Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
Continuing south, anglers enter the waters around Port Mansfield, the heart of the lower Laguna Madre. Just south of the Kenedy Land Cut is Gladis' Hole, a broad, grass flat where redfish that are moving south from the Land Cut and the Graveyard sometimes gang up. This is a good area in which to driftfish from a boat. It often holds clear water and can be ideal for sightcasting to trout as well as reds.
Some of the best fly-fishing features on the lower Laguna Madre are located within sight of the Port Mansfield water tower along the East Cut, a channel that connects the port to the jettied pass at the Gulf. Deepwater drop-offs, narrow channels, spoil island shorelines, and broad flats with firm white sand bottoms and thick grass beds are among the East Cut features that attract and hold trout, redfish, flounder, and ladyfish. Veteran Port Mansfield fly-fishing guide Terry Neal says the most favorable water movement occurs on the north side of the East Cut."You have your fresh Gulf water coming in (from the pass) and the fish migrate in," he says. "Schools of redfish come in here and go both ways when they come into the bay." Neal says drive-up wadefishing is limited out of Port Mansfield, but under favorable weather conditions you can reach prime East Cut spoil islands and flats in a flat-bottomed johnboat with a 15-hp motor.
The shallow flats north of Marker 17, described locally as "north of the East Cut," offer firm sand bottoms and grass beds. This area is known to hold good numbers of redfish and is ideal for wadefishing and sightcasting. There are also good shoreline features around the old King Ranch fence and pier.
Fred Stone County Park in Port Mansfield offers drive-up, walk-in wadefishing. While many waders will walk out to fish in waist-deep water, local guides like Neal advise flyfishers to stay in shallower water close to the shore because redfish will move up near the bank to chase baitfish. There are other good areas farther up the shoreline, but a boat is required to access them.
Traveling south from Port Mansfield by boat, just off the Intracoastal Waterway near the west shoreline of the Laguna Madre lie a series of sunken spoil islands. Created by dredging activity in the Intracoastal Waterway, all are within 6 miles of Port Mansfield. Whenever the water is down, some of these islands are exposed. Redfish and large trout will move up into the shallows and tail around the edges of these islands, Neal says. He recommends wadefishers look here for gamefish. Fish will also move up into the grass beds. "I have kicked up big, big trout and redfish around these features," Neal says.
Located next to the north end of the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge is an estuary called Back Bay, South. This remote, backcountry lagoon lies in what was the old Arroyo Colorado riverbed. Boat access is limited to the mouth of this estuary, even with shallow-running flats skiffs. This soft-bottomed marshy flat is ideal for fly fishing from a sea kayak."Some of the biggest trout in the whole laguna live in here in numbers," says fly-fishing guide Terry Neal. "It is a sanctuary for fish."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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