January Made Me Shiver

| January 23, 2023

“January* made me shiver / with every paper I delivered / bad news on the doorstep / I couldn’t take one more step …

Don McLean – “American Pie”

On South Padre Island, Texas, at the other end of the State, it is downright cold weather in these parts. A chilly front moved slowly over us and we are looking at coat weather here. Yes, highs in the lower 60’s means we open that closet and dig back into the back to find that extra layer that comes out, maybe, seven days a year? Real suffering, right?

So far most of my time here has been spent not talking – about what is going on here, and what is not going on here – in regard to this unique shop we are still attempting to open on the Lower Laguna Madre. Much of what has happened – from last June to today – will eventually find its way into the light, and for many very good reasons some of it will never see the light of your eyes. To say this birthing has been “difficult” is to continue my decades-long trend for understatement.

What a difference this bridge makes!

In the end, I can say the first three rules of retail apply to coffee shops, fly shops and coffee shop outfitters. You know the three rules, right? Location. Location. Location. This is all I can say about that …


If you study the ripples of a Colorado stream, the ebb and flow, the eddies behind a boulder, a gravel turnout along the edge, a boulder with a forward push below a fall? If you learn with your eyes, your brain begins to form the visions into hunches, and hints … this spot, that spot in these conditions. If the hunch and hint works? We begin to bury them into deep memory, called “instinct.” Instincts, in humans, really is simply founded knowledge. I like to call them “instincts” because we are, after all, engaged in hunting and gathering when we fly fish. And of course, it also gives us a slight attitude of being a “super-natural.”

Last November I was given a nugget of a hint. I was told about redfish appearing in, what he called, “herds” on the western side of the Lower Laguna Madre in early winter. Why should I be surprised by that? Remember, the sun still rises in the east, right? Instinct told me; the sun is on the western water first, warming it sooner and longer … raising the temperature on those exposed backs and spotted tails. Pure logic. Throw in some shelter from the wind, and I had to go get a look. 

I finally made that trip (by 4WD!) to get my eyes on this hint of a spot two weeks ago. My mind was sufficiently blown. Vast shallow flats. Potholes. Grass. I began to store the visual hints and hunches. This place has what it takes to scratch the itch, but still … there was no one around. And when no one is around? That generally means what? There are no fish around. I was in complete acceptance of that truth, with the understanding that there were and will be fish there when their time is right.

As I sat all alone here last Friday night, writing away, the phone rang and it actually ID’d a known person. Now that is my version of Friday night excitement! The Lower Laguna Madre guide on the other end had a long week, and was willing to unwind a little, strip out a little line and cast some pearls to swine. 

Talking with a local guide, I figured he must know that spot I mentioned? Of course he did, and more than an hour later I was feeling pretty good about what I (thought I) knew being backed up by local experience. While the small picture of “spots on a map” began to show itself in reality, I also grasped the larger concept of a Lower Laguna Madre migration pattern. This wasn’t my first hint, I have still paid attention to where the sun rises, and listened without talking, and looked without casting – just as I had done at 9-thousand feet. This pattern was coming to me on it’s own, but now it was taking quantum leaps in verification. Fortunately for me, I was slowly, a page at a time, being handed the Cliff’s Notes version of what would take me how long to learn on my own?


The talk did turn to the vibes on a new fly shop here in the Lower Laguna Madre region, and street talk I had never heard before. Luckily the street is still empty of protestors, but I have always expected some negative to come with the positive. It is pretty obvious an experience with a particular death threat fifteen-years-ago (OVER FLY FISHING!) has prepared me for this time and place. That S&W.40 I carried around on the water for a year got heavy, so I won’t be doing that again. NOTE: I didn’t say I won’t still carry though, did I?

The great thing about becoming the local yokel is that I can learn from multiple sources. There’s a lot of filters applied of course, changing names to protect the innocent (just kidding), etc… But in the end the “give-and-take,” the “right to privacy,” the “on the record, off the record,” the “do not tell,” and more I cannot think of! ARE ALL gates to the information that either is allowed (through the gate) to be published or forever kept in the dark. You’ll have to trust me to walk that line … I’ve been walking it fifteen years now. For me, it’s all about sharing the love …

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your phone calls, and support while things take shape here on the Lower Laguna Madre. We are closer to the END of the first phase than ever before, as we are getting down to “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.” If you consider the Lower Laguna Madre your fly fishing playground? I would love to listen to your perspective on what would make a great store for you to send people to, and to go to! Call or text me anytime 956-596-0558. This is an unprecedented opportunity to have a real impact on what Les Pescadores is all about.

*It was actually February. Buddy Holly died Feb. 3, 1959

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Category: Body-Mind-Soul, Fly Fisher Health and Wellness, Fly Fishing for Redfish, Fly Fishing World Destinations, Guides, Life Observed, Los Pescadores Coffee and Outfitters, Lower Laguna Madre, Saltwater Fly Fishing Texas, Science and Environmental, South Texas, Technique, Texas Gulf Coast

About the Author ()

https://www.shannondrawe.com is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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