THE HOT SUMMER on the Texas coast is prime time for sight casters and fly fishermen, especially on uncrowded Baffin Bay. It’s covered in shallow, clear, grassy shorelines and long strips of sand up tight against its banks. It’s just perfect for redfish and black drum to cruise looking for the tiny morsels they crave.
Whether you walk the bank to stalk your prey or be poled around by your best friend on the poling platform, from now until at least the middle of October, the game is on. Even if you transition from a casting rod to a fly rod, make the decision to hold that fly rod at least 50 perent of the day to ensure long-term fly success.
To get serious about fly-fishing, we call it “live and die on the fly.” This means don’t put down the fly rod for the casting rod when things get tough.
The only way to get better at fly-fishing is to do it. On the job training is most effective when you deal with the real world—wind, line management and most important, try to see the fish before they see you. Putting the game together without thinking about the details is when beginners start catching fish.
See the fish; make the cast. Seeing the fish is the number one obstacle, and this is the start of fly-fishing success. Wear a hat with a dark under brim. It will stop the refection of the sun off the water from reaching your eyes. Then, get a great pair of polarized sunglasses with brown, amber or copper lens.
These colors ensure the most color contrast when you look through the water to the bottom. Other lens colors do not work.
Walk slowly without making a sound or pushing a wall of water out in front. If you can hear yourself wading, you are moving your legs too fast. Slow down and take bigger, longer steps and make as little noise as possible.
Put yourself at the top of the food chain. Hold the fly in your hand and have about 10 to 15 feet of fly line out of the tip of the rod. With this method, one back cast can get a fly to a fish close by (most fly casts are less than 20 feet).
Watch the baitfish moving, see shadows on the bottom, watch the bottom through small waves that move downwind. Redfish are shaped like footballs. In grassy areas, they are truly copper colored, white, black and blue. Black drums are gray with dark gray vertical stripes, with high withers that are white.
Although these two fish, “red drum” and “black drum” are in the same family, they feed much differently. Redfish will heartily pursue moving food (your fly), black drums like to “find” their food, picking up little bits as they graze slowly along the bottom.
Don’t expect to catch these two fish species using the same technique. Cross a redfish’s path with your fly, and he will chase it. Drop a fly for a black drum to find. Then when he does, move it ever so slightly, and he will pick it up off the bottom.
Catch on to this game. It’s one of the most challenging styles of fishing on the Texas Coast and highly underrated.
The rod and the line are the two most important tools for the fly fisherman. Buy the most expensive fly rod you can afford and match it with the most expensive fly line. A local fly shop (or your friendly fly-fishing guide) can recommend some brands and styles to look at.
In fly-fishing, the fly rod throws the fly line. The fly line has a weighted front “taper” that loads the rod, much like a lure loads a spinning or casting rod, pre-cast.
Fly-casting is easy. Most everyone tries to overcomplicate the entire style of fishing, but really, it takes about 15 minutes of training to settle out the basics of the game.
Borrow someone’s gear before making an investment in fly equipment. Get the feel for it. Then, when it gets in your blood, go make the purchase.
Fly shops that know saltwater fishing are very helpful to beginners. They know that once you get hooked, you will be their client for life. Don’t think of fly fishing as a new hobby, just think about it as another tool in your “all-around angler” toolbox. Whenever the conditions warrant it, pull out the right weapon for the job.
This summer is especially exciting for Baffin Bay fly anglers. It’s clear; it’s grassy and full of bait, including lots of crabs. That means all manner of shallow water predators will be up in the ankle-deep water, feeding some parts of the day and night.
They eat small things, such as crabs, shrimp, glass minnows, and other tiny baits and worms. That’s why a small shrimp or crab fly is so effective. It matches what’s up there where the fish are feeding. Throw a fly that you can see, so you know exactly where it is any time during the presentation. You’ll actually see it disappear into the mouth of a hungry predator to set the hook.
Sight casting, with either a lure or a fly, is about as addictive a fishing game as any. Be prepared to be lured to the bank on every wade-fishing trip when the conditions are right. Once you catch that first fish on a fly, you will be officially addicted. You’ll never go on a fishing trip without one. I guarantee it.
Now is the time to book your summer fly-fishing trips at Baffin Bay Rod and Gun. There’s a good reason we call it “The Last Best Place on the Texas Coast.” With no crowds, we’ll have happy fish. We also have a pool and a new casting pond for you to practice your casts.
Come see for yourself.
See you soon.
Email Capt. Sally Black at [email protected]