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Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Blake and I set out Sunday morning in search of bull redfish. Conditions were very favorable as well, with temperatures somewhat mild for winter and partly cloudy skies, tide and winds low, and water clarity very good. If we could even have a taste of how this same day went down last year for me it would be a very good day.

We fished an area of marsh I’ve been dying to check out for some time now. I initially wanted to hit it for the IFA championship, but weather kept me close to the car that weekend. This would be new territory for both of us and I hoped this exploratory trip would pay off. As I said earlier conditions on Sunday were very good, the only thing that would have been better is if water temps weren’t so cold. We were fishing in between polar vortexes so beggars can’t be choosers.

After a short paddle we made to an oyster lined bayou and began to sight fish. Clouds were thick early on so it was pretty slow going. We spooked a few reds and Blake even had an eat, but he threw the hook during the fight. The size of the fish we were seeing was very promising though, these were above slot reds, junior bulls.

We made our way to another oyster lined bayou and soon saw what every redfisherman loves to see, a tail out of the water. Blake made a good cast, but the fish spooked and took off, just like all the others before him. As my drift carried me past the commotion I realized that I was about to run over a pair of reds suspended over oysters. I stuck my paddle down in the mud to stop my kayak and picked up the fly rod, hoping they wouldn’t run off on the little flip cast. Sure enough one took off, but the other inhaled the fly and the skunk was off. At 31″, it wasn’t a bad start to the day.

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I tagged this red, took a CPR tourney picture and set him back on his way. After a bit of re-organizing/re-situating I took off in pursuit of Blake, sightfishing along the way. Blake was some distance ahead of me and called to tell me the bayou became narrow and featureless and that he was turning around. I decided to wait for him at a wide bend and investigate the area a little further. Sure enough, hanging behind some oysters and tucked up under some mangrove was a nice redfish. I laid out a good cast that managed to lure him out of hiding. He followed the bait and ate it on the swim. A nice upgrade from the earlier redfish at 33.5″.

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I tagged this fish as well, took the terrible CPR picture you see above and set him on his way. Things were going pretty good, we had seen a fair amount of fish and I just boated two in a short period of time, but as was the case for the past two weekends, things just sorta stopped. The tide came in and the number of fish sighted dropped off sharply. We still had good clarity and now we had water over the exposed oysters, but that didn’t translate into success.

We were hoping for an aggressive redfish bite, but it never happened. I thought they might warm up when the sun was at its peak and things were warmest, but they remained laid up, usually around oysters, tucked out of the current – almost like trout in a river. Fishing the winter of 2014, the coldest I can recall for South Louisiana, continues to perplex and leaves me wanting for the warmer days of Spring.

Two redfish is still better than no redfish and I was very happy to have boated a couple of junior bulls on the fly. Plus it really was an incredible day to be outside, the weather was gorgeous. And knowing that another cold front is about to sweep across the state I’m glad I was able to get out. We had icy conditions two days last week and right now we are forecast to potentially have 6″ of snow – unbelievable.

BCKFCs annual Minimalist Challenge tournament was held this past Saturday down at Coco Marina in Cocodrie, LA. The Minimalist Challenge represents the clubs first tournament of the year and is the first in a five part tournament series to determine the clubs “Angler of the Year”. The tournament boasts an interesting format – all competitors are given the same five baits and must use only what is given to them. You lose those five lures and your fishing is done for the day Bringing additional tackle is also an automatic disqualifier from the tournament. Species eligible to be weighed in are speckled trout, redfish and flounder. Only state slot and bag limits apply so competitors could possibly bring in as many as 45 legal fish as the goal was total bag weight. On top of that all competitors launch from the same place at the same time so everyone has access to the same water. This format makes Minimalist Challenge as fair an event as is possible, perhaps even more so this year as this is the first time BCKFC has had a tournament out of Cocodrie. Baits for the tournament were provided by Texas Tackle Factory and jigheads provided by Superior Tackle.

The baits:

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Photo: Sherman Walker

I was happy to have gotten the chance to do a little scouting last weekend, a little disappointed with the results, but at least I wasn’t completely blind going into Saturday. Opting to drive down Saturday morning, Blake and I left “super early” to make sure we made it in time to receive our lures prior to the 5:30am shotgun launch. “Super early” now is a lot different than “super early” when I was in college and this should be read “extremely crazy early” by all those still in school. In fact most of y’all would probably just be getting home from the bar by the time we left. Why we have a 5:30am launch for a January tournament is beyond me as it was very cold start to the morning. At least though it was still, which is a huge improvement over typical tournament weather which includes rain, wind and less than stellar water conditions. We did have those less than stellar water conditions however as the tide had been blown completely out as the result of a week long cold front prior to Saturday. Although our winds were somewhat out of the south throughout the day, water levels around Cocodrie remained miserably low and visibility was poor in most areas. It was going to be a struggle to say the least.

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According to my GPS track from Saturday Blake and I covered a distance of around 8.2 miles on with a majority of that time spent looking for fish or good looking water. We found activity in one section of shoreline, stretching maybe 1/3 of a mile and that is where I missed one strike and landed my first and only redfish. A 26″ fish that weighed in around 6 lbs. These fish were found because I spooked a school of small reds(not hard to do on a day like Saturday) and decided to sight fish the area while I knew redfish were there. The first fish I hooked spit the hook as slack developed in the line as I went for my stakeout pole. I thought I had a solid enough hookset, but short shank hooks and fat bodied jigs are a bad combination. The fish that I actually landed gave me a bit more of a heads up to his presence and I could see him pushing a wake some distance away, one well placed cast and a short fight later and he was in the boat. I made sure he hit the fish bag and didn’t even stop for a photo op.

As I continued down the shoreline I had no idea that I was leaving the only action I’d find all day and a better strategy would have been to let that school settle and then try to pick them apart. Usually when I fish the marsh more redfish are just around the corner and if I miss one it’s no big deal, but Saturday was different. For some reason that was the only spot we found them at and my catching of one fish was something around 70 other people couldn’t even muster, including Blake. With only 13 people weighing in fish, I came in 11th. And I thought last weekend was tough.

The results

1st Place – Denis Soigner
2nd Place – Charlie Daigle
3rd Place – Doug Menefee
4th Place – Chris Cox
5th Place – Randy Robichaux
Big Fish – Clayton Shilling
Leopard Red – George Hoban Jr.

Congrats to anyone who caught a fish on Saturday, especially if you caught more than one. It was really tough out there and I know that everyone in the top 10 worked their tails off for those fish. I believe only two trout were caught this past Saturday which is a complete 180 from the way this tournament has gone years past – typically the guys who brought in a lot of trout took home top honors whereas this year a limit of reds put you in the mix. I look forward to the rest of the series and hope that this 11th place finish ends up being my worst.