Those that observed, experimented and ultimately discovered what worked best in this very unique bay system.
Story by Danno Wise
Located mere miles above the Mexican border, the shallow, clear Lower Laguna Madre is perhaps the most unique bay on the Texas coast. The Lower Laguna features species and habitat quite unlike that found in most bays in the Lone Star State. However, the Lower Laguna Madre region has always been somewhat cut off from the rest of the Texas coast by the broad expanse of the King Ranch.
As a result, the anglers in the Lower Laguna seemed somewhat behind the times compared to the rest of the Texas coastal anglers. However, in many ways they were far ahead of their times, especially in regards to shallow water fishing. This has become increasingly obvious over the past decade as anglers across the Texas coast have begun adopting boats, tackle and techniques that were pioneered in these shallow, pristine waters decades ago.
This is just a glimpse of how the modern fly and light-tackle fishery in the Lower Laguna Madre developed.
Capt Steve “JR” Ellis has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best sight-fishermen on the Texas coast. He has influenced, and been influenced by, a number of guides and fishermen in the Lower Laguna Madre area and beyond.
Although he’s from Houston, Ellis has fished the Lower Laguna his entire life, having spent his childhood summers with his grandparents in Raymondville and fishing from his family’s bay house in Port Mansfield, which his great-grandfather JW Turner had purchased in 1956. After graduating high school, Ellis moved back and forth between Port Isabel and Houston a few times before relocating in this region for good in 1979.