The Chosen One
It was a typical summer morning on the Lower Laguna Madre. The wind was almost calm and the sky was clear. Soon it would be a scorcher of a day as the sun came up over South Padre Island. But that same sun would also help to light up our world of flats fishing. Without it we would not be able to sight cast to the redfish that had been looming around the spoil dumps of the ICW.
We set down and got out our fly box to choose what we would be offering those redfish for breakfast. "What do you suggest ?" the client asked. Well since the water is only about 10" deep we will need to offer them a Sea-Ducer or a Top Water Popper. The Top Water will work great if you can make at least a 50í cast, otherwise youíll need to go to the subsurface fly that sinks very slow so you can have time to fish the fly before it fowls on the grassy bottom.
In different parts of the coast we all need different flies to fish the different waters. Here in the Laguna Madre where youíre fishing very shallow over grassy bottoms, then flies such as the Sea-Ducer, Deceiver, Winslow Whisper, or other flies that have a very slow sink rate will usually be your best bet. Top water poppers like Scott Sparrows VIP and other surface flies will work but they must be fished farther from the boat or wading. Redfish have a tendency to look at you and spook when they come up to eat a top waters close to the boat like 30í or less, where those same fish might eat a subsurface offering.
Spoon flies, Clousers, crab patterns and other heavier flies work in the deeper water like two to three feet. There you have more time to fish the offering since there is more water to work with. I sometimes fish the edge of the intercoastal around the Three Island area with heavy Clousers usually in red and white or chartreuse for flounder and specks. But there you have a drop off that goes on down to about fifteen feet deep, the deeper you can go there the better. Flounder like the bottom bumping action of a Clouser, and the trout like the jigging action of the same fly. So itís a good fly in the right spots as opposed to casting one in 10" and it fowling in the grassy bottom. In contrast the Sea-Ducer being a light, slow sinker would not be a good choice for the drop off.
So if your fishing on your own youíll know, look at the water depth that youíre going to be fishing and choose the one fly thatís right for the job.
A couple of years ago I ran into a situation that blew me away. I was fishing the sand flats on the east side and right up next to the Island. The water was about 6" deep, and reds were in there feeding on something. I cast a Sea-Ducer and they denied it. I tried top waters with the same results. I tied on a lightly weighted Clouser and got some interest but they would bolt away from it as soon as I twitched it. What the heck did they want? I finally got ones attention on the Clouser and let the fly lay still and the redfish took. When I held the fish up to remove the hook I found in itís mouth a couple of worms. I pulled one out and checked it out very close and went home to tie some of these worms. Eric Glass recognized my creation and called it by itís scientific name, Arenicola Cristata, I think is the way itís spelled. Thus the advent of Skipperís "Groovy Lug Worm". When the reds are up on the sand and feeding on the wormholes this is a good fly to try. The trick is, donít move it once the fish starts towards it. The Lugworm does not move very fast about like an earthworm would crawl on the ground.
The right fly and the right retrieve will result in more hook-ups and a lot happier day on the water, even if it is smoldering hot on the flats.
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
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