Posts Tagged With: texas

JPI Invitational Day 1 Video

I put together a short highlight video of some of the fish from the first day of our annual camping trip down in Matagorda.  I fished an area that I’d never fished before and found plenty of schools and singles roaming the grass lines.  The bite was great on this day considering I only fished from about 11 to 1.  All fish were caught sight casting 4″ Bass Assassin Sea Shads in colors Fried Chicken and Candy Cane.

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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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Blind Casting the Marsh with 20/20 Vision

As an avid shallow water angler, I enjoy spending the majority of my time sight casting to fish that I can see, instead of blind casting for the ones that I can’t. Since the first day I pitched my lure into the path of a visible fish, I have been hooked (pun intended). Being able to watch a large redfish as it slowly moves through the shallow water, seeing it pounce on my lure, and then getting to listen to the sweet music made by my line, as it gets ripped from my reel, is an experience that I never get tired of. When the tides are right, the water is clear, and the fish are cooperating, this is the style of fishing that I prefer over any other.

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However, things don’t always work out the way you’d liked. Sometimes the tides are going to run a little higher than predicted, which makes spotting fish more difficult. You’ll also have to deal with dirty water, fish that are laid up and not feeding, and even ones that spook easily. The hard truth is that you’re not always going to be able to sight cast them. In the event that you’re forced to spend your day blind casting, make the most of each cast by putting your lure where the fish should be.

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DSC_0118 copyPlenty of anglers out there view blind casting as a style of fishing that requires a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck. In their mind, blind casting is about tossing your lure in every direction possible, with the only emphasis being, “cast as far as you can, to as many different spots as you can”. However, the more experienced angler knows better than to believe that. He doesn’t make a lot of “random” casts. Each cast he makes is to a targeted area for one specific reason or another. He doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in dumb luck, and instead believes that fish tend to hang out in certain areas for a number of reasons. With this in mind, you should constantly scan the water (and shoreline) for places that are more likely to hold fish than others, and make casting to those spots a priority.

Points

PointAny and all points along a shoreline are worth casting to. By points, I am referring to parts of the shoreline that extend out towards the open water or a sharp bend in the shoreline. A good point provides redfish with a great place to ambush bait as it passes by. While some points are better formed than others, all deserve a cast or two as you paddle/drift by them. As you approach the point, be sure to cast several yards past it and work your lure back across the tip. I normally try to make at least three cast at each point. One where my lure passes within a few yards off the point, one where it is 5-10 yards away, and another that is 10-15 yards off.

Coves

While points protrude out toward open water, coves do the exact opposite. They dip inland, forming small half circle pools along the shoreline that are normally a little shallower than the surrounding area. The combination of the shallow water and ability to trap bait makes a good cove the perfect spot for a group of redfish to feed. They can corral the bait towards the back of the cove, or slowly roam the area looking for something to munch on. These coves also provide redfish with a great place to hide from strong winds and choppy water as well.

Windblown Shorelines

DSC_0153 copyMany anglers overlook a good windblown shoreline because the location of it changes as the direction of the wind shifts. These shorelines are also difficult to fish since the wind is constantly pushing you towards the bank. However, a shoreline that is being repeatedly pounded by waves as a result of the wind, provides redfish with a great place to feed.   Baitfish and shrimp that are seeking shelter along the shoreline get pushed up against the bank, where they become disoriented as the waves crash down on them. As they struggle to regain their sense of direction, redfish are able to grab an easy meal. If you’ve ever wondered why a specific shoreline only holds fish on certain days, pay attention to the direction of the wind and see if a pattern develops.

Wind Protected Shorelines

While windblown shorelines have been known to produce a solid bite on many days, sometimes fish like to go the opposite route and hideout against the wind protected shoreline. These areas offer calmer water that will be much cleaner than the windblown side. The fact that the water near these shorelines has less chop and current, allows redfish to remain stationary and conserve energy. Windblown shorelines are great places to start when you get on the water. However, if you aren’t having much luck, don’t be afraid to change things up and give the wind protected side a try. 

Drains

image2Drains within a marsh are created when a channel connects one body of water to another or when a narrow portion of the water branches off of a main lake, only to eventually come to an end a short distance later. Depending on whether the tide is outgoing or incoming, current will flow through these areas. Redfish, trout, and flounder all take advantage of the bait that gets caught in the current, which makes a drain an outstanding place to fish. I like to start by fan casting the area about thirty yards before I reach the actual channel. As I enter the channel, I’ll fish it as well, often times bouncing a soft plastic along the bottom. Since water is constantly being forced through these channels, you can expect the majority of them to be a little deeper than the surrounding areas. As I exit the channel and enter the lake it connects to, I like to work the area about thirty yards out once again. 

Shell

shellOne of the most productive types structure to fish around along the upper Texas coast is a good patch of shell. Baitfish and shrimp love hanging around shell for the protection and food it supplies them with, which of course, makes it a great place for redfish to feed. One of the main things to keep in mind when fishing around shell, is that size is not always the most important thing. A small patch of shell the size of your kitchen table can sometimes hold fish just as well as a patch that’s the size of your house. A good pair of polarized sunglasses will allow you to see the shell, and where to cast without getting your lure hung up. Cast along the edge of the shell and try to keep your lure running parallel to it. Often time’s redfish will roam the edges where the drop off from the shell to the soft mud occurs.

The next time you’re faced with unfavorable conditions on the water, spend the day making the most of each cast by tossing your lure into high traffic areas. You might realize that a little bit of knowledge plays a key role in what was once referred to as “a lucky cast”.

If you’d like more detailed knowledge of the information listed above, Tobin’s DVD (Shallow Redfish) is a great resource to consider.  It’s about 2 hours in length and covers everything listed above, plus more.  I picked it up a few years ago and still pop it in every now and then to review things.  If you decide to purchase one of the DVDs, be sure to use the code “TAILTAILSIGNS” at checkout to save 10% off your total purchase.

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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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Flounder Fishing with my Nephew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lost in the Texas Marsh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

 

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2015 Saltwater Survival Series Presented by Egret Baits and Lone Star Fishing Team

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For those in the Galveston area that are looking for a different type of redfish tournament, check out the Saltwater Survival Series presented by Egret Baits and the Lone Star Fishing Team.

Feel like you can catch tournament redfish without fishing your secret spot with your secret bait? Want to show your co-anglers you can? If so, this is the tournament for you.

The Saltwater Survival Series is a unique kayak/canoe/wade fishing tournament designed to level the playing field and truly see which anglers can catch tournament fish with limited boundaries and limited lures in our version of a ‘Shotgun’ start. In this non-motorized watercraft ‘shotgun’ scenario, each angler will have to fish in the same boundaries after leaving the same spot at the same time (driving or paddling) and will be limited to the same 6 Egret lures. The boundaries of this tournament are the 332 bridge to the I-45 causeway (West Bay). No information will be given about where the mandatory am check-in will be until the Monday before the tournament or what six Egret lures you will get to throw, but we can assure you that you will not need your giant tackle box. Bring your hooks, corks and pliers and leave all other tackle at home. Take a look at the provided rules for additional details. Pay online now or pay the morning of the tournament. Looking forward to seeing you out there!

RULES:

This is an individual kayak/canoe/wade event and has a mandatory morning checkin, making this our version of a ‘shotgun’ start. This means all anglers will HAVE to check in in person the morning of the tournament before driving to their launch spot. The exact checkin and weighin location will be announced the Monday before the tournament. The boundaries of the tournament are the 332 bridge to the I-45 Causeway (West Bay).

All fish must be caught by rod and reel using the designated artificial baits only. Each angler will be given the same 6 Egret lures the morning of the tournament. THESE ARE THE ONLY LURES YOU MAY USE DURING THE TOURNAMENT. Should you lose one, it cannot be replaced. Given this, there is no need to bring any other lures with you. You may use any hook and cork you like with these designated lures. Any kind of scenting spray is accepted.

All State and Federal Laws Apply. At all times anglers must comply with US Coast Guard and State rules and regulations for the area you are fishing. Upon signing the waiver before launching, you are agreeing to all terms and conditions and are stating that you have read the rules and understand the law. Every fisherman must have a valid Texas Fishing License.

Participation is open to anyone 18 Years of age or older. Registration is available either online or in person (Cash only) the morning of the tournament. This tournament islimited to ONLY 100 anglers, so make sure you sign up as soon as registration is available. All participants will be required to sign the waiver form during the morning meeting before launch. There are NO REFUNDS for cancelations. You can pay online or the morning of the tournament.

This event is a wade/kayak/canoe tournament only. No motorized boats are allowed. No ‘ferrying’ from a motorized watercraft is allowed. As this is an individual tournament, no tandem boats are allowed. You may wade fish or bank fish but you must have your boat tethered to you at all times.

What time is the mandatory morning meeting and when will you get your lures? You will get your lure bag when you sign the waiver the morning of the tournament. Waivers will be available to be signed at 5:30am and the mandatory morning meeting will start at 6:00 am the morning of the tournament and will be very short. The lure bags will be available until 9:00. If you show up after 9:00, you will not be able to fish the tournament. The weighin will start at 1:00 and the line closes at 3:00. You must be checked in at the weighin by 3PM or your fish will not be counted. The awards will be given at 4:00 SHARP!

Safety: You must have your PFD within arm’s reach at all times. All anglers are responsible for their own well-being and determination of safe sea conditions.

Honor System: Keep in mind this tournament is designed to ‘level the playing field’ by having all anglers launch at the same time in the same general area coming from the same meeting location and be limited to the same lures. As only one lucky top 15 finisher WILL be polygraphed (and asked if they stayed in the boundaries and used the designated lures), we trust that all anglers will abide by the honor system. Breaking the rules in any way will disqualify the angler from this tournament and all future Saltwater Survival Series tournaments. Breaking any rules to get an unfair advantage does not keep the playing field level and completely defeats the purpose of this tournament!!! Remember, there will be a large number of anglers leaving the same place and launching/fishing in the same areas at the same time, so please be courteous of other nearby anglers during the tournament.

This is a two redfish stringer. You will receive a 0.5 pound bonus for EACH live fish you bring in. YOUR FISH MUST BE BETWEEN 20 AND 28 INCHES BEFORE YOU STRING IT. No frozen or mutilated fish will be accepted. The weighmaster, scorekeeper, and tournament directors have the final say in determining whether or not a fish is considered mutilated or frozen. You may not alter your fish in any way. Before stringing your fish, make sure you sweep the tail to make sure it does not exceed 28 inches. If there is a tie, the angler that weighed in first wins the tie.

Prizes: The top 15 places will be paid with 75% of the entry fees. Raffle items will be posted as they are available.

To signup visit: https://squareup.com/market/lone-star-fishing-team

For more information contact Cameron Barghi @ (832) 289-0700 or email lonestarbeerfishing@gmail.com with questions.

Facebook Event
https://www.facebook.com/events/372718886257822/

Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/3STournament?fref=nf

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

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

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

Photo Apr 25

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

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

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Micahel Harris on the fly

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

Hot Pink Curl Tail Bugg

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

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

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

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

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

Photo May 08, 8 03 20 AM

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West Houston Kayak Club Presentation

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Photo Credit: Robin Janson

 

This past Tuesday I had the honor of speaking to the West Houston Kayak Club about my favorite redfish lures.  The meeting was held in the banquet room at Spring Creek BBQ in Katy, TX where the club was having their second meeting since forming a few months back.  In January, a meet and greet was held to get to know one another and discuss the future of the club with interested members.

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Photo Credit: Robin Janson

 

I assumed around 30-35 people might attend the meeting to see me speak since 15 had attended the first meeting.  You can imagine my surprise when the banquet room with a capacity of 65 people was completely full, forcing about a dozen people to stand on the back wall.  I was completely shocked to see that 78 people had made the long drive through Houston traffic to hear me speak and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Photo Credit: Robin Janson

 

The presentation started off with me introducing myself to the group and then telling them a little about myself.  I showed them a few examples of the different types of structure I fish on google earth before moving on to the lures, where I explained when and why I use them.  After discussing a lure, I would show video footage of me catching a few fish on each of them, while walking everyone through each hookup.

At the end of the night, the club had a drawing where they gave away and Igloo Marine Cooler, a few bottles of Pro-Cure, and a large gift basket full of soft plastics.  I was also able to give away two each of the Hydra Buggs, Beastie Buggs, Curl Tail Jigs, and a new Buggs Gator Trout shirt that Buggs owner Heath Hippel had sent me.

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Photo Credit: Robin Janson

 

It was a fun night and I hope everyone that attended went home with a little more knowledge than they came with.  Adam and Scott have big plans for this group and I look forward to seeing them continue to grow.  Their club will meet on the 2nd Tuesday each month at the Spring Creek BBQ in Katy, TX and anyone that would like to attend is welcome.  They will have a speaker each month with Bill Bragman  and Andrew Moczygemba of Yak Gear and Railblaza USA presenting at the March meeting.

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Photo Credit: Robin Janson

 

I had planned to try and video the presentation for those who were not able to attend but we had to turn off most of the lights in order to see the projector on the screen.  I will try to create a video with a voice over while the slides and videos are shown but it will probably take me some time.  The presentation was about an hour long so I will have to find time to sit down and recreate everything I had talked about.

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Photo Credit: Robin Janson

 

I know its a long ways off, but I have already been invited to speak again at the PACK meeting here in Houston on September 15th.  The topic I’m leaning toward is “Signs of Redfish in the Marsh” where I’ll focus on discussing the ways redfish give themselves away in shallow water.  

If you’re reading this post and attended the meeting the other night, then thank you for taking the time out of your day to come and listen.  Thanks to Adam and Scott for allowing me to speak, Heath Hippel for the Buggs, and Robin Janson of Kadien Photography for capturing a few pictures.

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