Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A New Discovery at Dusk

So much has happened since my last posting. I was gone for three weeks in June, but have been on the water quite a bit since returning.

Fishing has been excellent, even "wild" in the words of one old client. Whenever I think I know it all, nature teaches me something new, if not strange, that I didn't know before.

Every anger and guide longs to find a "secret" that can produce again and again. But few discoveries repeat themselves on a dependable basis. Over time, however, these discoveries work their way into an enduring data base the informs the angler about what to do when a variety of variable come into alignment.

About a month ago, I went out late in the evening with Julie. We often arrive before dark on the day before I guide, and take the boat out for a spin and brief fishing "date" on the bay. Julie loves the sand, so even though I prefer the west side at dusk (for birding and other visible phenomena), I headed east onto the shallowest sand so Julie could get out and frolic while sipping a beer. Meanwhile, I grabbed my rod and waded further east toward the Padre Island "shelf" that defines the edge of fishable water. Beyond, the glassy 3 inch water stretches all the way to the distant dunes.

Reds were clearly visible swimming upwind with their backs out of the water. Sheepshead were so plentiful that it would have been easy for a novice to confuse the species and catch nothing. But to a trained eye, the reds were streaming just to the east of the sheepshead hoard. Wow, it was great fly fishing. I caught one, then missed four before I realized my hook had broken on the second fish! Laughing at my inattention (I really didn't care to catch any more), I hung it up and went in.

I went back to the same are the next weekend before another weekend gig, and the reds were doing the same thing. I landed four reds from 24-26 inches in 30 minutes, and missed two more. I could have stayed longer and caught more, but I don't have much need to rack up numbers, anymore.

All to say...this is one of those incredible, repeated angling opportunities that virtually no one fishes, or even knows about. How many guides will take their clients out at 5 pm? How many fly fishes will go out on cloudy, windy evenings, expecting to catch as many reds that they can handle?

There's so much that I know after so many years on the water. I know that most of it remains a mystery to most people, and that's just fine with me. But starting next year, I will begin compiling my culminating fly fishing book on the Laguna Madre. There will be plenty of secrets for those who wish to exploit them. But in most cases, I am sure, very few people will go out of their way to find out if such apparently rubbish can be true.

What I discovered that evening was a real "wow," even for admittedly "know-it-all" guide like me. Thinking that it was a fluke, I have returned twice only to find the redfish doing the same thing.

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