Fishing the Laguna Madre

Head to Texas for hot flats fishing.

If you are interested in fishing the Corpus Christi area, you are in luck. The lodgings and food are inexpensive, tourist facilities are numerous and fly-rod competition is virtually nonexistent. The Laguna Madre area is as yet undiscovered by fly fishermen and really under-utilized. By contrast, flats activity just 35 miles to the north at Rockport, Texas, is significantly more intense.

Corpus Christi Airport lies within a few miles of this rich estuary. Both bay and Gulf access to Padre Island are virtually limitless for the wading fisherman, and redfish cruise both sides, bay and Gulf, just about year-round.

Rods should be in the 7- to 9-weight range, and a 9-footer is just about perfect. A saltwater 7 will do, but it's on the light side and the wind does blow. Reds are not leader-shy so we used a simple homemade affair composed of a 4-foot 40-pound butt spliced to a 3-foot 20-pound midsection, looped to a 24-inch 10-pound tippet.

A saltwater reel with a good drag is an excellent idea if you intend on searching out the big fellows. Backing should be 30-pound to handle the abrasions of shells, grasses and occasional storm debris. One hundred yards will do but 150 is better. Flies should be tied point-up in bead-chain Clouser and Crazy Charlie styles to minimize grass fouling. Hook sizes #4 and #6 are appropriate, and sharpness is essential. Chartreuse-and-white, red-and-white and yellow-and-red are favorite colors, but frankly these fish proved a very cooperative predator.
The only drawback to the long-rod visitor at this specific area is the limited number of genuine fly-fishing guides. That's both a blessing and a curse. While you do have to make guiding arrangements in advance, you won't have much competition for a flat. There are two angling stores in the area, and they can help make the necessary connections. Also Fred Lynch is a full-time guide, and specializes in fly fishing, so you can't go wrong if you get on his schedule.

As to the fish - you don't really need a heavyweight red to challenge your tackle - at least I didn't. The welterweights could tax my gear and my abilities just as well, and there really are plenty of all sizes. If you're looking for a rumble, a Laguna Madre redfish, no matter the weight class, will give you an encounter you'll remember.