Ready at the Rod

The day started out with the normal stuff that a charter boat guide usually starts with. Load the boat with gas, ice, rods, lures etc. I launched my Shallow Sport and tied her up and waited for my client. George showed up right on time with his high dollar fly rod and reel loaded with 8wt. fly line and leader, ready to do battle with a scrappy redfish. He had his hat, sunglasses, wading booties, and dressed like a normal fly fisher would for a day on the water. He was ready, I was ready, and all we had to do was get on the fish.

The reds had been tailing in good numbers up at Paytonís bay, so we headed up the Laguna Madre to meet with those flying tails. It was a long trip from South Padre, about an hour run, but I knew it would be worth it. My friend Scott Sparrow had reaffirmed that the fish were still there from the day before when he was in there fishing them.

We arrived at Paytonís about 8:00 am and set down in the shallow still waters. The fish were still there. We tied on a top water popper, one of my variations called Popping Crab, and George got on the bow and started to strip of his line for the first cast. It was then that I realized that we were in for a long day. George had all the stuff and was ready for battle but he failed to inform me of his lack of casting ability. Maybe he thought in his own mind that he could cast a fly rod. I donít know for sure but the fact is he couldnít cast even 20 feet of line out of the rod tip with out tangling it up on the tip.

With redfish tailing all around us at 40, 50, and 60 feet, we had to stake out and for the next two hours and go through casting lessons. After I finally got him to making a half way decent cast of 40í I felt like we were ready to pole on down through some of these fish and try and catch one or two. However, when we started fishing and it came down to making the presentation to the first pod, he forgot what he had learned and went back to his old way of doing his cast. He had practiced his way for so long, that his instinct took over and we were back at square one again.

Buy the time we were ready again the fish had quit tailing and for the most part quit biting as well. So we made a long boat ride, burned a lot of this high dollar gas and all for casting lessons.

So the moral of this story is, inform your guide of your abilities or disabilities. Some folks Iíve had out were colorblind. Being red and green colorblind does not help you in seeing fish over a green grassy bottom. But if we know that, we can usually put the client on some fish over sandy bottom where the colors are more black and white, or do some blind casting were the fish are more apt to hit a fly in deeper water. If you have trouble casting 40 or more feet, let him know that too. I would have been more than happy to have helped him with his casting the day before when he stopped by, and he could have practiced the right way to get distance from his high dollar long rod.

Being out on the water with fish all around you is not the place to learn to cast. I have found that in this situation that people are not listening to the instruction, they are looking at the fish they wish they could catch. Now donít get me wrong, I wish they could catch them too. But itís a lot easier to concentrate on learning to cast without fish swimming by you every 10 minutes or so.

Being out on the water with a guide or just a buddy is an opportunity to learn a little more of this fabulous sport of fly fishing. However you need to be open to that fact and never assume you have it all down pat. Fishing is an evolving thing and as we go further into the future it will continue to evolve. With new ways to teach and all the new hi-tec materials, fly casting will become easier to master, if it doesnít master you first.

Skipper Ray is a freelance writer and fishing guide in South Padre Island, Texas
where he owns and operate Island Outfitters. Call: 956-943-2798 or Email

Fishing Articles by Skipper Ray

Blind Casting the Flats
Catching and Handling Numbers of Trout
Fishing Guides Perspective
Effective Blind Casting on the Fly
Line Management Techniques
Lures of Choice for the Fall Season
More Tec Tips - King Mackerel
New Trout Techniques
Ready at the Rod
Spring is in the Air
Tarpon Techniques
Tech Tips - "Donít Give Up"
Tech Tips - Itís a Drag
The Ladies Have More Fun
The Chosen One
The "Ibis" Built by Newwater Boatworks
The Old Gold Spoon
Time to Fish Free
It's Red Fishing Time in South Padre
Trout Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre
Trout on Topwater Flies
Wading the Lower Laguna Madre

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