Tag: lower laguna madre

Monday Morning Wind Blowing Away the Salt

| February 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

texas fly fishing padre island north texas


What a difference a few days make? It seems like it’s time to welcome North Texas to South Texas style weather, a strong south wind kicks in today and tomorrow? Who really knows the forecast? I think they call this “instability,” and it can wreak havoc for those of us who have to plan a day ahead. The further out plans, the less likely they are to come to fly fruition in this weather. Heck, what a difference a day makes! Yesterday, it was January, and now February 1, we are fully into the new year. January, in my businesses, is a tosser anyway. And this January was no different.

Along the drop-offs South Padre Island Texas lagoon boats

Leslie, trying to add to her success – minutes after a cool front rolled over us.

The recuperation at South Padre Island wrapped up with a straight-shot drive back home at 575 miles. No problemo. The last outing on Friday was a long run to the Brownsville Ship Channel, a run so long that we didn’t actually fish much, but acted like tourists gawking at the huge aircraft carriers being decommissioned, and other ships in decomposition. Motoring around those huge carriers, once populated with thousands of US Sailors, has an eerie effect, like floating around space ships docked for repair in a Star Trek film. The visual perspective is absolutely amazing. We were also treated to a show of porpoise by the dozens, in the channel, swimming along, and even an aerial show with two full-grown porpoise jumping eight feet in the air – less than 100 yards away.

Brownsville Ship Channel fly fishing

It didn’t take much to figure out where fish hold, even if I didn’t catch the legendary Texas snook.  Figuring that out in such a short time, gives me a little, no a lot, of motivation to get back to that place again – in season and with less wind whipping us around. I’ll deal with the mosquitoes over that wind! For now, those ladyfish are stacked in the nooks and crannies of the channel, and come in all sizes.

ladyfish brownsville ship channel texas

A ladyfish fights like a kite on a string on a windy day. They even have the smarts to run under the boat, and look for a way to cut you off. This one was no different. Also known as the “Poor Man’s Tarpon.”

Here on the home front, we still have water being released from dams and it is probably in an effort to draw down in a serious way – ahead of the spring rains (should they come again). We have extraordinary swings in temperatures that could be putting a dent in the good trout fishing in Oklahoma. Give us a stretch of something, oh Lord, so that we can make plans … what’s that? … He laughs? What was I thinking?

If we were to plan a trip to a cooling lake like Monticello, right now, it would be a roll of the dice as whether the weather would be seventy-five and sunny, or 40 and misting.  For that lake, we need the latter, and maybe some snow. It’s simple enough to flip the fly switch off or on, but when that switch is between? Sometimes we can hear that crackling electricity in our own internal switches, between on and off, but all we can do is listen.

For now, it’s more doctor visits spotting this week’s calendar just enough to make planning difficult. And there’s the idea that work could be out there somewhere, a novel concept these days, it seems. What does seem to fit, is a try at hybrids (bring the warmer weather and dam releases) in a convenient location. In these strange days (weather-wise), you’ll wan to have your rod ready and sitting by the door for a FISH FLASH from here. Today, they’re saying wind gusts up to 45 from that south wind and we top out at 75-degrees. What the heck can we do with that?

Lower Laguna Madre Texas

Behind the cool front. Lower Laguna Madre, Texas.


I’ll be assembling detailed stories for  you subscribers thinking about South Padre Island fly fishing. It includes details on the local restaurants, entertainment, fly fishing opportunities and our snapshot of what we experienced while there during off-season.

It’s about time to try my hand, and apparently my new voice, at a return to the weekly Texas Fishing Reports on the YouTube channel as well. There’s not a lot going on in general, so getting back into the swing before spring kicks in will give me a chance to work out the kinks while nobody’s watching.

IF YOU HAVE any good stories about fly fishing anywhere in Texas, please let me know. I will be working much more diligently on the Texas fly scene – for publication in various other media, and at the very least here at Texas Fly Caster, the number one website for information on fly fishing in Texas.

Salt for the Soul

| January 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

south padre island texas fly fishing #flyfishing skiff rigging brownsville ship channel South Bay

speckled trout south padre island

Leslie caught this nice speck while we were on the sand about five miles north of the Convention Center, on the bay side of South Padre Island, Texas. Caught on a topwater MirroLure.

NOTE – As you remember, I have always written about the DIY trips we do here in an honest and forthright way. If we catch, we catch. And if we hit a brick wall, we hit a brick wall. The biggest takeaway from this trip is going to be knowledge, which you have to admit is a good thing for the future. I have seen guides, who sponsor trips to exotic locales, try to make a silk PR purse from days (or an entire trip) of being blanked. That doesn’t fly here.


Two weeks are almost up, and today will probably go a ways to define this trip. I certainly can’t define it by the weather – stormy then clear in rapid succession, the fish – you see who did the only catching in that image above, or by the stories generated – during off-season, trying to get a hold of people to interview who must live on “Island Time.” If I could define it, I would probably say it’s a little too far off season for a lost son to come back and zero in on fish … I do take comfort in the number of boats I see running the grass flats – maybe a handful a day at the very most.

I dropped on the edge of the intracoastal early yesterday, and spent the rest of the day drifting the sand holes in the grass, called potholes – up north, on the bayside sand across from Andie Bowie Park – all to no good, I couldn’t even roust a single frightened fish. I would have to summarize that the cool front pushed them off the flats for more than a day as the water temperature dipped about 3-4 degrees in a day (during the warmest part of the day) from Wednesday to Thursday. And the water was still quite churned from the gale force winds that came with the cool front. The water was cloudy and it looked like the bay grass has been mowed, as it is floating everywhere.


[ppw id=”123132508″ description=”navigating the Laguna Madre to fish” price=”.10″]

I knew from my childhood that boating the Lower Laguna Madre, out of South Padre, is a treacherous affair. There’s a reason why kite surfers and sailboarders come from all over the world to here; the wind howls, but most importantly, it’s shallow for miles and miles. Local boat companies have, as I documented in the past, created boats specifically for running over the grass without touching it. That means wide open and six inches of water. Channels and depth has little meaning for them. Right now, as the Lagoon Skiff is setup, and if I keep the setup* as is, it’s not running wide out in six inches of water. I am very satisfied in how shallow it does run with the way it is setup now, but if I were running here daily the setup* would have to change.

*Setup – Motor height in this case, as I already have trim-tabs on her.

I hesitate to think about a jack-plate just to run this water, but I do believe what the boat builder, Oscar Weaver (Owner / Builder at Lagoon Boats Cocoa, FL), said about jack plates and tunnel hulls, “a lot of that can be avoided by doing the correct rigging of the boat,” in reference to motor height. That was his response when I was “encouraging” him to build a tunnel for Texas water. I still think a tunnel could be a great change for a Texas boat. One of the key phrases I have zeroed in  when it comes to Florida boats (virtually all of them) is, “poles in 6-inches,” whereas in Texas we say, “runs in 6-inches.” Feel Free to Think about that one.

What I do now is simply put-put the channel that runs the civilized bayside, out the south end, where it opens up at the causeway (channel runs parallel to the NEW causeway), and then make my EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS move to head south toward the old Queen Isabella Causeway, or to head north along the intracoastal and back (eastward) to the flats once everyone else disappears. Once I am shallow, I cut the motor and drift, or use the trolling motor to drift the (empty yesterday) potholes. You’re going to need electronics out here for charts – because if you’re off by a little, it can hurt a lot.



My wife looked at me this morning, over a smoothie and oatmeal, and said, “You think you’re overdoing it a bit?” “Heck yes!” I replied. “You know this was supposed to be a rest and recuperation trip don’t you?” I said there’ll be plenty of time for rest while I drive the 600 miles home from here. Salt is, as always, good for my soul.

Today we’re going to do more investigating – as we are headed to the Brownsville Ship Channel. My expectations have been lowered progressively over the last two weeks. I have come to the conclusion it’s no better to pull and launch (at the Jaimie J. Zapata ramp on 48) the boat from in close to the Ship Channel (say, than it is to run there from the slip at Jim’s Pier. It’s just not that far in the grand scheme, and of course it’s even closer to South Bay. The tide times are opposed to us, but when in Rome …


Monday Morning in the Making

| January 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

texas fly fishing #flyfishing

Coffee please. I admit the new health kick has a dent in the armor – coffee. Just waking up to the news that Bowie died overnight – from cancer. Wow, now that has to be one of the best kept rock-and-roll secrets of all time. “Black Star” was released on the 8th. – his 69th. birthday.

ATTENTION ANNUAL SUBSCRIBERS – Be sure to let me know your subscription is working! A lot of them expire around this time of year, and I try to reset them all not to AUTO renew.

Speaking of subscriptions, I found an amazing subscription number for a YouTube account that goes by the name “LakeForkGuy” over the weekend. Guy is pushing 80-thousand subscribers, so I just had to let him know how amazing that was, and sent an e mail to the YouTube celebrity. Seems like he could benefit from a little crossover into the carp world, don’t we think? Actually, I think anyone would benefit from the words “Lake Fork” in their names – having a top five US bass lake as your office can’t hurt. A lot of the bass folk are going to be surprised when Lake Ray Roberts ascends the rankings of Texas bass lakes in a couple of years. The wise folks at TPWD will probably increase their stocking of Fork (from triple the stocking of Ray Roberts) another notch or two, just to keep the legendary lake … well, legendary. Folks, do me a favor, and if you haven’t already subscribed to the Texas Fly Caster YouTube channel, please take a moment and head to – THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL – and subscribe. And don’t forget I’m moving a step beyond the YouTube channel, and have set up a Periscope account so you can watch live broadcasting of fly fishing adventures there as well. If I can get my voice back, there’ll be some of both – YouTube and Periscope – next week.

Here are the Lake Fork Fly Fishing Records kept by TPWD.

Today, we’re waiting for it to warm up around here! I’m also weathering the normal January photography business blues, which are an annual event where … absolutely nothing happens. That’s the way of the self-employed. Don’t forget about the side project – PoPs Fly Shop – if you’re looking for unique items, like the rod sock I am about to sew and ship to Durango, Colorado, a sock for a 10-foot fly rod. The warmup is on the way though, and that’ll give me an opportunity to finish the rigging on the skiff, as we depart for South Texas this Friday.

I’ll have an article out about “premeditation” in fly fishing (later this week) just in time for departure to South Texas saltwater fly fishing on the Lower Laguna Madre. It’s a bit of a crossover “to-and-fro” between photography and fly fishing actually, and the article could benefit both of those disciplines (assuming  you are interested in both).


If you are ready to take advantage of the midweek warmup, [ppw id=”121578189″ description=”Ray Roberts HotSpot” price=”.10″]

and can’t figure out what to do try this:

  • GET UP AND GO to the release area of Lake Ray Roberts Dam.
  • TRY a five weight rod for the challenge / floating line / full length fluorocarbon leader in the 4-6 pound range.
  • TIME – Early morning and late day.
  • WHERE – Base of dam structures (concrete) and right up against them. OR across on the west side riprap (legal area).
  • WHAT – Crystal white woolly bugger OR white/white Clouser (variable weights). Circle hooks rock!
  • EXPERIMENT – Try a indicator 4-feet above a crystal woolly around that structure and see if it works!
  • You’ll be catching crappie near the structure RIGHT UP AGAINST IT, and if you take on the riprap on the west side – throw across the current (at 90-degrees), let out more line and let it swing just enough to clear the submerged shoreline AND hold on for trophy size sand bass in the two-pound range. They come along in waves, and you won’t be attacked as happens with large schools. It will be a few bruisers that will chase in the current, or ambush from the submerged shoreline. HINT – There are no fly rod records on the TPWD site for the Trinity River – for crappie or sand bass at this time!


  • Exercise caution!
  • Fish it only if the fence on the west side of the riprap is submerged (flow is ON)
  • Don’t bother with the lower park


Lower Laguna Madre Flats Fly Fishing Report

| March 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

WATCH THE VIDEO – Windy Conditions by The Flats Guide

The last few weeks have been treachorous to say the least. Stiff winds and cloudy days have made for diffucult conditions. Presenting the fly has been difficult for a few of my last charters!. If you golf in South Texas than you can imagine trying to put a shot just where you need it when it is blowing steady twenty-five miles-per-hour.

Finding clear water is not normally a problem in our bay but the combination of strong winds and a moving tide have really been murking up the water, but I managed to find fish on grassy flats and east side banks normally fished during summer months. If these winds keep blowing like they have I may resort to the old tactic of stalking fish in ultra shallow flats.

Getting off a perfectly good boat does not appeal to me very much any more (my Maverick HPX has spoiled me), but if that is what is going to take then so be it. The workload at my real job has picked up so the timing has actually worked out in my favor (it is always good to focus on our good fortune). Maybe I will be rewarded with better conditions and completed projects in the weeks to come!

Don’t get me wrong, if a client or good fishing buddy calls me up tomorrow and says, “let’s hit the flats,” I will be waiting for them at the dock Anyone can fish in perfect conditions, but where is the sport in that? Take a look at the video titled: Windy Conditions of past trips that were shot under some pretty windy conditions. It is officially spring, and great fishing is just around the corner.

Thanks for that report – Captain Mark Becerra at www.theflatsguide.com.

Fishing Report – The Lower Laguna Madre

| February 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

This Lower Laguna Madre Fly Fishing Report is brought to you by Captain Mark Becerra, www.theflatsguide.com.


Fly Fishing here on the Lower Laguna Madre has been tough the last few weeks! Temperatures well below freezing did have an impact, but mostly on the sea turtle population. Black drum seem to be the most affected fish on the flats next to the mullet and bait fish population.

It is not very difficult for me to keep my head high when I remember that I get to fish well over 200 days a year. Clients tend to stay in when the weather gets tough, but timing the optimal days between the fronts is the key to our success.

On the days leading to two of the strongest northers of the year the tides had us traveling to the extreme ends of the bay to find clear water, which is an unusual problem here. Both Redfish and Trout seemed to be stacked in the ultra shallows of west side lagoons that usually have 18 to 24 inches of water but currently only have 8-10 inches.

Grass flats that we do not normally pole over proved that they could hold the heat and cover the fish were after. Casting at some of the biggest trout I have seen in months proved very difficult with the high winds as well. Carlos, a Monterey Mexico transplant to McAllen, Texas, could not keep the smile from showing through his camouflaged Buff! I can only imagine what would have happened if he got one to take his fly. Next time Carlos!

On a final note. Local volunteers and clubs fighting to help the sea turtles managed to collect over 1000 along the seashore and inland waters – 800 or so managed to survive and were released. Let me offer a sincere thanks to all of you who pitched in.

P.S. – I headed out on Tuesday for a quick scouting trip with Bryan, and the redfish and trout were just where we left them about 2-1/2 weeks ago. The clouds and wind are still the deciding factor on being able to present a fly, but the fish are there willing to eat – if you can tighten the loop. Bryan and managed to stick 6 on what would have only been a half day charter.

Watch the VIDEO from Captain Mark Becerra.