So I'm laying on the couch early Sunday afternoon sort of watching the Cowboys, but mostly intent on watching the weather radar on weather underground for any hope of making a quick escape to the bay or marsh. That morning, I've already been to store to pick up everything I needed for homemade beef and barley soup, chopped, diced, browned, and put it in the crock pot, loaded everyone up and went to worship, went by work for 2 minutes, heated up leftover fish tacos for lunch, set up the Christmas tree ( I know it's November 7th, but you don't know my wife) and all this means is that everything I wanted to get done was done. But it was down pouring. I'm thankful for the rain, we needed it. I'll fish in the rain, lightning, not so much. But the deluge eased, there were no rumbles of thunder, and the radar had a nice mostly open spot over where I wanted to go.
I loaded up the Commander, 3 fly rods, assorted gear, and off I went on the 20-25 minute drive to the beach. Left turn at the only light at Surfside. Where to, probably Drum Bay. There's a pretty good East wind blowing and I could find a little protected cove or two there. Moving up the Bluewater highway I pass Swan Lake on the left. What fisherman doesn't look at a big marsh lake while driving by? Hey, look at that! Laughing gulls hovering and diving over a spot near the cordgrass. This is unmistakable redfish sign.
I turn around first chance I get and head to the lake launch. Lose some time untangling the three rods and changing a fly. Paddle the 1/2 mile to the last known whereabouts of the redfish. No gulls, no fish in sight. That's okay, I've got one of my newly tyed Avalon flies on my 7-8wt. Time for some field testing. The Avalon as I understand it was developed in Cuba several years ago to get Permit. Evidently, it's been very good at that. It features 2 horizontal wings, keels of rabbit zonker and a keel of metal beads along with some other particulars. The beads make an audible clicking sound when stripped. I modified the pattern by replacing some or all of the metal beads with glass ones for weight reduction. I changed the orange Arctic fox fur tail and put in orange barred marabou. Why use a Permit fly on redfish? Why not and it is fun for me not to use the same old flies every time I get out.
The area I was in was studded with oyster reef. I'm going to probably have to put on a weed guard on some of the Avalons. It rides point up and is semi-weedless, but it's not meant for heavy shell. I didn't see a lot to cast to, but just kept probing the reef margins and cordgrass edges getting in some casting practice. Finally, I'm deep in a little cove and on the open end a single gull begins to hover over a spot. Redfish! It's not on the shoreline, but among the reef patches. This is going to be a tricky shot and I decide I don't have time to change to a more weedless fly.
The light isn't great. It's been sprinkling for a while. I'm seeing some wakes, but not actual fish. I can't tell if it's one or two fish, but it's definitely not a bunch. The wake disappears and then would reappear in a slightly different place. My drift is putting me ever closer. The oyster shell is a little long and left mostly, the wake reappears and it's an awkward 50 foot almost due downwind stab that forces me to go arm raised and high angle so as not to hook myself with the fly as it slides by. I strip and all of the sudden my line is moving pretty fast towards me and to the right. I didn't feel the take and now am struggling to catch up. I do and try to get a feel for the fish. It seems to have a little power, but is it a big fish that hasn't really gotten mad yet or a smaller one doing its best? Turns out to be the latter. Still, I got me all turned around and it threaded itself through the shell and proved to be a challenging fighter all 19.5" of it.
The rain got heavier. The light even worse. I paddled within 15 feet of a nice sheepshead on the way in. Dumb me had his rods with no line out and by the time I swung back around, the fish had departed. Was getting out for one sub-slot red worth it? I'd say yes. Yes, every time, yes. Came home to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and the delicious smell of homemade beef and barley soup.