Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

The Texas Gulf Coast: A Fly-Fishing Frontier
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From shorelines silhouetted in cactus and mesquite to clear-water estuaries where whooping cranes wade among tailing redfish, the Texas Coast offers unique and diverse locales for saltwater fly fishing. Casting from the bow of a johnboat as it is poled along Madame Johnson Bayou on Sabine Lake, a large bay system that forms a border between Texas and Louisiana, flyfishers draw strikes from southern flounder that cannot resist a mud minnow fly imitation. On the trip you might see scruffy feral hogs wandering along thick stands of rosso cane near the water's edge. Alligators, too, are often spotted scurrying off the bank at the approach of a boat.

To get to this fishery, flyfishers and guides launch from an old-fashioned marina with a rickety pier and motor under cypress and oak trees draped in moss and past refinery loading docks and inviting shorelines with shell bars and tidal creeks before reaching the opening to Sabine Lake. A half-hour ride across the lake's early morning chop brings them to the remote bayous of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, in search of the schools of speckled trout that feed around the creek mouths and oyster bars and the redfish that leave V-shaped wakes in the still water.

About 70 nautical miles south of Madame Johnson Bayou, on the other side of a pass from Galveston's bustling summer beach crowd, flyfishers can enjoy a totally different environment. Using 10-weight fly rods and fishing from boats, they launch shooting taper lines toward marauding bands of "bull reds" hazing an acre-wide school of menhaden just off the Bolivar Peninsula surfline.

Two hundred miles south of Galveston, flyfishers depart from the launch ramp at Goose Island State Park for exciting backcountry fishing north of Rockport. The trip includes frequent sightings of egrets, roseate spoonbills, and ibises wading through lagoons on the Blackjack Peninsula. In the fall and winter months, whooping cranes are seen along the grasslands and marshes of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The backcountry lakes behind Matagorda and San Jose islands also offer sightcasting to tailing redfish in water barely above the ankles.

Farther south, in nearshore Gulf waters off Padre Island near the Mexican border, flyfishers scan the surfline behind Polaroid lenses, searching the horizon for diving birds or baitfish being kicked up on the surface. They look for schools of cruising tarpon near the mouth of the Rio Grande, an ancestral home of the silver king.

With the growing interest in saltwater fly fishing, the Texas coast has emerged as an exciting frontier where new adventures are being discovered by flyfishers every day on backcountry lakes and barrier island beaches and around offshore oil platforms and reefs.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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