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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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