Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
The wild shoreline on the east (Louisiana) side of Sabine Lake, from Coffee Ground Cove about 16 miles south to Blue Buck Point on the southern end of the lake, is prime habitat for gamefish. Fish-holding features include cuts and finger islands similar to estuaries on the middle coast. There is constant water movement in and out of the marshes, and the creeks and bayous are rich in shrimp, mud minnows (killifish), bay anchovies, crabs, and juvenile finfish. Flounder hold around the eddies along the cuts on these shorelines on high tides and low tides. Flyfishers should look for the eddy points and cuts on these tides. Use"four-eyed" bead-chain Charlies and flies with lead eyes to get down in these currents.
Texas flyfishers headed into the bayous and cuts on the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake must have a Louisiana fishing license and saltwater stamp. You can reach this area by launching a skiff from the Causeway Bait Shop or the public launch ramp near the causeway bridge on the Louisiana side. Once the spring flounder migration is set off with a high tide during March or April, the reef area that runs from Pleasure Island to Madame Johnson Bayou on Sabine Lake is a prime upper coast area to fly fish for flounder. Madame Johnson Bayou, located on the east (Louisiana) shoreline of Sabine Lake, is one of the most prolific flounder fisheries on the Gulf Coast. Its shorelines are especially attractive to flyfishers because normal boating activity is only a fraction of that on the Galveston Bay complex. It is not uncommon for flyfishers to work
the grassy shorelines for hours without seeing another boat. Little backcountry bridges that span the bayous provide another holding area for gamefish and are one of the few signs of civilization along Madame Johnson's winding shorelines.
It is not uncommon in March, April, and May on high tides in the morning to catch big numbers of male flounder entering the lake, says Sabine Lake guide Skip James. Through tagging studies he conducted, James found that local flounder trade into the Sabine Lake ecosystem in March, about four days before the full moon. James says they come through the Gulf pass and into the Intracoastal Waterway that feeds up along the western side of the lake. The fall migration is sudden and abrupt, whereas the spring migration of southern flounder is very gradual, James says. During the spring flounder run, the Causeway Bait Shop on the south end of Pleasure Island is well located to provide information on the movements of gamefish. "It is the first place where all gamefish stage," James says. Trout also migrate into Sabine Lake in the early spring months. James notes that every now and then anglers targeting flounder will locate nomadic trout running through the pass. "Throw a streamer in there and you may catch specks and reds," he says. During March and April James recommends that flyfishers work the south end of the lake because the salt content there is more favorable and the water is deeper. This area of the lake contains submerged rocks and other substructures as well as reefs with ridges and points going out into deep pools, challenging the flyfisher's casting skills. James advises flyfishers to use sinking lines and shooting heads around the deep drop-offs and reefs. By early May, flounder are fully distributed throughout Sabine Lake all the way up to the river mouth. "The water temperature is conducive to this movement and the photoperiod is long; all the reasons for them to be there are in place," James says. "And no matter what the runoff is, there is enough salt in the system."
On the west (Texas) side of Sabine Lake, on Pleasure Island, are embankment walls similar to jetties, with recreational piers and observation points. Wading along the outside rocks that border the deeper water, flyfishers find some of the best fishing on the lake at this time of year, local guides say. You can drive to many of these spots, walk out onto the rocks, and wadefish in waist deep water for redfish and trout that school in that area. Look for gulls and terns working over fish, or slicks from feeding fish in the spring and fall months.
From June through August, flounder continue their mass migration to the north end of Sabine Lake, chasing menhaden and other forage fish as they go. As water temperatures warm, flounder can be caught all along the banks of the lake. Especially large numbers of flatfish are found on "the badlands," the more primitive and pristine shorelines on the Louisiana side of the lake.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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