South Padre Island, TX area - fishing or hunting?

Duk Dog

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Apr 29, 2012
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121
Bit of a shot in the dark here, but wondering if anyone has done any fishing or hunting in the South Padre Island area of Texas? Likely headed there for a week and thought I'd see what my options are. More realistically I'd be looking for some fishing options, but I understand there is some Nilgai hunting nearby. Other things to see and do?
Thanks.
 
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philw

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Feb 26, 2012
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Colorado
There's good surf fishing on South Padre, best to have a 4WD vehicle because you can drive right down the beach. There's an area called "big shell" due to the composition of the beach, the locals can give you directions. This time of year they get some big redfish in the surf, I got a 44 -incher on a dead shrimp when we lived down there.
 

Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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Abilene, Texas
This will be long, but it gives me an excuse to relive a great fishing trip. I hope you don't mind. Anyway, my dad and I fished the Laguna Madre out of South Padre last September. It was a lot of fun. Can't wait to do it again. Here's what I posted on another forum after the trip.....


What a great trip Dad and I had. There is just nothing like flyfishing clear, skinny waters and sight-casting to hard fighting fish. It's like a combination between fishing and bowhunting. You hold your fire, quietly and stealthily stalking and searching, until you have a fish in your sights. Then you have to get into range and "shoot" without spooking the fish. Fun stuff.

When we got there Sunday evening, we found a beautiful view through the breezeway of the house on the bay.

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Soon, we met the guides that were working with our friend and outfitter, Mark Cowan of Pescador Solitario. I told Mark that I would be happy to catch few fish in an attempt to get a tarpon on a fly. He said that they hadn't been seeing any tarpon at all recently, and he felt that we would be better off fishing for reds this time. While disappointed at the lack of tarpon, it sounded like fun still. So we rigged up the 8 weights and filled our flyboxes full of crab and shrimp imitations.

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After dinner, we found another beautiful view off the dock.

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We woke up early and got in the boats at first light and made a run north about 14 miles up the Laguna Madre. This was our hunting stand for the day....

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But rather than sitting and waiting for a fish to come by our stand, the guide moved the blind around in hopes of getting it in front of a redfish.

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We searched and searched the first day, but we had a north wind behind an early front. The fish weren't very active on the flats. We had a couple of shots, but didn't connect the first day. We still had a great day on the hunt.
 

Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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Abilene, Texas
The next morning, we woke up early and hit the water again with great hope and enthusiasm. It was dead calm at first light.

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As the sun came up, so did the breeze.

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When we got to the guide's honey hole, Dad was up first. The breeze was coming from the northeast. We tried the east side of the islands first and saw a couple of tails, but not much. We went around to the west side where it was still calm, and we began to see fish. A large pod of tailing reds was feeding toward us in the distance. The guide poled the boat into position, and Dad made a great cast just in front of the pod. The water erupted when one of the fish took the fly and felt the hook set. After a good battle, we had our first HUP (holding up pic) of the trip. :D

Two spots too. Cool fish.

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While we were taking pics, we saw another big pod of tails coming our way. So we quickly got moving. I was up next, and the guide poled us into position again. I cast the crab fly a foot or so in front of the pod, and BAM! Fish ON!

It wasn't a big one, but it was a redfish.

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Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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Abilene, Texas
After the HUP, the pod that this fish came from was still feeding along up ahead of us. Dad's turn again.

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I was up next. Another tail, another take. But I didn't get the hook set good, and he got off. I kept the deck. :) Pretty soon, I had another fish take the fly. I set the hook good, but I thought I'd give it one more good jerk to make sure. Yep, you guessed it. I broke him off. :rolleyes:

Dad's turn again. He found a trout to cast to, and he managed to get the fly in front of it without spooking it.

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Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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Abilene, Texas
My turn again, and FISH ON!

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They're pretty fish.

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The wind got up pretty hard after lunch. The west side of the bay got murky in the waves, so we moved to the east side where the bottom is hard and the water stays crystal clear. The good thing about that is you can see the fish a long way off. The bad thing is that they can see you too. It means your shots are going to be much longer. Trying to make an accurate cast 60-80 feet into the wind without spooking the fish is as challenging as fly fishing gets. We had some shots and made some good casts and lots of casts that just flopped in the wind. No more fish that day, but it had already been a fantastic day before lunch.



Wednesday would be our third and final day to fish. When we got up and walked outside, we saw lightning flashing to the north. Radar showed some storms headed toward where we were going to be fishing. We decided to wait them out rather than get in the boats with our rain suits on and drive through the storm. I took the opportunity to drive across to the Gulf side of the island to capture the sunrise with the storm clouds coming. I hoped that the clouds would stay north long enough for the sun to peak over the horizon. If they moved over us before the sun came up, there would be no color in the sky. Thankfully, the timing was perfect.

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As the storm passed over, we were blessed with a rainbow.

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We would soon be going across to where the north end of the rainbow touched the horizon. We didn't find gold when we got there, but we did find some copper.

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Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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Location
Abilene, Texas
The wind was blowing pretty hard from the northwest again, making the conditions tough. Murky water, waves, and wind make it hard to see and then cast to fish. We were having trouble seeing the fish before they got too close to the boat, and we were spooking lots more than we were getting good shots at.

At one point, we had a big push coming straight at us. It was a HUGE redfish. His head was the size of a football - literally. He was probably close to 30 pounds. He was just cruising along coming right at us. When he got to about 60', I cast. The fly landed about 3' in front of him. He gave it a glance and turned slightly and just kept on cruising right by the fly. DANG IT!!! That was the fish of a lifetime. It was cool to see him and cast to him.

Then the guide took us to the south end of an island, and we found some tails there. I saw a big tail right up against the mangroves about 50' away, and I immediately sent a fly his way.

Perfect cast, right in front of his nose. Strip, strip, strip....BAM! Fish on. Not the monster from earlier, but he was a nice one. Very colorful and beautiful fish.

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Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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Location
Abilene, Texas
Dad's turn again.

I didn't mention it before, but we had been seeing lots of sheepshead all week. We cast to lots of them, but they are the most spooky fish on the flats. They must have fantastic eyesight. If they were inside of 60' they would see us blink our eyes, and they'd be GONE. They're not the fish that people dream of catching, but they probably should be. They're extremely challenging to catch on a fly rod. Tossing bait out and waiting is an easy way to catch lots of them, but sight casting to them with a fly rod is a completely different ball game.

Anyway, Dad was up again. He has cataracts (getting them removed in a couple of weeks), so he couldn't spot fish very well. When he was on the deck, I'd stand behind him and help him spot fish and locate the fish that the guide would spot. We were poling along, and I saw a big blue tail coming at us. I thought it was a red, but then the fish turned sideways and we saw that it was a big sheepshead. Dad saw it then, about 30' away. Thankfully, the water was pretty murky and there was a lot of grass right there. The fish was focused on the bottom and, miraculously, didn't notice Dad's casting movement. Dad dropped the fly about 18" in front of the fish - not close enough. He picked up the line to make another cast, and the fish still didn't spook. UNbelievable. He made a perfect cast this time and dropped the fly about 4" in front of the fish's nose.


We watched the fish move over the fly and then down onto it. Dad waited for the fish to drive the fly into the bottom and get it into his mouth, and then he set the hook. TOUCHDOWN!!! The fish was off like a rocket, and the fight was on. We were all cheering and hollering. Dad had a trophy-sized sheepshead on the fly. The guide was more excited about that than any of the other fish we caught all week. It's a rare catch on a fly.

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You do NOT want to put your fingers in this mouth. :D

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And that was the last fish of the trip.

We woke up just as early the next morning to start our long drive home. It's a LONG way down to South Padre from Abilene, and even farther from my dad's house in Tulia. We packed all our gear into the truck before the sun came up, and I walked back to the dock for one last look before we left. I saw a big tail as I was walking up. Then I saw another tail with a dorsal fin in front of it. BIG fish. Then another, and another. It was tarpon. There was about 10 acres of rolling tarpon all around the dock. Many were passing by within easy casting distance. I thought about rigging up real fast and casting to one, but we didn't have a boat. The big fish would most likely have spooled me while I was stuck on the dock. I just watched them and vowed to come back again to catch one. I didn't even take a picture of them. It was just too sickening. :D

NEXT time, I WILL catch a tarpon. ;)b
 
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Duk Dog

Duk Dog

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Apr 29, 2012
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Great pictures, and story!! Thanks for sharing.
 

Shane

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Oct 30, 2012
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170
Location
Abilene, Texas
Thanks, y'all. It was a fun trip. Duk Dog, you can fish in the surf or you can fish in the Laguna Madre (bay between the island and the mainland). It helps to have a boat in the bay, but you can wade fish all day every day if you want to. Drive north from town, and find a good spot to park and wade. There were a LOT of mostly small stingrays in the bay when we were there. Be sure and do the stingray shuffle when you wade.
 

G Posik

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Mar 1, 2012
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Location
Houston,Texas
Shane awesome pictures as always. I'm gonna tell TBH your cheatin on them. I am head down for two days in March to fish with a High school buddy that guides in Baffin. Being March it is Trophy Trout time, we expect to get in the 30" trout. Hope to get some pictures(CPR) with so big ol' girls.

Glenn
 
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