Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

Middle Coast Flats: East Matagorda Bay to the Upper Laguna Madre
  |  Gorp.com

The middle part of the Texas coast offers the flyfisher miles and miles of clear, shallow flats where hunting skills can be as important as angling prowess. Thick, submerged grass beds, sand and mud bottoms, and shell reefs, trademarks of the middle coast, provide prime habitat for forage fish and crustaceans as well as the redfish, trout, black drum, flounder, and sheepshead that feed on them. The grass beds also filter and clear the water, providing ideal sightcasting opportunities.

This part of the coast is blessed with firm sand bottoms, and wadefishing is one of the most effective methods of stalking gamefish here. Middle coast flyfishers can wade the shores of barrier islands where whooping cranes spend their winters and where coyotes and wild hogs outnumber human inhabitants. The flats, tidal lakes, creek mouths, and channel drop-offs that cannot be accessed from beach roads or shorelines can be reached by small skiffs or flats boats from a host of public launch ramps and marinas.

Adding to the allure of the middle coast for flyfishers is the variety of attractive fish-holding features including bays, cuts, spoil islands, oyster reefs, and tidal lakes that stretch from Port O'Connor to the upper Laguna Madre near Corpus Christi. The region's barrier islands help shield this diverse habitat from the worst storms and give anglers a measure of protection from the relentless winds off the Gulf. Freshwater inflows from major river systems on one side of these estuaries and bay systems and deepwater passes on the other create and nurture these natural nursery areas and provide an escape route to the Gulf for myriad saltwater species.

Although the redfish has become the primary quarry here as elsewhere on the Texas coast, large solitary trout, black drum, sheepshead, flounder, and ladyfish also actively feed over the shallow flats. Healthy populations of redfish and seatrout, two of the most popular species on the Texas coast, cruise the flats, backcountry tidal lakes, and deeper bays. Often you can find aggressively feeding redfish tailing or wallowing against the cordgrass shorelines with their backs exposed, sometimes in water only ankle deep. That is when they offer the most exciting sightcasting targets for flyfishers.

Fly patterns popular on the shallow flats along this stretch of the coast include shrimp and SeaDucer patterns and small poppers in hook sizes from #2 to #6. Bead or lead-eye Clouser Deep Minnows are deadly around the channels, drop-offs, and jetty rocks, and Deceiver and Clouser patterns are effective in the surf.


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