Some really awesome video from Freshwaters Illustrated about our beloved Southern Appalachian brook trout. They’ve got some other neat films on their Vimeo page as well. The hellbender one has some really cool underwater footage of the animal.
I had the privilege to come across one while wading a stream a few years back – they are very cool, blend in really well with their environment – most folks have no idea two foot long salamanders exist in North Georgia, but they do!
Last weekends weather forecast was too juicy to pass up. Friday, Saturday and Sunday all looked good on paper for the kayak fisher. I managed to get away on Saturday and fish with my buddy Steve – the 2014 Hobie Fishing Worlds champion who lives right down the road in Prairieville. Steve had big trout on his mind and I was listening. I can readily admit that I don’t know enough about catching trout, so getting the opportunity to fish with Steve and learn a bit about trout was worth it.
We had a plan of attack before heading down, but a slight change in the wind direction made Steve call an audible. I was game for the change, it meant more paddling, but the forecast allowed for it and I didn’t have a deadline to be home so I was uniquely prepared for a long day. I didn’t know it would be a 12 hours on the water type day, but it ended up being well worth it.
We set out from the launch at sunrise and were hardly out of sight before Steve spots the first redfish working some bait out in front of a cut. He made a perfect cast with a topwater plug and soon we got to see what happens when a redfish sucks down a floating lure. It was a great start to what would be an incredible day.
Redfish weren’t really a morning target for us, partly because we were focused on trout, but also because the tide was high and incoming, we thought it would be better to wait until the afternoon to target reds, but when an opportunity presents itself you take advantage. No sane kayak fisher can pass up a tailing redfish.
We pushed on to speckled trout water, ignoring cuts into the marsh that no doubt led to redfish Valhalla. Not really, but sometimes it feels that way when passing good water to hopefully get to better water. On the way we see gulls working some bait. Some of the birds are sitting on the water, Steve mentions that can be a good sign, so I head over to investigate, while he checks out another spot. After a few boils under a topwater I finally hook a 12″ trout. The birds dispersed shortly after and I moved on – it was worth investigating, but we were after a better quality trout.
I met back up with Steve as he was fishing around a small island. We met up at the back side of the island where water was being swept around and converged. A few casts into the moving water and my She Dog was nailed. A fat 17″ trout joined me in the Kilroy. We caught a few more trout behind that island and missed a few more we should have caught as well.
We moved on after the action cooled. Steve had no shortage of places to try and at each stop we ended up catching at least one trout, sometimes we’d catch more than that. We were catching them a variety of ways too. Topwater plugs worked, so did suspending lures, shrimp imitations under a popping cork, and even my trusty Matrix shad were producing the occasional trout.
By mid morning I was ready to change it up so I started sight fishing for reds along the shore. The tide was still up and the water was high way up into the grass. It was making things tough, but eventually one red gave up the ghost.
While I wasted my time looking for reds, Steve was busy fishing points and pockets for trout and having some success. It caught my attention when he landed one that was near 20″. I joined him and was rewarded shortly with a solid fish as well. Steve was keenly aware of what has happening beneath the water and I was starting to pick up on it. He was seeing things that I just didn’t notice, or had never really thought to notice until that day. We had a blast for the next hour or so, leapfrogging each other fishing points and pockets in the marsh with topwater lures and catching quality trout.
The action slowed down and eventually Steve and I parted ways. I wanted to try and sightfish reds on the falling tide in some of the areas we had passed up heading to fish trout. I’m a sucker for exploring new territory and I spotted some ponds I had never fished before that were calling my name. The action was slow at first, but as that tide kept dropping and the shoreline kept receding the redfish began getting more aggressive and you began to hear them crushing bait on shorelines. One bayou I entered had redfish cruising the shoreline like ants in a line. Me, being the glutton I am, couldn’t help myself and I had to attempt to double up. I had a popper tied up on the fly rod, thinking I might fool a speck with it, but I never really committed to using it while speck fishing. It wasn’t ideal for reds, but I put a good cast in front of the first fish and he crushed it. I laid a solid hookset on him, tightened my drag and put my fly rod between my legs, picked up the Matrix shad (I typically have both rods ready in front of me when sightfishing) and put a cast on the second fish. It was a terrible cast and he paid no attention to it, no big deal, I’ll try again with the third red. This time my aim was true and he pounced on the lure – the double was on.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the first fish I hooked was a good 24.5″, a fair fight in his own right. The second fish though ended up being 27.5″, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I fought a fish in each hand. I’ve caught doubles before but I had not caught one with two mid-upper slot reds like this. It was a riot! As you could imagine, both lines tangled in each other, I missed netting the fish once or twice, just a massive cluster. I did get them in the boat once they wore down though and decided I didn’t have to do that again that day.
The hot and heavy redfish action continued as they continued to cruise the shoreline with backs out of the water. That is exciting in itself, throw in getting to watch them eat a popper fly and you’ve got some Ebert & Roeper approved action. Gotta love redfish!
As you can imagine it was hard to call it a day I was having so much fun. It is gonna be really hard to top a day like that, but that certainly won’t stop me from trying. Big thanks to Steve for letting me tag along and teaching me a good bit about trout fishing. Hopefully I’ll be able to better spot productive water and establish reliable patterns to catching more fish. I’ve still got a long way to go to become a good trout fisherman, but I think it is safe to say he helped shorten the learning curve.
Got out again in the Kilroy this past weekend and with favorable conditions on the coast I made the long drive south to fish for reds. I hit an area that is new to me, but was recommended by a friend at Paddlepalooza. Another benefit to an already long list of reasons to attend a BCKFC tournament and stay through the weigh-in is just talking to and learning from your peers. There is a lot that is lost in translation if all your research and knowledge-base comes solely from the internet.
I arrived at sunrise and worked a topwater early, but to no avail. I was hoping to stumble upon a few trout, but that wouldn’t be the case as the day progressed. Working Gulp under a cork began producing small redfish. They were tagged and released and hopefully in the future Tag Louisiana will give me an update on these fish.
Conditions were pretty good throughout the day. As you can see, winds were calm and it was very overcast – seemingly perfect conditions to walk the dog, but I didn’t have any luck. It didn’t much matter as the water clarity was pretty good in the grassy areas and I was able to sight fish reds with either the fly rod or on spinning tackle using a good ‘ol tight lined Matrix shad.
The reds went from 13″ up to 23″, so no big upper slot reds or junior bulls were had, but it was a lot of fun just catching consistent fish throughout the day. Most of the fish I caught came on the fringes of the grass or around cuts and points, I didn’t mess around with any of the thick grass. A few of the fish I caught were pulled from schools, which are always fun to see and hear. You’ll just be minding your own business when all of the sudden around a point comes a wave of red terror, with bait popping out of the water in front of it, looking for any escape. It doesn’t matter what you throw in front of the red mass, it just matters that you throw something. It was a lot of fun trying to pull of the double by throwing the fly rod first, getting a hook set, then picking up the paddle tail and pitching it in the area. I wasn’t able to connect this time around, but it is always a hoot to have the opportunity.