Posts Tagged With: cuda 14

Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series #3 2015

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

I’ve often heard other tournament anglers say, “If you don’t have your fish by noon, odds are you’re probably not going to get them”. Although I would never give up while fishing a tournament, I have to admit that little saying had crossed my mind a couple times the other day during the Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series.

This was the third event of the season, and for the first time this year, I felt pretty good about my odds of doing well. The wind wasn’t bad, we had sunny skies, and I had been on some solid redfish over the last few weeks. Shallow patches of shell and soft mud bottoms had produced a good amount of redfish during the beginning of August, so I decided to stick with what had been working. The majority of my fish had come from a popping cork with gulp, with the rest coming off of a soft plastic that I would use to sight cast singles or pitch into a school.

Plan A was to locate the schools that had been roaming the area in recent weeks, but they were nowhere in sight. After spending a good hour trying to locate the school, I decided to head for shallower water with plenty of shell. I made a long drift across one of the larger lakes, staying within 30 yards of the shoreline, and on the edge of the large shell patches. I sight casted one small redfish along the shoreline before deciding to try the opposite side of the lake, which happened to be the wind protected shoreline.

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

As I approached the protected shoreline, I immediately noticed a few mud boils pop up, which was a good sign. I fan casted the area for a few minutes and hooked up with what felt like a solid fish. Five seconds into its first run, it spit the hook, leaving me with a sick feeling in my stomach. I decided to stay on the move, trying to spot more fish to cast at, but didn’t have any luck. I didn’t have much time left to fish, so I decided to work a small channel as a last ditch effort. I had one lower slot red on the stringer after seven hours of hard fishing, so the odds that I would pick up my second fish were looking pretty slim.

The channel only produced a few rat reds so I decided to fish my way back to the truck. I had only made it about 20 yards across the main lake when I spotted a group of birds hovering a few feet above the water about a half mile away. I knew these birds were on a school of fish, and that this was the best chance I’d have at picking up a much needed second fish. I caught up with the school after a five minute paddle and with one cast, I went from 41st to 9th place, thanks to the 26 1/4″ red that pounced on my soft plastic. The fish weighed in at 8.09 lbs. and ended up being the heaviest fish of the whole tournament. My two fish had a combined weight of 11.70 lbs. and helped me bring home a small amount of cash and a few prizes.

The fishing wasn’t hot and heavy on this day like it had been during my previous trips, but that’s how fishing goes. Still, I had a great time and enjoyed visiting with friends at the weighin. We have one event remaining this year in October and I’m looking forward to it.

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

Photo Credit: Aaron Ferguson

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Marsh Reds and Flounder

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David​ and I hit the water yesterday morning and found the flounder going airborne on small baitfish in a foot of water.  They weren’t easily fooled by lures but we managed to string a few.  Mine came on Buggs 1/4 oz. Curl Tail jig (Black Gold) while David went with Chicken Boy Bubba Cluckers.

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After the flounder action died down, it was off to search for redfish.  The water was extremely dirty which meant gulp shrimp under a popping cork with the Hook Spit Zephyr Elite rod.  If you’re looking for a popping cork rod for a spinning reel that is designed for a cork, this one is worth checking out.  We focused our efforts on the edge of large patches of shell with a one foot drop off to a soft mud bottom.  Popping the cork parallel to the edge of the shell produced a little over a dozen reds for me along with a small black drum. David ended up with 3 flounder and about a dozen reds as well. It was a fun day on the water with a good friend.

Once I arrived back at the house, I decided to blacken the flounder instead of stuffing it.  I was amazed at how well it turned out.  Needless to say, it may be a while before I stuff one again.

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Bugg Slinging with Heath Hippel of Buggs Fishing Lures

 

Early last week I received a phone call from Heath Hippel, owner of Buggs Fishing Lures.  He was going to be making a trip across Houston to restock a few Buggs at the Fishing Tackle Unlimited store off of I-45 and wanted to see about getting a quick kayak trip in before dropping them off.  Photo Jul 29 copyMy morning was wide open since my wife and kids had stayed the night at her mothers house the night before, so we loaded up the kayaks and set off for the Texas coast.  Heath had wanted to check out my Cuda 14, so I let him use it and paddled teammate Aaron Ferguson’s Kraken.

We met my buddy David at the launch site at 6 am in hopes of launching early and returning early since the Texas heat has been so brutal here lately.  It didn’t take long to unload our kayaks and gear and we were off to the marsh.

David decided to target flounder first, so Heath and I left him to search for redfish first.  We were hoping to spot a few schools in the early morning light before trying our luck for flat fish later in the day.  On our way out, we spotted several smaller redfish feeding over a small patch of shallow shell and decided to see if we could trick a few of them.  We stopped for a few minutes and each pulled a fish from the area.  Both fish were undersized, so we decided to keep moving in search of bigger fish.

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After paddling another 1/2 mile, we reached our destination and began scanning the shoreline for scattering bait, small wakes, and birds.  The water was pretty glassy and we both felt that if the fish were schooled up, we would easily be able to see them.  We saw no such thing though, and decided to move around a bit and blind cast a few spots while searching for signs of fish.  After about ten minutes, a few small wakes appeared off in the distance.  They didn’t seem large enough to be redfish, but they were creating more of a disturbance than a small school of baitfish would make.  We kept a close watch on the area and finally saw a few large fish blow up on bait, which confirmed what we had been hoping for.  They school looked as though it might consist of about 20 redfish, so we slowly started making our way towards them.

Photo Jul 29

As we got within casting distance, we decided to attempt a double hook up.  While getting ready to cast, another smaller school appeared 10 yards to my right and presented me with an easier cast.  I let my Bugg fly, and hooked up after a few quick twitches with a solid redfish.  It took me nearly 15 minutes to land the fish, which led me to believe that it would be an oversized fish.  I was pleasantly surprised to see her hit the ruler and measure 27 3/4″ while weighing 9.25 lbs. on the Boga, my personal best slot red.  During the commotion of my fight, Heath’s school quietly disappeared before he was able to make a cast.  He fan casted the area anyway and hooked up with what we though would be a redfish, but it turned out to be a small black drum.

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We continued searching for more schools and it didn’t take long for Heath to spot one.  They were approaching fast and Heath made the most of his cast which produced a beautiful redfish that was just out of the slot.

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The school action died off after that and we tried working the area a little more, but without any luck.  We decided to see if the flounder were around and met back up with David, who had caught a few flounder and a redfish.  We missed a few flounder, but overall, they were not going to cooperate on this day.  We tried catching a few more redfish instead, by switching over to gulp shrimp under a popping cork.  The trusty popping cork produced another five redfish for me and a few more for Heath and David.  We made it back to the truck shortly after 11, got out of the hot sun, and headed home for the day.

I’m already looking forward to the fall, when temperatures will drop and the fishing only gets better.  Until then, this angler will be launching early and coming back early whenever I have a chance to get on the water.

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A New Baby and a Trip to the Marsh in the Jackson Kraken

Photo Apr 26, 3 23 55 PM

Since time to fish has been hard to come by, I’ve been trying to work on a few new things for the blog, but recently got a little sidetracked before finishing any of them up. My wife and I have been preparing for our second little girl to make an appearance on May 13th, but apparently she had plans of her own. We woke up around 5 am on April 30th and made a mad dash to the hospital to find out that she would have to be delivered that day. Four hours later she made an appearance (5 weeks early since her original due date was June 4th) and has been in the NICU for the past 10 days. Everything is fine with her; she just has to improve on her eating before they will release her to come home. We are very excited about the newest (and last edition) to our family, Samantha Rae Mills. Between her and my other daughter, a Jackson Big Tuna or maybe a couple of Cruise 10s might be in my future.

Photo May 05, 7 23 53 PM

A few weekends ago, Jackson Kayak teammate Michael Harris and I decided to try our luck at one of my favorite marshy areas. We had a small window of opportunity with an outgoing tide that would bottom out around 9 am which gave us about three hours of ideal sight casting conditions before the water would start pushing back in.  I picked up Aaron Ferguson’s Jackson Kraken for this trip to see how this offshore kayak would handle the skinny water and deep mud of the marsh.

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We launched before first light and made the short paddle to the area we planned to fish. We were floating through 6-8 inches of water, looking for signs of redfish when we came across a small flat with submerged grass. The area was about the size of a football field with plenty of active bait hiding among the vegetation. Large patches of underwater vegetation are great places for small shrimp and baitfish to seek refuge from predators, and the redfish knew that, and didn’t mind rooting around for them. I started off throwing a black and orange She Pup to avoid getting caught in the grass before spotting a group of a dozen tails about 30 yards away. I called Michael over and told him to put his fly rod to work.

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Once Michael arrived, I backed away and watched, as he calmly approached the school, taking his time before making a cast. The first cast fell a few feet short, but the next one was right on the money. A fish bolted from the school, his line went tight, and the 9-foot buggy whip bent over. After a solid 10-minute fight, the mid slot red gave in and the first fish of the day hit the deck of Michael’s Cuda 14. After a few quick photos, the red was released, and our search for the next fish continued.

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Micahel Harris on the fly

It didn’t take long before I spotted another (or the same) school of tails not far from the location of the first and made my way towards them. Michael had already landed him a fish, so now it was my turn. Throughout the month of April, I have gone with a Curl Tail Bugg on 90% of my trips with good results, and I wasn’t about to change things up. All the bait I’ve been seeing is still relatively tiny, so it only makes sense to continue matching the hatch.

Hot Pink Curl Tail Bugg

I fired my little Bugg out in front of the tails, let it sink for a few seconds, and gave it one little twitch. I felt that familiar thump, followed by a good amount of drag peeling, and set the hook. The school scattered and a few minutes later my fish hit the net. I figured I could hang around the grass and wait for the fish to regroup, but I really wanted to push back further in hopes of locating a few crawlers.

I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of convincing a redfish in really shallow water to eat. By shallow, I mean the ability to see their head, back, and tail as they crawl through 3-4 inches of water. Most people think this should be an easy task, when in reality; it can be the most difficult bite to obtain. Fish this shallow are on full alert and very spooky since they are completely exposed. To make a long story short, I spotted a dozen crawlers, got within casting distance of about 3, and only caught one, once again, on my Hot Pink Curl Tail Bugg.

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I look forward to the next 6 months of fishing. The marsh will remain full of reds, and they’ll be hitting everything from a topwater to a soft plastic. I’ll stick with my little Bugg for the rest of this month; however, a MirrOlure She Dog will be close by for that topwater itch I need to scratch.

I did receive a few nice packages in the mail from Jackson Kayak last week.  The first was my new 2015 Cuda 14 which I plan to do a full post about showing all of the improvements Jackson has made compared to my first Cuda, along with everything I love about this kayak.

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The other package was a new team shirt and hat that will be nice to wear during tournaments, demo days, and fishing shows.

Photo May 08, 8 03 20 AM

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Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series (Event #1 2015)

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I know its been a while since my last blog post, but unfortunately, that trend will continue for a while.  My wife and I are less than a month away from the arrival of our 2nd child, so fishing trips have been few and far between, and time to write or do anything else fishing related has been difficult to come by.  We’re excited about the arrival of our new little one though, which should happen sometime in mid May.

The first event of the Lone Star Kayak Series was held this past weekend and man was it a big one.  The largest event last year occurred during the first event in April and included 91 anglers.  With the tournament continuing to grow in popularity each year, we had high hopes of breaking the 100 angler mark for the first time ever.  When registration was finally shut down, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing.  176 anglers had registered for the first event of the season which nearly doubled the previous best mark.

With tourney day quickly approaching, I decided to take off work on Friday to try and locate a few fish.  I’m not a big fan of fishing the day before a tournament, but the location I chose was based off of past experiences and current weather conditions.  I had no clue if the fish would be around and wanted to check it out before showing up the next morning.

We’ve had rain for nearly two weeks straight leading up to this event, and most areas were running extremely fresh as far as salinity goes. On top of that, we had pretty strong SE winds that were causing our tides to run about a foot higher than predicted.  I would much rather fish a really low tide than an extremely high one, but that wasn’t going to happen this day.

I launched around 7:00 am on Friday morning and made the one mile paddle to the spot I planned to fish. I only spent about 2 hours fishing, but caught a decent 27″ red, missed another, and also caught an 18″ rat red all while using a Midcoast Popping Cork (Texas Swing) with a New Penny Gulp Mantis Shrimp.  Only one good fish was caught, but it at least let me know there were a few in the area.  I made it back to the truck around 10 and was on the road headed home.

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My alarm went of at 3:15 am on Saturday morning and I was on the road by 3:30.  After a quick stop at Bucee’s where I met up with David and saw a few other friends, we were on our way to the launch, breakfast burritos in hand.  We arrived around 5:30 and unloaded our gear with plenty of time to spare.  The phone alarm went off at 6:00 am and we pushed off a few seconds later doing the best to leave the mosquitos behind.

We reached our first spot around 6:30 as first light began to show.  We could hear bait being smashed along the grass lines and thought for sure we had chosen the perfect spot.  We both worked the edges of the grass with corks and gulp, but neither of us ever got a bite.  The feeding frenzy was short lived at around 15 minutes, before going completely quiet.  We continued working the grass lines with the exceptionally high tides before working a couple of drains with only one rat red by David to show for our efforts.

After a few hours of solid cork popping and no bites, I decided to move around and check out some other areas.  I made a short paddle to another lake and worked the grass lines first, followed by a narrow channel that runs through the small lake, and then the shell in the middle with no bites.  I was about to head back toward David but decided to cork a small drain where a few small baitfish were flipping.  A few seconds after casting into the drain my cork shot under and I was rewarded with a 23″ red.  Not quiet the one I was looking for, but it gave me a fish on the stringer, which is always a good feeling on tournament day.

After stringing that fish, I started hearing feeding fish over my shoulder where a series of endless islands and channels were weaving in and out of each other for a good half mile.  I started working my way through the drains, hearing bait getting busted about every minute or so.  I had difficulty locating exactly where the feeding was taking place while sitting down, so I decided to stand and pole.  Once standing, seeing where the commotion came from was easy to spot.  I stuck with the cork and gulp, making casts into the areas where the bait had been hit, and then making small pops of the cork to draw some attention to my bait.  After several casts that I thought for sure would yield bites went untouched, I decided to switch lures.

I had started getting glimpses of the bait being hit and they were very tiny shrimp about a inch in size.  I snipped off my topwater, tied on a 1/4 oz. Curl Tail Bugg (Hot Pink), and made a cast into the area where bait had just scattered.  The Bugg hit the water, I gave it one twitch, and the redfish unloaded on it.  I landed this fish in about 10 seconds due to the fact that it ran into the grass, causing it to become stuck.  I picked up the fish and thought I had just hit the jackpot.  After stringing the fish, and laying it on the Checkit Stick, I quickly realized that my fish was going to be out of the slot.  Once I pinched its tail, it measured 28 1/4″ which put it 1/4″ over the slot.  It was a tough blow going from a 13 lb. stringer, back down to 4.73 lb. because of 1/4″, but thats how tournament fishing goes.

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I worked the area a little longer, but just like earlier in the day, the bite died off after about 20 minutes.  I made my way back to David to let him know about the two fish I had landed and continued working the area near him.  I picked up an undersized red and extremely fat 22″ trout before I decided to head back to the area where the previous fish were caught.

We made our way to the small lake where I had caught my 23″ red and stopped to fish a small flat near a drain.  I was halfway through with a story about how a friend and I had caught a good number of reds on this flat our first trip to this area several years ago when David’s Pink She Dog was annihilated by what sounded like an extremely large fish.  I paddled away from him to make sure his fish didn’t tangle up with my kayak and returned 5 minutes later to check out his fish.  He asked me to give him a 2nd opinion on the length because he was having some difficulty determining if the fish was right at, or barely over 28″.  After a pinch of the tail it was clear that his fish was 28 1/8″ in length giving David the same heart break I had experienced just an hour earlier.

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We continued working the area but knew we were running short on time.  On our way back to the truck, David picked up a 24″ red on the same She Dog which meant he wouldn’t be going to the weighin empty handed.  I desperately tried picking up a second fish and thought I had succeeded when my She Dog was hit hard less than half a mile from the truck.  To my surprise, it was another extremely fat trout.

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We made it back to the truck and headed to the weighin to discover that some monster weights were holding down first and second place.  Joe Strahan from the Saltwater Boys Kayak Fishing Club out of the Beaumont area had 18.25 lb., which included his 1/2 lb. live bonus.  Closely behind him was another SWBKFC teammate, Brent Louviere with 17.15 lb. (1/2 lb. bonus included).  More than 100 kayakers checked in at the weighin and 62 anglers weighed in fish.  My 23″ redfish put me in 57th place while David’s 24″ red had him finish in 52nd.  Definitely not the places or fish we were looking for, but we’ll be back again in June, hopefully with better results.  Joe’s winning fish are pictured below.

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

1st Place: Joe Strahan – Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

We all had a great time at the weighin and I enjoyed seeing good friends on stage receiving their prizes and cash.  Registration is already open for the 2nd event on June 6th, and hopefully we have another great turnout.  Anyone interested in reading up on the rules, seeing past results and pics, or wanting to register can do so by visiting http://www.lonestarkayakseries.com

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

I would like to thank Jackson Kayak, Werner Paddles, Hook Spit Performance Rods, Buggs Fishing Lures, and FishHide Sportswear for all of their support.  I have been blessed with opportunity to use and promote these great products and look forward to a continued partnership for years and years to come.

Conditions:

Wind: Non existent at times, 20 mph at others

Weather: Cloudy skies with temps around the mid 80s (never saw the sun)

Tides: 1 foot above predicted, high, and not moving

Bottom: Mud and Shell

Depth: Anywhere from 1-5 feet deep

Lures: 1/8th oz. Buggs Curl Tail Jig (Hot Pink), She Dog (Red Head, White Body, Chrome Back), and MidCoast Popping Cork with Gulp Mantis Shrimp

Rod: 6′ 10″ Hook Spit T-N-T and 7′ 2″ Hook Spit Zephyr Elite

Reel: Shimano Citica and Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500H

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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Small Lures for Big Fish

SM Big Red

“Match the hatch” is a phrase we fishermen hear all to often, especially when targeting skinny water redfish on the Texas gulf coast in the early spring. Our fish are a bit picky during this time of the year as they transition from their winter homes, with lots of changes occurring around them. Water temps are rising, wind is going crazy, and plenty of fresh water is flowing into the bay from every river, creek, and stream that leads into the bays, due to the excessive amount of rain we receive this time of the year. There are also millions of little baitfish and shrimp hatching in the marsh, with most of these tiny creatures being no larger than your fingernail. With so many tiny meals that are easy to catch, you can expect shallow water reds to develop a little bit of tunnel vision when it comes to what they will and won’t eat.

With all of this in mind, I like to downgrade the size of my lure to better match the hatch during the months of April and May. Buggs Fishing Lures are my favorite lures when sight casting to spooky reds. These lures are tied like flies using strips of bunny fur and very small in size. Not only are they similar in size to the current bait, but they also make very little splash when coming in contact with the water.

Beastie Bugg

This past weekend while fishing a small marsh lake with an average depth of 1 foot of water, I began blind casting my Bugg after seeing several signs of redfish along the shoreline. It didn’t take more than a few casts before I felt a hard thump, followed by a strong run with a couple dozen yards of drag being peeled off my reel. I knew I had a sold fish, but was surprised to net a 33” redfish after a good 15-minute battle.

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Sonny Mills - Release

I hopped out of the kayak for a quick photo and immediately sank to my thighs in the soft mud our marshes are full of. In water this shallow and mud this deep, kayaking is your only choice, with the Cuda 14 my weapon of choice.

Big baits don’t always catch the big fish. There are certain times of the year when smaller baits will put more fish in the boat and they are a lot of fun to throw. Next time you’re having trouble with getting a bite, downgrade the size of your bait and see if a lure with a smaller profile is what they are after.

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Conditions:

Wind: 15 mph with Gusts to 20 mph

Weather: Cloudy skies with temps in the mid 70s

Tides: Outgoing

Bottom: Mud with occasional patches of shell

Depth: 1-2 feet deep in most areas

Lures: 1/8th oz. Buggs Curl Tail Jig (Blue Crab)

Rod: 6′ 10″ Hook Spit T-N-T

Reel: Shimano Citica

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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Busy Busy Busy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and even longer since my last fishing trip.  I’m ready for this cold stuff to get out of here so that I can get a little time on the water before the newest addition of my family arrives around mid May.  I’ve been busy with fishing stuff, despite my lack of posting lately.  I’m going to make up for it right now with a long one.

Photo Mar 01-4

First off, I’m pleased to announce that I will be contributing an Upper Texas Marsh Report to Saltwater Angler Magazine.  The magazine is free and available online at http://www.saltyangler.com or you can pick up paper copies at various tackle stores along the Texas coast.  The magazine comes out every 2 weeks so reports and information will be from recent trips.

This past weekend the Houston Fishing Show was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center where a few hundred retailers set up booths to show case their various products to several thousand people over a five day period.  I spent all day Saturday and Sunday running between The Hook Spit booth and Fishing Tackle Unlimited.  Most of my time on Saturday was spent with Hook Spit informing customers about their various rods, shirts, hats, reels, lures, and everything else you can think of as far as fishing goes.

On Sunday I spent all day at the Fishing Tackle Unlimited booth with Jackson Kayak teammate Michael Harris.  We took turns walking people through the Cuda 12, Cuda 14, Big Rig, Big Tuna, Kraken, and Coosa HD.  The Jackson line of kayaks was a big hit and several kayaks were sold throughout the week.

 

Photo Mar 01-5

 

I had a great time at the fishing show and enjoyed getting to meet and chat with members from Texas Kayak Fisherman.  Often times we read each others post and communicate through the forum, but never have a chance to actually meet in person.  Lots of friends were working other booths or roaming around so it was good to see them as well.

Surprisingly I left the show without spending a ton of money.  I picked up a couple packs of Reelem in Lures and can’t wait to give them a try.  They are made by a local man from Santa Fe and are a very interesting looking baitfish soft plastic that I’m curious to check out.

Photo Mar 01-6

I also came home with a new shirt from the guys over at FishHide Sportswear.  My buddy Jared has been wearing these shirts since I met him and he really likes them.  Not only are they comfortable, they have some amazing features like a built in buff, thumb holes in the sleeves that turn into gloves, two front pockets, and plenty of orange to help alert boaters of your presence while in the kayak or during a quick wade.  I’ll be wearing it on my next trip (whenever that is) to see how it does on the water.  You can check them out at http://fishhidesportswear.com and see a couple pictures of the shirt I picked up below.

Photo Mar 01-3

 

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Going back to the fishing show, one of the exciting parts about working the Hook Spit booth was the debut of the new Tempest Series of rods.  Wade did a pretty good job of keeping them a secret until the show which means I haven’t even had a chance to use them. They start with a 43 million module blank, which is the same as their higher end rods, and add a split reel seat with double locking nuts that allow you complete access to the blank while holding the rod.  They then add Alps stainless steel guides and a split grip cork handle and come in three different lengths (6′ 6″, 6′ 9″, and 6′ 10″) and several different actions.  The cost of each is $169 which will allow all anglers to purchase a high end rod at a lower price than most other brands.  You can check them out by dropping by the Hook Spit store the next time you’re around League City, TX.

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Photo Feb 27

 

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The last bit of news involves my kayak.  My uncle has decided to purchase my old yellow jacket Cuda which will allow me to pick up a brand new 2015 model of the Jackson Cuda 14.  I purchased my first Cuda in 2012 shortly after Jackson released them so I’m excited to be getting a new one with all of the upgrades they’ve made over the years.  I went with Sexy Shad as my color and should be receiving it at the beginning of April, just in time for the first Lone Star Kayak Series event of the year. Over the last four years that kayak has helped me catch a lot of fish, win several trophies, and paid for itself a few times over with tournament cash.

 

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Spring is just around the corner so hopefully I’ll have a few reports, pictures, videos, and other things to post soon. Hopefully the weather over my spring break is nice and sunny with high temps and low winds.

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Topwater Reds in December

Hunchback Red

So far this year we’ve had an exceptionally mild winter here in Texas making fishing during the months of November and December outstanding. The redfish are still following the same patterns they were during September and October with the exception of no big schools roaming the marsh.

I got a late start today and didn’t get to the launch until about 11 o’ clock.  I wasn’t going to be able to stay out to long but wanted to get a quick trip in to get me a redfish fix for the week.  The weatherman had predicted winds around 15-20 mph hour out of the SE today and for once he was right on the money.

I headed into the marsh and made two stops to fish a couple of deeper channels that had been holding fish during the last few trips but neither area produced any bites.  The tide had just bottomed out and the wind didn’t have enough east in it to create a good wind driven current so I left them and continued pushing deeper into the marsh.  The sun was directly overhead with very little cloud cover so I decided to focus my efforts on the shallow patches of mud and shell in hopes that the reds would be doing a little sun bathing.

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After a short paddle to the far side of the lake I set up for a drift and grabbed my rod with the Strike Pro Hunchback.  I started fan casting the area by throwing along the edges of the shell or towards the small pot holes in the middle.  There were plenty of 3-5 inch mullet making low, fast jumps along the edges of the shell so anytime one of them went airborne I would cast in their direction.  It only took about 30 minutes to catch my limit with numerous blowups that missed along with plenty of fish that would follow my hunchback all the way to the kayak before turning away.  In the video below I had a decent little blow up that didn’t quiet connect with my lure.  I gave it a few twitches and pauses to make the fish think it had injured my bait and right before I made it back to the kayak he committed and took the bait.

It probably would have been a good day to throw the She Dog or She Pup for a slower more wounded appearance but the Hunchback was on and I didn’t feel like changing out.  With the lack of tide movement the fish seemed pretty lazy throughout the day.  While drifting across the lake I saw dozens of mud boils where I had spooked fish that had been soaking up the sun.

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After my third fish I headed back to the truck, loaded up, and was on the road by 1:15.  It was a really quick trip but should hold me over until my Christmas break which starts this Friday around noon.  I’ll have a nice 2 week break from work to spend time with friends, family, and maybe even get a few fishing trips in.

 

Conditions:

Wind: 15-20 mph from the SE

Weather: Mid 70s with sunny skies.

Tides: Slack

Bottom: Mud & Shell

Depth: Elevated patches of shell that were a foot deep that were 2-3 feet deep around the edges

Lures: Strike Pro Hunchback (purple and yellow)

Rod: 6′ 9″ Hook Spit Pitch Fork

Reel: Shimano Citica

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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10 Tips to Defeat the Wind While Kayak Fishing

MeandCalbert

As kayak anglers, if we only fished on days when the wind laid low, odds are the majority of us would never get on the water. Like it or not, windy days are a part of kayak fishing that you’re going to have to deal with on occasion. While the wind can be a pain to deal with, it’s not always a reason to cancel your trip. Fishing on a windy day is not only possible, but can be very productive with proper planning and the right equipment. A combination of the tips and advice listed below can help you turn a canceled trip into a successful and enjoyable day on the water.

Warning: As always, precaution should be taken when dealing with dangerous situations such as kayaking during a period of extremely high winds. Know your abilities as a paddler, always wear your lifejacket, and if in doubt, cancel your trip. When I use the term “high winds” in this article I am referring to winds in the 15-25 mph range.

DSC_0131 copy_800x532The Power of a Good Paddle

Having proper equipment is one of the best ways to make things easier for yourself while kayaking. As wind speed increases, so will the amount of paddle strokes you take throughout the day.  With an increase in the amount of strokes you take, you can expect fatigue to set in more quickly, especially if you’re using a heavy paddle (greater than 30 oz.). You’ll be amazed at just how much a full carbon or carbon blend paddle will help to prolong fatigue, regardless of how high or low winds are. I am currently paddling with the 250 cm Werner Cyprus: Hooked that weighs in at 23.25 oz. making fatigue during 20+mph winds the least of my worries. Before the Cyprus, I paddled with the 250 cm Werner Shuna: Hooked (27.75 oz.) which was also a great paddle. Having a paddle constructed from lightweight, high quality materials can make a huge difference on a windy day when the amount of strokes you take will greatly increase.

Feathering Your Paddle

Feathering the blades of your paddle is a great way to reduce the resistance caused by wind. Feathering is the action of rotating the blades on your paddle so that they sit at opposite angles of one another. This allows one end of your paddle to slice through the wind at an angle while the other is in the water propelling you forward. This helps to reduce resistance caused by the wind during each paddle stroke you take. While feathered, you are required to rotate the shaft of the paddle in your hand so that the blades enter the water at the right angle during each stroke. Most people find paddling with feathered blades awkward at first so it’s a good idea to practice on a calm day ahead of time. Once proper technique has been developed, paddling on windy days can become easier than you think.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When paddling straight into a strong headwind, many kayakers will make the mistake of throwing their head down and giving it all they’ve got in an attempt to defeat the wind. The problem with this method is that most anglers will tire out before reaching their intended destination. It’s sort of like sprinting and jogging. If you have a short distance to travel, then sprinting will get the job done. However, if your destination is a long ways off then you’ll need to maintain a slower, steady pace that is similar to jogging. Paddling is really no different since a constant but comfortable pace will allow you to paddle for a longer period of time while a more strenuous pace will get you there faster but cause you to fatigue more quickly. The bottom line is that on windy days you should expect to paddle for a longer period of time and cover less water than you normally would. With this in mind, slow and steady is your best choice.

IMG_4513Leave the Stringer Behind

If you plan on keeping fish during a trip when the winds are going to be high, a fish bag on your kayak is the best way to go. Dragging several fish behind your kayak on a stringer creates extra drag that can make a tough day of paddling even more difficult. By placing a fish bag in your rear tank well, you can place your fish on ice as soon as they are caught and eliminate the drag that would be created if you were towing a stringer.

Drift Sock

The last piece of equipment that can really come in handy on windy days is a drift sock. During high winds, the speed of your kayak is difficult to control while making long drifts across an open bay or lake. The wind causes you to drift at a faster pace than you would like, which makes it very difficult to cover an area thoroughly. It also makes properly working your lure a bit of a challenge since you will be constantly moving about twice the speed you normally would. Deploying a drift sock is a great way to slow down and really cover an area the correct way.

Launch Here, Exit There

Launching from one location and exiting at another is a great way to make sure you spend more time fishing and less time paddling. For this to work, you’ll need to fish with a friend and drive separate vehicles. You load both kayaks and gear into one vehicle and leave the empty one behind at the area you plan to exit. You then head back to your launch, unload your kayaks and gear, and start your drift by allowing the wind to blow you towards your exit. Using this tactic allows you to cover several miles of water, fish during the majority of the trip, and keeps you from having to paddle back into wind. The key is choosing your launch and exit according to the direction the wind is blowing. By doing so, the wind will actually help to reduce the amount of paddling required during your trip.

Hugging Wind Protected Shorelines

One way to avoid the wind while moving from spot to spot is to stay as close as you can to a wind protected shoreline. By staying within a few feet of these shorelines you can minimize the effect crosswinds will have against you and your kayak. The water near these areas will be slightly shielded from the wind for about five feet off the shoreline line allowing you to paddle through a somewhat protected area. For example, if the wind was blowing out of the north, you would want to stay as near the north shoreline as possible. With this in mind, wind direction can play a huge role in the location I choose to launch from and the areas I choose to fish on windy days.

DSC_0075 copy_800x532Get Out and Wade

Most kayakers seem split when it comes to fishing from their kayak or getting out and wading. Some will argue that one of the main reasons they bought a kayak was to get away from wading while others will swear that wading will put more fish on the stringer. As far as this goes, I say to each their own, however, on windy days I like to use my kayak to reach a location and then get out and wade. Making several casts and working a lure properly is much easier while standing on solid ground when compared to sitting in your kayak while it gets blown across the water at a high rate of speed. It also allows you to properly cover an area since wading forces you to slow down and make several casts before moving on.

Wind Driven Current

One of the major benefits of fishing on a windy day is the constant tidal movement that can be created by the wind. Small pinches and channels created by islands or other forms of land make great places for fish to feed as the wind funnels the water and bait through these areas. The key is finding a channel or pinch that runs parallel to the direction the wind is blowing. Other great areas to focus on would be points, small coves, and large patches of shallow shell where fish can sit out of the current while waiting for bait to be blown by. All of these areas make great ambush points for reds, trout, and flounder on windy days.

DSC_0017 copy_800x532High to Low

A lot of the newer model kayaks that have come out recently give you the option to place your seat in a high or low position. The Jackson Cuda 14 I paddle gives me this option and 95% of the time I sit in the high position. It makes standing easier, gives me a higher view point, and is overall a more comfortable position in my opinion. The downside is that while elevated, your body catches more wind which can slow you down due to the extra drag that is created. Windy days are when I move my seat into the low position in order to reduce the amount of resistance my body creates. While it may not seem like much, it can make a noticeable difference while paddling.

Next time the wind looks like it will be more than you care to deal with, remember these tips and use it to your advantage. Some of my best days on the water have occurred during windy days when I had considered staying home. The thing about fishing is you never know if the fish are biting until you get on the water and see for yourself.

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Double Limits of Reds in the Wind

One of the perks of being a teacher are the long breaks we get throughout the year.  Thanksgiving is first, followed by Christmas, and then spring break before the long summer break comes back around.  After hanging around the house on Saturday and Sunday with my daughter I called up David to see if he wanted to make a Monday morning trip in search of a few fish.  We checked the weather and of course, the winds were predicted to be blowing 20+ mph from the north.  With the winds blowing more than 20 mph we decided to leave the trout and flounder alone and seek shelter in the marsh looking for redfish.

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We started off working a small drain where David picked up a few rat reds while I landed a lower slot red and a 12″ flounder.  The action was slow here so we decided to push a little deeper into the marsh focusing on the grass lines while looking for nervous bait, wakes, or even mud boils that might give away a few fish.  We didn’t want to commit too much time to blind casting the area until we knew the fish were around.  It didn’t take long to discover that the fish weren’t hanging around the shallow areas so we started moving towards a deeper drain a mile or so from our current location.

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We pulled the kayaks onto a small island near a narrow channel that connected two lakes to one another and been fan casting the area.  The edges of the channel were only 1-2 feet deep but quickly dropped off to about 6 feet deep near the middle.  The wind was pushing water through the channel creating a strong wind driven current that we decided to concentrate on.  I started off throwing a Bass Assassin 5″ Die Dapper (Chicken on a Chain) on a 1/4 oz jig head while David went with a 4″ Sea Shad in the same color on a 1/8th oz jig head.  With the strong current the heavier jig head was necessary in order to get the plastic down to the bottom so once I had picked up a couple of fish David made the switch to a heavier jig head and a Die Dapper as well.  We would make a long cast up the current and let our plastics reached the bottom before slowly bumping them along the scattered shell until a fish would pick it up.  The bites were relatively soft and you wouldn’t even realize you had a fish on until you tried giving your rod it’s next twitch.  After a while we started running low on Die Dappers and made the switch to the Texas Tackle Factory’s Killer Flats Minnow XL (Pumpkin/Chartreuse/White).  The color didn’t seem to be a big deal but the bigger fish were going after the larger baits so we decided to stick with something within the same size range.

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Around noon we decided to make our way back towards the truck with a limit of reds each.  On our way back to the truck we started seeing plenty of mud boils around the shallow areas.  The sun had been up for a while now heating up the shallow shell and mud making it a perfect area for the fish to absorb a little heat.  Despite having to battle the wind, it was a nice day on the water.  Sitting in one area while working it thoroughly for several hours is not my normal style of fishing but it was nice to change it up a bit.

Conditions:

Wind: 20 mph with Gusts to 30 mph

Weather: Morning temperature was in the low 50s but quickly rose to the mid 60s with sunny skies.

Tides: Slightly higher than normal and falling throughout the day

Bottom: Mud & Shell

Depth: 1-2 feet deep in most areas with deeper drains up to 6 feet in depth

Lures: Bass Assassin 5″ Die Dapper (Chicken on a Chain) and Texas Tackle Factory Killer Flats Minnow XL (Pumpkin/White/Chartreuse) on a 1/4 oz jig head.

Rod: 6′ 10″ Hook Spit T-N-T

Reel: Shimano Curado 200 series

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

MeandCalbert

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