Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

Sabine Lake Area
  |  Gorp.com

Within a 1-hour drive of Houston, flyfishers have the choice of fishing from jetties at Bolivar Roads Pass, wading shallow flats at the Texas City Dike, or wading and casting in the surf along miles and miles of public beachfront on the Gulf side of the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. The most dominant feature of the upper coast is the 600-square-mile Galveston Bay system, which includes Bolivar Roads Pass north of Galveston. San Luis Pass, the largest natural pass to the Gulf, separates Galveston Island from Follets Island, a barrier spit. A number of major Texas rivers including the Sabine, Trinity, Brazos, and Colorado enter the bay systems along this stretch of coast. Along the upper reaches of Sabine Lake near the mouth of the Sabine and Neches Rivers, where fresh water meets brackish bay water, it is possible for a flyfisher to hook a largemouth bass on one cast and a redfish on the next. Two of the Texas coast's eight major estuaries-the Sabine-Neches and Trinity-San Jacinto-are located on the upper coast, serving as rich nurseries for finfish and shrimp as well as a variety of birds. These semi-enclosed bodies of water receive vital freshwater inflows and are connected to the open Gulf.

On the upper Texas coast, a stiff wind is a frequent companion and sometimes a trip wrecker; but developing flycasting skills that can produce a tight, well-formed loop will carry the flyfisher through most days. The bay systems and waters near the shorelines of the upper coast are deeper and more exposed than those on the middle and lower coasts. Upper coast flyfishers should look for a sustained, moderate southeast wind that will push clear, green water along the bays and beachfronts from Galveston to Freeport. A stiff west wind that stretches flags straight on flagpoles will whip bay and Gulf water to an ugly coffee-colored froth unfit for the gaudiest Deceivers and Seaducers. Because the longshore currents on the upper coast carry large amounts of silt from the Mississippi, the bay waters here seldom have the clear, deep green that is seen on the southern end of the coast. Freshwater inflows, runoff from rivers, and occasional flooding also bring more frequent changes in water temperature than in the south. Water conditions on the upper coast are clearest during the winter months, when cooler temperatures dissipate suspended solids. With reduced boating activity, this makes winter an attractive season to fly fish the upper coast.

Being able to anticipate and capitalize on moving tides and moderate wind conditions is more critical on the upper coast than on the middle and lower coasts. And because of the vast stretches of open bays, offshore winds and tidal movements can have a greater impact on the upper coast for longer periods than on shorelines to the south. Flyfishers visiting the upper coast can obtain tips on tackle and effective fly patterns for Texas coastal fishing, as well as current information on fishing conditions, by visiting a number of specialized, well-equipped fly-fishing stores in Houston. Daily reports on upper coast fishing conditions also are published on the outdoors page of the Houston Chronicle. Published tide tables available at local tackle stores also will help anglers identify the periods when gamefish are most likely to be ganging up at familiar haunts.


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