Monday, May 7, 2012
I should have followed Austin’s advice.
As we sat around the cabin’s front porch a couple of nights earlier, the conversation had inevitably gotten around to fly casting. What? Doesn’t yours? It beats the hell out of talking politics, my friend.
Anyway. Austin suggested that, when the Laguna wind gets to howlin’, it’s easy to cast your entire fly line. You simply strip it into a pile at your feet, pick up the pile, and throw it as high into the air as you can. El viento will take care of the rest.
Today, I could have added my backing.
We had a wicked tailwind as we drove north out of South Padre, up the island, Gulf of Mexico over the dunes to our right, the Laguna Madre over the dunes to our left. Twenty-five to thirty-five knots the disgustingly cheerful weatherman had said. He, obviously, wasn’t a fisherman. Sand blew across the road like snow drifts in a Montana blizzard. Stung like bees. Simply stringing our rods was a challenge.
Over the dunes and across a half-mile of tidal flats, it never relented. Once on the open lagoon, our loose fishing shirts whipped us like we were thoroughbreds fading down the stretch.
Todd remained close to shore, focusing around the small isles held together by scrub brush, fishing what he knew – structure - unable to wrap his head around the vast, featureless body of water that spread before us. Chris and I waded out without a focus - a quarter-mile, a half, more, the water never reaching our knees, as we embraced the apparent endlessness of the flats. We had hoped to sight-fish, what this body of water is famous for, but instead we blind casted into whitecaps, unable to see more than churn, let alone redfish.
We put our left shoulders into the wind and casted perpendicular to the howl. Facing opposite would have us draped in line, at best - playing pincushion to airborne clousers, more likely. Casting directly into, or with, the wind was impossible.
It seemed hopeless, but after an hour of prospecting I heard a yip from upwind and turned to see a blessed bend in Chris’ Hardy. The persistence in his quest for Texas reds had finally been rewarded. Not a particularly big fish, but the species was represented. I waded over to get a picture, a high-five, and the pattern he was using. Orange and yellow.
I got close – an orange and brown from my box – and within fifteen minutes received my blessing as well. Another small red that, despite his modest size, insisted on being on the reel and stripping his share of line. I can only imagine what a big one can do. My first, and ultimately only, redfish of the trip. Dumb luck, I figure, but I took it.
From El Viento, I’d have taken anything.
Note: Read Chris' take on this windblown day at Sandblasted. He captures the frustration so much better than I.