Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
Keith Lake is a small estuary off Sabine Lake with shallow grassbeds and shorelines that are ideal for wade- and driftfishing. It offers excellent drive-up access and walk-in wading or driftfishing from a skiff or kayak, and is a good choice for tailing redfish action during the fall. The shoreline is marked by mud banks and cane cover, with narrow canals on the Gulf side.
Most of the bottom at Keith Lake is firm enough to be waded, but some is soft and grabby around wading boots. The shoreline is protected even from prevailing southeast winds, making the estuary ideal for sightcasting from a kayak or a flat-bottomed boat in a variety of wind conditions. The Keith Lake Cut, a fish pass on the northeast end of the lake, offers good water movement during peak high and low tides. The fish pass is a good place to try a uniform sink line or shooting head to cut through the current. The tidal lake does not suffer from heavy boat traffic, but early morning wadefishers must share Keith Lake with duck hunters during winter months.
To get to Keith Lake take Texas 87 south of Port Arthur to Junior's Landing boat launch, on the right side of the road.
Sabine Lake (North End)
In July, August, and September, when water temperatures begin to heat up in the cuts and bayous, flyfishers join other anglers in following flounder, redfish, and seatrout as they move out around the points in Sabine Lake, an expansive marine estuary 40 miles long and 13 miles wide.
Sabine Lake guide Skip James says prime times in the fall start about four days before the full moon in October and extend until late November. When the flounder begin migrating out of the bay in the fall, their movements can be abrupt and rapid, James says."It is not gradual," he says. "We have gone to places in the first week of November and read the water temperature and salinity and caught the fire out of flounder. Then we have come back the next day, with the same conditions, and cannot make contact with them." James says flyfishers can do well on Sabine Lake in the fall. "If you can't find the flounder, you always have the redfish," he says.
Many anglers access Sabine Lake from marinas along the Sabine River at Orange. Proceeding down the river channel under oaks festooned with moss, you will pass refinery docks and spoil islands before entering Sabine Lake's north shoreline. This upper end of the estuary offers an excellent opportunity for blindcasting for schooling trout along the deeper channels as well as good driftfishing for redfish and flounder along the shorelines and bayou openings.
Look for good water movement, skittish baitfish, and shorebird activity around channel and creek mouths as a tip off to feeding gamefish. Sabine Lake fly-fishing guide Chuck Uzzle says a good indication that spring flounder action is about to begin comes when the mature alligators show up on the banks of the bayous. "That means the water temperature is coming up and gators and flounder are comfortable," Uzzle says. In addition to the alligator activity, flyfishers casting Deceivers and Clouser Deep Minnow patterns for flounder and redfish along the shorelines often are treated to the sight of otters, mink, feral hogs, and a variety of waterbirds including roseate spoonbills, white ibis, black-necked stilts, herons, and egrets.
Floating lines with weighted flies will work along the Sabine Lake bayous. For flounder, try prospecting with a shooting taper and a floating fly like a saltwater Dahlberg Diver with a short (3-foot) leader. After making a short strip, allow the fly to rise slightly before the next strip. Often a flounder will strike when the fly is rising.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication