Posts Tagged With: Lone Star Kayak Series

2016 Lone Star Kayak Series Event #4

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Well, the 2016 season of the Lone Star Kayak Series has finally come to an end.  Going into the last event of the season I was in a 3 way tie for first, followed closely by two others that were behind us by 3 and 5 points.

I started the morning off by alternating between throwing a MirrOlure She Dog and popping cork with gulp.  I would throw the topwater along the shorelines the majority of the time with an occasional toss towards the middle of a lake and grab my cork rod anytime I approached a drain or pinch.  It took a while, but I finally had a 23″ red suck down my topwater near the back of a small cove.  Not quiet the fish I was looking for, but it gave me a fish on the stringer early with plenty of time to upgrade.  The next 5 hours were a grind.  I worked big lakes, small lakes, channels, back coves, and everything in between with only a rat red and dink trout to show for my efforts.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s to never give up on tournament day.  During the second event this year, my only fish of the day came with about 20 minutes of rising time left.  The same thing happened during the 3rd event.  I fished all morning without a single fish, only to find 15 lbs. right before making it to the truck and placing second.  I was hoping for another miracle on this day and kept moving around, hoping to find a second fish.

We were down to our final hour of fishing when I heard a large splash way back in the grass of a large lake I was in.  I stood up in my kayak to get a better view and noticed a really small marsh pond about 15 yards back in the grass.  The only way in was through a very small channel that was about the width of my kayak.  I thought to myself, “There’s no way a fish is back there”.  I forced my way down the channel, entered the small pond, and stood up for a better view.  At that point I spotted an upper slot red cruising the shoreline, reached down for my rod, and fired a Bass Assassin 4″ Sea Shad (Color: Fried Chicken) in his path and he jumped on it.  The pond was small and the fish went berserk, using ever square inch of the pond to try and escape before finally hitting the net.  It measured 27 1/4″ and was just what I was looking for.  I had about 45 minutes left to upgrade my last fish, but that fish never came.

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I made it back to the truck, loaded up the kayak, and hauled butt to the weighin.  I knew I had a small chance for AOY, all depending on how the others did.  After arriving, I saw that Jared Esley had 14.06 pounds, which was going to make it close.  In the end I had 12.59 lbs with 4 anglers separating the two of us.  This caused me to end up 2 points behind him, finishing 6th place for the day and 2nd place for angler of the year.

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It was another fun year of tournament fishing, and just like in previous years, I learned a lot and grew as an angler.  I’m already looking forward to next year where I’ll work on making another run at AOY.

As always, a big thanks goes out to all the companies out there that support me and help make all this possible.

| Werner Paddles | Hook Spit Performance Rods | Buggs Fishing Lures | Viking Kayaks |

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2016 Lone Star Kayak Series Event #3

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This past weekend I spent my Saturday fishing the 3rd event of the Lone Star Kayak Series.  After a rough outing during the last event, where I only caught one redfish thirty minutes before having to leave, I thought for sure that I had put myself out of the running for angler of the year. With that in mind, the plan was to go for two big bites and not play it safe.

I spent the majority of my summer chasing trout in Galveston bay instead of the marsh for redfish, so I basically had to gamble on where to fish.  We had about ten straight days of rain leading up to the event, so getting out to prefish was not an option.  I picked my location based on past results and arrived at the launch with a little less than ten minutes to unload my kayak and load up my gear.  By the time I finished situating my gear and parking my truck, it was 6 am and time to go.

I made the three mile paddle to the area I planned to fish and began working the shoreline, focusing on the various points, drains, and coves along the way.  I started off with a STX Tackle Popping Cork and Gulp Mantis Shrimp, but after an hour with no bites, I switched over to a Bone Skitterwalk for a while.  After an hour of continuous dog walking and no luck, I went back to my popping cork for a while.

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I picked up a 17″ trout at one of the drains I was fishing, but that wasn’t the fish I was looking for.  I kept grinding it out with my cork, hoping that I would come across a hungry redfish, but a bite never came.  I finally circled back around and started the same drift again.  Without much action during the first few hours, I decided to drag my popping cork and gulp behind me while working my topwater in front of me.  I figured two lures in the water were better than one on a day like this.  Ten minutes into my drift, I hear my cork rod screaming and reach back to grab my rod.  I’m thinking that I have a lower slot red, before finally getting enough line in to see the slime near my cork.  It ended up being a 4 lb gaftop, which was way worse than the previous trout I’d caught.

At this point I’m running a little low on time and have to be back at the truck early anyways because of a previously planned event.  I finally decided to throw in the towel and head back to the truck.  After paddling about a mile back towards the launch, I decide to stop off at one last spot for a desperate shot at finding a couple of fish.  I pull out the Skitterwalk and make a long cast down the wind protected shoreline and start walking the dog back towards me.  Twenty seconds later, my lure gets clobbered by a solid redfish and I can’t believe it.  Five hours straight of non stop casting tops and corks with no fish, and on the very first cast on the way back to the truck, I’m on the board with a chunky 25.5″ red.

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I string the fish and continue working the area.  Two casts later, and I have another chunky red on my stringer at 26.25″.  A half a dozen more casts, and I stick a thick 26.75″ red, giving me what feels like 14+ lbs. between my two heaviest fish.  I work the area for another twenty minutes, hoping to find an upgrade for the smaller of my two fish, but time is not on my side and I still have a two mile paddle to reach the truck.  I want to take it nice and slow to keep my fish alive for the half pound bonus, so I head in a little earlier than I’d like.

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Because of my previously planned event, I was forced to weigh my fish and immediately get back on the road.  I received a text message a few hours later informing me that I had finished in 2nd place out of 96 anglers with 15.02 pounds, which included my 1/2 lb. bonus.  This finish brought me back into the AOY race, by jumping into a three way tie for first, followed closely but two others.

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The last event of the season is on October 8th, and will determine who takes angler of the year honors.  With that title on the line, it’s going to make it difficult to really enjoy the last event.

 

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2016 Lone Star Kayak Series Event #1

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The first event of the 2016 Lone Star Kayak Series kicked off this past weekend, with the weigh-in held at the HarborWalk Marina in Hitchcock, TX. The last couple of April events have not been very kind to me, with only one fish to show for my efforts in both 2014 and 2015. I was determined to turn things around this year so I made sure that I was able to pre-fish before the actual event. After rummaging through some of my old fishing logs from past April trips, I took a day off from work and hit the water 10 days before the event.

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I took my time that morning and didn’t get on the water till nearly 7 am. The wind on this day was non-existent, so I tied on a super spook jr. and an oval popping cork with gulp. I started off with the cork, giving it gentle pops across the glassy water. After a good 15 minutes with the cork and no bites, I made the switch over to the super spook jr in hopes of finding a few hungry topwater fish. On the very first cast, I watched as a 30” redfish appeared 5 yards behind my lure, pushing a large wake with its head as it made its approach. As excited as I was, (because I knew what was about to happen) I continued walking the dog as if I hadn’t seen a thing. The red inhaled my spook, and a few short minutes later I had the fish in my kayak. A 30” red was not what I was after, but it let me know that I was in the right spot for big fish. I decided to stick with the spook jr and had another red in the kayak 15 minutes later. This one measured 29”, so at least heading in the right direction. These two fish were followed by 28.5”, 23”, and 27 7/8” reds, not to mention a 4 foot gar also caught on topwater. I decided to explore a few different areas before heading home, but didn’t really fish much more after that. I had found the fish I was looking for, and even though I was 10 days out from the tournament, there was no reason to stick around and beat up on these fish.

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I felt pretty confident that I could pull some good weight on tournament day from this spot, as long as nothing crazy happened between now and the 23rd. Of course, this being April an all, the weather went a little crazy. Lots and lots of rain flooded all of the rivers that lead to the gulf and we faced crazy high tides from the strong SE wind. As Saturday approached, I started second guessing myself and wondered if I should blindly fish a spot that would be less effected by the fresh water. Luckily, I decided to stick with my original plan.

On the day of the tournament, Johnathan and I launched our kayaks with half a dozen other anglers. We were all sitting around waiting for our clocks to say 6 am, and once they did, we were off and running. I reached the area I had pre-fished and immediately began throwing my Bone Super Spook Jr. I hadn’t made more than a dozen casts before a relish exploded on my lure. I fought the fish for a few minutes before finally getting a good luck at it. Its head came out of the water and I couldn’t see my spook Jr., so I knew I had a good hookup. After netting and stringing the fish, I laid it across the ruler and gave its tail a pinch and a swipe. 27 5/8” with plenty of time left to find my second fish. I felt great at this point and continued throwing the spook for another hour without any luck. I made the decision to switch over to my popping cork to see if it would produce. The winds were similar to my pre-fish day, but the tide was running nearly a foot and a half higher. So high in fact, that I was unable to crabwalk the area like I normally would.

I worked the shorelines, points, and pinches without a bite. I finally came across a decent sized drain where I immediately hooked up with something monstrous. My cork went under, drag started peeling off my reel, and all I could do was watch, as whatever had taken my gulp rounded a corner and finally broke me off. After a few choice cusswords, I thought about it and decided that it didn’t matter what I had just lost, because it wasn’t going to be a 20-28” red anyway. I tied a jighead back onto my cork and picked up a flounder a few casts later. I kept moving around, focusing on the points and grass lines without much luck. I approached another drain, and made a cast near it with my cork. Just like before, my cork disappeared after a few pops, and I had on another fish. It took a while to get a good look at the fish, which ended up being a 31” red. It was nearly 10 am at this point and that great feeling of having a solid fish at 7 am was starting to fade.

We deiced to leave this lake and try a few other spots out. Lucky for us, this move ended up paying off. Johnathan picked up a stout 24” red that weighed a little over 6 lbs. by tossing his cork into a drain. At this point I decided to move a little more and cast a little less. I worked my way around the lakes and only stopped to cast if I saw something to cast at or if I came to a drain. I ended up picking up a 25” red at the 3rd drain I came to, and that helped relieve some of the pressure of showing up with only one fish. At this point I decided to slowly fish my way back towards the truck. I had hoped to upgrade my smaller fish as I went that direction, but never had another bite.

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I arrived at the weighin a little early, but that just gave me a little time to hang out with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. When it was all said and done, I had placed 6th out of 147 anglers and finally broken my string of one fish April events.

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Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series 2015 Event #4

October 2015 LSKS

For the first time since last spring, I actually considered putting on a jacket to start the morning. The temps were in the mid 60s with a cool breeze blowing through the air, which was a nice change from the heat we’ve had this summer. Johnathan Meadows and I were fishing the last event of the 2015 Lone Star Kayak Series on this morning and were patiently waiting for the clock to show 6 am so that we could begin our day.

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We were the only two people at our launch, which in my opinion is always a small advantage on tournament day. We wouldn’t have to worry about dodging other anglers that were fishing the tournament or miss out on fishing certain areas because someone else arrived first. I’ve spent 99% of my kayak trips sitting in the seat of a Jackson Cuda 14, but on this particular morning I decided to go with the Cuda LT instead. The marsh we were fishing consists of several dozen small lakes that go on for as far as the eye can see. With the Cuda LT weighing in around 20lbs. lighter and a little over a foot shorter than my Cuda 14, I decided to go with the kayak that had the ability to make sharp turns without needing a lot of space.

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We pushed off into the dark at 6 am and made the short paddle to the first lake we planned to fish. Johnathan started off throwing a topwater while I went with a popping cork and gulp. The plan was to throw different set ups to see what the fish were wanting and then both go with the lure that was producing more fish. It didn’t take long before I had my first bite on the cork which turned out to be a solid 26 ½” redfish. A few minutes later I had my second bite of the day, a chunky 25” red which gave me two fish on the stringer before the sun had a chance to peak over the horizon. Anyone that has ever fished a tournament knows how good I feels to have 12+ lbs. on the stringer within the first hour. It was obvious that it was going to be a popping cork kind of day with the higher than normal tides, so Johnathan put down the topwater and grab his rod with the cork on it. Anyone that’s in the market for a good popping cork rod that won’t break the bank should check out the Hook Spit Zephyr Elite.  At 7′ 2″ you can make those long casts and pop a cork the way its meant to be popped wit the extra fast tip.  It’s a great popping cork rod priced at $159.

Another one for Clint

Another one for Clint

 

It didn’t take long before we figured out the pattern for the day and both had fish two fish on the stringer. With a decent NE wind blowing through the marsh, we used it to our advantage by focusing on all points and small coves on the windblown shoreline. It seemed like every point held at least one fish, along with any small cove that was located on the SE shoreline. The reds would wait on the wind protected side of the points and ambush the bait as the current forced it by or they would focus on the bait that was unwillingly being pushed up against the shoreline by the wind.

At one point we thought we had doubled up on two solid reds, but come to find out, Johnathan had a 27 ¾” red while I had a two foot alligator. It didn’t take long for the gator to realize what was going on and make a mad dash for the protection of the tall grass on the shoreline. He hit the bank and never looked back, eventually slicing through my leader and letting me keep my cork.

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Shortly after the gator broke me off I was able to sightcast a 30” red by standing up in the LT and letting the wind push me towards the tailing fish. I could tell this fish would be out of the slot, but who can resist sightcasting a 30” red in a foot of water. Johnathan was able to catch an oversized red a few hours later as it and a couple of other fish were barreling down the shoreline destroying any bait in their sight.

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We ended the day each catching more 6 lb. reds than we could count, our two oversized fish, and a few larger ones that stayed in the slot and made the trip to the weighin. In the end, Johnathan took home 1st place out of 96 anglers with 15.56 lbs. while I finished 6th with 13.15 lbs. Congratulations goes out to Jason Blackwell who took home Angler of the year honors once again, giving him his third AOY trophy in as many years.

1st and 6th Walking to the table

1st and 6th Walking to the table

 

We had a great day on the water with a couple of nice stringers to end the tournament season. We took full advantage of the benefits that comes with fishing with a friend on tournament day, which I believe helped both us catch more fish than we would have alone

I’d like to give a huge thanks to Werner Paddles, Hook Spit Performance Rods, Buggs Fishing Lures, and Jackson Kayak at this time.  These companies provide me with quality products that have helped me become a better angler over the last several years.  I am truly blessed with the opportunity to represent them and look forward to doing the same when the 2016 tournament season kicks off.

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On a side note, the Lone Star Kayak Series will be back again next year, but the tournament owner and director will change. Dustin Koreba has decided to step down and hand it over to Cameron Barghi and Justin Rich. Cameron and Justin already run the Saltwater Survival Series and have been a part of the LSKS team since it began 4 years ago. We can expect a new beer sponsor and a few new lures, but overall, the things that make this tournament so special will remain the same. Now we all have to fish against Dustin instead of accepting prizes from him.

Conditions:

Wind: 10 mph from the NE

Weather: Sunny skies with temps between 65 and 75 degrees

Tides: Outgoing

Bottom: Mud with occasional patches of grass

Depth: 1-2 feet deep in most areas

Lures:

Bomber Paradise Popper with a Gulp Pogy or Mantis Shrimp on a 1/16 oz. jighead

TTF Killer Flats Minnow on a 1/8 oz. jighead

Rod and Reel:

Popping Cork setup – Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500 on a 7′ 2″ Hook Spit Zephyr Elite

Soft Plastic setup – Shimano Citica on a 6′ 10″ Hook Spit T-N-T

Kayak: Jackson Cuda LT

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

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

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

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

Conditions:

Wind: Non existent at times, 20 mph at others

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

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

Bottom: Mud and Shell

Depth: Anywhere from 1-5 feet deep

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

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

Reel: Shimano Citica and Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500H

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series

If you live in the state of Texas and have been thinking about participating in a kayak fishing tournament, then look no further. With three successful seasons under its belt, the Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series will kick off the 2015 season on April 18th. This kayak only redfish tournament gives anglers across the lone star state a chance to compete against one another in a tournament that is competitive, fun, and friendly.

Based out of Galveston, TX, the LSKS brings anglers from all over the state together to compete against one another four times a year. sponsorsReasonably priced at $65 per event with no captains meeting, anglers simply register online and launch their kayaks at 6:00 am from any publicly accessible launch site between the Sabine and Colorado River the morning of the tournament. Cash payout goes to the top 25% of the field meaning one in four anglers will be going home with cash and prizes from great sponsors like Hook Spit Performance Rods, Werner Paddles, Bass Assassin Lures, and Yak Gear just to name a few. The weigh-in takes place at Louis Bait Camp in Hitchcock, TX where anglers weigh their fish, enjoy free beer supplied by Southern Star Brewery (another sponsor), and share their fish stories about the one that got away. Anglers earn points at each of the four events throughout the season to crown an angler of the year at the final event in October. The 2015 angler of the year will be taking home a new kayak donated by Viking Kayaks along with other great cash and prizes.

Since its inaugural season back in 2012, the LSKS has become one of the top kayak fishing tournaments in the state. Last April, ninety-one anglers registered for the first event of the season leaving no doubt that hitting triple digits at some point this year is not farfetched. The average number of participants per event has continued to climb over the past three years progressing from 57 to 74 to 78.5 anglers this past season. Although still more than three months away from the first event of 2015, recent chatter around local fishing forums and other social media channels is showing an increase in interest from anglers that are new to tournament fishing. For a variety of reasons, the LSKS is a great event for anglers to make their tournament debut.

When I first started fishing the event, I was new to kayak fishing and only knew of one location where I could consistently catch a couple redfish. Werner Paddle Donation to HOWEven though they were mostly lower slot, I was content with the fish I was catching and never felt it necessary to try new spots. It didn’t take long for me to realize that if I wanted to be an actual competitor in the series that I would have to gain more knowledge and explore new areas in search of larger fish. Over the next couple events everything seemed to fall into place. I had discovered several new areas to fish and started noticing and learning more about a redfish’s behavior based on location and structure in an area. Over the next several months, the length, weight, and number of fish I caught began to increase. By the end of the first season I had improved from 7.43 lbs. at the first event, to 12.00 lbs. at the last event, ending my season with a 5th place finish. The following year I took home a first place trophy brining in 14.78 lbs. to the 2nd event of the season. The desire to improve and become a better tournament angler was a driving force in making me leave the comfort of the first marsh I had discovered and search for newer ones with a better quality of fish.

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The LSKS is also responsible for introducing me to 90% of the people I fish with and consider good friends. The weigh-in basically becomes a three hour meet and greet with more than fifty anglers from across the state sharing stories, putting names with faces, and planning future trips together. Off the top of my head, I can name more than 20 anglers that I have fished with over the last three years that I had never met before the tournament began. Kayak fishing is fun, but it’s even more fun when good friends are involved.

As the sport of kayak fishing continues to grow in popularity, more and more anglers are discovering that gaining knowledge and experience in a tournament setting can be both fun and rewarding. With the added sponsors and increase in prizes and participants, the 2015 season of the Lone Star Kayak Series is looking like it will be the biggest and best so far. To register or see a full list of rules, pictures, or past results visit http://www.lonestarkayakseries.com


Lone Star Kayak Series Fun Facts


  • Out of the 12 events so far, 10 different anglers have won an event
  • $1 per registered angler is donated to Heroes on the Water
  • The April 2012 event was won by a first time tournament angler
  • A ½ lb. bonus is awarded to anglers for bringing in at least one live fish
  • We have anglers that drive in from all over the state including Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi, etc.
  • Free beer at the weigh-in!
  • 25% of the field wins cash and prizes
  • 1st – 3rd take home trophies
  • LSKS is active on social media
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Lone Star Kayak Series 2014 Event #4

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The 2014 Lone Star Kayak Series came to an end this past weekend with the final event of the season being held on October 4th. I have been mostly absent from the water since the last event back in August with only one trip made between the two events. Work, family, and other events have occupied my time over the past month and a half making it difficult to get on the water. I had no clue where I would go but got an invite from Jared to join him. He had been on some pretty good fish the past couple of weeks, plus fishing with friends is more enjoyable than fishing alone.

My morning didn’t start off quiet like I had planned. My alarm went off and I was up brushing my teeth without even needing to hit snooze. While brushing my teeth I recieved a text from David telling me that he was going to be late. He was up late as the administrator on duty at a football game the night before which caused him to get home late and wake up late. I didn’t really understand why he would be late considering we live about the same distance from our launch. A few minutes later my phone rang and it was another friend that I had planned on meeting at Bucee’s for breakfast. I asked him what he was up to as I answered the phone and he told me that he had just pulled into Bucee’s but didn’t see me around. At that point I looked at my clock and realized I had set my alarm for 4:40 instead of 3:40. I had an hour and twenty minutes to get to the launch, unload, and be ready to push off at 6:00 with a long drive ahead of me. I hung up the phone with Aaron, rushed downstairs, threw my kayak in the truck, and was on the road by 4:50. The launch is a good hour and fifteen minutes from my house while driving around or slightly below the speed limit. I drove a few miles over the posted limits and decided not to stop for breakfast. I knew that if I hurried I would be able to launch on time or just shortly after. I arrived at the launch at 5:50 and with a little help from Jared I was unloaded and ready to go by 5:57. So I actually got an extra hour of sleep but had to skip breakfast which I wasn’t a fan of. I knew I would be covering close to 10 miles on this day in high winds so not having any fuel had me a little worried.

We launched right at 6 am and started to make the 2 mile paddle to the spot we planned to fish. Winds were predicted to be 20-25 miles per hour but could not have been more calm on our paddle out. We made our way through the dark, checking the phone GPS on occasion to make sure we were headed in the right direction. We reached our spot as soon as first light appeared and started looking for fish. We fished a small channel that connects two large lakes while waiting for the sun to rise a little. The channel is 6-8 feet deep in the middle but only 2-3 feet deep on the edges with lots of shell.

I started off throwing a she dog while my popping cork with gulp drifted 20 feet behind me. This is a great way to increase the chances of catching a fish if you’re fishing a tournament where two rods in the water at the same time is allowed. As you drift and cast in front of you, the popping cork with gulp floats behind you making it an easy meal for a redfish that happens to be passing by at the right time.

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I picked up my first red on the she dog after about 15 minutes of casting parallel with the shoreline bringing the lure along the edge of the grass. The fish was a little over 20″ but I strung it anyway. A few cast later and another fish takes my topwater, this time it was just a small trout. I continued my drift and met up with Jared who was about 50 yards ahead of me to find out that he had landed a solid 26″ red on his popping cork. We kept moving without much luck and decided to move into the larger lake and work the grass line with the corks. Just before turning into the lake Jared decided to work his cork off the point of a small island with scattered shell and it payed off. He landed a solid 27″ red to give him 13+ lbs. on the day. We set up our drift and worked the grass line in the big lake without much luck until I came across a small pod of 8-10 reds coming towards me. I already had my popping cork in hand so I made a cast 10 feet in front of their path and waited a few seconds for them to cross paths with the gulp. Sure enough, the cork disappeared and I had a fish on. This one went 23″ so on the stringer it went. This fish was not exactly what I was looking for but the winds were picking up to their originally predicted speeds and I wanted to make sure that I at least came in with two fish, regardless of size.

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We continued our drift and came across another small pod of reds 5 minutes later. I pulled my rod with a soft plastic into my lap and prepared for a double hook up. The plan was to cast the cork 15 feet in front of the pods path and place it in the rod holder. Once it was secure I was going to use my soft plastic rod and make a cast into the pod when they were a few feet from my gulp. The plan never worked because the fish made a hard left turn 5 feet before reaching my cork and started heading towards the middle of the lake. I fired a cast into the middle of them before they hit the deeper water and caught another 23″ red so the 20″ red I had caught first was released.

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At this point the wind had really kicked it up a notch so we decided to head back to our little channel and work it over. The quarter mile paddle back was tough but we arrived and started corking the channel along with David, who had arrived shortly before us. We weren’t having any luck near the channel so I decided to drift with the wind while working a slightly protected shoreline. I didn’t think two 23″ fish would do me much good so this was a risk I needed to take, even if it meant paddling back directly into the wind for several miles. I worked the shallow shoreline with scattered shell for several miles picking up 3 more reds along the way with the popping cork and gulp. Unfortunately, they were all 23″ like my others so I wasn’t able to upgrade.

I had reached the end of my drift and had the horrible task of making the 4 mile paddle back to the truck directly into the 25-30 mph wind while dragging two fish. I started my paddle at 11:00 and paddled nonstop for 2 hours and 45 minutes arriving back at the launch at 1:45. I was completely exhausted, especially since I didn’t get to eat breakfast that morning, but was glad to be back on dry land. The Werner Cyprus: Hooked I am fortunate enough to paddle with was a lifesaver on this day. It was a good reminder on why a quality paddle is a must have for kayak anglers. David and Jared had headed back to the trucks as I started my long drift and had already arrived at the weighin. David caught two fish near 23″ and another friend fishing the area reported catching 6 fish, but all were 23″ as well. Between the four of us, we caught 20 fish, with Jared’s two largest fish being the only ones that weren’t in the 23″ range.

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After a short drive I arrived at Louis and weighed in my fish. I wasn’t expecting to be in the money with my two small fish but squeaked into the last money spot with an 18th place finish out of 74 anglers. That’s one of the great things about the LSKS, they pay out to the top 25% of the field which always gives you a decent shot at winning your entry fee back. Congrats to Chih Tien who took first place for the event while Jared held on to claim 3rd place giving him a nice cash payout and a trophy of the house.

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With this being the final event of the year, an Angler of the Year would be crowned once the prizes and trophies for this event were handed out. There was no surprise this year as Jason Blackwell dominated the overall points with 2nd, 4th, 1st, and 2nd place finishes during the four events this year. This makes him the back to back champion since he won AOY last year as well.

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I finished 5th overall for Angler of the Year which matched my best finish from two years ago and Jared moved up to 6th place overall. I’m looking forward to next seasons events with the fact that we are growing every year in both sponsors and participants. A big thanks goes out to Werner Paddles for supplying my paddles and Hook Spit Performance Rods for my rods and clothing.  If anyone is interested in the LSKS, you can read more about it by visiting the link below.

 

http://www.lonestarkayakseries.com

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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

 

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Aaron Ferguson – 2nd Place

 

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Jason Blackwell – 1st Place

 

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Prize Winners

 

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Lone Star Kayak Series 2014 Event #2

2014 LSKS Event 2

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Yesterday was the 2nd event of the 2014 Lone Star Kayak series in Galveston, TX. One of my friends (Jared) and I decided to fish together since we had both planned on going to the same general area. I’ve fished this spot many times in the past and have always had good luck when the conditions are right. After checking tide charts, weather, and wind direction/speed all week long I had come to the conclusion that our little marsh we were heading to should hold some decent fish. Tides have been running about a foot higher than predicted for more than a week now which meant I would be choosing an area with really shallow shell and mud. This cut my list in half on places I had been considering. While some areas produce well on really low tides, this spot is without a doubt a high tide marsh. The small lakes we would be fishing consist of soft knee deep mud and a ton of shell. When tides are running as predicted the shell will sit 3-5 inches below the surface on a high tide and will be completely exposed on a low tide. On this particular day we were fishing during the peek of the high tide which was running about 8 inches higher than predicted. This put the shell a foot or more below the surface of the water allowing us to float over it along with giving the redfish access to cruise the top of it looking for food. Because of the depth and amount of shell our lure options were limited. I rigged my rods the night before with a popping cork, topwater, and soft plastic. I figured the popping cork would be used for the majority of the day with an occasional toss of the topwater. The soft plastic was available incase a pod or tailing red was spotted and something to sight cast with was needed. Other than that it would not be used for fear of hanging up on the shell.

My alarm went off at 3 am and I was one the road by 330. Jared and I met up at McDonalds and after grabbing a quick bite to eat we headed for the launch. We arrived around 5:30, unloaded the kayaks, and sat around for the next 20 minutes waiting for 6 am to arrive per tourney rules. At 6 am on the dot we pushed off and headed straight for the first lake I wanted to fish. The majority of the fish I’ve pulled from this spot have been 25+ inche fish so I was hoping they would be around today. photo 1-3After a 15 minute paddle we were in the first lake and started casting. Jared threw his popping cork around the drain leading into the lake and picked up a 19″ red within the first 5 minutes. I spotted a red crawling around a small island and reached for my rod with the Chicken Boy Shrimp (Red Shad). While trying to get within casting distance my kayak scraped some shell and sent that fish running. I threw my Midcoast Popping Cork (Evolution) around the area where I had seen the fish but didn’t seem to have any luck. I decided to move away from the drain and fish the shell covered lake I had come for. The water wasn’t quiet as high as I’d hoped and as a result my popping cork would hang up on mounds of shell that sat higher in the water column. After hanging up 5 times in 10 casts with no fish to show for my trouble I decided go with the topwater. I knew this would keep me from hanging up and would be a great way to cover some water. I started off throwing a MirrOlure She Pup in the woodpecker color (red head, white back, chrome belly). On my 3rd cast I had a nice little blow up that didn’t connect. Five casts later I had another that did connect and the fight was on. However, the fight was short and resulted in me reeling in my line without the lure. When getting ready the night before, the thought never crossed my mind that I should tie on a leader connecting my lure to my braid. This was mistake number one of the day and costs me what might have been a good fish. The break off occurred 5 seconds after hooking up so I never really got a good feel for the fish. My other mistake was not getting my rod tip high enough to help keep the line out of the shell. To make matters worse I think the fish swims by my kayak to laugh at me. You’ll see the big wake at the end of the short video below.

I was disappointed in my mistakes but quickly tied on another she pup (black back, chrome body, orange belly), this time using about a foot of fluorocarbon leader to help deal with the shell. I began fan casting the small lake once again working the lure very quickly since thats what they wanted and after a few missed blowups I had my second hookup of the day. I made sure to keep my rod tip high and even stood up in the kayak when I had the chance. I wanted to make sure this one had no chance at cutting me off. After a short fight I landed my first fish of the day that weighed in at 5.56 lbs measuring 24 1/4″.In the video below you’ll see the fish bite on the pause as I move the rod from right to left.

I had a fish on my Grind Terminal Tackle stringer early which is always a good feeling on tourney day. I continued to work the area the same as before but the fight with the previous fish must have spooked the others. After a while we decided to move on to the next lake.
This lake was similar to the first one which meant it was very small, full of shell, and had enough water covering it to allow us to barely move over the top without scraping. As we neared the lake traveling down a small channel I began seeing mud boils in front of my kayak. This was a definite sign we were spooking reds that had just been sitting in front of us. I drifted over to a small island and started fan casting the edge of the lake while Jared took a separate channelBroken Hooks 15 yards away that led into the same lake. On my first cast I had a good blowup that missed, 2nd cast produced the same thing, so did the 3rd and 4th casts which had me thinking smaller reds must be hitting my lure. On the 5th cast that theory was proven wrong. A nice upper slot red clobbered my lure and took off with it peeling off 15 yards of line before turning sideways. While it was running I was able to get out of my kayak and stand on the island I had been sitting next to in order to give me a higher platform to keep my line as far above the shell as possible. For the next 45 seconds the fish ran away from me pulling drag or moved side to side never allowing me to gain any line back. Jared watched from about 20 yards away as I was telling him how solid this fish was when all of a sudden my line goes limp. I reel in my lure and soon as it comes out of the water I see that two of the hooks on my front treble are missing.

After a few minutes of non stop cursing my lure I realized I was partially to blame. I switch out the majority of my hooks with VMC hooks for the added strength but had failed to do so on this lure. That was mistake number 3 on tournament day. I tied on my third topwater of the day sticking with the She Pup, this time going with hot pink with a chrome body. I seemed to be getting more blowups then Jared who was throwing a Rapala Skitterwalk so I didn’t want to change what was working. As I was tying on this lure Jared hooked up with a nice fish. He landed it as quickly as he could in hopes that he wouldn’t spook the other fish in the lake. His fish went close to 26″ which meant neither of us would show up to the weighin empty-handed. I finally retied my lure and five casts after the broken hook incident I started getting blowups again. I had three that didn’t connect so I decided to slow down my retrieve just a little and that was the ticket. I had just said to Jared, “I’m going to try a medium retrieve” and the fish hit as soon as the last word came out of my mouth. It ran straight towards me and I could barely reel in fast enough to keep up with it. When it got within five feet of my kayak it turned to run away but the fight was over by then. I landed the fish within a few seconds watching my lure fly out of its mouth just as I slid the net under it. That fish went 22 1/4 inch weighing in at 4.40 lbs. Neither fish was great but I had two for the weighin which takes a lot of pressure off anyone on tournament day. We worked the lake for another 30 minutes but the fish had left the area. We were finding good amounts of fish but the size of the lakes made it difficult to stay on them since a couple of hook ups would spook the rest. We decided to head to the first lake we had fished to see if they had returned after a short break. We covered the lake well but had no blowups or luck so we moved on to the third lake.

Creepin

Photo Credit: Jared Esley

This lake, which was the largest of the three and had the same features as the first two so we were hoping for similar results. We each chose a shoreline and started crab walking our kayaks parallel with the shoreline staying about 10 yards away from it. We had multiple blow ups while covering the area with no hookups.  Finally Jared caught his 2nd fish of the day which went 20 1/2 inches and gave him two fish for the weighin. We continued working the shoreline with more blow ups that just wouldn’t connect. I eventually hooked up with another red that again, cut me off on the shell after a 5 second fight. I was still using my fluorocarbon leader but somehow the fish was able to slide the braid part of my line across the shell and cut it above the leader. After a few minutes I spotted my lure which the fish shook free and paddled over to get it. I had already tied on my forth top water of the day so in the milk crate it went. The wind had kicked up a little by now so I went with the She Dog instead of the pup for a little more noise and splash. I missed another fish as I sat my rod down to secure my paddle which was about to fall off my kayak into the water. I had just made a cast and twitched the lure about 6 times when I sat down my rod to grab my paddle. Two seconds later I hear a huge splash and look up to see my lure missing and my rod being pulled over the side. I dropped my paddle and grabbed my rod and start reeling in only to find out he had already spit the lure. I connected on a another fish 15 minutes later that I never saw. Something had blown up on my lure and disappear under the water. I set the hook and began pulling the fish towards me. I could feel the tension of the fish on the end of the line but it never made any hard runs. As it neared my kayak it turned away and slowly peeled off 5-10 yards of line and began moving sideways again at a slow speed. It finally took off peeling another 10 yards of line from my reel before the hook came flying back at me. I was completely dumbfounded and all I could do was look at Jared and laugh because it was just one of those days. He suggested that it was probably a big flounder and after thinking about it he was probably right. I would have loved to have gotten a look at it because it was going to be a nice flounder if thats truly what it had been. We decided to head back to the truck and make it to the weighin early. It was hot, we had two fish, and it would be nice to arrive early and visit with everyone. We also wanted to make sure we got our fish there alive for two reasons. You get a 1/2 lb bonus for a live weighin, plus a raffle ticket for each fish released alive for a drawing later in the day for a Werner Paddle.

We headed for the weighin and arrived around 1:45 which put us there 15 minutes before the scales opened up. We talked with a few others that had just arrived and collected our captains bag full of some free gear from sponsors such as Yak Gear and Bass Assassin. We were 4th in line to weighin our fish with the eventual champion Joshua Majorka weighing his in 1st. Jared weighed his fish in before me and had 9.55 lbs including his 1/2 lb bonus. I weighed my fish next and to my surprise had 10.46 lbs with my 1/2 bonus. I didn’t expect to be in double digits with a 22 and 24 inch fish but both were decently plump. We spent the next two and half hours eating a Louis Bait Camp Burger and visiting with old and new friends. Before announcing the winners we always have several dozen drawings for all kinds of goodies provided by the growing list of sponsors. I had my number called at one point and received a nice little prize package that included a Dexter Knife, Plano Tackle Tray, MirrOlure She Dog, and Saltwater Assassin soft plastics and popping corks. My good luck at the weighin didn’t stop there. Aside from awarding the anglers with the heaviest stringers, the LSKS also gives away a prize package for the closets fish to 21″ without going over (Blackjack) and for the fish with the most spots. My 24″ fish had 9 spots so I won that prize package which included a one year membership to Saltwater Boys Kayak Fishing Club, a koozie, T-shirt, and a Grind Terminal Tackle Stringer. I have been meaning to register with the Saltwater Boys Kayak Club for a while but never got around to it. They are a fishing club located in the Beaumont area and have lots of gatherings and members only tournaments about once a month. The koozie and T-shirt come with your $25 membership fee. If you are interested in joining up you can find more information on their Facebook Page.

I was 2 for 2 on prizes and didn’t think I could get any luckier. It turns out my luck hadn’t quiet run out just yet. The drawing for the Werner Paddle took place after the blackjack and spots prizes were awarded and it was for a really nice paddle. I don’t know how Jeff did it, but he brought out a Werner Paddles Bent Shaft Kalliste. This is one of Werner’s top low angle paddles that they produce. The bent shaft Kalliste weighs in at 27 oz, has full carbon blades, and retails for $475. As a Werner Paddles Pro Staffer, I have never even had the opportunity to use this paddle.

Kalliste

Jeff walked on stage and asked a young boy from the crowd to come up and draw a ticket from the box. As the young man read off the numbers I was shocked to hear him read off my number as the winner. Earlier in the day when Jeff had handed me the ticket I had already told him I wouldn’t even keep it if I won. I told him I would just give it to my friend Travis who runs the Corpus Christi Chapter of Heroes on the Water. I was pretty excited as I walked towards the stage because I was about to have the opportunity to donate an awesome paddle to a great organization. When I reached the stage I told Travis to come up and take the paddle from me because I knew he would be able to put it to good use.

If you don’t know, Heroes on the Water is a non profit organization that takes current soldiers and veterans from all branches of the military kayak fishing as a way to relax and help relieve stress. Its an amazing organization that I’ve had the opportunity to help with on occasion and hope to become more involved with in the future.  The video below is a short explanation about what they do.

I had already won three different prizes and knew I would be receiving another. It seemed like most anglers had a tough day of fishing because not that many fish were weighed in. As Dustin came to the stage to announce the winners I waited patiently to hear my name called. Jared placed 14th and I took 9th out of 79 anglers. My 9th place prize package included $110 along with a few other prizes. It was a really fun way to start off my summer which will consists of 72 days in a row of not working and lots of fishing. The next event is not until August which gives me plenty of time to pre fish. For some reason, the August event has been my toughest one over the last two years. I’m hoping to change that this year.

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

 

photo 4-2

Photo Credit: Jared Esley

 

Photo Credit: Jared Esley

Photo Credit: Jared Esley

photo 2-2 copy

photo 2-3

 

 

 

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Castaway Graphite Rods Lone Star Kayak Series Event #2


LSKS #2 Fish 1


Shawn, Ricky, and I fished the 2nd event of the Castaway Graphite Rods Lone Star Kayak Series yesterday in some really tough conditions. The winds have been blowing pretty hard out of the south all week long which has the water in our bay system running more than a foot higher than normal. Between the high tides, 20+ mph wind, and cloudy skies it wasn’t the ideal day to fish but each of the 86 anglers had to deal with the same conditions.

We didn’t really finalize our decision on exactly where to go until Friday evening while driving home from work. I kept watching the wind and actual tide heights to see if there would be any last minute changes but nothing every seemed to change. I told Shawn and Ricky that I planned to go back to the same place Ricky and I had prefished on Thursday. I only had two bites that day with one of them breaking me off, but the one I netted let me know that I was in the right spot to give myself a chance to win it all. I knew the bites would be few but worth it if we got them so they agreed to fish the same area as well.

We met at my house at 3:45 and loaded up the kayaks and gear. We stopped at Buc-ee’s to grab some breakfast and a couple of drinks and then continued on our way. We arrived at our launch around 5:30 and started unloading the kayaks. We launched at 6:01 am and started heading for the marsh with high hopes of landing two big reds a piece. Ricky stopped off at a spot he’s had luck at in the past and Shawn and I continued making our way towards the area I had prefished a few days earlier. I saw a nice red completely destroy a small pod of baitfish on the way there but he never showed himself again. I blind casted the area pretty thoroughly but didn’t get a hit. I paddled another hundred yards and had reached my destination. The tide was outgoing and falling out through the main channel in the same direction the wind was blowing so it was moving pretty fast. I decided to focus on the smaller drains that were near the main one because while they would still have a good flow, they wouldn’t be moving quiet as fast as the main drain. I hooked into my first fish around 7:00 am by casting right in to the middle of one of the smaller side drains feeding into the main channel. After a couple of chugs on the Midcoast Evolution popping cork on a 1/16th ounce jighead with a Gulp Pogy (Color: Cigar Minnow) it disappeared. I set the hook and fought the fish for a good 5 minutes before getting it in the net. I had my drag set pretty loose to make sure I avoided any break offs on tournament day. This fish went 26 7/8″ and weighed 7.05 lbs. I was happy to have a good fish on the stringer on such a tough day, especially so early. I continued moving around to a couple of other drains, staking out, and casting for about 15 minutes at each before I decided to move over to the mud/shell mix where I had caught my fish on Thursday. I would stake out, cast for 15 minutes, and then move about 15 yards and repeat the process. After having no luck around the mud/shell mix other than seeing a few 30+ inch black drum I shifted my focus to the windblown shorelines and the small cuts that led to the adjacent lakes. On my first cast into one of the cuts I hooked into my 2nd fish of the day. After another 5 minute battle I strung my 2nd fish and felt pretty good. This one went 27 1/8″ and weighed 7.23 lbs. I had two pretty good fish and was able to relax a little for the rest of the day. I spent the next 4 hours trying to upgrade but never had another bite. I saw a few fish while paddling around but it was always right before I ran over them. Shawn and Ricky ended up only catching a couple flounder each which would have been great on any other day. We made it back to the truck, loaded up, and I headed for the weighin while they decided to head home.

I arrived at the weighin around 3 to discover I had 14.28 lbs of fish plus a 1/2 lb live bonus to put me in 1st place with 14.78 lbs with an hour and half to wait. 4:30 finally came and I held on to the lead and won by .69 lbs. and moved into 1st place for Angler of the Year. My prize package included $765 cash, a 7′ Castaway Skeleton Rod, $100 Grind Terminal Tackle Gift Certificate, Tailing Toads gloves and buff, Castaway Rods hats and shirt, and a nice 1st place trophy. As always, it was a lot of fun hanging out with friends, putting names and faces with TKF handles, and enjoying a Louis Cheeseburger afterwards. We all get a nice long break until the 3rd event which will be held on August 17th. For the time being I plan on getting back to what I love which is sight casting to reds in a few inches of water instead of popping a cork for the big ones.


LSKS #2 Leaderboard


LSKS #2 Stage Prize 1


LSKS #2 Release 1


Trophy


LSKS #2 Prizes



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