OUTDOORS: Fishing in the Crossroads

Fishing captain Randy Brown holds up a big redfish he caught on a fishing trip in the Crossroads.

For most people's first fishing experience, they use a standard casting rod and bait-fishing technique. They'll cast out their line and wait for a fish to bite.

It's simple and easy, whereas fly-fishing is not.

Randy Brown began fishing with a fly-fishing rod in his hands as his grandfather taught him the not-so-easy fly fishing technique.

"That's pretty rare to see someone start off fly-fishing. I haven't met many other people who did," said Brown, a licensed captain for seven years who lives in Victoria. "My grandfather was very interested in it, and as I got older, I transferred to the more traditional type of fishing."

In fly-fishing, the fisherman is constantly sending his line out, trying to lure the fish to strike as if it is attempting to eat an insect. The goal is to have everything seem natural.

"Fly-fishing is mostly presentation," Brown explained. "You target specific areas looking for where the fish are and have to make your fly look natural coming in. Any hint that it's not natural, and the fish will turn their noses up."

Fly-fishing is just one of many fishing techniques used in the Crossroads, a region that features several bays and both fresh and saltwater lakes.

"There are so many options for fishing around here," Mark Robinson, a lifelong fisherman and captain for 11 years, said. "There are bays, back lakes; you can wade shore lines - you can do pretty much anything."

With the Gulf of Mexico just off the shoreline, there are plenty of fish to be caught. Most fish are trout and redfish, but there's also king fish and snappers out in the gulf.

But it's not only fish that attract anglers to the Crossroads - there are also stingrays, alligators and sharks. Robinson goes out for alligator every year and said that while it's a lot of work, it's pretty fun.

"You have to have the landowner tags and tags for bait because you can only put out one bait per tag," Robinson said. "But it can be a fun experience."

Another fun, unique way of fishing is floundering.

Floundering is done at night in shallow, clear water that allows you to see to the bottom floor where fish and other marine life are.

"Once you find a fish, you try and stab it with a gig," Robinson said. "My dad and uncle taught me that, and it's a lot of fun. It's fun to see all of the little fish and stingray. There's always something to look at."

Most of the time, you fish from a boat, but the Crossroads has plenty of areas that are good for wade fishing, which is something 68-year-old captain Lynn Smith loves to do.

"You get two or three guys to go out into the surf and spread out," Smith said. "You can wait to locate where the fish are and move in on them."

There are several bays along the coast that provide good spots for wade fishing, and it is very simple to do since it doesn't require a boat.

"It's easier, and you can cover more ground and sneak up on the fish," Robinson explained about wade fishing. "Boats make a lot of noise and can sometime spook the fish."

Overall, there are plenty of places throughout the Crossroads to fish. What matters the most isn't how many or how big of fish are caught. In fact, its not even really about the fish.

"It's about the experience," Brown said. "I enjoy the experience just as much, if not more, than actually catching fish."