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Texas Sportsman
Hit The Flats For Redfish
Redfish feeding on the flats of the Gulf are prime targets this month, and these spots are prime locations for getting in on the angling action. (May 2010)

Phil Brannan caught this big redfish on a topwater lure fished in shallow water at Port O'Connor.
Photo by Robert Sloan.

As we head deeper into May you'll notice three things. One is that we're re-entering a time of summer weather patterns. Two more are that water temperatures are warming, and that fishing on the flats for shallow-water reds is good and getting better.

And the great thing about fishing the flats for redfish is there is no shortage of places to fish. In fact, you can find excellent fishing on the flats from Sabine Lake to the Laguna Madre. Three of my favorite areas to find skinny-water reds in late April and May are on the Middle Coast at Port O'Connor, at East Galveston Bay, and on Keith Lake, on the Upper Texas Coast.

That last one might have you stumped. Keith Lake is part of the Sabine Lake estuary flats. Everybody knows where East Galveston Bay is located; Port O'Connor can be found between Matagorda and Rockport.

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I like to fish the clear-water flats for tailing reds. And that's why my favorite place to fish is at Port O'Connor, a.k.a. POC. From the small fishing town of POC you can cross the Intracoastal Canal and enter what I call skinny-water fishing paradise. The islands and clear-water flats are everywhere. It's a kayaker's dream world. And if you're into catching tailing or waking reds with light tackle or on fly-fishing gear, this is your place!

Some of the more popular areas to fish at POC include Barroom Bay, Mule Slough, Big Pocket, Farwell Island, Pringle Lake and miles of protected shoreline along Blackberry and Dewberry islands. We're talking miles and miles of shallow flats.

The best way to fish them is from a shallow-running skiff. I use a 17 1/2-foot Caimen with a hull that weighs less than 500 pounds. It runs supper shallow, floats in inches of water, and is easy to pole across the flats. Other anglers opt to run big and heavy center-console, tunnel-hull rigs across the flats. Those boats will run shallow, but you can't pole them too well. That leaves you the option of running the flats, staking out the boat and wading. Another option is to transport kayaks to shallow-water flats with a big boat.

The key to fishing POC's clear-water flats is to be able to see the reds before they see you. That's when a shallow-running skiff with a poling tower is worth its weight in gold. The person on the tower poles the boat over the flats, sees the reds and gives the angler directions for a cast. It goes something like this:

"Two o'clock, 30 feet, three reds moving from right to left." That gives the angler on the bow a heads-up on where to look and cast for the targeted reds. It's very exciting fishing. Of course, if you're on tailing reds it's simply a matter of getting the boat in position for a cast.

One of the best lures for POC reds is a 1/8-ounce gold or copper spoon. A Super Spook Jr. in chrome/blue or chartreuse is an excellent topwater option. So is a bone-colored Bomber Badonk-A-Donk. That's a new topwater plug that is deadly on big reds and trout. And the latest go-to plug for reds is the Mann's Waker -- a small lure that runs on the surface with a steady retrieve. The croaker pattern is best.

Hurricane Ike hit East Galveston Bay was hit hard, but once the storm passed, the bay was cleaned up and the fishing is great again. The best ramp on the bay is located at Stingaree Marina on the middle of Bolivar Peninsula. It's located next to Stingaree Restaurant. From those ramps you have two very good options for finding shallow reds. One is to fish the marsh on the bay side of the Intracoastal Canal. The other is to fish the small estuary lakes along the IC.

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