ROCKPORT, Texas — The dark, gray clouds hugged the sea as we slipped over the side of the boat and started our wade fishing adventure in the intercoastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
My friend, Don Sitton, who lives on the Texas Gulf Coast, invited me to make the trip down from Oklahoma City last month to fish for redfish, also known as red drum. Known as a powerful fighter, redfish are one of the most pursued species of fish in the Texas saltwaters.
I flew to Corpus Christi to meet Don at his home in the coastal town of Rockport, where he already had prepared his boat and our fishing gear for an early morning departure the next day.
Before sunrise, we launched the boat and traveled about 6 miles off the coastline to a series of small islands in order to claim our fishing spot. There is so much fishing pressure in the area for redfish and speckled trout that you’ve got to stake your claim early.
The fishing waters around Rockport contain numerous islands, saltwater marshes, channels and shallow flats. We selected this particular piece of water because it was full of baitfish. Our hope was the redfish would be chasing their breakfast into the shallow water that morning.
Our strategy was to walk in skinny water from knee to waist deep as quietly as possible. Even though we wore shin guards to protect ourselves against sting rays, anglers are advised to shuffle their feet in order to spook away any stingrays lying on the bottom.
A salty mist was heavy in the air as we began casting. Don used a spinning rig, while I used a baitcaster.
Don could be referred to as a purist because he only uses artificial lures. His two favorite offerings were the classic 1/4-oz. Johnson gold spoon and a 1/8-oz. lead head with a plastic eel attached.
His rod technique resembled an orchestra conductor rapidly moving a baton. This movement swims the lure in an erratic, wounded fashion. At the same time, he keeps a tight line by constantly reeling in the slack. Years of experience perfected his touch, which soon proved deadly.
Almost immediately, my friend started catching redfish. The limit is three per day, and they must measure between 20 and 28 inches.