Obsessed With the Flats Slam

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The Flats Slam, consisting of bonefish, tarpon, and permit, has always been the ultimate quest for inland saltwater fly fishermen. This prestigious challenge is equally admired by traditional spinning and casting gear anglers.

While I won’t go so far as to admit I’m obsessed with completing this quest, I do have aspirations to conquer it using spinning gear, but I’ve already set my sights on returning to tackle it with a fly rod in the next couple of years.

Yeah, you could say I’m more than a little obsessed.

But what makes this Flats Slam even more exciting is the surprising connection it has with the Lone Star State, Texas.

Let’s delve into the slam’s three species, each with its unique allure:

  1. The author caught a permit last year fishing with Capt. Mo Estevez in Biscayne Bay.

    Tarpon: These behemoths of the slam are found in solid numbers along Texas’s Gulf Coast, from the famed “Tarpon Alley” between Galveston and High Island to Port O’Connor’s Pass Cavalo and the South Padre area. Although tarpon are notoriously elusive, the last few years have been promising. Capt. Brian Barrera, guiding out of South Padre, had some remarkable days recently, even coming close to breaking the state record with one colossal catch.

“Tarpon are an awesome fish and they have a deserved reputation of being hard to hook and hard to land. That makes them one of the world’s most prized catches,” Capt. Barrera proudly declares.

  1. Bonefish: Arguably the speedsters of the slam, bonefish are known for their tenacity pound-for-pound. These elusive creatures are the stuff of fly fishermen’s dreams, often found on the clear flats of places like Florida, Belize, and The Bahamas. Surprisingly, Texas has a few bonefish records of its own, with the state record weighing in at 3.77 pounds, caught by angler C.W. Morris in 1977. Although bonefish are not common in Texas waters, they do make an occasional appearance in areas like Aransas Channel, Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Upper Laguna Madre, and Lower Laguna Madre.
  2. Permit: The third member of the slam, permit, is known for its stunning appearance and size. However, they are considered the moodiest of the flats slam species, often ignoring perfectly placed lures or flies. While not as common as tarpon, permit are also present in Texas waters. The Texas state record, weighing a mere 1.50 pounds, was caught by Jared Guinn in the Gulf of Mexico in 1993. There have been reports of permit caught in recent years in the Galveston Bay complex, although their size might not be record-breaking, they are still a prized catch.

Have you caught a permit, bonefish or tarpon in Texas waters? If so, share your pics with us. We would love to post them on our social media. Send to cmoore@fishgame.com.


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