Fly Fishing – The Days to Come

Fly Fishing – The Days to Come
I am just now realizing- it has been a long time since I have climbed up on my soap box to bring attention to, or address any issues that we as anglers are facing. I actually have a few good ones that I have been chewing on for quite some time however, I am going to let them wait. Why, you ask? Because it is spring and I so damned glad for it. And, it means good things are just around the corner so, I want to write about my favorite thing- fly fishing.

It goes without saying that spring comes after winter, but it does, and with it comes many changes. For many, spring starts in late March with the Vernal Equinox, however for the fly fisherman, spring starts when the redfish begin to root the bottom looking for the grass shrimp that have started hatching and the big trout move to the shallows. Some years this happens as early as the beginning of February and other years, as late as early April.

During this transition, anglers must be flexible as early spring fishing varies little from winter fishing except for the fact that sight-casting will become the norm rather than the exception (as is the case during the middle of winter). However, blind-casting will still be a big part of spring fishing, especially when searching the potholes for trophy trout.

As the days lengthen and the water warms, the bigger trout will get spring fever and begin to think about making babies. The best time to target these trophy fish varies from year to year however, anglers willing to vary their tactics and specifically target the sows stand a good chance of hooking a trophy from early February well into April. Methods range from slowly wading or poling a skiff in the extreme shallows in search of a visible target, to blind-casting the potholes of a grass flat or muddy bayside cove with large, mullet-imitating flies such Seaducers and Deceivers.

Time will march on as the earth continues to tilt and the calendar moves closer to the Equinox. Anglers will see the redfish slowly move into and remain in the shallows. Here they will feed on small mullet and pinfish and then begin to break up into small pods and tail as they root the once dormant grass beds in search of small blue crabs and the many small grass shrimp that are beginning to hatch in the new growths of shoal and widgeon grass. When this occurs it is a good time pay particularly close attention to the stingrays in the shallows. Small pods of redfish and even large trout can be found closely following the rays waiting for them to spook up an easy meal. This is also the time to start paying closer attention to the tides and currents as finding warmer water temperatures becomes less and less of a factor in finding feeding fish.

Once spring is full swing and we have found our way into the month of April, the wind will blow (hard) as the prevailing southeasterly winds return and normal to high water levels will cover the flats. This will be the time to look for fish working under birds as the brown shrimp fill the bays and start their migration to the Gulf to complete their life cycle. This event is typically complete with the arrival of the full moon in May which, incidentally, coincides with more consistent sightings of sharks, large jack crevalle and tarpon near shore and, in some cases, in the bays. In fact, it is not uncommon to find large jacks working a flat in singles and pairs (occasionally tailing) for large blue crabs in April. These fish make easy targets for the fly angler and are usually the first opportunities to hook into something big and strong.

Once into the heat of May, it is full-throttle for the Texas fly-caster. There are so many options it borders on unreal. For those willing to break from the everyday routine the possibilities are limitless. Redfish, trout, flounder, sheepshead, drum, Spanish mackerel, little tunny, jack crevalle, tarpon and the list goes on and on.

For me, it is time to put the dreary winter behind and let Spring Fever set in.