Posts Tagged With: hook spit rods

Flounder Fishing with my Nephew


For the first time in over a month, I had a chance to get out on the water and do a little fishing from the kayak. I was able to take my nine year old nephew with me on this trip and we had a really good time.  He’s shown a great deal of interest in fishing lately and has been spending a lot of time catching fish from one of my parents ponds.  I figured this is as good a time as any to introduce him to both kayaking and saltwater fishing.

image1I swung by Fishing Tackle Unlimited the day before and picked up a Jackson Big Tuna (tandem kayak) for us to paddle.  For those looking at renting kayaks in the Houston area, FTU is a great place with plenty of options to choose from.

The ideal plan would have been to launch at 6 am and finish up around 10 or 11 since we are in the middle of July, but I wasn’t able to pick up my nephew until 10 am.  We made a quick stop at Bucee’s to grab a few waters and Gatorades in order to stay hydrated and continued on our way.  We arrived at our launch a little after 11 and met up with my good friend David.  We unloaded the kayaks and made our way to our flounder hole.  We arrived around noon, with temps already holding steady in the upper 90s and started looking for fish.  I started off throwing a couple of Buggs rigged tandem and picked up a solid 19″ flounder to start the day.

image3We moved around quite a bit until we found where the flat fish were holding.  I watched my nephew bring a few flounder to the surface before they spit the hook at him and dove back down.  Premature hook sets were the cause of the missed fish, but that was to be expected on a young boys first flounder trip since his initial reaction after each strike was to immediately set the hook.  After an hour or so he finally got one to commit and landed his first flounder.

The bite wasn’t hot and heavy, but we caught a fish every 15 – 20 minutes.  By the time four o’clock hit, we had a decent stringer of fish and needed to get out of the sun.  4″ white Gulp Swimming Mullet on 1/4 oz jighead produced the majority of our bites by slowly working them along a drop off from about 2 to 8 feet in depth.

My nephew tried to convince me to push further back into the marsh in search of redfish, but the wind was blowing every bit of 15 mph with gusts to 20.  I didn’t have the energy to battle the wind for several miles, but promised him we’d make another trip in the fall when big schools are roaming the marsh.

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Lost in the Texas Marsh

Standing JPEG

The clock on the dash of my truck shows 5:31, but I know it’s not accurate.  I keep it set eight minutes faster than the actual time, which means I’ll reach my destination a few minutes ahead of schedule.  That’s not uncommon since I always seem to wake up before my alarm goes off on mornings when I have a fishing trip planned.

As I approach my launch site, I do a quick scan of the area to see if my headlights reflect off of any other vehicles.  They don’t of course.  It’s rare that they ever do since I do my best to arrive before anyone else.  Beating the crowds is nice, but I don’t like to miss the sunrise as it peaks over the horizon.  That’s where it always looks the best.

I slowly back my truck up to the edge of the water and fumble through my gear for the can of Deep Woods Off.   On this muggy Texas morning, the winds are non-existent, which means the mosquitos will be out in full force.  I douse myself in the insect repellent before opening the door, but know it will only do so much.  Marsh mosquitos are tough, and I often think they view the spray as a marinade being applied to their next meal.

I exit the truck and begin the mindless task of unloading my kayak and gear.  I’ve performed this task several hundred times now, so within 10 minutes of arriving, I am on my way.

It’s still pitch black outside, so I turn on my 360-degree light, even though it won’t serve a purpose on this particular morning.  It’s way too shallow for powerboats to reach the spot I’m heading to, so the odds that I’ll become a speed bump in the dark are nonexistent.

I have roughly thirty minutes before first light shows itself, which is more than enough time to complete the one-mile paddle required to reach my destination.  I keep my pace slow and steady, while carefully listening to the sounds of the marsh.  It’s quiet at first, and the only sounds I hear are the occasional splashes made by jumping horse mullet and few noisy seagulls.  Then, off in the distance, I hear something else.  The distinct flushing sounds that only feeding redfish make.  I don’t quite know the exact location, but turn the bow of my kayak in the general direction of the noise.   Even if I am unable locate this particular group of fish, it’s these types of sounds that get my adrenaline flowing for the day.

As I approach the area where I believe the fish had been feeding, I stop and wait, hoping that they will eventually give themselves away.  They don’t of course, so I fan cast the area with my topwater, hoping to get lucky. Three casts into the small cove results in zero blowups.  The fish that had been in the area just moments before seem to have vanished all of a sudden.

As the sun inches closer and closer to the horizon, my vision slowly improves.  A quick glance at the shoreline confirms what I already know.  The tides are extremely low this morning, with a good six inches separating the top of the water from the bottom of the grass.  Bait has very few places to hide right now, so the marsh birds are having a field day.  I watch a few Rosette Spoonbills as they swing their bills back and forth through the water in search of the tiny shrimp that are burrowed in the mud.  I don’t spend too much time watching though.  I have approximately two hours before the tide turns and begins rushing back in, so there’s little time to waste if I want to sight cast a few reds.

At times I’m paddling through 8” of water, but on occasion I hit an area so shallow that I’m forced to pole myself through what feels like more mud than water.  As I paddle, I do my best to remain in the center of the narrow channel that leads to the back of the lake. If I’m not careful, I could stray off course and be forced to walk through knee-deep marsh mud, which is not my idea of a good time.  This area is really shallow, but I know that I’ll find slightly deeper water and plenty of fish if I can just make it a little further.

After another hundred yards of carefully navigating my way through the maze of mud, I finally reach a consistent depth of one foot and my search begins.

I have four rods with me, just like I would on any other day.  One has a topwater; another has a popping cork, the third has a soft plastic, and the fourth is equipped with a ¼ oz. Beastie Bugg.  The cork, topwater, and soft plastic will more than likely not see much action today, but the Bugg is sure to get a workout.  If I catch any redfish this morning, it will be because I can see parts of, if not the entire fish.  After all, the low tides and exposed fish are the main reasons I chose to fish this particular marsh this morning.

The first area I approach is a small grass flat that has held good fish for me in the past around this time of the year.  Crabs, shrimp, baitfish, and numerous other creatures’ call this area home, and use it as a hideout from would be predators.  The redfish know that, and don’t seem to have a problem with putting in a little work for their food.

I start off by circumnavigating the football sized patch of vegetation, focusing on the edges of the grass.  I’m hoping to spot a few reds as they slowly move along the perimeter looking for their breakfast.  I’ve always had a hard time focusing on one area for an extended period of time; so naturally, I divide my time between watching the edge of the grass and looking out towards the middle.  I’ve spent several years training my eyes to subconsciously look for signs of redfish in shallow water, but so far, I am unable to locate any fish.

Large mullet in the area continue to jump, but the sound that their splashes make receive no attention from me.  Just like my eyes, my ears know what to listen for, so I’ll only jerk my head around if I hear the obvious sound made by redfish smashing bait.

After slowly covering a good fifty yards of water, I finally spot what I’ve been looking for.  A dozen redfish tails are sticking a few inches out of the water in close proximity to one another, as they rummage through the grass for small crustaceans.  I’ve witnessed redfish in this setting a hundred times before, but it never gets old. My heart starts racing, the excitement overwhelms me, and it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time again.

In the past, I would have paddle straight towards the fish, and fired a cast off in the middle of them as soon as I reached the outer limits of my reels casting capability.  More times than not, that cast would miss its mark, and the fish would scatter.  My past experiences let me know that those fish aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It has taken a while, but I’ve learned that a little patience combined with a stealthy approach will almost guarantee that I catch one of these fish.

The fish are moving slowly, but they are moving, which means the direction they are heading is important.  I watch for a few seconds and determine that they are moving directly away from my current location.  I take my time and slowly paddle around the right hand side of them, making sure to stay a good 15 yards away at all times.  In all honesty, I’m not even paddling water to move my kayak.  Instead, I am placing the blade of my paddle into the soft mud, and propelling myself forward by pushing against it.  This approach is a littler quieter, and it allows me to get within casting distance of the school without giving myself away.

DSC_0047 copy_800x532A few minutes have passed now and the fish are still unaware of my presence. They are devouring shrimp and crab without the faintest idea that one of them is about to be yanked from their little group.  Half of me wants to spend a few minutes watching them feast, while the other demands that I make an immediate cast.  I only take a few seconds to decide, and the half that is begging me to make a cast wins.  It’s been too long since my last trip and I need to feel that tug on the end of my line.

I pick up my rod with the Bugg, double check the direction they are heading, and release a near perfect cast that lands three feet past and three feet in front of the school.  The Bugg lands softly and matches the size and color of the fleeing shrimp perfectly.   Not a single fish spooks, so I know what is about to happen.  I let the Bugg fall for about 3 seconds so that it reaches the bottom where the fish are feasting, give one twitch, and feel that familiar thump I’ve been waiting for.

I reel down my slack and lay into the fish with a powerful hook set.  At this point, all hell breaks loose.  The unlucky red that has taken my bait bolts from the group, the remaining fish scatter in every direction, and my reel begins playing that sweet music that only a fisherman can appreciate.

I begin what will probably be a 2-4 minute battle with the fish, but in all honesty, my favorite part is over.  I enjoy fighting the fish as much as the next guy, but my favorite thing about sight casting, is the eat.  I love seeing the fish pounce on my bait, feeling that hard thump, and experiencing those first five seconds of ninety mile per hour drag peeling as the fish races away, leaving behind a massive wake.  It’s what keeps me coming back for more time and time again.

Hot Pink Curl Tail BuggThree minutes have passed now, and the fish has made a couple of extraordinary runs, but with little energy remaining, he has accepted defeat.  I reach over the side of my kayak and bring my opponent onboard.  It’s a solid red at 25” with a beautiful bronze color.  The Bugg did its job and ended up in the corner of the fish’s mouth.  After a few wiggles back and forth, it comes free, leaving the fish unharmed and ready to rejoin his friends.  I gently slide him over the edge of my kayak and back into the water while holding him by the tail.  I’ll hold him here until he pulls away on his own, which occurs less than ten seconds later.  With a powerful wave of his tail, he splashes me with a little water, his idea of revenge I’m sure, before disappearing into the grass.

I spend the next few hours repeating this process and landing a handful a fish. The incoming tide has now ruined my skinny water and temperatures have already climbed into the lower 90s.  I’ve scratched my redfish itch for the day, so leaving a little earlier than planned doesn’t bother me on this particular morning.  I head back to the truck and no longer have to worry about getting stuck in the mud.  The water is even with the bottom of the grass now, so I am able to paddle anywhere I choose.

As I arrive back at the truck, I am greeted by a couple of kayakers that have just returned from their morning trip.  They don’t have a drop of mud on them, and I am completely filthy.  It turns out they were heading for the same general area that I had fished, but quickly decided to change plans upon arriving because they said, and I quote, “There just wasn’t enough water for the fish to be back there”.  Instead, they opted to fish a nearby deeper channel without any luck.  I can’t help but laugh a little and tell them that an area that’s too shallow for redfish doesn’t really exist.

DSC_0111 copy_800x532I describe the events of my day and tell them about everything I had to go through to reach my spot.  I tell them about the schools of fish and show them a few pics on my phone.  From the looks on their faces, I can tell that they are trying to decide if my story is true, or if I’m sending them on some wild goose chase to protect my honey hole.  I encourage them to give it a try one morning and they say they will give it some thought.

For those curious as to why I spend so much time in the shallow Texas marsh, this recap of the day’s events sums it up.  Watching the sun rise, listening to the sounds of nature, covering several miles of water as I search for fish, and seeing them pounce on my lure is a combination of events that makes it all worthwhile.  There are several different opportunities out there when it comes to selecting an area and species of fish to target, but for me, redfish in the marsh tops them all.


Tips and Tricks

Don’t be afraid to go shallow – Redfish will swim through water that even your kayak can’t float through.  If you choose not to fish a spot because you think “there’s just not enough water”, you could be making a big mistake.

Constantly use your eyes and ears – In water this shallow, redfish will often give themselves away if you know what to look and listen for.  Tails, backs, wakes, fleeing bait, hovering birds, or one tiny shrimp can be what leads you to the fish.

Use patience when you locate a fish – Often times, anglers get so excited when they see a visible fish that they will make a cast as soon as possible.  Take a minute or two and observe the fish.  See which direction its heading, determine whether it’s aggressively chasing bait, and if so, what is it eating.  Also, enjoy the sight of watching a 25” redfish as it swims through a few inches of water.  There are plenty of people that will never experience that.

Expect fish to be spooky – Redfish in really shallow water are normally pretty spooky.  Using small baits and casting past and in front of the fish by several feet is usually required if you want to keep from scaring them off.  Once the lure hits the water, very small twitches will help to draw attention to your lure without spooking the fish.


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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 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 and see a couple pictures of the shirt I picked up below.

Photo Mar 01-3



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.

Photo Feb 27-4

Photo Feb 27


Photo Feb 27-3

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.




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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First Kayak Trip of 2015

Grant and I made a trip to Galveston yesterday to explore a new area and try and locate some fish.  I have virtually scouted this spot many times with Google Earth but always seem to talk myself out of making the long paddle that is required to reach and fish it.  The winds were predicted to stay relatively low and the temperature was going to climb into the mid 60s by noon so this was as good a day as any to put in some miles.

The plan was to search for trout on the way out but they weren’t really around.  Once we made the 5 mile paddle to our intended destination we focused on a deeper channel for the first few hours before moving over to the nearby mud/shell mix.  We had no luck in the channels, mainly due to the fact that by the time we reached it the sun was straight overhead, quickly heating the mud/shell mix and the water around it.  The reds had moved out of the deeper water and were sitting pretty shallow when we found them.  All of our fish were within close proximity to the deeper water (4-8 feet deep) sitting in about 2 feet of water with a soft mud bottom covered with a small amount of scattered shell.  This has been a constant pattern all winter long that will continue over the next month or two.  Find the mud shell/mix near deeper water, and you find the fish.

This was one of those days when I kayak you can stand in was key to catching fish.  While sitting, the fish were difficult to spot.  While standing, you could see them about 10-12 yards away and make a short pitch to them for an immediate hookup.  All fish were sight casted and were between 23 and 26 inches. Grant did manage to pull one that was a little over 30 inches for our largest of the day.  We also picked up a few trout where the deeper water met up with the shallow stuff and I spotted a 35″  black drum that was not interested in my trout killer.  All fish were released to fight another day.  Enjoy the video above since I didn’t take any pics on this trip.


Wind: 5 mph from North switching out of the east around noon

Weather: Mid 60s with sunny skies.

Tides: Outgoing until noon and then incoming

Bottom: Mud & shell mix

Visibility: Crystal clear

Depth: 2 feet but near channels that were 4-8 feet deep

Lure: Texas Trout Killer on a 1/4th oz jig head (Plum White)

Rod: 6′ 9″ Hook Spit Pitch Fork

Reel: Shimano Citica

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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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.


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.


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.



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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East Matagorda Camping Trip Video

It has taken a while, but my most recent video from our camping trip in Matagorda, TX is complete.  I decided to do things a little differently this time instead of going with the 3-4 minute video of highlights with background music.  The video above is nearly 20 minutes long and comes with a voice over of me walking you through my time on the water.  I tried to include plenty of tips and information about how we were locating and catching our fish.  Thanks for taking the time to watch, and I hope you enjoy it.

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