In my explorations of the Texas coast, I have spent a fair amount of time on the lower end of the upper coast region. Earlier this year I made a late winter fishing trip to Christmas Bay. For this month, I am writing about a neat little spot deeper into the coastal marshes along the ICW Salt Lake. Salt Lake is completely surrounded by the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge, located about 10 miles from Freeport, TX. Hook-N-Line Map F127 is the most appropriate for referencing this region.
When and Weather
Its fall and the reds are schooling up and attacking the shrimp as they move through the channels and sloughs. Marsh fishing should be good in this area right through the end of the year.
I have been greeted with favorable weather during my adventures of late. For the purpose of fly fishing I was quite hopeful for calm winds. Thankfully my wish was granted on my first trip out with fly gear, the wind coming from the east at less than 5 mph. Day time temps ranged from mid 70s to mid 80s, very pleasant.
Tackle and Gear
In last months installment I announced my attempt to fly fish from the kayak. Talking to my Pops on the phone one day, around the time I decided to set up a fly rig, he offered up his old fly setup to get me going. From what Ive learned an 8-weight setup is preferred for the type of fishing I am doing, and luckily my dads rod was just such weight. I loaded the reel with fresh line and practiced casting in the yard. My buddy Cliff put together a little box of flies to get me started.
I only had a traditional Scotty rod holder for my conventional rods on my yak, so I had to pick up a Scotty fly rod holder to accommodate the fly rig.
Stop in Freeports Mitchells Bait and Tackle to get your shrimp or other baits before hitting the water.
Hitting the water
Salt Lake is a fairly easy place to fish. I feel comfortable saying even beginner paddlers can manage to fish the entire lake without a problem. Using a Google Maps distance calculator, I estimate the circumference of Salt Lake to be about 3.5 miles total.
Keep in mind the gate for the refuge is not open on a 24/7 basis. On one trip to Salt Lake we had to wait at the gate for 30 minutes before it opened.
Once at the launch spot, you can go left or right following the grassy shoreline (Salt Lake is literally just a big circle in shape.) To the right you will come first to the cut that leads to Nicks Lake. This cut is a good spot to fish in and around. If you continue on around the lake you will come to the weir. It is important to know that fishing beyond the weir is not permitted at Salt Lake.
Not long after launching Cliff and I ran into a pod of reds cruising along the grass just chomping on shrimp. For nearly 30 minutes we eased along paralleling the fish and getting our flies amongst them at opportune times. The fish were in such aggressive feeding mode that the group didnt spook and we were able to land several. Cliff and I dubbed fish in this behavior MRFs Multiple Reds Feeding.
Where to eat and where to sleep
Access to the Refuge and Salt Lake are somewhat rural. The closest commercial area is Freeport, offering a place to eat and sleep. Lake Jackson is a little farther inland but a valid option as well.
In Freeport, Freeport Inn and Cambridge Inn and Suites are your two best options for some shut eye if you are planning more than a one day excursion.
My suggestion for eateries are, On The River or Texas Burrito Factory.
The Other Angles
Powerboats do sometimes enter Salt Lake, accessing it through Nicks Lake from the ICW, so paddlers need to be conscious of any boat traffic.
The entirety of the Lake is surrounded by the marsh of the Refuge, prohibiting any bank fishing except from the launch area.
I honestly could not wait to write this article as I am completely in awe of how much fun fly casting to redfish is from the kayak. My best comparison is archery hunting. Without writing another article on my obsession for slingin arrows, just take my word that I love it. For me, bow hunting brings such an elevated element to the experience of hunting in general. You have to be more stealthy, more involved, work harder, etc. Harvesting an animal only happens when the culmination of all of your efforts come together to get your desired game literally right under you for the kill shot. When that happens, its a great feeling of accomplishment. I now see kayak fly fishing as anglings version of similar status. Light-tackle kayak angling in general is up close and personal to begin with, however, after breaking out the fly rod Id say light-tackle kayak fishing is more akin to sitting in a climbing stand with a rifle. With the fly rod, you have to be more patient and stealthy to get closer and this element serves to greater heighten the experience.
I went right out on the limb for this trip to experience fly fishing in all its glory. Therefore, I left the conventional rods at home. Again comparing to bow hunting, you arent really bow hunting if you bring a gun as backup. Thankfully I had the good fortune to have a good wind and found MRFs busting through the grass.
I havent landed the oversized red I seek as of yet. Cliff on the other hand has knocked on 30 inches with a couple of his recent catches from Salt Lake.
As always, be careful on the water, bring a friend, and have fun.
If you would like more information on the Freeport area, visit www.freeport.tx.us
On The River Restaurant 979 233 1352
Texas Burrito Factory www.texasburritofactory.com
Cambridge Inn 979 239 1602For questions regarding this article, I can be reached at 936-776-7028, by email to [email protected], or find me on Facebook to follow along in my outdoor adventures.