Monday Morning Toes Dragging

| March 27, 2023

Drag-free is not what I would say about my energy this morning. I’m dragging. It comes after a first foray – night fly fishing on the Jetties at South Padre Island. It may not have been an “all-nighter,” like my childhood days fishing under the lights at the Arroyo Colorado or Three Islands, but if you’re a little older? you know what changing nighttime patterns can do the day after.

South Padre Island Jetties fly fishing at night.

Nighttime Is The Right Time

While we have these ideal images of catching trophy saltwater fish in broad daylight, my brain has been slowly gelling around the fact that some of the most sought after fish – tarpon and snook are big-time nocturnal feeders. My brain gel came from general knowledge, and the never-ending beating, Andy Mill and the people Mill interviews, the facts into my head: They virtually all had nighttime epic experiences under the Florida bridges – catching snook and tarpon. Again, and again with the nighttime stories from the old guys … and what I have known from Larry Haines, all make the night unavoidable, challenging to the extreme, but unavoidable.

Last night had what so many nights don’t have here on South Padre Island – calm. It was calm enough to walk out just after sunset, rocks still wet and slippery, and walk … to near the end of the Jetties, as everyone was heading home on a Sunday night. Stringers of undersize and over bag limit sheepshead were heading to the cleaning table by the little store. 

The difficulties were numerous. I was surprised by how many green rocks had popped up (when rocks are dry and tacky they are NOT green), and my grip was what I contemplated most while all alone out in the quiet. That and just where to set my NEBO lights up for maximum effect, and not have them washed away by the regular sets of two decent waves at regular intervals.

It didn’t take long for the bait to start to gather around the lights. I was surprised by that, seeing as they were small lights compared to the Gulf of Mexico. But they did have multiple functions; they not only drew in bait, they also illuminated my casts which otherwise would have been mysteries. Without these NEBOs, I really do not know how I would handle the dark. 

I saved my energy, waiting for a fish sign, and maybe an hour into the wait … the bait began to show its nerves. Fairy circles of baitfish started to fly, and on the outer edge of the light’s reach – the smackdown and slashing started. Smacks that sounded like a speck on Red Bull, and silver sides that arced, easily within reach with little strain. Port Isabel mascots were having a home game.

The bait was not mullet, and the fly was not well enough matched, but the game? The game is on. I kept trying and changing flies, as I could see the NEBO lights power running down. First went my most powerful NEBO OMNI 2K, which was the main light doing the most good, and finally the NEBO Fishing Dock Light which I had lit up on the white light. Every time a light went down, the bait declined. When I was plunged into sea-misted darkness, the silence gripped the water in front of me. On the job learning: Lights work on the Jetties. The lights also need to be elevated off the rocks to avoid washing away, and to cast a better light on the water.

One other thing learned: Grip. You have to get a grip on those rocks. Even my trusty SIMMS ZipIt II Flats Booties were precarious at times.

For this type of fly fishing, you cannot have too much or too many lights. So I am going to do a NEBO video before I break open the rest of my NEBO lights for use.

Thanks for reading this Monday morning. If you are in range, and know something about night fly fishing the Lower Laguna Madre? Be sure to share it with your fellow fly fishers. The more we share, the more we grow the sport.

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Category: Adventure, Equipment, Fishing Reports, Jetties Fly Fishing, Lower Laguna Madre, Texas Gulf Coast

About the Author () 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.

Comments (1)

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  1. shannon says:

    And don’t forget the eye protection!

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