When my phone rang back in mid October I answered and was greeted by my good friend Bryant Patterson. He asked what I was doing the week before Christmas and asked if I’d be up for a cast & blast trip on the Texas coast. Fly fishing for redfish and hunting ducks in the Laguna Madre of Texas. I immediately cleared my calendar for December 19-22.

Zach Landry who grew up fishing in Port Aransas with his dad, put the trip together. Zach is an experienced boat captain and an excellent fisherman. Both Bryant and Zach had a lot of redfish under their belts, but I was completely new to it. I would be responsible for the “blast” portion of the trip, which helped me not to feel completely useless. I would be supplying the duck decoys and means of retrieving whatever birds we shot by way of my three year old Drahthaar Jäger. 

The morning after our arrival we woke up to rain and fifteen mile per hour winds. We weathered the rain in the local Mexican food joint and were comforted with bad coffee and greasy breakfast tacos. The rain broke around midday and we headed to the boat ramp to launch and make our way south towards Baffin Bay where the floating cabin we rented was located. 

The wind still howled and the open water was choppy. We were doused with sea spray as we painfully made the forty-five minute trip to the floating cabin. After reaching the cabin we quickly unloaded and organized our gear, rigging rods and assembling shotguns.

We got to test out a cast & blast case from Negrini/Sea Run Cases that will be available later this year. This thing is bomb proof and kept our guns, rods and reels dry and secure.

When the work was done we downed a celebratory cocktail that also helped get our mind off the fact that the cabin smelled like damp cigarettes. 

Our alarms rang out early on the first full day of the trip. We scrambled around to make some coffee and ate warmish oatmeal out of the package. Jäger stood by the door eagerly, knowing it was his time to work. Shooting light rolled around and we could finally see well enough to identify birds as three pintail drakes made their measured descent into the decoys.

We had the first birds of the trip in the bag and Jäger made quick work of the short retrieves. We ended the morning with our limit of pintails, a handful of green-winged teal and a bonus mottled duck. 

We guzzled down a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs and rewarmed the morning pot of coffee. The rods were loaded into the boat and we struck out on the water to get after some fish. The wind still blew at fifteen miles per hour and the sun had still not graced us with its presence. Bryant and Zach were kind enough to let me have the first shot, because I was the new guy.

I stood on the bow of the 18 foot skiff, full of anticipation and pulled the fresh Airflo Ridge 2.0 Flats Universal Taper from the Ross Evolution R creating that subtle outgoing click sound that’ll put a smile on any fly anglers face. Zach polled and polled but we were not able to locate any fish on our first full day.

The next morning started in much the same way. We had an excellent duck hunt, then eagerly got on the water in search of fish. Another day full of clouds, wind, and temps under fifty degrees was upon us. We found a few fish, but with the conditions we had almost hit them with the boat before we saw them, sending them off the flat in a trail of mud. 

We ate our lunch in a state of despair, the only comfort for our souls being Epic Western cocktails, friendship, and the hope that maybe at some point we would get our hands on the fish we so desired. The sun set again on the Texas coast without a redfish to the boat. 

Our last morning was here. The weather called for a break around noon. We had to leave at 2pm. The skiff eased onto the flat, the wind was low but the sun still hid behind the clouds casting a gray hue across the landscape. Bryant and Zach polled me around for a couple of hours but we still weren’t able to make a good shot on a fish.

The sun finally broke through the clouds and I asked Zach or Bryant to get on the bow. They insisted I stay, but with the break in the weather I wanted someone capable on the deck so that if a shot presented itself we would have a good chance of connecting with the fish we had come so far to catch. 

It was a real learning experience seeing how Bryant and Zach communicated with one another on the bow and poling platform. Fish were working now that the sun had beat its way through the clouds and for the first time I could see from the middle of the boat, the dark copper outlines of redfish patrolling the flat. 

Zach made a bomb of a cast at a fish and pulled the fly delicately across his nose, the fish turned and followed the measured strips of the fly twenty or so feet back towards the boat. We all knew it was finally about to happen… but it didn’t. The fish slid off the fly as if to say “maybe next time fellas.” 

It was time to head home. The fish had won and that is ok. I didn’t catch a redfish, hell none of us did, but it was still a success. I learned a valuable lesson: surround yourself with people who are just stoked to be out there enjoying the experience, people that don’t complain or want to call it quits when things get tough. The fish get a say and sometimes the wind blows and the sun hides its warming glow but it still beats being at home. It is always better to go, always better to be there! 

Photos & Article by Sam Wells, check out more of Sam’s work on Instagram at @sam.wells_

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