Kayak Fishing South Padre Island E-mail
Thursday, 22 October 2009 22:49

I guess we knew we hit the fishing right when the lodge operator Jeff Kean asked us not to write that a 25 redfish day is typical down there. Jeff pleaded, “I don’t want people coming down here expecting this kind of fishing all the time”. Well with disclaimer out of the way, let me say that if you are looking for a truly special kayak fishing destination then the waters of the Lower Laguna Madre are a place that should be on your “must fish” list. This area is located about 10 miles from the Mexican border and has all the elements of a fishing paradise; gin clear water, miles and miles of knee deep flats and lots of the hungry redfish. The kicker here is that the lodge uses Freedom Hawk Kayaks to access this massive expense of flats, so you are standing and sight fishing the entire time. So maybe 20 plus redfish days are not the norm but you can have good fishing for reds pretty much every month of the year. The southern location of the area makes it less likely to be influenced by cold fronts that can sometimes hurt the fishing in areas further north.

The first morning out we had unusually low temperatures in 40’s and I was sure it was going to impact the fishing but I was assured the fish would be there and it made me feel a bit better. The temps quickly hit the 70’s and it felt great, especially coming from NYC, which was in the midst of the worst snow storm of the season. The transport boat got us about as far as it could in a water depth of about 12”, the captain said “now just paddle out to the shallow waters”. I remember thinking how much shallower can it get? This was my first time fishing from the Freedom Hawk Kayak, though I have a fair amount of experience sight fishing and standing on a kayak, this was a different kind of standing. The kayak, with its retractable stabilizers is rock solid with a great flat platform, the leaning post/brace is always there to give you that secure feeling and aid you in getting up and down. Within 20 seconds of hitting the water I was looking at tailing and waking redfish in schools of 2 to 50 fish. I soon discovered that these fish didn’t need a delicate presentation, pretty much a cast on their heads catches you a redfish. I always think of flats fishing to be a stealthy practice to spooky fish that require perfect casts as I have done for stripers and bonefish in the past. So maybe it was the quietness of the kayak or just that these reds don’t get much fishing pressure – whatever it was you could get much closer to them than I have experienced with other flats fish. The size range was from 24” to 30” and they were all fat and very strong. The bottom is hard packed and does allow for some wading but as we found out, you could get much closer to the schools with the kayak than on foot. I spent most of the time paddling from a standing position, using the paddle as more of an oar and sometimes using the paddle as a push pole. The Freedom Hawk does come with a push pole but the use of the paddle did double duty and was my choice. As the sun got higher you really noticed just how clear this water is, some areas reminding me of a Bahamas bonefish flat. It is my understanding that it is only these waters of the Lower Laguna Madre that have this clarity compared to the rest of Texas – it truly was like an exotic location right in the lone star state. I hate to say it but the fishing was actually easier when we got a bit of wind, we would drift downwind and when you see fish – you fire a cast and hook up! Jeff explained to me that there are places that a kayak fisherman can be dropped off in a 20 MPH wind, drift and fish for 5 hours and get picked up at a down-wind location. The use of drift socks is a must when the winds get going as they usually do at some point of the day, the drift sock can slow a drift down by 50% and make a blow out day fishable. We found that using stakeout poles were the best bet when you get a spot that you want to stay put in as it can be deployed right through the center scupper of the Freedom Hawk and have you ready to cast in an instance. They’re also much quieter than dropping the anchor. The use of a folding style chair can be utilized on the kayak and this proved to be not only very comfortable but a functional way to fish. While seated you are actually high enough to see fish but you can still paddle easily too. There are also opportunities for big trout to be had in some of the deeper water but we found it impossible to leave the spectacular fishing for such cooperative redfish on the flats.

Even though the kayak fishing part of the operation is new, the lodge has been catering to fishermen and hunters for a long time. The kayak fishing portion might need a bit of fine-tuning but for the most part it is about as a professional as it can get. Each angler is never that far from the transport boat. Each angler will be given a marine radio just in case there is a problem. After fishing hard in the morning, a prepared lunch can be either had back at the boat or in your kayak. The Freedom Hawk Kayaks do need some better rod holders installed and fly rod holders rigged on the leaning bar would make fly anglers very happy. The lodge itself is top notch, clean and very spacious. Kayak anglers can customize their trips to either go with high-end accommodations and gourmet food or rough it with more of a camping or a dorm style experience. Rates are dependent on the number of the kayak fishermen, so getting a group together can be cost effective and add to the fun. You certainly won’t have to worry about being overcrowded on the flats as you will be hard pressed to see another boat or angler all day. Combination trips are also a possibility with fishing split between kayak and a flats boat. 

The Casa Arroyo Lodge is great destination for the kayak angler that has an exotic feel without the need for a passport. Located only 20 minutes from Harlingen Airport there is no need to rent a car as pick up at airport can be arranged with the lodge. Whether you are a seasoned fly fisherman, love tossing jigs or maybe just new to kayak angling, the Cast and Blast Lodge is great place to get out on the water and catch fish. Their fleet of Freedom Hawk Kayaks is user friendly and can be fished by pretty much anybody – even those who have not fished from a kayak before.

For more info visit: www.txlodge.com

Heading out all loaded up.

Early morning hook up

The result!

jeff

Lodge operator Jeff Kean is an avid kayak angler

Jon with nice red

Jon with a nice red in pretty much the average depth of water we were fishing

sitting on the job

Jon sitting on the chair scanning the flats.

another good fish

Me with a nice fish.

Lunch break

Taking a lunch break back at the boat.

nothing but prime red country

Miles and miles of flats

The lodge

The waterfront lodge

nice way to stay

Another option is to stay at the bay house.

 

 

 

 

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