IFA Empire

Traveled down to Plaquemines Parish this past weekend for the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour event held at Delta Marina in Empire. The IFA format is catch-photo-release redfish and speckled trout. Your score is the combined length of your biggest redfish and trout. 34 people showed up to fish the event despite the less-than-stellar weather. A cold front moved into Louisiana over the weekend and Sunday’s post-frontal conditions included high winds, 20-30 mph – nemesis to any kayak fisherman. You could feel the wind shake the cabin at Delta while laying down to sleep Saturday night. Not exactly the confidence boost you want pre-tournament.

There was a chill to the air Sunday morning with the wind howling. The silver lining was the fact that I didn’t see a single bug all day, that hardly ever happens in the marsh.

At the launch

I fished for trout in the early morning anywhere I could escape the wind. I started picking up rat reds and got on board with a 16″ red. No trout though, so I pressed on, paddling straight into the wind to hit a pond that I knew I’d caught redfish in before. The tide was out so the water was low, I wasn’t sure if I could even make it into the pond, especially with the NW wind blowing the water out. I did make it in and I was greeted with a pair of redfish, backs fully exposed from the tops of their eyeballs to the spot on their tails, crawling around on the mud flat eating crabs. I flipped a jig in front of one of them and after a short fight had him in the boat, 23″. Not bad. By the time I caught him, measured, and took a picture, the other red had moved on. I kept going around the perimeter of this pond and picked up a 22″ red, then another upgrade, a 23.5″ red.

23″ red

23.5″

I learned my lesson in the first IFA tournament I fished and now try to pinch the tail for all my fish. Squeeze out every inch you can out of a fish. All the reds in that pond were sight fished, never thought I would be able to do that in 30mph winds, but when the water is low, dirty, and rolling, they have no clue you are there. I was literally hooking and catching them right next to the boat. It was a lot of fun. I left the pond, went back into the bay, to again try for the trout. I fished the rest of the day for trout, trying several different lures, but nothing was working. Water clarity all day wast not what I was hoping for, but there were some pockets of clear water where I was optimistic. I found myself in the same position I was in for Paddlepalooza, except this time it wasn’t a flounder eluding me, it was a trout. A 12″ trout would have netted me 5th place.

Results: http://www.ifakayakfishingtour.com/tournaments/2012/empire_12.html

Congrats to Steve, Clayton, Adam, Devon, and James, all fellow BCKFC members and solid anglers at that. I ended up 13th with my 23.5″ red. There were only 8 people who caught both species and only 20 people caught fish. Conditions were tough and it was reflected in the results. I looked at Weather Underground to see what the observed conditions for Grand Isle, LA were on Sunday and it showed winds at 23mph and gusts up to 39mph.

I  was not very optimistic on the drive down, conditions were going to be tough and I had not fished the area in a long time. However, even with the tough conditions, I had a great time and am happy I was there. It was actually a really pleasant day, the sun was out and the bugs were nowhere to be found. The Cuda exceeded my expectations, slicing through the wind, I never felt it was a burden to paddle, even directly upwind. The rudder was a big help in drifting shorelines, definitely worth it’s weight in gold on a day like Sunday. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to put it all together and bring home a check. I’ll just have to keep fishing these tourneys until I do. The next Louisiana IFA event is in Delacroix on June 17th.

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