Posts Tagged With: Kayak Fishing

Five Christmas Gifts Every Kayak Angler Can Use

If you’ve ever tried shopping for your wife then you know how difficult it can be to choose the right gift.  There are certain items you know to stay away from because regardless of how well you know her, there are some things she would much rather pick out for herself.  For us guys, fishing gear is no different.  As far as lures go, we have certain brands, colors, and sizes we know will catch fish, and gear that we can trust to perform properly and last for a long time.  Christmas is a little more than a week away which means there’s a small chance someone you know is still searching for a gift or two for you.  If so, the five items listed below are less than $50 each and just about every angler I know could benefit from them. So if someone out there is still asking you what you would like for Christmas, send them a link to this article and sit back and relax knowing that on Christmas morning you’ll be well taken care of.


Grind Terminal Tackle Stringer with Spike Sheath

 

Whether your in a boat, kayak, or wading, every good fisherman needs a solid stringer.  The folks over at Grind Terminal Tackle offer a few different models of their stringer in 8, 12, and 16 feet lengths.  They are constructed using a 60 lb. Kevlar thread that is covered with an extruded polyurethane blend that won’t stretch or allow fish to twist because the stringer has no memory.  IMG_4646Each stringer comes with a 6″ brass spike allowing you to easily penetrate the mouth of your fish before effortlessly sliding them to the float at the opposite end.  You also have the option to purchase a spike sheath that will allow you to quickly and easily remove your spike, string your fish, and replace it in the sheath in a matter of seconds using just one hand. The sheath comes with a safety clip that can be attached to your wade belt or kayak that will automatically release if a shark pulls with enough force. I own several of these stringers since I only put one redfish on a stringer while tournament fishing and they have held up well against the saltwater over the years.  The stringer/sheath combo can be purchased from $31 to $46 depending on the length you choose and whether you decide to go with the fixed or quick release float.  Visit their website below to make a purchase.


https://grindtt.com/



Tailin Toads Face Shields and Fingerless Gloves

 
Netting Too Soon

If you’re anything like me, you’re always forgetting to reapply sun screen while fishing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home to look in the mirror and see that my face had turned a bright shade of red. IMG_4664 It would always drive my wife crazy and rightfully so since harmful UV rays can lead to skin cancer.  Enter Tailin’ Toads, a small company started by former Texan Manny Altman who now lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  Not only can you purchase face shields that will provide SPF 50+ UV protection from the sun, you can also get a matching pair of fingerless gloves to protect the tops of your hands.  All face shields and gloves are sewn by Manny herself using quality materials that are quick drying, breathable, and odor resistant giving you great quality combined with stylish patterns.  A pair of fingerless gloves costs $24 while face shield come out at $22.  A set can be purchased for $46 allowing you to purchase a great protective gift for just under $50. Visit her site below to see the patterns and place an order.


http://www.tailintoads.com/



Fish-N-Hunt Pro Floating Net

 

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If you’ve ever lost a nice fish at the kayak, you understand how valuable a good net can be.  I’ve been using the Fish-N-Hunt Pro Floating Net over the last couple of years and it is by far the best kayak net I have owned.  The rubber coated nylon netting is great for preventing your hooks from getting tangled in your net after landing each fish. This means you get to spend more time fishing and less time fighting with your net.  A float is attached to the top making it impossible to lose if it were to fall off of your kayak and it works great for landing flounder and trout but still has plenty of depth to handle over slot reds.  If you enjoy wade fishing, the net has a retractable clip that will easily attach to your wade belt and float behind you which keeps it within reach at all times.  At $19.99 this net is a bargain for any angler. You can visit the link below or purchase the net at most local sporting good stores.


http://www.fishandhunt.com/fishing/nets/floating-net-blue



Dexter Russell Fillet Knife

 

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One of the many things I enjoy about kayak fishing is the opportunity to bring home fresh fish that I catch myself.  There are few seafood meals that can compare to the one you catch and cook yourself after a long day on the water. IMG_4658 But catching fish is only part of the deal.  Once you arrive back at the launch, a good sharp fillet knife is needed to properly clean your catch.  Dexter Russell has a wide variety of fillet knives allowing you to choose a knife with the proper blade length and width for the style of fish you catch.  The blades are manufactured using high carbon steel with a textured polypropylene handle giving it a nice slip resistant finish. When cleaning redfish I like to use the Dexter Russell 8″ Wide Fillet Knife.  It has the proper length and width to cut through the large scales and bones on a redfish that smaller and thinner knives can’t handle.  My other knife is the Dexter Russell 7″ Fillet Knife.  The shorter and narrower blade is easier to control when cleaning fish with smaller bones and scales like flounder and trout.  The cost of most Dexter Russell fillet knives will run you between $25 and $55 dollars allowing you to purchase a quality knife at a great price. See their website below for a detailed list of what they have to offer.


http://knives.dexter1818.com



Insulated Fish Bag

 

An insulated fish bag has quickly become my favorite way to store fish while on the kayak.  During past trips when I planned on keeping fish I would place them on my stringer and drag them behind me for several hours throughout the day.IMG_4670  Pulling fish behind your kayak makes paddling more difficult do to the drag they create and also makes them an easy meal for nearby sharks.  Insulated fish bags are a cheap and reliable way to eliminate drag and protect your catch.  I keep mine behind my seat making it easy to reach when a fish is caught.  I simply turn around, unzip the bag, and place the fish inside where it will sit on top of a few pounds of ice and keep them nice and cool until I get back to my truck.   I didn’t list a certain brand here because these bags can range from as little as $15 all the way up to $300 if you were to choose a brand like the Yeti Hopper.  Check your local grocery stores like Sam’s Club, HEB, or Bucee’s for affordable bags that will get the job done.  The one pictured on the left is from Sam’s club and can handle three upper slot reds with room to spare.


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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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Willie Wimmer Slam Jam

This past weekend I competed in the Willie Wimmer Slam Jam Tournament out of San Leon, TX to help raise money for a local Galveston fishing guide who sustained injuries from a gun shot wound to the back.  Wade Bullard, the owner of the Hook Spit Fishing Store in League City, TX was hosting the tournament which included a boat and kayak division.  Aaron and I had already registered and with a little bit of coaxing, we convinced David to sign up on the final day.

We chose our location a week before the tournament based on past experiences and reports from friends that had fished the area recently.  For those who do not know, a slam tournament allows you to weigh in one slot redfish, one speckled trout, and one flounder with their combined total weight making up your stringer.  We knew the redfish would come easy since that’s what we spend the majority of our time chasing but were a little unsure about the flounder and trout.  I have a friend that has been killing the flounder in the area we were heading to that supplied me with some great flounder fishing tips including how to tie the same tandem rig he uses, what soft plastics and colors to throw, and a map where he had been having success.  Another friend told me a few areas that the trout had been hanging around the last couple of weeks as well, so we felt pretty confident that we would each get our three fish.

Tandem

When we woke up Saturday morning the winds were under 10 mph from the north and the temperature was holding steady around 50 degrees but would quickly climb to 70 as the day went on.  We arrived 30 minutes before the 6 am launch time, unloaded our gear, and moved one truck a little further down the road to a second launch point so we would have the option of making the shortest paddle back to a vehicle depending on where we were when it was time to head in.  At exactly 6 am we shoved off and made the 2 mile paddle to our first spot.  We were going to try and pick up our redfish first since they had been schooled up early in the mornings during previous trips.  About halfway to the spot David broke away and said he was going to fish a small drain that he’s had luck at in the past.  Aaron and I continued on our way and finally reached the lake we had been heading to.  We didn’t see much action so we decided to split up to try and locate some fish.  I paddled another 1/2 mile across the lake to the opposite shoreline while he worked the near side.  Aaron found a few schools and caught 3 or 4 reds with his largest being 26″.  My side of the lake was pretty slow with no schools in sight.  I decided to work the shoreline with a popping cork and gulp in hopes of finding a good sized single that might be roaming the area.  Ten minutes passed and I hadn’t had a nibble.  After a while I started looking across the lake for any signs of fish nearby and saw one tiny shrimp go airborne to my left about 30 yards off the shoreline.  Without taking my eye off of where it landed, I reeled in my cork and fired a cast in it’s direction.  A few seconds later my cork went under and what felt like a lower slot fish turned out to be a nice 26″ red that went into the fish bag.

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In the video below you can barely see the ripple made by the one little shrimp and will notice that I do not take my eyes away from the area until my cork lands.  By not glancing away, I was able to put the cork exactly where the bait had spooked.

I met back up with Aaron and we were both satisfied with the 26″ reds for the time being.  We decided to head over to the flounder hole Johnathan had told us about to see if we could get our flat fish out of the way.  We were fishing a small channel that turned out to be around 5 feet deep in the middle but closer to 1 foot near the edges.  There was a scattered shell bottom with a small reef near the bend.  Johnathan had told us to work the grasslines along the shallower water as slow as possible.  I had tandem rigged one of my rods the night before with two 1/8th oz jig heads that were about 6 inches apart.  I went with a bone colored killer flats minnow on the top and a Berkley 4″ Gulp Shrimp on the bottom.  I parked my kayak and fished from the bank making casts that were parallel to the grass while working my tandem rig slower than I’ve ever worked any lure.  I would basically give my rod tiny twitches and reel in the slack and repeat.  My twitches resmebled the way you might move your rod if you were trying to scare a dragonfly off of the tip.  The technique and rig paid off as my first flounder was caught less than 10 minutes after arriving.  At 16″ I was glad to have a keeper in the bag but at the same time, was worried about my chance to upgrade.  November flounder limits in Texas drop from 5 to 2 and you’re not allowed to cull them.  With only one chance to upgrade available I was worried I would catch a 17″ flounder next and be faced with the choice of releasing it in hopes of catching a bigger one or keeping it and being done.

I continued working the area looking for an upgrade and picked up a 20″ red before catching a surprise 19″ trout.  This was a decent trout which allowed me to complete my slam by 8:12 am.  Aaron was working the same area trying to catch his flounder but kept catching undersized reds and trout.  After bagging my trout I decided my best chance to upgrade my weight would be to continue working the area for a flounder and it finally paid off when I brought in a solid 19″ flattie.  All of my fish up until this point came on the Gulp Shrimp.

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As soon as I bagged that fish I left Aaron and decided to meet up with David and head out in search of a bigger trout.  When I found David he had a fat football shaped red that was right at 24″ and a 19″ flounder like me.

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We made the short paddle to a nearby area in search of a trout but had trouble locating them.  We moved around to a few different spot but the trout didn’t seem to be around or at least weren’t feeding.  We decided to head to our last trout spot that was near David’s truck determined to camp out on this area and continually work it until we found the trout or ran out of time.

After five minutes at this area we started hearing the distinct sound made by feeding reds in a nearby lake.  I had my slam and was happy with my fish so I told David I was going to chase some reds while he worked for his trout.  Before I could get past him he decided to join me.  He said the thought of those reds feeding like that was to much to resist.

We spent the next hour or so sight casting lower to mid slot reds in shallow water with tons of shell.  I was having a little trouble keeping my soft plastic out of the shell and decided to switch over to a Strike Pro Hunchback.  Not only did this keep me out of the shell, but wakers are a blast to throw at shallow water reds.  I would cast in front of the  small wakes they were pushing and start reeling the lure in.  As soon as they spotted the hunchback they would dart from behind it and explode on the lure which was fun to watch.  After picking up about 4 reds each we decided to head back to the truck.  We arrived at the same time Arron did and found out that he had found a 17″ trout and a 16″ flounder to complete his slam as well.

We arrived at the weighin and visited with friends for a while before the weighin finally opened.  When it was all said and done, David had finished 3rd with 8.84 lbs, Aaron was 2nd with 10.10 lbs, and I had come out on top with 11.19 lbs.  We had a great time on the water fishing with one another, plus its always nice when the plans you make come together as well as they did.

 

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Topwater Lure Painting

 

 

I was going through my tackle box a few months ago and came across half a dozen she dogs and she pups that were on their last leg. Most of them had large chunks of paint that had chipped away and I could tell that I was needing to replace them. While I love throwing she dogs and she pups for redfish, they usually don’t last very long.  The paint always seems to start chipping away once a few good fish are caught and often times they will not last more than a  trip or two.  I hate throwing lures away so I started thinking about what I could do with them other than just getting rid of them. I grabbed a sheet of 60 grit sand paper from the tool box and decided to see if it would remove the remaining paint. With a little bit of work the paint came right off leaving a nice looking bone colored lure that I knew I could use. I followed the 60 grit up with some 320 grit to give it a smoother texture and then started working on the others. By the time I had finished, I was the owner of four bone colored she dogs/pups. While I liked the look of them, I didn’t really need four of the same color.  I decided to experiment with coloring them in a variety of different ways to see what I could come up with. I added a little epoxy once I was finished to make sure they were sealed properly.  The epoxy was clear and would protect them with from chipping or fading away like before.  It’s a fun rainy day project when you can’t get on the water to fish.  The great thing about it is that you can choose whatever color you want and you are only limited to what ever your imagination can come up with.

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Removing the Paint

 

The first thing you need to do is remove the hooks and split rings from the lure.  You’ll have a much easier time sanding paint away without having to worry about them.

Once the lure is hook free you’ll need some painters tape to protect the eyes.  The material the eyes are made of will scratch easily if sandpaper rubs across them so covering them with the tape will keep them from scaring during the sanding process.

Once the eyes are covered and the hooks and split rings have been taken off you are ready to remove the rest of the paint.  You’ll want to use the 60 grit sand paper first to remove the larger portions of paint that are still on the lure.  Working around the eyes can be a bit difficult so tearing the sand paper into small strips or folding it will help.  Be sure to work carefully around the eyes so that you do not scar them in the process.

Now that the majority of the paint has been removed you can follow up with the 320 grit paper to remove any small amount of paint that remains and also to give it a nice smooth texture.  You are now ready to apply your color or design to the lure.

 

Bone She Pup

 

This one was the easiest to create because once the paint had been removed you were done.  The base color used when the she dogs are created is a good looking bone color, so once you complete the steps above you are finished.  I did not coat this one with any epoxy because it would not have served much of a purpose.

 

Pink She Pup

 

To create the pink she pup I decided to give spray paint a try.  I bought a can of the brightest pink I could find and added a design to the side before applying the paint.  I took some painters tape and cut small strips from the roll and placed a long skinny strip down each side of the lure.  Then I cut a few smaller strips and placed them on top and bottom of the first strip angled back towards the tail end of the lure.  I repeated this process on both sides.

I taped up the eyes so that they would remain red and hung it in the garage with a small piece of cardboard behind it.  I sprayed the lure on all sides making sure all areas received an even shade of pink and let it set for the night.

The next day I removed the strips of tape which left small white designs down both sides of the lure.  I thought this would look better than a solid pink one.

I applied the epoxy and sprinkled some silver glitter on the lure while it was still wet.  The glitter stuck to the epoxy and after it had dried the finished product below is what I had.

Photo Sep 18, 5 13 48 PM

 

Sharpie She Pup

 

My next lure involved a fine point sharpie and a good amount of time and patience.  I drew nearly a thousand small circles all over this she dog to make them look like tiny scales.  I started at the back of the lure and began by drawing a line of circles towards the head.  I stopped when I reached the eye and began branching out in all directions by connecting each small circle with the one next to it.  It took about thirty minutes of work but when I had finished I liked how it looked.

I was about to apply the epoxy to seal the lure when I friend mentioned that even though I used a sharpie which has permanent ink, the chemicals in the epoxy might cause it to run a little.  He suggested using a paint pen next time which I plan on doing.  I didn’t have much of a choice since I had done all the work so I went ahead and applied the epoxy to it anyway.  While the marker did run a little, it didn’t completely destroy the design.  Instead, I went from a white lure with small black scales to a gray lure with small black scales.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but the end result still looked alright.

Photo Sep 18, 5 14 03 PM

 

American Flag She Dog

 

Photo Jul 03, 8 52 02 AM

This is by far my favorite lure that I have painted.  I used painters tape, finger nail polish, and small star stickers to create it.  I started off by wrapping a piece of the painters tape around the head of the lure going back behind the eye and stopping about a half an inch past the eye.  Once the head was protected I cut a few short but thin strips of tape and ran them back towards the back of the lure trying to keep them spaced apart evenly.

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I then took the red finger nail polish and painted the entire back end of the lure by covering the exposed areas of the lure and the thin strips of painters tape.  Finger nail polish dries fast so after 30 minutes I was able to remove the thin strips of tape which created the red and white portion of the flag.  I also removed the tape from the head of the lure and did the exact same thing to the back end of the lure.  I carefully wrapped the edge of the tape around the area I had just painted behind the eyes and covered the rest of the back end.  Now the only portion exposed was the head.  I took the small star stickers and carefully placed them all over the head of the lure.

flag 2

Once the eyes had been covered with the painters tape I began painting the head of the lure blue until the entire thing was coated, stars included.  I watched the lure closely as the finger nail polish dried and when it was nearly complete I used a pair of tweezers to carefully remove the stars.  I wasn’t sure how well they would come off once nail polish had completely dried and didn’t want to find out.  Once the stars were removed I let the head dry completely before removing all of the tape except for the eyes.  I hit it with a thin coat of the epoxy and the picture below is the finished project.

 

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Schools Before School

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Yesterday was my last official day of summer break.  To say I had a great summer of fishing would be a huge understatement.  I was able to hit the water about 2 times a week for most of June, July, and August and fish with some good friends along with a few new ones.  I had a 9th place finish at the Lone Star Kayak Series on my first official day off along with a 3rd place finish last weekend.  I caught my personal best trout that was a hair less than 27″ and really refined my topwater game.  My birthday is next month and my wife and I decided we would have a small get together at the house and celebrate with a fish fry.  I haven’t kept too many fish this summer so the freezer was running a little low.  With plans to leave town for a few days next weekend and the party the week after that, I decided to hit the water with Jared yesterday to end summer with a bang and do a little “grocery shopping” for the party.

We launched shortly after 6 and started making our way into the marsh.  I had already spoke with a good friend and knew that a few schools had been roaming the area we were heading to over the past few weeks.  We entered the lake where the fish had been hanging out and split up to locate the pods.  The birds weren’t to active at this time but it wasn’t long before I spotted several schools in one corner of the lake.  Jared arrived and we immediately went work.  I started out using my spinning reel with a Chicken Boy Shrimp on a 1/4 oz jig head.  My goal was to keep my distance and pick fish off of the edge or near back of the pod in hopes that they would stay together and continue working the area.  I made a few casts around the outskirts of the pod but didn’t have any takers.  While casting at that pod I glanced to my left to see another one heading right towards my kayak.  We were eventually going to collide so let the lure fly and it landed in the middle of them.  This caused an immediate hookup and the pod exploded.  I landed a solid 27″ red and he was lit up like a pumpkin.

pumpkin

I strung him quickly and noticed Jared was hooked up as well.  I located the next pod and fired a cast out in front of them.  I felt the thump and set the hook but it came flying back at me and tangled around the end of my rod.  I quickly dropped it and grabbed my bait caster with a Hydra Bugg and hooked up on the first cast.  I horsed that fish to the net in under a minute and quickly put him on the stringer.  The Chicken Boy I had been throwing with the other rod was still tangled up and the lure was sitting in the water while I was stringing my second fish.  Apparently a good sized red swam by and picked it up because my rod nearly shot out of my lap before I was able to grab it.  The line was tangled around the rod tip and the fish snapped the 30 lb. braid quickly with one strong run.  I located another pod about 30 yards away and made my way towards them.  As soon as I was in casting distance I launched the Hydra Bugg out in front of them and a few twitches later I had my 3rd fish on the line.  I landed that fish, strung it, and saw that Jared was hooked up as well and had been for a while.  I thought he had a good over slot red, but it turns out he had somehow hooked a 20″ black drum in the tail and it was putting up quiet a fight.  It took roughly ten minutes to string my limit which was the fastest I had ever done that.

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The half a dozen pods we were on dispersed so we worked the area with she dogs for a while but didn’t have any luck.  We decided to leave that lake and fish another that was nearby with lots of mud and shell around a foot and a half deep.  I continued throwing my she dog while Jared worked a popping cork with gulp.  Jared hooked up with a sold 24″ red within the first 10 minutes so I switched over to a popping cork while we slowly crab walked towards the launch.  We picked up a few more reds on the popping corks on our drift and I sight casted a 18″ red with a Hot Pink Hydra Bugg right before we reached the truck.  I was able to take home 6 reds and a black drum which put a major dent in the amount of fish we will need in a few weeks.  I’m hoping that one more trip like that during this upcoming long holiday weekend will be enough to feed everyone that is able to make the party.  It was a nice ending to a great summer.

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Lone Star Kayak Series 2014 Event #3

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Photo Credit: Joe Winston

Yesterday I fished the 3rd leg of the Lone Star Kayak Series and found a couple of nice fish. I had the chance to prefish both Tuesday and Wednesday with absolutely no luck at finding tournament quality fish. On Tuesday I put in a good 12 miles and only managed one lower slot red with the same results on Wednesday with a trout in the mix. A friend that doesn’t fish often joined me on Wednesday and did manage to catch his first redfish from a kayak and on topwater nonetheless.

Photo Aug 13-2

T-Bone with a topwater red

It wasn’t until Wednesday evening when I finally chose an area to fish. I hadn’t fished this area since early July so I was taking a chance, hoping to get somewhat lucky. I spoke with a friend who fishes the area often and he said the fish were there but the bite had been difficult all summer long. He said I could probably pull at least two fish from the area around 13 lbs. if I worked the area thoroughly. At the time, I had no clue just how right he was.

My day started with a 2:45 alarm, followed by the snooze button, and another alarm five minutes later. I was out of bed, dressed, and on the road by 3:00 to meet a couple of friends at Whataburger. Each of us had planned on fishing within a few miles of each other so a few taquitos and caffeine were needed if we were going to make it through a long day of fishing. We enjoyed our breakfast and hit the road only to get stuck behind a few eighteen-wheelers pulling a wide load 30 mph with a police escort that wouldn’t let anyone pass. We each had about 40 miles to go before reaching our launches, which meant we were going to miss out on launching at the designated time of 6 am. Using my phone I located a side street that ran parallel with the road we were traveling on. With a little luck I figured I could possibly get around the trucks and resume the posted speed of 70 mph. I turned off the highway, raced down the back roads, and just beat the police escort. I contacted the other guys to see if they had followed but they had not and were still puttin along at 30 mph. I hadn’t lost much time and estimated that I would be able to launch at 6 am per tourney rules. I reached my launch in time to unload my gear and pull my kayak to the edge of the water with 5 minutes to spare. The predicted 5 mph SW wind was actually around 15 mph, which was causing small white caps to form on the open lake and crash into the shoreline.  My two friends honked as they drove by which meant they had finally gotten around the wide load convoy and would have to launch shortly after 6, but only by 15 minutes.

6 am arrived and I hopped in my kayak and started paddling out. The first part of my trip required me to paddle directly into the wind, which proved to be pretty difficult. I scrapped my original plan of traveling a mile or so down the shoreline before entering the marsh and entered at the first opportunity for a little protection from the wind. Once inside, the 5-foot tall reeds, grass, and occasional tree made the wind feel almost non-existent. I made my way through the first lake looking for signs of fish while stopping at the occasional drain or island to throw out the popping cork with gulp with no success. It wasn’t long before I located several schools of dime sized button shad getting hammered by several dozen redfish. The small baitfish were going airborne all over the place and I started thinking that I may be able to string two fish before 7 am which is always a relief on tourney day regardless of size. I started off by throwing the popping cork with gulp in the middle of several schools of shad and just let it just sit. There was no need to pop the cork because the fish were within 5 feet of it, which had me thinking they would find it based on the scent alone. After about 10 minutes and several casts into areas with actively feeding fish but no hook ups I decided to start giving an occasional pop with no luck either. I decided to go with a soft plastic next and after another 10 minutes and dozens of casts, I still hadn’t hooked a fish. The she pup was next, followed but a Manns 1-Minus, followed by a Bugg. No matter what I threw, the reds didn’t care. They were keyed in on these dime-sized shad and didn’t want anything else. After an hour of working the area over hard with nothing to show for it I decided to move on. I continued the same pattern as before, slowly moving from small lake to small lake stopping at each drain and popping the cork before moving on. I had the occasional fish blowout near the kayak while paddling but hadn’t reached the area I had wanted to fish. I finally arrived at the lake I had been trying to reach. I had fished this lake a few times in the past with good luck and liked the layout and structure which consisted of a mud bottom with a little bit of grass and an average depth of a foot and a half. It also had several drains feeding into it with a few pinches and islands along the way. I spotted/heard several nice blowups as I entered the lake and decided to put the popping cork down and got with the trusty black and chrome she pup with an orange belly. I drifted across the lake making several casts while slowly making my way towards the blowups I had been seeing and hearing. I finally reached the area, which was located out in front of a small drain that led to another lake. By this time the tide had started falling and you could see the water pushing through the pinch that connected the two lakes with a little help from the wind. I turned sidesaddle in my Cuda 14 and began crab walking the area while fan casting towards the drain. After a dozen casts I had a good blowup that didn’t quiet connect. I made another cast into the same area and had another good blowup followed by a fish that finally connected. Unfortunately for me, the fish pulled off after 10 seconds, which made me mutter a few curse words under my breath. I continued working the area and finally connected with another fish after a good 30 casts. This time, the fish was hooked well and made it to the net. I didn’t even measure the fish at the time because I knew it was in the slot and wanted to get my lure back in the water ASAP. I worked the area for another 30 minutes with another few blowup but nothing to show for it. I finally decided to move on and search for more fish. The occasional bait being busted had slowed down some and I needed to find another fish.

I continued pushing deeper in the marsh repeating my pattern of looking and listening as I slowly paddle while throwing my cork or topwater at fishy areas (drains, islands, channels, etc.) but couldn’t find a second fish. I passed by a decent sized gator as the rain started to fall and kept a close eye on his location. The last thing I wanted was to bring in half a fish because an alligator had spotted an easy meal. There was no lightning with the rain so I fished through it and located a few crawlers along one shoreline. They were all super spooky and would shoot off to deeper water as soon as I made a cast or twitched my lure. I continued pushing deeper and deeper into the marsh. I finally reached the last lake and found the same thing I had found in the first lake earlier that morning. Thousands of button shad were exploding throughout the lake as the redfish were having a feeding frenzy. I didn’t feel too confident in getting a fish here but figured this would be my best chance. The fish were there and I just needed one lucky bite. The she pup had worked earlier so I decided to stick with it. I had plenty of choices between the open lake, along the shoreline, or in front of a small drain because the little balls of bait were everywhere. I decided to go with the drain because some of the larger crashes and occasional airborne reds looked bigger than the others. I was also hoping the drain would provide slightly deeper water, which would benefit my topwater some. I setup about 20 yards off of several bait balls and began working them with the she pup. I would make a cast 10 yards past the balls of bait and walk the dog right through the middle of them. The whole time the reds and shad are flying all over the place but nothing seemed to care about my lure. I would cast between the four bait balls within my reach and repeat. After a good 50 cast I finally hooked into a fish that came off after about 15 seconds followed by more muttered curse words. Fifty casts later I had a great blowup that shot my she pup a good 5 feet in the air but didn’t receive a follow up strike. Another 50 casts and I had my lure absolutely clobbered. I worked the fish for a good 2 minutes uttering “please don’t come off, please don’t come off” over and over. I never really saw the fish but knew it was a solid one from the amount of drag it had pulled. I finally got it close enough to the kayak, slid the net under it, and was pleasantly surprised when I lifted the net from the water. I knew I had a solid fish, as long as it stayed in the slot. I strung the fish and with a deep breath, laid it across the check-it stick, pinched the tailed saw that it was a hair over 27″ but easily under 28″. Stringing that second fish on tourney day is always a huge relief, especially when it’s a fish of that size. I took this time measure my first fish and it was a solid fish that was a little over 25″. I checked the clock and noticed I still had time for a possible upgrade. I worked the same area again with a few more blowups but nothing connected. I decided to start heading back to the truck since I had to paddle about four miles while dragging two fish. I looked for signs of fish along the way but the marsh had seemed to settle down some.

Photo Aug 16

Grind Terminal Tackle Stringers with fish

It took a while but I finally reached the truck and loaded up.  I started heading for Galveston with plenty of time to reach Louis, weighin my fish, and visit with friends. I talked to three different friends along the way and found out one had about 15 lbs. and two others were around 13 lbs. which is about what I thought I had. When it was all said and done places 2-5 were separated by less than .60 lb. Jason Blackwell took first with 15.2 lbs., Aaron Ferguson was second with 13.93 lbs., and I finished third with 13.63 lbs. Another friend (Scott Tilley) finished on my heels with 13.47 lbs.  The paddle of choice this day was the 250 cm Werner Cyprus: Hooked.  I received this paddle a few months ago and have been using it on every trip since then.  At 24.5 ounces of full carbon its an amazing resource on days when double digit miles are reached.

 

 

Photo Aug 16-5

Top 3

It was another great tournament and as always, great to hang out with old friends and meet a few new ones. Dustin, his wife, and the other workers that help out do an outstanding job of keeping the tournament very competitive and fun for everyone. My prize package for third place included $290 cash, a trophy, castaway rod, a bottle of Silver Star Whiskey, and a goody bag full of a few different yak gear products, and bass assassin soft plastics. The two guys that finished ahead of me are good friends that I have the pleasure of fishing with on occasion so to be on stage with them holding our trophies made the day extra special. I’m already looking forward to the October tournament, which is by far my favorite event of the four.

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Sonny Mills – 3rd Place – Photo Credit: Michael Harris

 

Photo Aug 16

Aaron Ferguson – 2nd Place

 

Photo Aug 16-2

Jason Blackwell – 1st Place

 

Photo Aug 16-6

Prize Winners

 

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Specks and Reds (7-2-14)

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Grant and I had a pretty good day of trout fishing with a few reds thrown in the mix.  It had been a while since we’d had a chance to get together to chase fish so with Grant just getting back from a week in the Bahamas, a trip together was long overdue.  We decided to head down to the Matagorda area since we hadn’t been in a while.  We met up at 5:30 am, unloaded the kayaks, and launched into the dark.  We made our way to the first area we planned to fish and found plenty of trout.  They had bait pushed up against a wind blown shoreline and were constantly darting through which sent them scattering in every direction.  We both started off by throwing topwaters with a few blowups that didn’t connect.  I switched over to one of my new Hydra Buggs and immediately hooked up with a solid 18 inch speck.  Grant was needing to restock the freezer so on the stringer it went.  I picked up another couple trout in the same area and all of a sudden they were gone.  Grant landed a couple trout as well on his Skitterwalk and we decided to move into a small cove since the trout bite had died.  I spotted a few reds crawling through a combination of grass and moss so I decided to see if I could pick a few of them off while Grant stayed in slightly deeper water.  Sight casting the reds was more difficult than usual because as soon as the lure hit the water it was covered in the moss.  I managed to pick up two reds by casting past the grass/moss and burning the Hydra Bugg past the fish and hoping for a reaction strike.  Grant managed a couple of reds and lost a another trout or two as well.  We decided to try our luck in slightly deeper water to work a few reefs for trout again.  At this point Grant could do no wrong and I could not do right.  He had plenty of blowups and landed another five specks up to 23″ while I couldn’t even get a nibble on my She Dog or Hunchback.  We ended the day with a combined 10 trout between 17 and 23 inches and four reds in the lower to mid slot.  All of Grant’s fish came on his Pink Skitterwalk while mine came on a Chained Beast Hydra Bugg with a white tail.  I also tried a Bone colored She Dog and ate-o-ate colored Hunchback with no takers.  It was a fun day on the water with a nice meat haul for Grant.

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An Evening Trip With The New Hydra Buggs

Hydra Bugg

Yesterday evening Jared, Heath, Clint, his son, and I took an evening trip to the marsh.  Conditions were near perfect with an outgoing tide, a major bite from 5:00 to 7:00, and low temps because of the recent rain.  We launched around 4:00 pm to catch the tail end of an outing tide and made the short paddle to the area we’ve been catching our fish lately.  Heath and I set up for a long drift towards a deeper channel, Jared made his way straight to the channel, and Clint and his son caught some bait with the cast net and fished some of the deeper areas to start with.  Heath and I made a long drift without a blow up or bump before spotting a small pod of reds nearby.  We chased them down only to see them separate as we arrive.  We blind casted the area to try and pick up a fish but had no luck.  I spotted another pod near the channel we were heading for and chased them down to pick up my first red of the day that went 25″.

Hydra Bugg Pod

 

Jared was a short distance away and informed me that he already had his limit and had caught them all on topwater.  I was pretty sure he was joking with me until he pulled up his stringer with 3 mid slot reds.

Jared's Limit

Heath joined up with us and we started fishing the channel where Jared had staked out and he picked up his first red of the day on a Curl Tail Bugg what measured 25″.

Photo Jul 16, 6 13 27 PM

 

Photo Jul 16, 6 14 15 PM

Clint joined up with all of us around the channel and informed us that they had come across a pod of reds that was about 20 x 20 yards.  Him and his son had pulled a couple of reds from the pod before meeting up with us.  On the way back to the truck they stopped and fish a deeper area and picked up a few trout and a nice 24″ flounder.

Heath and I decided to push further back into the marsh to look for some reds in skinnier water.  We picked up a few more fish while blind casting an area where we had both spooked several fish.  I did have the opportunity to sight cast a 27 1/4″ red in a few inches of water that put up a great fight.

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We spotted a few more crawlers but were unable to get within casting distance due to the extremely low tides.  It was getting dark and we had over a mile paddle to reach the truck so we decided to head back in.  We met back up with Jared and were about to exit the marsh when I realized my stringer had come untied from my kayak.  I paddled a half mile back in the dark to the area we had been fishing thinking there was slim to no chance I would find it.  I had just given up and started heading back to my truck when I spotted what I thought was my stringer.  As I made my way towards it the fish started thrashing and I knew I had gotten very lucky.  I retied the fish and headed back to the truck where Heath and Jared were waiting for me.

All of my fish were caught using the new Hydra Bugg which will be released in a few weeks.  I’ll eventually writeup a full review over this Bugg once I’ve made several trips with it but for now here’s a quick look at it.

Photo Jul 17, 3 24 37 PM

Photo Jul 17, 3 25 21 PM

It was a great day on the water with everyone taking home plenty of fish.  My best fish went 27 1/4″, Heath’s was 27″, and Jared’s was a little over 25″.

Photo Jul 17, 9 20 04 AM

Photo Jul 16, 5 45 48 PM (1)

 

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