Spoon-fed Reds

I just got back from a fishing trip to Port Aransas on the Texas coast. It was a flats thing … kayaks, fly rods, tailing reds, sight fishing … you know the drill. Not so this time. The wind blew like hell and the flats lay smothered in heavy fog most of the time. Sight fishing was out of the question, so the exercise rolled over to blind casting.

However, good news follows. The redfish were in the shallows and on the prowl. All it took was a little flash to get their attention … flash provided in the form of gold spoon flies.

I made these spoons using light-cured resin instead of epoxy and I like the results. I will post the recipe and tying instructions later.

Eleven Mile Carp

Fly fishing the flats for cruising carp

Fly fishing the flats for cruising carp

I like fly fishing flatwater. Not just in spring, when runoff shuts down the rivers, but anytime between ice-off and ice-up. Turn me out on a quiet stretch of shoreline with a fly rod and a box of flies, and I will not bother the rest of the herd for hours.

And I am not fussy about the fish species or the reservoir, any fish that frequents the shorelines in either cold or warm bodies of water will do. I target mountain park reservoirs for large trout, especially during the major insect hatches, and I try to fish the prime times in spring and fall when pike and wipers come within fly range.

However, in June, the events occurring at Eleven Mile Reservoir take precedence over all others. In addition to hit-and-miss fishing for pike, there is sure-fire fishing for carp.

carp_gripCarping the flats at Eleven Mile is all about sight fishing, which I consider the best fishing of all. Here, you stalk the shoreline, scanning the clear water until you spot a carp feeding on the flats. Keeping a low profile, you load the rod, drop a fly in the carp’s path, and twitch it slowly along the bottom. The tension builds as the carp locks in on the fly and moves in for a closer look. If all goes well and the fly passes the inspection, you will see the carp pucker its lips and inhale the fly.

carp_fliesThe best flies I have found for the flats are small crayfish imitations tied with soft and fuzzy materials that “breathe” when worked slowly along the bottom. I prefer to weight them with bead-chain or small lead dumbbell eyes, so the fly rides with the hook up – similar to bonefish patterns. Olives, browns, and burnt orange colors seem to work the best. Other flies that will take carp include those that imitate aquatic insects, especially scuds.

These flies will have more action if you attach them with a loop knot such as the No-Slip Loop Knot.

You will find carp in the shallows along the south shore from the inlet all the way down to Witcher’s Cove. Some locations are better than others are but my favorite stretch is around Howbert Point. The carp will spawn here later, but for now, they are here to feed.




canoe0002The simple truths are the hardest to come by.

The canoe, in cultural variations of its basic form, is deeply embedded in ancient civilizations worldwide. Elegant in appearance, graceful in motion, and unsurpassed in simplicity, the canoe has opened up the wilderness of inland waters and the backcountry expanses of coastal estuaries to the adventurous.

In the fishing world, canoes are faster than a float tube, dryer than a kayak, able to transport hundreds of pounds of gear and people, and look good doing it.

Fly rods and canoes are a natural fit.