Andy Dear | Sunday, 6 January 2019

Last weekend my son and I had the pleasure of spending the day with our good friend, Captain Freddy Lynch, sight fishing for Redfish and Black Drum in the Upper Laguna Madre. Freddy is one of the pioneers of saltwater fly fishing here in Texas, and with several State and IGFA fly caught records coming off his skiff, he has become the go-to guide for chasing "bulls" with the long rod. After several false starts and cancellations due to sketchy weather, we finally had a day with light winds and bluebird skies. Anticipation ran high, as the forecast called for near perfect conditions for chasing big tailing fish with a fly. Unfortunately, the unusually volatile weather patterns this fall had the fish in a very foul humor. We presented flies to probably 20 big Redfish and Black Drum without so much as an even a vaguely interested look. On days like this, it pays to have a certain level of mental toughness in hopes of coaxing a bite out of a stubborn tight-lipped adversary, but an angler can only take so much rejection before the mind can start to wander during the down times.

Normally the wind down here howls at such a level that it drowns out any other potentially discernible sounds, but today was different. Because of the calm conditions, every natural nuance of the local ecosystem was on display and available for full consumption. And in spite of the lack of cooperation from our quarry, or perhaps because of it, we had plenty of time to enjoy the show.  It was during one of those lulls between fish that my mind became "distracted" by the sound of the surf roaring against the outside beach of Padre Island, which is "as the crow flies" roughly a mile away. It was a subtle reminder that the only thing dividing us from a thousand miles of open ocean was not much more than a thin sliver of sand. To add to the drama, we were in fact 34 miles from the nearest boat ramp and had not seen another boat all day. 

 I've been fishing this area of the Upper Laguna Madre with Freddy for close to 13 years. The sense of deep isolation and remoteness I feel every time I am down there is one of the reasons that I continue to go back to this area as often as possible. Now that I think about it, most of the places I prefer to fish offer this same sense of rugged remoteness.  One of the great things about fishing in general are the spectacular backdrops in which our sport takes place.

Fortunately, there are still a fair number of places which still remain relatively untouched by human progress and development. And for my money, few other sports can fuse the beauty of these remote locations with the sense of peaceful solitude and isolation like fly fishing can. For me, a big part of the enjoyment of fly fishing is the harmonious blend of the visual, the tactile and the audible. I love to watch the loop form and pierce the air. I love the feel of the rod loading and unloading under the strain and tension of the line. I love the sense of power in a well timed double haul. I love the sound of the line ripping through the guides as it carries the fly towards its intended target.  It's no accident that all of these sensations are heightened when they are executed in a time and place where there are no artificial distractions or interruptions to dilute the artifacts of this beautiful process. 

  For most of us, our day to day lives have become so overly cluttered with the constant bombardment of digital clutter and artificial technology that times of quiet isolation in the natural world are becoming less and less prevalent. Of course, the irony is that the less of it that we experience, ultimately the more important it becomes. By the time you read this, we will be on our way into the year 2019. It is my hope for all of you, that in the new year, you'll find time to include more peaceful solitude in your lives. Whether it's a mountain stream, a western river, or a saltwater flat, do whatever you can to get as far off the beaten path as possible and immerse yourself in the peaceful solitude of our sport. Your fishing and your life will be better for it.

Happy New Year folks!