STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDREW MILLER OF ANDREW MILLER STUDIO
VIDEO: CAVEMAN COLLECTIVE
Imagine traveling twelve hundred miles to fish a place most seasoned saltwater anglers would generally pass over, only to have mother nature thumb her nose in your face and leave you nearly empty handed on the way out the door. Sounds dreamy, right? However, if self guided type 2 fun is your cup of tea, boy do I have a trip for you. Crack open that GPS and head south toward South Padre Island, aka "the poor man's bahamas" as it became lovingly known among us.
I've wanted to fish the locally famous Laguna Madre for a while now. Guides like Captain Ben Paschal sure do make it look like a paradise teaming with pristine Texas redfish among the searing sun and sandy flats. Little did I know how hard it would be to replicate that feeling from the deck of a twelve foot paddle board with limited public access points, less than ideal weather, and seemingly endless square miles of flats for fish to hide in. This is the part where the bliss of ignorance makes all the difference.
Fast forward a couple days and dozens of Modelo's later, we were staring down the barrel of a zero fish tally, but certainly not for lack of trying. This is the part where I talk about how fishing is about the journey and not the actual catching of fish, but I'll spare you the cliche that I'm sure you've heard a thousand times in a thousand different fishing related stories and let you in on a little secret; It's about the catch. At least it was for me on this specific trip.
Before you play a sad song on the world's smallest violin, I will confess our rods did eventually find a (slight) bend. Oddly enough, it was on the last day and a mere 100 yards or so off the dock of our bay side condo, but we couldn't care less. For me it was the first saltwater fish I'd ever landed, a modest little speckled trout that somehow managed not to bite my leader off - a consolation prize, but a prize nonetheless. For Hunter, my fearless, hood-rat, funhogging-compadre, it was a ladyfish that squirmed away before we could get it on camera. You'll just have to take my word that it actually happened. He was hot off the heels of a red hot Turks and Caicos bonefish trip so I didn't feel sorry for him at all.
We packed up the boards, shook hands, and hit the highway back to the real world. The Laguna Madre definitely kicked our ass and left us hungry for redemption. Lessons were learned and grit was tested. Another adventure between friends filled memory bank pages in an already plentiful book.