I caught my first saltwater fish on a fly back in 1958 – three popper-induced ladyfish from beneath the lights on a Rockport, Texas motel’s pier. Neat stuff – but eight years would pass before I caught another inhabitant of saltwater on a fly.
That was a smallish redfish that I caught on a ratty streamer of some sort one fairly calm morning on the turtlegrass flats outside of Traylor Island just south of Rockport. Notably, I had already caught four or five on a spoon that morning – figured if they’d hit a spoon in that clear, shallow water, they would hit a fly. One did.
The first saltwater fish that I caught on a fly in Louisiana waters remains my largest “inside” fly-caught red to this day! I was bass fishing from a pirogue in a canal below Tidewater on that lovely June morning in 1971 when the fish – almost 15 pounds of it – tailed up and then struck a size 4 Accardo “Spook”. Not long thereafter I used poppers to take reds in very shallow, grass-choked water between Buras and Venice and around Tidewater, and I must declare that I did so because the technique worked, not because of some fly-fishing purism within me.
My “branching out”, though, was in great part because of the challenge of it all – and the fact that after I became a full-time writer, my editors told me I had to start writing stuff other than how to catch reds on poppers! So I began to venture offshore, wrecked a lot of tackle early on, wrote about some of it, and finally earned a “memo-boat” from the late and great OMC Fishing Boat Group.
And it didn’t take long for me to develope a passion for offshore fly fishing for creatures that, at least at the time here in Louisiana, were considered totally inappropriate fly-fishing targets.
And man, did I have some fun!