Tag: galveston

Saltwater Flies for Galveston Fly Fishing

| October 28, 2013 | 1 Comment

fly fishing in galveston texas

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Fly Fishing on the Texas Gulf CoastWe are heading to Houston this week, to the Houston International Quilt Festival. Now before you stop reading, stick with me for a minute longer. Houston is a lot closer to Galveston than Dallas is. And, no, I am not a quilter – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I will actually be in that part of Texas working for Cimarrona again, and we expect to see as many as 50-thousand people in proximity of my wife’s recycled wool and accessories.

What we don’t know for sure is what kind of fly fishing action we can expect this week. The solunar charts are pointing to very good conditions next week, but the idea of bringing a kayak along for the duration tends to wear me out these days. So, I am thinking wade fishing on the back side of the San Luis Pass, the jetties or maybe seeing if flounder are coming in in the usual places. The charts are so good – the solunar variable is perfect – that it’s a done deal.

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Stepping off at San Luis Pass

| June 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

The sun was trying to rise as I parked at the broken down white gazebo just off the San Luis Pass bridge. I was the first one there, and no one else was in sight. Huge cumulus clouds with immature mushroom shapes were hiding the sun, and rain was reaching down below some to the Gulf of Mexico. Typical fare for June in some years.

Old photograph of the Land Cruiser and landscape and around the San Luis Pass area.

There were a lot of things I didn’t bother to do before driving out to the SLP. I didn’t bother to check the solunar charts, the tides, the weather, the wind or the barometric pressure. In short, all the things I truly believe are factors in saltwater fishing, all were thrown to the wind … and, yes, we had wind.

The SLP looked just like I remembered. Low dunes didn’t obscure the view of the pass or the bay. I could not help but think fish would feed around the bend no matter what the fish gods stated scientifically. And that’s the play that I deduced made most sense: Go for the place that could, should, bar none, have enough tidal action to move bait even in slack tides.

The SLP itself is a churn and burn kind of place, with the kinds of currents and wave actions that can strike fear in just about anyone. Add the onshore wind at twenty sustained, and gusts approaching thirty, and the SLP was non-negotiable – not a single boat, wader or fisher to be seen at daybreak.

I walked to the back edge well around and behind the curving open channel of the SLP, and hung onto a long look in both directions. While the wind was keeping mosquitoes at bay, my pant legs were flapping like red flags, but the undulating gold grass along the edge of the bay side afforded ten to twenty feet of wind break to the high water’s edge.

The water was in the grass, so the concept of vast walkable flats flew away on the wind. The vision of red tails, nervous water, and edge-wise action, all gave way to a calm reality of baitfish and nothing chasing or churning. I was all alone again, and I typically take that to mean something’s wrong.

It would be nearly a mile from here to the bend around at the SLP where currents sweep people away to their untimely deaths with unconditional regularity. There’s no mistaking the ten weight in my hand for anything less … this is a cast on sight day, where anything more results in a serious case of fatigue. Feeling the optimist, I also go with a straight twenty pound leader of fluorocarbon that ends with a loop-knotted shallow Clouser in a tested and true palette.

The setup is absolutely textbook – undulating curves of grass to the edge of the bay water, black sticky bottom and some sand spotted with oysters throughout. And this reaches for as far as it can go in one direction, and as far as I can see in the other.

I step off. As I begin to sink into the grey muck that is part of what makes Galveston what it is, I realize this is going to be, for lack of a better word – work. Each step I make toward the goal is heavy by my wet boots, and heavy by the extra gravitational forces that seem to inhabit this grey shmuck (a new word that combines sh*@ and muck). I feel the heat coming to my leg muscles, and remind myself to shuffle slowly over the easy running sand. One stingray, and all these nasty things, the water, the shmuck, will have free admission to my bloodstream.

There comes a time when holding onto a fly, waiting for sight ops, gives way to, “I better warm up my cast, and my arm just in case.” So the ten weight does the job cutting the wind, and the leader certainly turns the fly good enough for a presentation … if one ever comes. Still, it seems kind of like hunting sparrows with a ten gauge. The backcast holds up in the wind, and the forward reaches fifty and then some. Into the wind shortens things a bit, but is within reason.

Once I have warmed up, I think like most fly fishers; well, I may as well cast a few. A few reasonable casts and a few changes of flies just to cover all the bases, with the old adage of a fly in the water versus a fly in the boat keeping me pointlessly going.

I trek all the way around to the SLP, and back past where I stepped off and keep going. I try to think about how it could look any better, and the only thing that could improve things would be fish signs of which there are none. I keep on going, and in behind me come the late risers, and family guys with PFD’d kids in tow. It seems we all don’t know the same thing this day.

My legs are getting heavy, and a distinct sting runs my left calf muscle where oysters ran up my leg as my leg sank into some shmuck – knee deep into schmuck as the scratch will attest. The oysters first lifted my pant leg, then proceeded to take a layer of my epidermis most certainly to form a perfect pearl later on.

I continue for another mile, and my solitude breaks with the sound of the phone in my pocket. Rescued by family, the perfect excuse to turn and do the death march back and out. I am all too willing to make the turn because although miles of the same lie ahead, they look just like the previous nothingness.

I retreat to the car, not a nick, nudge, bite or take to report on this tiny window of time out at the San Luis Pass. Rescued from myself by familial demands, I still am not rid of the stink that doesn’t smell like fish. The next time you are driving across Texas and smell a squished skunk, think “coffee,” and see if you can’t trick your brain. My brain’s all out of sensory tricks. I just need to catch some fish.

Next Time – A few more photographs of Galveston from Ike and now.

Looks Like Hurricane Amnesia

| June 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

Back at home base now, and staring at a cup half full of half empty.

When you go a long way to salt, and all salt is a long way from here, you sometimes have to take what you get. Never mind the fact I was headed to the coast stinking from lack of fish smell (translations available on request), and knew only that there would be time allotted by others … tiny windows that would open and close at particular times whether I wanted them to or not, wherever I was at closing time.

On the way to Galveston, we stopped at Fishing Tackle Unlimited (FTU) on 45 southeast of Houston, and paid homage. If you have yet to visit a FTU store, be sure to go out of your way next time. Not only do they have specific Texas Gulf Coast conventional fishing tackle, they also have fly tackle and flies specific to the Texas Gulf Coast. And they’re the best there is for Texas Gulf Coast specific fly tackle, bar none.

I was there to … don’t tell any of the idealists in the TFC crowd … buy a conventional spinning reel. You see, when someone like Lefty or Flip says they always have conventional setups for when the wind closes them out, well, call me a sheep, but I listen. So, I armed my new spinning rod, a TFO Gary Loomis TRS 7043 Medium, with a new Penn reel – a Sargus SG3000, and clear ten pound mono. I wasn’t going to get caught weak like I was last time at Matagorda (Salas, where is that video?). Both the rod and reel are made overseas, which somehow doesn’t irk me as much as overseas fly gear for some strange reason. That’s a much bigger topic for later though.

The guy in the fly department was very nice and pulled out a map to show me some, what I’ll call, “touristy spots” that I was already well versed on – Offatt’s Bayou and the San Luis Pass (SLP). “Touristy spots” are those designated for people with families, who don’t have a lot of time, and just want to wet a line with the outside chance of rolling sevens. He didn’t proclaim to know more than he did, and said he hadn’t fished much since he was without a boat. – NOTE TO SELF: Boat in your future –

He said the wind (direction) was playing havoc with the water, clarity and that it would be pretty difficult conditions.

I took the map, the new reel, a few spoons gold in nature, and departed. At least I use something as antique as spoons, and not that newfangled stuff they call “plastics!” Okay, I use one brand of lures too, for salt, Mirro-Lure which I started using almost forty years ago.

It hadn’t been that long since my last trip to Galveston, but that was an in-and-out where I met Salas at the Galveston Island State Park. This time there would be the family factor mentioned earlier – the factor that, based on my past abhorrent behavior, meant permanent changes to my behavior. That didn’t matter because I could smell the salt and hear the waves from our room at 61st. and Seawall.


It’s hard to remember what you’ve already forgotten, but my first sights and sounds of Galveston Monday evening told me Galveston, in less than five requisite years, has already put Ike behind them. Crowds, and busloads, and cars, and four wheel peddlers, and pedestrians … people everywhere, hundreds that make thousands. Summer in Galveston, Texas, is not the November – December flounder run in Galveston, Texas. The place was teeming with people. License plates told the story of the USA and Mexico. Of all the places, I guess they think Galveston represents their getaway best.

Hurricane Ike damage at Galveston Island Texas
ON I45 going into Galveston, Texas, after Hurricane Ike.

It was all a bit overwhelming to me. I don’t recall that I have been to Galveston during prime tourist season, but here we were.

I had been in Galveston a week before Hurricane Ike and then back there within a few weeks after Ike minced the city. Some of the piers were lit, and there were new attractions lit to attract tourists like bright white bipedal moths.

pleasure pier in galveston texas
Imagine this: Galveston’s “Pleasure Pier” is now in full swing. It looks great, but a direct hit from a hurricane, and it will make a great reachable reef.

This attack on the senses was already throwing my equilibrium off. Last time on salt, it was sleeping outside at Matagorda, with stars and mosquitoes for company. This time it would be a family occupied, air conditioned hotel in the heart of the Galveston beach tourist industry.

I made my marching orders though. Tomorrow, the howling wind insisted that I drive the twenty miles over to the SLP and fish the time slot and let the chips fall where they may. I would meet family there to show them one of the Tuck’s Landing beach houses, and they would gather information along the way.

I was ready to get that stink off with a little fish smell, and with a little “tourist luck” something good could happen …

the hunker down in galveston
Scars from Ike still remain, and they aren’t that hard to see. The Hunker Down on Seawall in Galveston, Texas, is for sale.

Galveston, Oh Galveston

| June 20, 2012 | 2 Comments

BEFORE – Galveston after Hurricane Ike

Who sang that song anyway? I think it may have been Glen Campbell, but I may be wrong.

We are in Galveston doing some preliminary looking around for places for the family retreat later this year, and let’s just say Galveston is back from Ike, and it gets harder and harder to see the scars as the tourism skin grows back over.

The constant wind and rainstorms have pretty much eliminated the fishing opportunities, and the fact I haven’t even checked the solunar charts doesn’t help much. Top that with the fact I am pretty much overwhelmed with the crowds and the comeback Galveston has made since Ike, and you have a fishless recipe.

I will bring more on Galveston if it comes along, but certainly back in North Texas by the weekend.

Reader Report – Galveston Flounder

| November 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

NOTE – Readers are welcome to give back to Texas Fly Caster anytime. We welcome fresh writing from new sources, and as long as it conforms to being about “Fly Fishing Culture on the Skids,” I can safely say it will have a good chance it gets published. Photography is a plus. And you will be rewarded handsomely, at the same rates everyone is rewarded, for their efforts. (+-0.00)

I arrived in Galveston around 7-am, the early morning sun was doing its best to warm the chilly morning, but it wasn’t enough.

A friend had recommended several spots, the most scenic seemed to be the South Galveston Jetty accessed out of Apfel Park on the East end of the island. A sign demanding $8 to access the beach and threatening to tow my vehicle greeted me, but no one was at the park. I left a love note on my car asking any authorities to please call me and I would gladly pay the admittance fee.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

As I tugged on my breathable waders and strapped into my fly fishing back pack a Galveston Parks employee drove by and I chased them down the beach as if they were a roosterfish in “Chasing Down the Man”. Instead of “combs” he had a gold toothed smile and politely told me the park was free at this time of year so I didn’t have to pay for admittance. I jokingly asked them if that is because there are no fish here right now. He literally laughed as he drove off …

Back to my gear and pre-fishing rituals (which includes rigging the fly rod while humming the soundtrack to Tron out loud) and soon I was on the rock jetty and headed south. It was awesome to look at, strong south winds bought crashing waves across the VW Bug-sized boulders. One gap in the jetty walk was easy to cross but another further down would require stepping off into the tide pools on the east side and circumventing the gap to get back on. Being short on time and with a camera girl I didn’t want to drown, we focused on the surf side before working over the tide pools.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

Two flicks of glass minnows were all I saw in about 2 hours which was disappointing because the pools looked very fishy. Easy to see the sand bar that eventually joins the jetty and promised to hold fish in its many dark recesses. But it lied. No fish.

Moved to the east shoreline where visible depressions and dark areas yielded nothing. Very nice with the waves rolling as the tide slowly swung back towards a 1:55-pm low tide. I worked a variety of clousers and small baitfish patterns while the lady chunked a variety of GULP.

Our time was winding down and we had an 11am lunch date so we packed it in. The seagulls, terns and pelicans kept laughing at our inability to catch. Mocking. Hundreds of them, waiting for us to leave so they could begin feeding without showing us where the fish were.

I don’t like getting mocked, though it happens often. So I charged them.Fly rod in hand, running like one of William Wallace’s boys. I charged.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

And they flew away.

Met our friend for lunch (La Tortuga – touristy, but the flavor and service made it well worth it. Affordable, too.) Mike the waiter and I got to talking about, guess what: fishing. He said the jetties don’t have any fish right now and if I wanted to get into flounder I should try the shoreline east of the road leading to Seawolf Park. White or salt and pepper GULP, Mike said. And pack extra jigheads, because you are going to lose some on the snags.

So off I went to Pelican Island, waited on the drawbridge which seemed to take forever. I’m pretty sure people on their way to fish are supposed to have the right of way in all instances.

Around 1:30-pm I arrived at the road, stopped before all the NO PARKING signs and saw dozens of cars parked on the shoulder. I was afraid I was too late.

Luckily many people were leaving. Mostly because they had their landing nets slung over their shoulder full of doormat sized flounder. Holy Crap! As I slammed it into park and threw my door open to fast load into my rig I saw at least six people walking back to their cars with their two fish limit and big ole smiles.

I thought “Even I should be able to get on fish in here.” I walked a short trail through the brush and hit the shoreline. It was busy, but there was plenty of space between anglers so I started stripping fly line and headed in. Red and white clouser and intermediate line and I went to work. And it was work. Wind full on in the face was killing my cast, dumping it about 25 feet in front of me. Worked all angles, paralleling the shore, towards the shore, out deeper, behind the back. All I got was funny looks from spincasters chunking various colored GULPs and plastics. Then they’d hook up.

Enough of that. I grudgingly stowed the flyrod (you can stop reading at this point if you want to) and brought out my camera girl’s “Lady Pflueger” pink spincaster and went to town with a white GULP. It was my self-imposed punishment.

Weather had changed at some point, was actually warm out, and the tide shifted too. Working a slow retrieve back towards the shore and got that THUMP. Lowered the rod tip, breathed a long calming breath and began my ten second count… Then I set that hook. I felt the flounder slide towards me on the hookset and, more concerned with dinner than sportsmanship, I reeled that little 14incher in.

Slid him onto shore and strung him up (BEFORE unhooking him. I’ve played that little game with Mr. Flounder before. And lost.). On the belt stringer and I waded back in. This time with the fly rod, determined to make it happen.

But I didn’t. Went the rest of the day without another hook up. I witnessed other fisherman taking fish so I know the bite hadn’t stopped. Nope, it was just me.

Most people took on GULPs or swimbaits, brighter colors, including tandem rigs. The water wasn’t very clear, but it was green and you could make out the rocks and rubble underneath. Plenty of sand and soft stuff for the flounder to play in. Not sure on water temp, though it was warmer than the air. An old timer that had been out there every day this week (jealous) said he thought the run was really just getting started.

After seeing everyone walking out with limits and size I was a little disappointed to only have the one fish. And he wasn’t on the fly (forgive me). I did talk to others who didn’t get any, and ran into more people while getting ice that had been skunked for weeks, so in the end I felt good and knew I had a nice pan fried dinner in store. So it was a good day.

Breathable waders, wool socks, fishing shirt and pants kept me warm and dry throughout the day. Drove home that eve, 8 hours roundtrip for 6 hours of fishing and one flounder. Don ‘t doubt my addiction.

An interesting aspect of fly fishermen is their ability and need to read conditions, the bite and their own instincts to be able to adapt on the water. That includes changing retrieves, flies, tactics, etc… I think it also means being versatile enough to know when to store the fly rod and hook them with a white GULP on a pink spincaster.

Be versatile,