Tag: skiff rigging

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


Monday Morning A Day to Remember

| December 7, 2015 | 1 Comment

fly fishing Texas winterizing skiff randy brodnax art world war II #flyfishing #texasskiff lagoon boats


Monday mornings always take on extra meaning, like December 7 obviously should, or at least it used to. Now that we have recurring acts of terrorism on the mainland regularly, maybe the fade of WWII has finally begun, just as WWI the war to end all wars has been secured in history and there are no veterans left to provide a physical reminder. I once had a concept of a science fiction book based on a world that had gone so long without war that they forgot what it actually was. I guess there’s no future in that.

I am old enough to have known dozens of WWII Veterans, and there are still a lot around, although they are leaving us – in large numbers. Their stories, and their silences came to me as a child in my Grandfather’s store in South Texas, a store where he had a loyal customer base that included one Japanese civilian that my Grandfather, and only my Grandfather, did business with during the War. “Jap,” and “Kraut,” were words that had lost their wartime punch, and had become simple, non-perjorative terms in those days. Such were the times.

This family story is told by my Grandma: I had just watched a WWII movie, which were all the rage in the 1960’s, and I, being of preschool age, said, “Grandma, I wanna’ shoot some Krauts!” To which she instantly replied, “Go look in the mirror!” Such were the times, and such is still my sweet Grandma.

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Monday Morning Sidewalk Still Rolls Around

| August 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

texas fly fishing #flyfishing skiff lagoon boats

It has certainly gotten thin around here, but at least we can count on a walk down the Monday Morning Sidewalk for awhile longer. I hope you got the kids off to school, if this is their first day back, and are wherever you need to be – safe, sound and well insulated.

Lagoon Skiff Texas poling skiff

I had a friend, Immanuel Salas, show up in North Texas this past weekend, so we had no choice but to hitch up the Lagoon Skiff and do some prospecting on Lake Ray Roberts last Saturday. Now that there are a few (I don’t know how many now) ramps open, and the school year is tamping things down a bit, it seemed like a Saturday would be mostly harmless, and it was.

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