Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
Fly fishing off upper coast rigs and platforms offers the opportunity to set IGFA line-class records. Fishing out of Freeport with Capt. Mike Canino on the Abra-Ca-Dabra, Houston angler and outdoor writer Doug Pike has come close to setting an IGFA line-class record for king mackerel on fly rod. In 1996 he attempted to top the existing 6-pound tippet IGFA record for king mackerel of 14 pounds, 6 ounces. His preparation included several hours at the workbench, tying Bimini Twists, Spider Hitches, and Palomar knots between leaders and the delicate tippet section. Hook points were sharpened and resharpened. Pike had two fly rods rigged and ready, one a 9-weight and the other an 8-weight. "Lines were dressed, drags were checked, and snake guides examined for nicks," he said.
Capt. Canino targeted an offshore platform that had held numbers of hefty kings, some exceeding 20 pounds. He idled the 46-foot Abra-Ca-Dabra to within easy casting distance of an offshore platform in clear, green water about 30 miles off Galveston. Sardine chunks were then chummed in the current, and in short order, the captain was pointing to a pack of "gray-backed predators making half a dozen boiling, gaping holes in the surface."
Pike's choice of fly patterns was an offshore baitfish imitation with a dark green back over an off-white body. The fly had a wide, vertical profile and closely resembled the sardines being used as chum. From the bridge, Canino dropped Abra-Ca-Dabra's engines into neutral-an IGFA requirement for an offshore fly-fishing record. The response from the feeding kings was immediate, Pike said, and the first run went well into the backing. After a fight of about 15 minutes, which required Canino to back down on the fish, the fish was at the boat. The scale on board read 11.5 pounds—a solid king caught on light tackle, but short of the 14 pounds, 6 ounces record for 6-pound tippet.
After rerigging with fresh leader, Pike had a number of other hookups, but all with the same result. "A few kings broke the delicate tippet with freight-train strikes and never gave us a chance," Pike recalls. "Others were halfway into the backing before their tails or dorsals cut the fragile line." After a series of breakoffs on the lighter tippet, Pike said he switched back to 20-pound tippet and landed several kings.
The excitement of fly fishing Texas offshore waters is unparalleled, Pike says. "Platforms off the Texas coast are loaded with big fish, and the pot sweetened when chum holds the players well within casting range."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication