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Post 23 Feb 2021, 10:48 • #1 
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Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17326
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
This began 6 weeks ago, Josh and I wanting to plan a February trip for low tides, wading, and fly-rod sightfishing for reds.
I picked the 5 sequential best tides for the month to give us both current and sunny afternoon highs.

At the same time, Donny had been jumping through his computer wanting to kayak the TX coast flats.
A few weeks out, Josh and I made the plan to invite Donny down to Neumie's Copano Bay digs and paddle a long weekend.
The named winter storm that shall remain nameless hit just before our schedule, but that wasn't stopping us. The deep freeze hit the coast just as hard as the hill country, and reports of fish kill looked devastating. Still without water at home, and only recently with power restored, I headed south to meet Donny, who had swept west of the storm, and beat us both down there.
Compared to the second hard snow we got the morning I packed out, Josh's digs sure look inviting.
They had the same water problem, and it would be two days until we got a hot shower, slim pickings in the grocery stores, but we made do


The next morning, wind shifting from NNE to light E, we were launching at Palm Harbor to cross Estes flats.


The goal was to get to Little Cut for the late morning incoming tide current.
With a week of beating NW wind, water level on the flats was the lowest either of us had ever seen. My "bright" call, let's head north first to Trout Bayou cut - when we finally ran out of water and had to stand to float our boats, could see Trout Bayou was bone dry. It was a really tough trudge through the mud to float and then drag our boats back to Little Cut. So we should have gone due east straight to Little Cut, but maybe paying our dues this morning paid off.

It was a huge relief when we got enough water to float again, and as we paddled the inside of the cut - right where they should be grazing on the rising tide - we crossed 300 redfish.
Here's Donny hooked up, looking from the cut to the inside pass

Here's Josh at the center shoal facing Aransas bay and far-away San Jose Island.


It would be silly fish catching.


Donny was catching them on Vudu shrimp, which he handed me one and after a slot red, lost it from my paper clip. But the reds didn't care what lure, they wanted the mud balls from bottom-bouncing.



I did just as well on a pink Trout Support on weighted swimbait hook.
Almost all the reds were 18" - think I only caught two out of sixteen under that - I ended up with two slot fish to fillet, and Donny with a 3-fish limit.


A fond farewell to Palm Harbor.


We filleted the reds "on the halfshell" - skin-on fillets for grilling. That night, Josh made us shrimp and grits, and we floated the fillets in ice water overnight, but I wanted to show you Sunday night's meal with massive grilled redfish fillets.
They were amazing, and picking the charred meat from the ribs was the best part.

Have a couple of more days to talk about, but this is enough to get us started...


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 26 Feb 2021, 08:35, edited 2 times in total.

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Post 23 Feb 2021, 11:40 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/26/14
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Location: US-MN
That's awesome!


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Post 23 Feb 2021, 13:38 • #3 
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Joined: 08/10/05
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Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
I'm really glad we got Donny onto such a great tide phenomenon stacking reds for him (ok, us, too).
The wind turned out to be brutal the next two days, and we weren't going to last long enough either day to find afternoon sight-fishing with reds up on skinny grass.

Sunday, we made the long drive to Padre Island National Seashore, to launch on the Upper Laguna Madre side at Bird Island Basin.
We knew the wind was going to be tough - we didn't know how tough until we got home - it was gusting to 24 kt on the Malaquite Beach gauge.
The structure here on the barrier island is beautiful, and very much like far South Padre and LLM - hard pack sand, and potted sand holes switching to deep grass. A drift will get you across this flat to the ICW spoil island shallows.
Launching at the windsurf beach.


The thing is, I don't drift away from home. I paddle upwind first, so I get to fish easy all the way home.
After one drift, a long struggling paddle to get back upwind, I planted on a beautiful hardpack shelf against the island, ate my lunch, lit my cigar, and watched them on my binoculars. I saw Donny facing me almost the whole time, and wondering if he was ever going to get back across the flat.


Finally, he and Josh made it - knowing we would have a hot shower waiting for us at the digs - a week without one for most of us - we called it early.


Rather than paddling the wind, Donny and I walked our boats back to the basin boat launch - young Josh blasted ahead to get the truck and meet us.
Besides, we were grilling those redfish tonight.


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 06:37 • #4 
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Joined: 02/26/14
Posts: 3173
Location: US-MN
Glad you got Donny on some redfish, that is on my bucket list!


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 07:49 • #5 
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Joined: 08/10/05
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Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Donny was saying how starting at the top may ruin him for next time - will it ever be that good again?

He missed our Monday, because his sweet wife called him home for the only vaccination slot that would be available. He took home his 6 of those big half-shell fillets to try his own hand at grilling and roasting redfish. I'm guessing that's enough to make him a junkie, and get him back here for the spring.

What he really missed on Monday was seeing the range of structure on East Flat - it's bracketed by an island and oyster reefs, and the flat has 3 depths, like terraces. Again, the MLW was way down, and the big wind was probably coming from the only direction that didn't give us shelter here. A couple of drifts, one undersize red, and Josh and I were happy to return his family's digs, clean up, and pack our gear toward home. And btw, came to a house free of any winter storm damage, and had sunny 75-degrees for washing boat and gear yesterday.

The sun was good here taking off from the marina boat launch




Don't think I've ever been through this reef without having to get out and walk - except today, because it was so easy to see the pass.




A great trip, and many thanks to Josh for being such a fine and thoughtful host.


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 07:59 • #6 
Sport
Joined: 05/26/17
Posts: 70
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Amazing photo essay, as always!


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 12:39 • #7 
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Joined: 06/10/05
Posts: 612
Location: US-MI
Looks like a great time. Also, I love the look of that St. Croix glass rod.
I wish they made that rod in more options.
Thanks for posting


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 15:48 • #8 
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Joined: 02/12/16
Posts: 3956
Location: USA-CO
Beautiful -- and mouth-watering! Thanks for showing a good trip, the breezes notwithstanding.


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 16:11 • #9 
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Joined: 09/26/12
Posts: 157
Location: AB, Canada
Wow greats pics and story and the grilled redfish looks amazing. Can you tell me why you 'float' the fillets in ice water overnight?


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 17:17 • #10 
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Joined: 08/10/05
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Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
to rinse out the blood and bile - the very best fillets are never frozen, but come out of the ice water - they can stay there a long time.
Josh is an amazing cook - his family has cook-offs for entertainment. His grilled half-shell fillets are the first redfish that has ever floored me.


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Post 24 Feb 2021, 21:25 • #11 
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That looks like a good time !


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Post 25 Feb 2021, 00:43 • #12 
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Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 259
Location: Dallas, TX
Dream trip of mine, too! I’ve caught and eaten redfish galore in Mississippi gulf coast (and learned the “on the half shell” cooking technique there, as well as smoking the fillets which is fantastic and leftovers make superlative smoked fish “dip” as they call it) but I have never caught reds in Texas gulf or on my fly rods.


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Post 25 Feb 2021, 07:57 • #13 
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Joined: 11/09/10
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Drool and envy!


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Post 25 Feb 2021, 20:26 • #14 
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Joined: 01/20/21
Posts: 15
Location: US-TX
Hello everyone. I'm a recently added member, and fished with Ron and Ron this past week. Ron generously gifted me two fiberglass rods after I had reached out to him for advice on adding glass to my quiver.

Any ways here are my portions of the report. I thought I had gotten better pictures, but oh well.


I met Ron and Don at the Cabin in Rockport around 9 pm Friday evening. I had to gather my kayak and gear so around 10 we started planning the weekend's trip over a glass on Glenlivet and beers.

We weren't in too much of a hurry the next morning given the weather the previous week. I had set my expectations rather low and was anxious to see how our fish faired knowing water temps had gotten into the 30's. We arrived at the Palm Harbor launch, paid our $5 parking fee and pulled up to the water's edge. The water was way out and we actually had to drag our kayaks across the spoils along the ICW. I had a hitchhiker for the ride.

Image

As we made our way to the south point of Talley Island I found our first floating trout; 18".

Image

Then another. The largest dead trout I measured was 25".

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With the tides being low the now exposed "beach" along Talley Island was littered with dead trout of all sizes. We paddled north towards Trout Bayou, but we couldn't make it in our kayaks, so we turned around and waded towards Little Cut dragging our kayaks.

Image

This is where we parked the kayaks and waded along the shoreline fishing the deeper water. Don was the first to land a fish. Then Ron.

Image

Don figured out to bounce lures off the bottom. He limited out on reds. Ron strung up two, and I was busy picking backlashes in between catching undersized trout and reds. We packed it in and again had to wade dragging kayaks before we could get to deep enough water.

Rockport was still shutting water off by 5:00 pm so that meant no hot showers for us nor open restaurants. Ran to HEB to figure out dinner only to find barren shelves. I was able to MacGyver a menu so we had shrimp and cheesy grits for dinner. We had to use paper plates because we had no running water for dishes.

Image

Meteorological Observations
Time: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Air Temp: 41°F - 62°F
Wind: 3-5 kn NNE - E (gusting 10)
Barometric Pressure: 1030 mb (falling)
Sky: Sunny
Water Clarity: 3-4 ft
Water Temp: 44°F
Structure: Sand

Solunar
Sunrise/set: 7:01 am/6:22 pm
Moonrise/set: 12:22 pm/1:37 am
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous (57%)

Predicted Tides @ Rockport (MLLW)
Low @ 7:52 am (-0.40 ft)
High @ 9:00 pm (-0.07 ft)

Lures
Baffin Magic Sand Shad on 1/16 oz jighead
Plum Sand Shad Jr. on 1/16 oz jighead
Pink Hologram Grasswalker on weighted swimbait hook
Pink Vudu Shrimp

Fish
Trout: 6 dinks
Reds: 5 Slotters, a few Rats

Image


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Post 26 Feb 2021, 08:00 • #15 
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Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17326
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Josh - welcome to FFR, and thanks for posting.
I'm still going to take exception with the "few rats" on this day - there were 45 of them, and most of them were 18"

Josh's shrimp-and-grits was a feast. The cheesy grits had a goat-cheese Gouda, and the cajun sauce was exceptional.

Looking forward to Josh's fly rod contributions this spring. He got the 6'6" Phillipson Fly Fox, and will put it to better use in hill country limestone creeks than I would - I have too many to choose between.


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 02 Mar 2021, 08:26, edited 2 times in total.

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Post 26 Feb 2021, 08:07 • #16 
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Joined: 01/20/21
Posts: 15
Location: US-TX
bulldog1935 wrote:
Josh - welcome to FFR, and thanks for posting.
I'm still going to take exception with the "few rats" on this day - there 35 to 40 of them, and most of them were 18"

I guess I consider anything under out Texas slot a rat.


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Post 26 Feb 2021, 08:14 • #17 
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Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17326
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
That's the beauty of our Texas slot - there's fine sport fishing in 18" reds.
Your grilled half-shell fillets is also the perfect answer to not being able to take the 14" reds that are perfect for skillet blackening.
I still won't be meat-fishing reds heavily, but will be looking forward to the few I bring home in the ice water to grill soon after.


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Post 27 Feb 2021, 22:15 • #18 
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Joined: 06/09/05
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This was a terrific trip and was certainly worth sleeping in the 10 degree overnight temperatures on the way down! Thanks to Ron and Josh for the invitation! They gave me some great advice and Josh is a terrific cook. A remarkable trip!


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Post 27 Feb 2021, 23:04 • #19 
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Joined: 06/21/20
Posts: 132
Fantastic fishing adventure. Thanks for sharing.


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Post 27 Feb 2021, 23:12 • #20 
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Joined: 02/13/16
Posts: 303
Location: US-TX
Man that's just awesome guys. That is some crazy low tides there. I'm still trying to figure how ya'll made it down there in one piece. Was that before all the roads got covered over? Either good timing or you guys are just nuts! I do need to get back down there at some point though.


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Post 28 Feb 2021, 10:04 • #21 
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Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17326
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Bro, Josh and I each traveled right after the first thaw. I had to dig (just melting) snow from my truck bed to load my kayak on Friday. My navigator sent me around San Antonio on 1604, pleasant and painless, so I don't know what US-281-IH-37 was like downtown.
Donny had already been traveling two days, continued driving south to be west of the ice, and said he found the roads in good condition.
I know his route was San Angelo, Bandera, Devine, and picked up I-37 at Pleasanton. . He was already at Mathis when I left Bulverde, so he found 3 hours to kill in Rockport, including Tackle Town.
I arrived about 10 minutes to 6-pm and expected to find Donny at the cabin, but he was still doing Rockport.
Donny and I had a very good Tex-Mex meal at Vallarta in Rockport, after driving to every restaurant from Los Comales to Moon Dogs at Fulton Beach harbor.
Josh gave us the run of the place, and he arrived at 9 pm.

The amazing part was this day of fishing right after that day of travel - no anticipation could have prepared you for it.
Pretty sure none of us had any anticipation - we were dog tired from the week-long storm.
There was no gas along 37, and no restaurants because no water.
The Circle K Valero (formerly Shamrock) in Sinton had gas and I filled up. Going in or going out, every Rockport trip in my life has bought gas there - navigators try to bypass you around Sinton on 77 and 181 now, but it's a tradition to drive slow through Sinton - that's how you know you're almost to Rockport.

Donny, btw, has the Hercules of Land Cruisers - incredible adventure vehicle.
He also gave Josh and me each a very nice presento, which has a prominent position in my display curio - and don't worry Donny, it will also get some pocket use - kinda like my rods, noting gets worn out, but everything gets used.


Image

Donny, we also need a report on cooking redfish for your sweet wife.


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Post 28 Feb 2021, 14:25 • #22 
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Wow, that's great!


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Post 01 Mar 2021, 14:36 • #23 
Sport
Joined: 12/07/17
Posts: 76
Location: US-NY
Bulldog and friends way to not let a natural disaster thwart your plans. You guys should be working for the the Fishing Vacation Division of FEMA or the Texas Sate equivalent or quit your jobs snd open up a Texas fishing adventure guide service where cooking the catch is part of the itinerary. Mouth watering fish in the half shell, what’s the recipe? Great turn of a phrase as well since I never heard of a filet with rib bones described as such. A breath of :P fresh air here, where nightmare reports of frozen pipes, no electricity and potable water dominated the news.


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Post 01 Mar 2021, 17:48 • #24 
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Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
you start them just like any fillet, but instead of flipping the fillet and skinning it (then cutting the ribs out), you continue through the peduncle skin.
Then peel the gut membrane from the ribs.
I always use my electric knife to get through redfish ribs, then finish with my titanium-MMC fillet along the spine.


You drain the fillets awhile (20 minutes is good) - Josh seasoned with Prudhomme's Seafood Magic.
Edited here, because I left out both curing the grill with oil and brushing the fish with butter + garlic before you season
You can grill them a long time 25+ minutes - can't really over-cook them. Flesh side first, then flip.
Everything inside the skin digs out, and there's probably more vitamin-A in this fish since you cook with the skin.
Still want to hear from Donny about his result at home.


I definitely didn't invent this - I don't think Josh did, either, but Louisiana chefs for dealing with redfish fillets too big to blacken.
I've always grilled in my grill saute, made for veggies, and cured with grapeseed oil. But after this trip and first sampling Josh's result, his will be the only way I fillet and cook reds in the future.
(this happens to be the only slot snook I ever feasted, fresh out of the icewater)

Anyway, I'm enjoying this thread, because Texas-coast forums have all become so maudlin over the freeze-kill.


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 03 Mar 2021, 07:14, edited 1 time in total.

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Post 01 Mar 2021, 19:28 • #25 
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Mine turned out great. Coated them with some "Slap Ya Mama" cajun spice and cooked them as Josh did but used a cast iron griddle instead of a grill. Sorry, no pictures. Made some redfish tacos the next day with some leftovers. On the way home, I stopped at a friend's in Albuquerque. I had told him that if I was able to bring home some fish, I would share some with him.

I did and he sent me on my way with some elk burger and roasts from last year's elk. We were both happy!


Last edited by paveglass on 01 Mar 2021, 19:32, edited 1 time in total.

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