This past weekend I had a chance to fish the kayak division of the University of Houston Cougar Saltwater Open. Prizes were being awarded to the heaviest redfish, flounder, and trout in both the boat and kayak division. They also had a heavy stringer award that would go to the angler with the heaviest stringer consisting of three redfish, trout, or flounder (only one red allowed). This category was between both boat fisherman and kayakers.
After giving it some thought, I decided to try for a slam to see if I could win multiple categories in the kayak division. My plan was to fish for my trout early, load up between 10-11, and head to a different spot for a redfish and flounder.
Tournament rules allowed you to launch whenever you wanted, but you couldn’t make your first cast until 6:00 am. Grant and I launched around 5:15, reached our spot by 5:40, and sat around for 20 minutes just waiting for 6 am to hit. As soon as it did, we started casting. Grant went with his trusty pink Skitterwalk, which has landed him more big trout than I can count, while I started off with a bone super spook jr. Winds were low and the bay was calm, so I went with the smaller, quieter topwater.
It didn’t take more than 15 minutes before I had my first hook up which spit my lure after a short fight. 5 minutes later I netted my first trout, a decent 18″ fish. I kept working parallel to the drop off I was near with a few more blowups, but no hook ups. It didn’t take long for the wind to pick up a little and put a little chop to the water. I grabbed my second rod with a Speckled Trout patterned One Knocker Spook and continued working the area. With the added chop, I switched lures because I wanted one that was slightly larger and a little noisier.
It didn’t take long before I hooked up with a solid trout that succeeded in hanging me up on the bottom and escaping. I was unable to get my lure back, so after breaking my line, I tied on a Bone colored One Knocker. It was around 8:00 am by now, and the blowups and hookups had slowed down quiet a bit. It had been nearly 3o minutes since I’d had any action when my lure was sucked down by a good fish. It turned out to be a really fat 21+ inch trout, which gave me two trout in the fish bag.
The wind continued to gain speed, which caused small white caps to start appearing on the water. I decided to switch lures once more, and tied on a black/silver/orange MirrOlure She Dog. The She Dog and One Knocker are similar in size, but the She Dog makes a little more noise.
Grant and I decided to leave the drop-off and fish some submerged grass in hopes of catching some redfish, and completing our three fish stringers. However, all we found were more trout. I netted my 3rd and 4th trout of the day over the grass and decided it was time to head back to the truck and look for some reds.
I reached the truck around 11:00, loaded up, and made the short drive to my redfish hole and launched again. I started off throwing the She Dog with no luck, and decided to switch over to the trusty popping cork. In the past, I’ve thrown nothing but Gulp under my cork, but have been using an Egret Baits Vudu Shrimp for the past couple of weeks with good results. The vudu shrimp is tough, and so far, I’ve caught about a dozen reds on the same one, with no signs of wear or tear. It’s also less likely to attract smaller trash fish, and doesn’t seem to catch less fish than Gulp with its scent.
It took about 20 minutes but I finally boated my first red, a 17″ rat, which of course did me no good. Five minutes later, I had a redfish attack my cork and take it under. He quickly realized that it wasn’t something worth eating, and released it a few seconds later. I gave it a gentle pop, and he turned on it and came back and grabbed the vudu shrimp this time. He fought hard for several minutes before finally hitting the net. I threw him on the check-it stick and he measured a hair over 26 inches, which I decided was good enough for me.
I had decent fish for two of the three species, so decided to make one last stop to see if I could grab me a flounder. The flounder bite never came, but not for lack of trying. I drug the bottom of my flounder spot with a tandem rigged pair of Gulp Swimming Mullet, but they didn’t want to play. I picked up a few more trout, but they were all smaller than my previous fish. I was satisfied with the fish I had, so decided to head over to the weighin.
When it was all said and done, I had won big redfish and big trout honors in the kayak division. My prize included two wooden trophies and two Bison 25 quart Coolers. It seemed like most other kayakers had a rough day on the water, because not many fish were weighed in by them.
My stringer fell a couple pounds short of the powerboat guys, do to the fact that my trout could not compete with theirs, even though I had the biggest red of the tournament.
It was a fun day on the water, with a nice challenge of catching a slam during a tournament, instead of just targeting one species all day. I’ll definitely be back next year to fish this event again.
Wind: Started off calm, but reached 12-15 mph
Weather: Sunny with temps around 90 degrees
Tides: Incoming in the morning, then slack for the rest of the day
Bottom: Quick drop-off and grass while going after trout, then soft mud for the redfish
Depth: 3-5 feet deep while trout fishing and 2 feet deep for the reds
Kayak: Wilderness Tarpon 140
Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked