Monthly Archive for November, 2009

Aransas Texas…. Why?

On the coldest winter days, when the weather keeps me off my kayak, I still think about fishing – as many of us fisherman do.  At first I simply take the time to fine-tune my gear, sharpening hooks, oiling reels. I let my mind wander, coming up with theories about how I might improve my fishing techniques and picturing how it will all play out when I hook the next fish. Then as time wears on, I find myself pacing around indoors, eager to get on the water.  That is when I start planning future fishing trips, in an excited flurry and greater detail than I care to admit.  This first decision is always, which new species to target this year.

This year, the new species to target was the Red Fish.  Last year it was Silver Salmon.  The fact is, fishing brings me to places that many may not know.  They may not be among the top tourist destinations, but I have found if you follow where life takes you, you won’t be disappointed.  More often you will find a place more amazing than you could have imaged – a new treasure that only you and few fellow fishermen may share.

It’s funny the places life takes you and the reasons why. It is something I had never really thought about until Slow Ride Kayak Fishing guide Dean Thomas asked my wife and I why we came all the way from San Diego to Aransas Texas to fish. To me it was simple, to catch a Red Fish, a fish I have dreamed about catching for years, but really did not know much about. I have watched these fish being caught over and over on early, cold winter mornings while sitting on my couch, in-front of the TV, drinking a warm cup of coffee watching the Redfish cup with my wife. Ever since the 1st time I watched this tournament, on a morning too cold and rainy to be fishing myself, I knew this was a fish I had to catch, and a fish I would continue to think about from time to time anticipating the day I would get to fish for them.

In February I was fortunate enough to be rewarded a free flight anywhere in the United States through Southwest Rapid Rewards. This, and my dream of catching a red is what would bring my wife and I to fish the Texas flats. When I told my wife, Shiloh that I wanted to use the flight to go get myself a red she was immediately on board.  Not only could I get my Red Fish, but we also would fish a new body of water. During an 8-day kayak fishing roadtrip to Baja a couple years back, we talked about how we would love to fish all the major salt waters of the world together. This trip would be another check on our list.

Our camp spot

The portion of the Texas Flats that we would come to know is just north of Corpus Christi located in the small town of Aransas Pass. Here, beer and gas are cheap, southern hospitality prevails, and local fishermen are eager to trade you fresh caught flounder for a bit of bug spray.  This is a town blessed with a healthy and beautiful fishery holding a wide range of species including one of the local favorites the Red Drum, also know as the Red Fish. Here we would camp on a remote beach at the entry of Lighthouse Lakes estuary at the mouth leading to the Gulf Coast. Looking out at these waters from our campsite as the sun started to kiss it while rising behind a lighthouse over 150 years old and a channel abundant with dolphins, both of us knew we were in a very special place.  This is a well-maintained healthy fishery conserved and regulated by the Texas Fish and Game and cared for by the local sportsmen. It is a flat maze of land and water that seems as if it was made just for the Kayak fisherman. The places we fished are not easily accessible by boat as most of the water is less than 2 feet deep.  It is also a place you can become lost in.  The extensive black mangroves splits the water and forms a labyrinth of narrow passages leading to unimaginable areas of wide open fishing that were easily accessible by our Wilderness System kayaks. On kayak you can easily find yourself fishing for Reds on what most would call a small secluded lake, accompanied only by the countless varieties of tropical birds, doing some fishing of their own under the warm Texas sun.

There are many ways the locals fish this area including using live shrimp, jigs, spoons, and cut bait all to try to lure a bite.  However the favored technique of choice by local guide Dean is a top water plug on light spinning or casting tackle, using 8lb test with a short six inch 20lb shock leader. This here is fishing at its best. As you paddle your kayak through the shallow waters you want to make sure your eyes are constantly scanning the surface and when the tides are just right you can see the tips of the red tails of the fish peeking out of the water. This is the technique of spot and cast. When the waters are up a bit more you may not see the fish tails, but the reds are still there so you simply look for water movement and fish those areas.

We fished for three days and learned first hand the joys of catching Red Fish and both of us caught a lot of them! There is something quite joyful being on a kayak surrounded by picturesque scenery, casting out a spook top water plug as far as you can, walking it back in, then seeing and hearing a red fish roll out of the water grabbing your plug, letting the slow ride begin as line pulls off your reel creating the sound of the drag while you fight a powerful fish. It was my second Red that I caught that I really got to see the true beauty of this species. As I pulled her onto the boat the sky hit that red skin and sent a gold shimmer to the eyes.  At twenty-five inches long this was the Red Fish I dreamed of and the reason my wife and I would find ourselves enjoying a weekend in Texas we will remember our whole lives.


If you are ever in Texas look up Dean Thomas at Slowride Guide Service he will help put you on some reds.