harder and harder to see. Unbenownst to us, we were driving into fog. By the time we reached the Intracoastal, we couldn't see more than 75 yards ahead. Shining the q-beam through the fog was as useless as driving with a car with your brights on in a thick fog--not very effective, and blinding. After a while, the sun finally rose and transformed near-inpenetrable darkness into a dim white haze. The birding wasn't on, so we headed south to check out some other west-side venues. The fog was so thick, however, that when I finally had to leave the sight of land, I got a bit turned around. Finally, I finally managed to find my way to our destination--a back lagoon that is virtually landlocked. I was relieved that I could only get so lost before running into a familiar shoreline.

Tony caught a fine trout  from the bow, but the redfish action was spotty. We had a few shots here and there, but the lighting was pretty poor, given the fog. When the clouds finally burned off, we could see that pods of redfish were moving into the area, so the guys got out and waded. Alas, they weren't tailing or doing much of anything. Perhaps it was the near-full moon, but I think it was unstable conditions ahead of the cold front. The winds kept changing, and sometimes the fish just don't do much until the front passes. After a while, we headed east onto the sand, hoping for what Tony (and I) like best--fishing the crystal clear water for cruising reds and trout. Yes, the big trout were up on the sand--not in numbers, but they were a steady presence as we planed north toward Mansfield. The tides were high, having recently surged due to the solar effects. So while we found reds, they were in deeper water than we could fish sight casting.

When we got in, Tony spoke with some fly fishers from Houston, who had fished way south, where I'd been fishing for big trout during January and February. Tony learned that the big trout were still there, but they weren't eating, according to the anglers.

So it's not always great fly fishing on the Lower Laguna. If I told you it was, I'm sure you would think me a liar. It doesn't give me much pleasure to tell you about a one-fish day. But then again, we had a very good day. Sharing stories, eating chips and sauza, and smoking the rare cigar. As Sparse Gray Hackle once said, "Sometimes I think the least important thing about fishing is catching fish."

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