Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
Experienced offshore guides don't approach an offshore platform or other structure until they have an angler on the bow with fly line stripped out, restacked, and ready to cast. That could be your best shot of the day. The first stop could hold the best fish of the day, and you have to be ready when you drive up. "It is a first-time deal," says Galveston guide Chris Phillips. "The fish are not disturbed." He recommends if at all possible, motoring around the structure so you can drift by it from up current so as not to spook any fish holding around it. "Don't motor up to it," Phillips says. "Use an electric trolling motor and come up to it quietly."
Boaters should also approach schooling fish with caution, Phillips says. Running up too close to schools of little tunny will put them down, and trolling motors won't keep up with them, he says. Instead, Phillips will shut down the engine and drift in the area while chumming to bring the school within casting range. Once the bonito are drawn to the boat, he recommends a 7- or 8-weight rod with intermediate-sink fly lines to cast glass minnow flies to them. He uses a 6-foot-long leader and a 16-pound Hard Mason tippet.
For less demanding, non-record-breaking offshore adventures, Houston angler Doug Pike recommends a 9-weight rod and a tippet of at least 16 pounds. He suggests having at least a dozen fresh leaders at the ready as well as an ample supply of flies.
Port Mansfield guide Terry Neal recommends starting with a 10-weight rod. He notes that red snapper in the 10-pound class will power to the bottom after they take a fly, and it is important to have enough rod to stop them. "You will need something to lift that fish out with," Neal says, noting that the same rod will work on kingfish in the 15- to 50-pound class, which might turn up anytime offshore. He suggests a reel that will hold 250 to 300 yards of backing.
Neal recommends sinking fly lines and weighted flies that will descend quickly. He says his technique for snapper and king mackerel is to make his best cast and strip out some line, feed it back, and then strip it in. "A lot of the time, those fish are just waiting for some little baitfish in your chum line," he says. "If you are in 40 feet of water, you only need to get your line down 20 feet. These fish are suspended, and they will come up to take a fly."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication