Man, it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to hit the marsh for some skinny water reds. April was a busy month without much time to fish so I’m hoping to make up for it during May and on into Summer.
David Calbert and I met up this morning around 6:00 am to fish a really low tide in the marsh. The goal was to locate reds in a few inches of water in hopes of getting in some sight casting. The water levels seemed fine as we launched but we soon found out that it was a little lower than I expected. With the water this low I knew exactly where the fish would be, the only problem was that it was about a half mile paddle through about 4 inches of water. Normally I would get out and drag the kayak through a few areas but there were litteraly hundreds of stingrays swimming around. Rather than taking a chance on getting nailed by one of these guys we decided to stay in the yaks and push through.
We eventually made it to the area I was hoping to reach and it didn’t disappoint. Multiple drains meeting in one spot have created a 5 foot gut about 15 x 15 yards that serves as a great area for reds to gather during extremely low tides. They normally hang out in the deeper hole but will venture out within 25 yards of this area pushing through inches of water exposing their entire bodies. While this sight is one of the more amazing things to see while in the marsh, it can be difficult to get a bite, especially this early in the spring. As soon as I reached the area I happened to look down and see a red about 5 feet from the yak. I flipped my 1/4 oz Beastie Bugg a few feet in front of its face, gave a small twitch, and had the first red of the day that went 21″.
David joined me a few minutes later and decided to focus on the deeper area with a popping cork. It wasn’t long before I heard him holler “fish on”. After a nice 5 minute fight he netted a nice 27″ red.
I decided to venture out a little to look for fish in shallower water. I hadn’t paddled but about 15 yards and found exactly what I was looking for. At least a dozen single reds were pushing head wakes within close proximity to the gut we had just reached. I spent the first 15 minutes watching and trying to film some of the action with my old Playsport only to find out later that zooming in as far as the camera is capable of makes everything really grainy which means I wasted 15 minutes of fishing and several shots at exposed reds.
I finally put down the camera and took a shot at one of the reds with the same Bugg as before and hooked up. The red went a little over 26″ and ended up being my best red of the day. I thought I had captured some great video footage with my GoPro attached to my hat, but it was pointed a little too high and missed pretty much everything. I should have connected it to my iPhone to check what was viewed but got a little too excited and hoped for the best. A rookie mistake.
We decided to move to another drain nearby and each had shots at multiple fish along the way but couldn’t get any takers. On the way to the next area the wind went from nearly non existent to 20 mph with gusts to 30 according to my iPhone. At this point the water turned brown, casting became difficult, and we began seeing less and less fish. David hooked into another red down a narrow channel but lost it after about a 10 second fight. We tried searching the area for more reds but the lack of water and high winds made everything difficult. We decided to call it a day and headed back to the truck which took more than an hour paddling straight into the wind the entire way back. The quality of fish was nice, however, we didn’t quiet catch the numbers I was hoping for. The good thing is this is only the beginning of shallow muddy marsh season with plenty of trips to come in the near future.
This trip did allow me to really put my new Werner Shuna paddle through the rigorous abuse that occurs during marsh fishing. Quiet often your paddle becomes your push pole when you are forced to fight your way through thick mud in shallow water along with hitting it against random patches of oyster shell. The blades performed great and never showed any signs of breaking under pressure.