Bandits, Black Drum, Convicts, Flats Fishing, Fly Fishing, Kayak, Marsh, Mugshot, Photography, Redfish, Sheepshead, Texas -

Reds and Convicts

Austin gave me a shout Thursday evening to see if I had any plans for the weekend. His birthday was in a few days, so he wanted to celebrate like any avid angler wants spend their day of birth, on the water. My plans were to fish for the next three days. Perfect. Austin was on the road headed in my direction less than an hour later.

I had been twisting Austin’s arm every which way for a few years now trying to convince him into leaving the clean water of the Coastal Bend to make the trek north to the Upper Coast to experience some of the best redfishing the Texas Coast has to offer. I’ve talked up my home waters enough that Austin was probably tired of hearing me lecture about the area. I’m not sure if he’s was coming my way to put my mouth to rest or if he genuinely wanted to fish the area. Regardless, I had the burden on my shoulders and the area had a reputation to live up to.

The conditions weren’t ideal, so I tried to keep his expectations realistic. The weekend before was nothing short of phenomenal. The “should have been here yesterday” excuse wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear when I told him about the weekend’s prospects. He agreed to come anyway.

We fished hard for three days straight. He, like most tyers, is constantly experimenting with different materials and patterns. His latest concoction was aptly name the Pearl Necklace. It’s a fly he ties for sharks off the beachfront using nothing more than thread, a hook, and pearl-beaded Christmas tree decorations. It looks exactly like it sounds…hideous. He was determined to convince a redfish to eat his creation after he heard me tell him in so many ways that dirty water redfish will eat just about anything. That being said, I still had my doubts. He took my qualms to heart and welcomed the challenge.

The first morning Austin and I met up with Brandon. Fishing was slow. We found a few fish and one school. Austin got one eat on the Pearl Necklace, but he couldn’t keep the fish connected. About noon we decided to grab lunch and come up with a game plan for the rest of the afternoon.

We decided to target sheepshead for a few hours to let the heat subside and tide to start falling out of the marsh. We targeted docks that hold large numbers of resident fish. Brandon had the hot hand. He landed a few fish on a sheepie crack. Austin and I had a hard time keeping our fish connected due to back hookups or breakoffs. We spent a few hours fishing for convicts only to be frustrated even more than when we arrived.

We had a couple of hours of light left so we hit the marsh again to see if the low tides would leave any fish exposed. We covered a bunch of water, but we only had one shot right before sunset. Austin made the cast, sans pearl necklace, and got a take. The fish was too skinny to put up much of a fight. It lasted all of about a few seconds before it wore itself out wallowing in the mud.

The next day we met up Brian and Derrel. The fishing was much of the same. No tidal movement. Very little feeding activity. We had split up to cover more water. I found a few schools working underneath terns, but no one was around to witness the spectacle with me. I grabbed my camera and followed the schools around. By the time anyone had met up with me most of the schools had disbursed. Derrel was able to chase one school down. He landed a mid-slot fish. Austin and Brian landed a few small redfish each. Austin also landed his first flounder on fly. We called it a day around noon after another slow day.

Sunday we fished closer to home. Instead of making a long drive I decided to maximize our time and cover water looking for active fish. Early in the morning we heard plenty of fish feeding. Austin caught a small fish that was crashing shrimp in the spartina grass on the Pearl Necklace. Mission complete. Now he wanted a bigger adversary to hoax.

We rounded a corner shortly thereafter and found an average-size school rummaging down the shoreline. I poled Austin into position he fired his pearl necklace ahead of the moving school. A few strips later a fish engulfed his unsightly fly again. The fight was on. A few minutes later Austin landed a better fish. Catch, photo and release.

About that time we both heard the sky starting to rumble. We looked to the horizon to see a wall of darkness moving in our direction. I’m not one to jump ship at the first sign of danger, but I’ve had several encounters with squalls packing an attitude as of late. We were a long way from our launch. My canoe isn’t going to win any races, especially against a summer storm that’s covering ground.

I made the decision to head in and wait out the storm under cover. We got little sprinkle on the way in but we avoided the heavy stuff. Instead of heading back out into the uncertain weather we decided to fish for convicts again. We were better prepared (fly selection and leader wise) for the picky bastards this time around. Again, we struggled to get bites. Refusal after refusal with the occassional sniff. But we stuck with it. We hooked a few and each brought one to hand. Another species off the list for Austin. Not a bad way to spend a birthday weekend.

Check out Austin’s blog at…

Photos from a few weeks back when Austin came in town to fish…

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