Skinny Salt at Galveston Island State Park – The Devils and The Details

| October 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

How to start a Tuesday … perhaps citing the fact it’s national taco day, or the Bass Pro swallowing of Cabela’s, or the fact we caught two smallmouth yearlings on Lake Ray Roberts last night, or a boring old fart’s weather report, or maybe I should just stick to the advertised topic; catching speckled trout at Galveston Island State Park?


The days shortened, gave me the cover of time as I crossed the 45 bridge over to Galveston Island. The rising sun delayed its arrival even more, as a cloud bank offshore gave the appearance of a high mountain range far distant. Yellow-orange-gold was yet to peak through.

I rolled down the windows to take in that smell, the smell of salt marsh, the smell that clears the sinuses, attracts and repels, cleanses the soul and clears the thinking. Salt wipes away everything, all the static, all the things that matter less than the day’s pursuit. It’s always been that way for me, the ride to the beach always woke me up from sleeping in the back seat of the Buick, and put Toby (our standard poodle) on high alert, as we made the last curve on HWY 100 at Laguna Heights. We strained to look over the brush, over the bay and see the tall building just built on South Padre Island. It was a new beacon then, and now just one of dozens of sky scraping condos.

Taking the back way to the Galveston Island State Park (GISP), I though way back to Hurricane Ike, and the devastation I photographed there a mere two weeks after Ike beat Galveston down. Down, but not out. Now, it looks like nothing even happened. How soon they forget, I thought … it’s only a matter of time, and time is something I know a bit about now. HURRICANE IKE ARCHIVES

It’s a whopping $5-dollars to park on the bayside of Galveston Island State Park, a true bargain that lets you park and wade right in, or launch a kayak and ply some vast and dynamic habitat that can yield redfish, ladyfish, speckled trout, flounder and stingrays. Of course, one way or another, you need to be ready for stingrays.

I “loaned” my friend the fiver so he wouldn’t get popped by the extremely attentive park parking ranger, and we headed all the way back in to park at the kayak launch. As we were lining up, me sitting on the back edge of the 4Runner, we talked about the day ahead. There was no need to hurry, as the sun was still angled too low to reveal any fish, and the tidal movement was yet to come (a major tide event). I “loaned” my friend a solid fluorocarbon leader with a ten-pound tip for the extra abrasion resistance, and he tied on a gold spoon fly while I tied on a home grown redfish crack fly (video of that fly tie coming soon!). Set aside the “loans,” I was happy to see my young friend awake and near water at this hour!

Our small talk was interrupted by a loud crash, as the kayaker parked next to me lost his grip on his kayak, sending it sliding off the side of his Excursion, rebounding off the side of my vehicle, and hitting the ground. Call it what you will, PTSD or whatever, but I didn’t flinch, didn’t go running around to see what happened … nothing. I just asked the guy, who was embarrassed and adrenalized, if it looked okay. He said yes and professed embarrassment, which was plenty for me. My friend remarked at my casual demeanor, to which I replied, “How could I care about that after the last year I’ve had?” and we started walking. I didn’t tell him, a younger veteran, I hadn’t flinched in decades.

Galveston Island State Park Speckled Trout 2016


I liked the idea of going RETRO, back to the feet, the boots on the muck, shuffling and sliding and sinking my way to some inexperienced fish – old school. Mainly, I just wanted to prove again to myself it could be done by me, or anyone who reads this and wants to do it. No kayaks, no SUPs and no boats.

There was plenty of bait action on the water, and there were the occasional big blowups of trout smacking on the top. The water was shallow enough that someone more adventurous would certainly have a shot at some topwater trout action that Saturday morning. I began to recall the NEW lessons I learned while convalescing — watching the (mostly conventional) DVD’s by FYI – These DVD’s are critical to our collection of knowledge.

There were the bait slicks being blown by wind, as described, the mud boils, the clear water areas, and the areas starting to cloud by the breeze blown mud. While the tide wasn’t in full flow, the activity seemed to be everywhere. After a new moon, it was the morning feed. It certainly helps to know (thanks to TroutSupport) what you’re seeing!

I cast to the back of the slick and retrieved the crack at a deliberate (trailer park) pace, probably best described as, “medium speed foot long,” strips. The ticks came immediately, and then the harder munches came, but none were committed. A few more times at that pace, then I recalled a morning years back, on kayak, where the same behavior was happening nearby.

Offatts Bayou Speck

From the Archives – Click Image to read Offats Bayou 2008

I solved that problem by changing the strip. I picked up my pace, with two-foot strips that had zero pause, and shifted to “fast” mode. That did the trick. I could imagine these fish, mere feet away, competing for a … lame, slow moving, strange looking shrimp stimulator pattern? No, these specks needed to be pushed into a competitive frenzy mode to take.

I caught two small fish almost instantly, on consecutive casts, and once I saw the size I realized the reason for the ticks. These were small 10-inch fish just learning the ropes of group think, group slaughter. I determined to prove to myself that just like when going after stripers, I would work my way through many small ones to get to one large one that JUST HAD TO BE THERE.

Sure enough, a solid hit on the fly came after about three more casts. It was a fight that comes only rarely. The trout headed straight toward me, and I was caught with slack – stripping to maintain tension, and going to the reel – alternately spinning the knob as fast as I could on the Lamson Guru 3.0. Still, all the onus was on me to take up the slack, the TFO Mangrove was barely bent on the tip. Finally, high sticked, with about three feet of fly line left, the fish less than a rods-length away, it figured out something was wrong with that last meal, and headed west, putting a full bend in the rod and finally boiling to the top. A nice swirl told me it was a fine fish.

The trick is to land these trout by simply horse collaring them in front of their dorsal, from above, and putting a little pressure on either side of, and above the gill plates. It was a nice trout at about 18-inches, and fed to fat.

We moved on sweeping the flat, along with a few other guys fishing conventional, and ended going up against a grassy point where I again saw the signs of more fish feeding (bait was being pressed up against the point by the ever-increasing winds), and fast stripped my way to three more dink trout — mostly in an effort to prove I knew what I thought I knew about trout in saltwater shallows.

Those distant mountain clouds finally came in as the winds increased, so we decided to pull out and do some more looking, but nothing more came of the day at any of our other stops. The wind and clouds, as often happens on the salt, dominated the day.

I have to say, we both were pretty well worn, and satisfied that we were not going to walk-wade these waters again any time soon. Not with him the proud owner of a SoloSkiff, and me the proud, if inexperienced owner of a saltwater skiff. As dangerous as these areas are for boats (hence the lack of boat traffic), we both swore we would be floating next time.

You would ask about redfish wouldn’t you? We saw absolutely none, and no indications of any at all. They were somewhere, just not there. I had heard, “schooling,” which means staging, and I take that to mean deeper and nearer the channels. However, that may be inaccurate. Maybe we can get Danny Scarborough of Houston Fly Fishing to fill in that particular blank?


[ppw id=”144641102″ description=”THE INSIDE INFO ON GISP TROUT” price=”.10″]

WHERE – Galveston Island State Park – on the bay side. It’s a great park, and not crowded this time of year (compared to the summer season). It’s a darn good spot to bring a trailer, or maybe even a tent! There were less mosquitoes there than in my backyard right now.

WHEN – Check the charts. Check your Apps. You want tides that are really moving water in-and-out of the system. KEY on those chart times, and make sure they are accurate by checking in more than one place for the times. THAT IS CRITICAL.

HOW – Any way you want. Boat, kayak or on foot, it’s hard to go wrong by starting at Galveston Island State Park. But, don’t hesitate to go north instead of south, and if you make the GISP home base, well, the world of Galveston is your oyster. Everything is closer there than to Denton, Texas!

WHAT – Speckled trout – flounder – redfish.


  • Seven to nine weight saltwater rods
  • floating line – tropical for awhile longer switching to cold-water line soon
  • long leaders without compromise 9’ to 12’ fluorocarbon or mono for topwater 10#tippet
  • save your ammo, and only cast at probable targets of opportunity
  • Clouser / shrimp / crab imitations — depending on your time of year and intelligence reports
  • vary the retrieve until the fish tell you it’s right
  • DON’T leave fish to find fish. DO leave if you don’t find fish.
  • Change flies when the thought comes to mind
  • Check for frayed leaders and knotted leaders
  • Turn all your senses on full blast – eyes looking for signs (not just at the end of your line), ears listening for surface smacks, nose smelling for slicks upwind of you
  • Polarized glasses – low light (early) and saltwater flats (later) contrasts (2 Pair)
  • Full sun coverage – brimmed hat, buff, gloves and sunscreen

WARNINGS – Stingrays. Sticky mud in other locations make for actual danger if you are physically challenged. Oyster beds – can trip you up. Whatever you do, if you are falling down in an oyster bed – putting your hands out to catch yourself is the end of your day. Remember – it’s not the cuts from oysters, or the sticks from stingrays that necessarily do the most damage. It’s the VIBRIO that gets in those cuts that can kill a horse. Jellyfish.


+Shannon Drawe
+Texas Fly Caster

Texas Fly Fishing Report – North Texas Fish Flash Lake Ray Roberts

| May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Just like the talkingweatherheads, the Texas Fly Fishing Report is sounding like a broken record – repeatrepeatrepeat. Last night it must have rained a few inches in a few hours, as our sandy soil at the top of a hill now refuses to drain. Chickens are feather deep in water this morning, and the whole place feels like a swamp.

Records have been broken and reset, but our fly fishing opportunities do exist for those strong of heart and determined in will.

As we look at our first clear weather weekend, many will certainly be champing at the bit to go somewhere and fly fish somehow. Well, I have something for you to consider …



If you have a kayak, you have an opportunity to do some challenging chasing of carp on Lake Ray Roberts, Texas, right now. The information about this HOT SPOT is paid content reading —

[ppw id=”101951379″ description=”Fish Flash Lake Ray Roberts Texas Now” price=”.10″]

What you will need is:

  • A midday sun to give you the “chance” to see the glint of gold.
  • You’ll need a kayak.
  • You will need your typical flies, such as a coyote carp fly, or any fly you typically use on the flats (that should run hook up of course).
  • You will need the ability or the help to portage your kayak and gear over a low “obstacle” and walk about 35 yards to the water’s edge.
  • You will need heavy fluorocarbon leaders in the 10-15 range

What you are looking for is:

  • mud clouds signifying carp mudding in deeper than usual water
  • suspended carp that spend a lot of time in one place – eating and returning

What you will see is: Carp in the 30+ inch range cruising, mudding and EATING. Much of the presentation is a dead drop into these mud clouds. And it works! I hooked into one of the largest carp I have caught on Ray Roberts yesterday afternoon, and it was a ferocious fight that took me in circles, under the kayak and with the fish’s best efforts – toward a green 20-foot mesquite tree under ten feet of water. The tension was too much by the time I got him to the boat, and one last twitch from the inverted fish at the boat … and my eight pound leader popped.

And that is what you will be dealing with: the fish has every advantage in these conditions, so leader up and set the hook with confidence. They are there, and they are eating right now. You will also have shots at gar and bass as the sun goes down. If you have electronics, you can find schools of sand bass, all you want, deep into the coves behind the Ray Roberts Marina as well.

Kayak Strategies are all about where the fish are, and staying out of the wind, and launching at the Sanger Boat Ramp is our location of choice and necessity as of this FISH FLASH. Once you park (at the closed gate) and offload your kayak, get rigged at the water and launch, you will want to head right off to the northwest staying in close enough to the submerged trees and grass to see those mud clouds. The habitat I was in is on the introduction of this YouTube video( above). The ability to stand on your kayak, adds a huge amount of ability to spot and target these fish from a less disruptive distance. I guarantee you will see a lot more of these fish, and clouds if you can stand and pole or dip a single blade. Weave through the trees, but be aware of thorny bushes and trees, and dead-ends where there is no way through except to back out.

No doubt there are huge fish in the deeper waters just a few yards more offshore, but if you stay inside and weave through a few trees, you will find carp mudding and suspended between those trees and the tall grass waving near the shoreline.

Leave the inner cover, and you are subject to the winds and dapping on carp is virtually impossible. If you have to expose yourself to the wind, go ahead and anchor and wait for things to settle. Chances are these fish are still there and down, and if they’re not, they will come back around or cruisers will show up. Right now, the fish are tightly grouped (for the best feeding areas), and not the largest in numbers (just largest in size). If we add two or three days of sun, as predicted, those numbers will increase exponentially through the weekend and to midweek next week.

Every rain cools the water a bit, as does the overcast. These fish are ready and seeking warmer water, and they want to eat with reckless abandon. The conditions just have to align properly, as they are about to do for the first time this spring in North Texas.


Don’t Miss it! The Inshore Expo – Fishing Tackle Unlimited

| November 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

scott null scott sommerlatte Texas fly fishing saltwater fly fishing texas fishing tackle unlimited houston fly fishing galveston

Tips, tricks and techniques for Fly and Conventional Anglers who like to keep it shallow.


Saturday, December 13, 2014
8723 Katy Freeway
10 am – 5 pm

Captain Rob Fordyce
Rob is a professional saltwater guide with over 30 years of experience guiding anglers for big tarpon as well as permit, bonefish, snook and many other saltwater gamefish. ONLY guide to have won all four major Fly Tarpon Tournaments in the 50 year history. Co- authored Tarpon on Fly in collaboration with Donald Larmouth. Rob also is one of the fly-fishing Captains on Destination America’s TV show called Silver Kings.

With Special Guests:
Captain Scott Null – guide, writer and outdoor photographer
Captain Scott Sommerlatte – renowned guide and outdoor writer. Scott is best known to most of Texas as a premier Fly Fishing Guide, but is known to the rest of the country as a spectacular outdoor photographer and writer as well.
Michael Harris – Member of Texas Fly Fishers & Pro Staffer or Jackson Kayaks



  • 11:00am: “Fly Fishing from a Kayak” with Michael Harris – Jackson Kayak Pro Staff and accomplished fly fisherman. He will also talk about tactics for shallow water fishing and showing off some of the NEW Jackson boats in the fall line-up.
  • 12:30pm: Fly Fishing Baja with Frank Smethurst. Frank has a ton of experience in the Baja region and is famously known for his video “Running Down the Man” about surf fishing for roosterfish. One of the best fly fishing videos you’ll ever see.
  • 2:00pm: Tarpon Fishing and Tactics with one of the world’s best, Captain Rob Fordyce. Rob is the only captain to have won all four major Fly Fishing Tarpon Tournaments in the 50 year history. He’s also the Co-author of Tarpon on the Fly and is one of the hosts for Discovery’s Destination America NEW TV show called Silver Kings.
  • 3:30pm: Freshwater Trout Tactics from Texas to the Rockies with Jake McKittrick. Jake is a long time guide and respected angler based out of Colorado who’s fished for trout the world over. He will discuss tactics to apply from the Guadalupe to the Rockies.
    Casting and Tying Demonstrations all day long!!
  • Whether you’re new to fly tying or an accomplished tier, you’ll be able to pick up some new tricks. We’ll also be displaying some of the New Enrico Puglisi material for the show.
  • Renowned rod builder Kenny Murph will be on hand all day to answer all your rod building questions. Great opportunity to learn from one of the finest robs builders around!


Eric Kraimer (Simms, Scientific Angler, Buff, Abel, Ross)

-Darin Jacober (Sage, Rio and Redington)  Darin will have all his companies set up in a trailer outside the store near our casting area for customer to look over and try.

-Hughes Andry (Loomis, Shimano)

Frank Smethurst and Jake McKittrick (Scott Fly Rods (New addition at FTU), Airflo Fly Lines (New Addition at FTU), Montana Fly)

-Banning Collins (TFO, Hatch, Waterworks, Winston and Umpqua)

-Mark Shelton (Tibor, Fishpond, Dr. Slick)

NOTE – If you fly fish and you are within range of the dominant, and only Houston fly shop, Fishing Tackle Unlimited, this is a great chance to hear from some guys I follow religiously – Scott Sommerlatte and Scott Null. Captain Null operates in the northern regions of the Galvston system, while you can find Captain Sommerlatte further south in Port O’Connor, Texas. Both are known for their fly fishing expertise, and you can certainly find their names here by digging through the archives (search box on right). And it’s a chance to visit with some of the factory reps I know, like the ever helpful Banning Collins and Eric Kraimer.

Big Bass Bite Part 3 – Think Top Water Even When Nobody Else Does

| July 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

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INTRODUCTORY NOTEBig bass can bite on topwater flies whenever the heck they want to. Of course, they have to be shallower, and they have to be chock full of aggression, but if you’ve been waiting to read about topwater bass fly fishing action, you might consider doing it even when the tea leaves aren’t even reading that way. The last two posts related to this one, were about a surprisingly good topwater bite I was onto last week. Part one was pretty much the setup, and as you recall in Part 2 I was shot down, and left lying in the dusty street.

Continued from Big Bass Bite Part 2

Now, by the time I arrived at the same spot the next morning, you could say I was feeling a little … edgy? There was this feeling of a feud about to break out, kind of like defending my honor against a fish. Have you ever been there? It’s like going from a wide angle lens to a 400mm 2.8 – extremely narrow, extremely sharp and extremely shallow depth of field.

Straight out to the “spot” where it all went down the night before, I marched through the weeds, waded out to the edge going as fast as I dared. Perhaps ten hours had gone by, but for all I knew this fish (these fish) were sick of being hounded and pounded.

The smaller one to two-and-a-half pound bass were definitely on, and giving themselves away. Hit a pop or a swirl (with a froggy green home grown popper) and they would not refuse dessert. I even caught one really nice bass that probably went between 4.5 and 5 pounds, but for some reason this fish didn’t have the notches on it’s gun belt. It just wasn’t THE KILLER I thought had taught me a lesson the night before.

Based on my estimates, I would have to rank THE KILLER in the eight pound range, which would blow away the Ray Roberts Lake record for largemouth bass on fly.

The day was sunny, and just like Rob Woodruff said (in the article I ran last week), the bite is a trailing one instead of a building one. It was pretty obvious when they decided to turn off, so I called it quits, but kept the grudge. Although the bass I caught was a fly fishing trophy largemouth bass in my world, it just wasn’t THE KILLER.

FRIDAY was my day to regroup, actually do some work at the day job, and luckily find myself at Tailwaters Fly Shop in Dallas, Texas, where they have … the fly. I bought all they had left, and wasn’t surprised that totaled two of these kdkdkdkkdk flies, but I felt rearmed … with silver bullets. It was also a day to prepare for an epic trip Saturday, with my friend JH out to an island that was showing up on the new Google Earth satellite images (more on all that soon). We had an entire armada of kayaks going out on Saturday, and this place looked like it would be epic.

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Diablo Demo Day at Brushy Creek Lake

| August 22, 2013 | 1 Comment

fly fishing austin texas
DATE – August 24
EVENT – Diablo Demo Day hosted by Living Waters Round Rock, Texas
LOCATION – Brushy Creek Lake
CONTACT – Living Waters 512-828-FISH

Come and join us for our Diablo Paddlesports Demo Day held on Brushy Creek Lake. We will be trying out all three of Diablo Paddlesports Kayaks at Brushy Creek Lake Park and don’t forget to bring your fly rod so that you can try standing and casting!

These boats are our next addition in store and we wanted everyone to see why. Thomas Flemons, owner of Diablo Paddlesports, will be on site to answer all of your questions about the boats!

The demo will be held from 9 AM – 12 PM and we will be parking by the boat launch near the lake’s dam. After the demo, make sure that you drop by the fly shop for some Saturday sale items including 25% Off Frog Hair leaders and tippet, and 25% Off all Living Waters Logo Hats and Tees. Call the shop at (512) 828-FISH if you have any questions! Take care and God Bless!

TFC NOTE – Diablo boats are one of the best, if not the best platform for fly fishing the smaller lakes and rivers of Central Texas and the Hill Country. Be sure to contact me if you are interested in a North Texas demo ride of the Diablo Paddlesports Adios.