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"Winter" Arrives in The Lower Laguna Madre

"Winter" Arrives in The Lower Laguna Madre

Temperate days last week, lead to running the Brownsville Ship Channel before the "blue norther"

The morning does start simple here on the Lower Laguna Madre today. 

A medium grind of my preferred Eiland bean, the washed Kenya Kiriga, grounds me in the flavors of where I actually am on the Texas map. Orange blossom aroma, lemon, grape juice and a black tea finish is what the label says, and it is what I actually tasted t first time I tasted it, and before I ever saw the label. Of all Eiland beans, in my opinion this Kenyan is the one you should take home from the Lower Laguna Madre if you want a reminder of the best things in the Rio Grande Valley.

The shift is on at the Tip of Texas now. Our weather came in with a bang over the weekend, what some here ominously call a “blue norther” came in with high winds a twinkle of rain and in reality was hardly blue. Temperatures may have dipped into the frigid 50’s before rebounding, and the winds are certainly persisting as this Monday morning rolls around, but these winds are bringing warm, not cold, air now. It may be windy, but it’s hardly blue around Port Isabel this morning. 

As we look forward to the last full week before the holiday season kicks in for real, it is impossible not to wonder more about what a real “winter season” of fly fishing can be on the Southernmost Texas Gulf Coast. Throw this boy back into his home waters, decades later, with his memories of what winters used to be like here …

In those famous “old days” we would essentially pack away our fishing gear for the winter, winterize the boat and that would be it for several months. I never asked why. I was busy with all the stuff of junior high and then high school. I know there must’ve been people fishing all year long back then, but I didn’t know any of them, and never saw them. Besides, in those days the weather wasn’t as pre predictable as it is now. Getting caught in one of those insanely windy blue norther blows? It could be life threatening on the water.

Fast forward five decades, and this world has changed a bit. The Rio Grande Valley has a year-round outdoor sports economy that has grown into a substantial portion of the local economic picture. From when I left, to my return, the changes are exponential and beyond recognition. From one skinny water boat builder - Dargel - to how many manufacturers now? And the volume, and prices of boats? Amazing. 

Then there’s the hunting, of which I only imagined massive whitetail and skies dark with doves. Now? Now, we have this freakish thing called a nilgai, wild hogs running rampant, the duck economy … and more hunting that I obviously know very little about, having taken the deep dive into fly fishing over the past two decades - in writing, photography and action.

But here’s the rub: Thrust into a change, from South Texas fall into South Texas winter over the weekend, I am left wondering how to make that transition in fly fishing from the best of times - Texas Gulf Coast October, to the rest of the time, a Lower Laguna Madre winter. 

The only thing I am certain of? Another cup of this Eiland Kenyan coffee just might do the trick, and reveal the plan for how to survive a winter on the fly in this Texas Gulf Coast paradise.

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