Saturday, April 15, 2017
Terns Tell the Truth
It has been said by many anglers that terns are liar birds. Today my son Ryan and I went into a back lagoon during a breezy morning when the water was already churned up and off color. We saw a few Forester terns working over the water, a phenomenon that most anglers would treat as insignificant. But I said to Ryan that in this particular area the terns always tell she truth. So I stopped and poled into the area watching the water surface carefully until we saw some explosions beneath the terns. They weren’t any other boats in the back lagoon, and I doubt if any anglers fish this action midday--in the wind, and in off-colored water. But we got out of the boat and moved slowly into the area armed with small Clousers on our seven weights. Within minutes, the area under the diving terns revealed a line of wakes that began approaching us. I yelled at Ryan to sweep to the right so that we could intercept the group of obviously large red fish that were feeding aggressively on fin fish and shrimp and whatever was in there way. I held off casting hoping that Ryan could get in front of the redfish, but they swept to the wrong side of the wind, and he found it difficult to put his fly out in front of them. They blew up and headed in all directions, at least a dozen large fish. We spread out and walked down wind hoping for a repeat performance. Sure enough within a few minutes, we saw some more waves approaching as a couple of terns picked up the fish and began feeding over them as they approached. Ryan was closer to them than I was and was Ryan crouching preparing to cast, I saw a wave break off from the group and start heading directly toward me. It was a large fish with his back out of the water, and one tern followed him as he pushed a wave of water toward me. I could see his dark tail swinging in the shallow water, which was only about seven or 8 inches. Like Ryan, I found it difficult to put my fly where I wanted it in the stiff breeze. But finally I landed the fly within 3 feet of his head, and was surprised to see the redfish perceive the fly and swing to it aggressively. He missed it, so I casted again and he sensed it again although the fly had to 3 feet from him. It is amazing that these fish can pick up a small fly hitting 3 feet away from them in off-colored water and heavy wind. Finally I put the fly over his back and dragged it over him aggressively hoping for one last chance. The 30-inch redfish turned and snapped the fly audibly and took off. I could see his huge pink back as he stripped all my line out, pulling the knot to my backing roughly through the guides. He was halfway into my 100 yards of backing in within a few seconds. I knew he would stop, but it was hard to believe, given his power. He ran out a little further and begin to slow, and then the fly popped out. I was guilty of tying my fly on a cheap hooks, and paid the price for my silly savings dearly that day. Ryan and I went on the cast to several more big reds feeding in almost no water and I finally landed a 24 inch after hooking two more. It was a great action, but very tough. No one else on the bay was aware of this action, and probably would not have seen anything but a few small terns diving or what appeared to be only bait. But between you and me, there are some places on the lower Laguna Madre where the terns always tell the truth. The key is knowing where to believe them.