Airboat Redfishing—A High-Octane Adventure

It’s not how fast it goes; it’s where it goes. (Photo by Scott Baker)

Yep, Mike Riewe, that’s a keeper! (Photo by Scott Baker)

Scott Baker

We love fishing the Texas Coast. Waking up before dawn, smelling the sea air as we purr through the waters, and locking into some great redfishing. With this in mind, the RR Fishing Club heard of an exclusive fishing camp and guide service based out of Rockport that was right up our alley.

We arrived at Back Lakes Lodge just as the sun was settling over the serene bays. Greeted by the staff, we were shown around the camp, our lodging, and the fully stocked refrigerator and bar (both included in the cost). The chef busied himself over the grill whipping up delicious rib-eye steaks, potatoes, salads, and drinks. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, then retired to the game room, unwinding in leather recliners to watch football on the big screen TV.

The next morning we were awakened to the smell of a breakfast fit for a king. Anticipating a long day, we devoured the bacon, eggs, waffles, orange juice, and hot coffee. Emerging from the lodge heading for the boats, we were handed pre-packed snacks. Coolers stocked with beer, soft drinks, and water were loaded onto the airboats.

That’s right, airboats! Back Lakes Lodge specializes in shallow water fishing, and in order to get into those untouched shallow waters, it takes unique transportation. Cruising the backwaters surrounding Matagorda Island, this adrenaline-junkie style of fishing was the best way to hunt down bull redfish tailing in the shallows. A place the fish wanted to be—away from people!

Boarding the three reserved airboats, we were in for a high-energy day! This wild-west redfishing tactic was not for the faint of heart. The boat sat atop the water zooming along at 45 miles per hour in water that was literally ankle deep.

Within a few minutes, we glided to a stop and grabbed our rods, ready for battle, which came quickly. After a biceps-tiring fight, we netted a 31-incher, well past the keeper slot of 20-28 inches. The oversized reds kept coming on hooks baited with cut shad until we got a keeper measuring 23 inches.

The action continued for the rest of the day. Fish after fish were caught, from redfish to black drum. With a full keeper box, we wound our way back through this pristine ecosystem, spotting deer, coyotes, turkey, water fowl, and whooping cranes along the way.

Upon return, tired and smiling from ear to ear, our fish were cleaned and our favorite drinks poured. That evening, we enjoyed a wonderful, freshly caught fish dinner under the night sky’s lights.

The story repeated itself over the next couple days. Finally, having told enough fish tales, it was time to pack for home. During the week-long stay, this coastal marsh country engulfed us in its special mystique, a true mecca for fish and wildlife. For us bunch of guys, we fished to our heart’s content, bragged loudly about the toughest catch, and felt like kings sitting on top of the world.