Scratching the saltwater itch can be more expensive than a gambling addiction, especially when you live in Colorado. For many landlocked flyfisherman, the $3000 price tag of a guided week of flats fishing might as well be a million. However, determined to get our saltwater fix, fellow Front Range Anglers Guide, Tyler Bowman and I set our sights on the redfish along Texas' Gulf Coast. With a budget not allowing for the conveniences of a boat, guide, or rental car, we strategically located ourselves in Aransas Pass, Texas. Fueled by peanut butter sandwiches and armed with 8 weights, we found expansive flats within walking distance of our $50 per night motel. We quickly discovered also that a thumb and a smile can easily get you a few miles down the road from a friendly local on their way to work. Every new flat provided shots at tailing and cruising redfish, along with an occasional speckled sea trout hookup.
If you go: The beauty of salt water flats fishing is that the gear is pretty simple. A good fast action rod in the 7-8 weight range, a pair of wading boots or old sneakers, a few leaders, and a handful of flies is all you need. Here is a short list of effective gear:
Rods: A 9' 8 weight with a fast action will is an ideal rod for smaller reds.
Reels: Any reel with a half decent drag system and at least a 125 yards of 20 pound backing will do.
Flies: The Texas coast is filled with abundant populations of crabs and shrimp. Any fly that imitates these creatures will produce fish if carefully presented. Also, red fish feed heavily on mullet, and in several instances we found reds cruising with groups of these fish, so smaller bait fish imitations are good to have on hand. On the sand flats shrimp patterns without weed guards worked well. However, we quickly learned that many of the grass flats in Texas require a weedless fly. Simply put, sometimes a double weed guard was not enough to keep our flies free of grass. The more weedless your fly, the better. We threw all of our flies on 9-10' leaders tapered down to 0-2x fluorocarbon tippet.
Every minute on a flat is educational. For every hookup, we had to put quite a few miles on the old chevro -legs. Wind, spooked fish, and bad casts are more the rule than the exception.
Hiring a local professional guide is always worth every penny, but if you're low on pennies, your next experinece on a pristine saltwater flat may only require a plane ticket, a cheap hotel, and a short swim...
Patrick Knackendoffel and Tyler Bowman