Running Back Down The Padre

| October 14, 2009

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After getting over the fact I had finally made the Port Mansfield Cut, and the fact the water was perfect but completely void of gamefish, I decided to get back to the largest visible group about five-hundred yards back down the beach.

The Jetties at Port Mansfield Cut - South Side

It was difficult to know if the truck carrying the food would be staying there or I would have to chase it one direction or the other, but by the time I reached them I knew that was the summit for that group, and there was plenty of food left. Note – I think the guys at LMFFA would benefit greatly with some kind of radio communication for this event. It would serve as a good safety measure, and to keep the group a bit tighter.

As we ate and fished, occasionally some of the “contestants” would drift southward looking for tarpon signs. Shane sighted one, but it was too far offshore and too random to really drop the sandwich and pick up the ten weight. The handwriting was on the wall.

We turned around and started the journey back. It was going to be a bit more interesting as the tide was taking away the hard sand little by little. The sun had moved further west, and with the benefit of modern polarized sunglasses, it was like being on the submarine at Disneyland.

With only a breeze gusting to ten, the bait looked to be flying through green air. There simply weren’t any dark shadows chasing, and only occasional hints of blowups. Also visible was this brownish algae-looking substance that came in patches that completely masked the aquarium from time-to-time. There is a science and ecology to this fishing every bit as critical as a caddis hatch in the Rockies. I have thrown this observation out to some of the fellow runners, but from other news reports, I am gathering it may be a brown tide.

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Nevertheless, the water was mostly stunning, and unlike anything I remembered, with resonant colors ranging from simple sand to jade green and shallow blues. Sand bars, all of them visible, were meandering strips of brown that occasionally broke down allowing currents to funnel bait close to shore and sweep it away just easily. Christo should never see this because he would find a way to wrap it in something.

We stopped, and started, and stuttered and stared at the water – looking for signs of struggle between predator and prey. I finally caught a glimpse of a shadow chasing parallel to the shore. It was shaped like a football, twice as big and moving like a cruise missile. I was out of my depth when it came to identifying unusual saltwater fish on the move, and it didn’t matter anyway because it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. We fished of course, but the action moved away as quickly as it came. I found out later the mysterious shape was a Bontio. What I would have given to get a hook on a Bonito or one of the larger jacks that occasionally pushed a wake along a small wave.

Finally, on one stop, everything came together. The bait was in close and silver flashes revealed something larger at work. They were in the first cut, and so close to shore that they were made virtually invisible by the sand being churned in six inch waves. Keep in mind, I still had nothing that fell into the category of fish porn.

Shane tied into one of the flashes, and the bend of the rod told me I could relax. He landed a very respectable speckled trout, and I landed the article in the Lone Star Outdoor News. Porn sells.

As we approached the end of the sandy sojourn, the newly crowded beaches made the driving more about avoiding humans, cars and sinking trucks, and less about watching the water for signs. The road didn’t go on forever, and this journey was at the end.

Post Script
Of course, thanks to my Grandma, soon to turn 90, for letting me wander along the beach for twelve hours of my visit ostensibly to see her.
Many thanks to the friendly group at Laguna Madre Fly Fishers Association. They welcomed me as if I were a charter member, and some of these friendships are bound to go on. David McDonald, who I met in person in the summer of 2008 was instrumental in providing the spark that lit the fire of this journey. Jim Palumbo, current president of LMFFA, and Shane Wilson, past president, were especially helpful, and as is so often the case, one story leads to another. Shane spearheads a non profit venture called Fishing’s Future, a non-profit organization, that will obviously make TFC if all the stars of scheduling and travel align properly.

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Event Podcasting, Events, Fish Podcasting, Fishing Reports, On The Road, Texas Gulf Coast, Texas Gulf Coast

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.