Redfish on the flats

Courtesy: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Flickr

By LYNN FRIZZELL, Special to the VMS

There was an old bearded commercial fisherman at a table in the tiny café. We were eating supper at the Red Fish Motel at Port Mansfield on the bay. I walked over to him and asked if I could sit for a moment and, as he took a sip of his beer he pointed to the unoccupied chair, motioning me to sit.

Four of my friends, Wayne Grayson, Jim Southwel,l of McAllen, Bill Collier and Lamar Hicks, of Uvalde, had met me there for a couple of days fishing, mainly to locate some redfish. Unlucky that afternoon, we had trolled for Spanish Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico. It was June in the early seventies and tides were generally low in that month and we were disappointed that the flats were virtually dry that afternoon.

I ordered a beer for me and my new friend. Telling him of our intended week end of fishing and of our frustration, I asked if he knew of a place that we might find some fish.

“Well, he said, early in the morning, the tide will be at its highest and the flats on the north side of the channel will be covered and a school of reds would probably be in there feeding on crabs and shrimp”. That excited me and I asked where a good place to start was and I was told

about a certain marker, long forgotten, that we could bank the boat and fish on the hard sand bottom.

We all went to bed early and up early before daylight and had breakfast at the café. We were in the boat by about daylight and headed for the marker on the channel. That morning the water was slick and clear, almost like a picture and five excited fishermen got in the shallow water and struck out with anticipation. The water was about calf deep and we spread out, wading north.

Lamar had never caught a red, but was the first to hook up and yelled, “I got one!” All at once we all were hooked up with reds that went about eight or nine pounds and lines were humming in the increased wind. What a show! I found that with my gold Johnson Sprite, if I would stop it, then twitch it the following red would snap it up and head out. It was just about an exciting fishing trip that I have ever experienced and it reminded me of another redfish story I’ll have to write about someday. These reds were all about the same size and gave us a time never to forget. I think that the five of us caught 80 o 100 of these reds. We started releasing them but kept a lot of them to give to friends back home. This was before limits were on trout and reds so we were able to keep a lot them.

Sadly, it was time to leave because Bill and Lamar had the long drive to make.

It was a special experience to have these friends having so much good fun, fun that few people alive have ever had. Times have changed and that kind of fishing will never happen again!

Lynn Frizzell, a Harlingen native, has spent a lifetime hunting and fishing, has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and continues to write about his many outdoor adventures.