Archive

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Every Memorial Day weekend we try to make our way to North Georgia to see my parents and stay with them at their cabin outside of Blue Ridge.  This has proven to be a really great time to fish the creek that their cabin sits on.  Often times our friends Blake and Erica make the trip with us.  This year’s trip would be a little different than in years past.  The BIG difference this year was that we now had small children(and their stuff) to haul with us.  Throw in a wedding to attend in Auburn on Saturday and this was no routine trip.  Luckily for us Auburn is on the way to the cabin, so we just had to shift the trip back a day.

The wedding was for Amanda’s cousin Luke and his now-wife Madeline who are students at Auburn.  The wedding was held at a little white church and was followed by a beautiful reception at a local park – all of it very nice.  We ducked out of the reception a tad early and hit the road.  Blake was able to borrow his dad’s GMC Savana which ended up being the perfect vehicle for the six of us(thanks Mr. Bubbie!).  We made it to the cabin late Saturday night.

Blake and I got up early on Sunday and headed out to the creek.  Armed with a dry-dropper rig I got into fish fairly quickly.

IMG_2190

IMG_2209

IMG_2727

IMG_2221

Three nice rainbows in a row at the first spot had me pretty excited for what the rest of the day held.  We have about a mile of creek that we are able to fish out of our back door and we typically cover half a mile in a day.  We fish that half a mile pretty hard, hitting all the likely lies.  We continued on from our first spot wading upstream and fishing those likely lies along the way.  Most of those lies were holding fish, some more others.  The rainbows continued to be the stars of the show.

IMG_2728

IMG_2736

I didn’t keep count of the number of fish I caught but the action was pretty consistent in the morning.  It was a little strange that they were all rainbows, usually we see a few browns in that stretch below the cabin.  We headed back in for lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon with our families in Blue Ridge at the Arts in the Park festival.  The festival is usually pretty good for booth shopping and people watching.  It sure has grown since we first started going, there were a lot more vendors this year.  We got back to the cabin in time to fish the evening bite on the creek.  We headed to a different spot and upon walking up you could see fish holding in the water.  I got into the action within a few drifts.

IMG_2754

We finally saw our first brown on the day and it was a good one.  There is something about a brown trout that just makes it feel a little more special than a rainbow – especially after a day full of rainbows. We were then joined by my dad and the three of us continued to nymph the runs that were holding fish. Pretty soon I was hooked into a monster.  I got a solid fight from a solid fish, but  I was prepared for it.  I was throwing a 7wt, my tippet was 2x fluoro in anticipation that we run into some big fish.  I’ve been outgunned in the past and I wanted to limit the lost fish heartbreak as much as possible.  This rainbow nearly measured the length of the net I was using which we later found out to be 27″.

IMG_1701

Shortly after releasing my fish Blake hooked into a monster of his own that looked every bit as big as mine and probably even a little heavier.  He was using a 5wt so the fight was a little more delicate, but he handled it well and had the fish close enough to touch, unfortunately he had me for a net man and I couldn’t get into position to get the fish’s head in the net so I opted to go tail first, which proved to be a big mistake.  The trout spooked and broke him off – I felt horrible.  This trout was one of the biggest fish we’ve seen hooked on the creek, definitely the biggest Blake has hooked and I screwed it up.  There is no way to make up for that except to keep fishing.  Keep fishing we did and soon Blake got a bit of redemption by hooking into another solid fish.

IMG_2769

I don’t remember if we measured this fish but it had to be just as big as the one I had previously caught.  I was really relieved that Blake landed a monster of his own after my net snafu.  The incredible fishing wasn’t over though because I soon hooked into another good fish.  This fish was so massive that the fight was actually somewhat sluggish.  Don’t get me wrong it was still a chore to bring this fish in, but there weren’t any blistering runs, the fish just tried to use his weight and position in the current to out-power me and fortunately for me it didn’t work.

IMG_1688

IMG_1689

This brown was longer than the 27″ net and is without a doubt the biggest trout I’ve ever caught.  I know it is cliche, but the pictures don’t do the fish justice.  This fish was thick, as tall as it was wide; it was massive.  They often say fish that big have shoulders, well this one truly did.  You couldn’t slap the smile off my face if you wanted to.  After a bit of non-action at the spot we ended the night with some twilight dry fly fishing back below the cabin.  Catching trout on dries at the end of a day of fishing like we just experienced was the perfect ending to an incredible day.  As was the case with last year it would be extremely hard to top our first day’s fishing at the cabin, but we really didn’t expect to.

IMG_2778

 

This short video may seem a bit basic as it teaches the proper kayak forward stroke, but the information learned here is invaluable to both paddlers and kayak fishermen.  If you want to be a better kayak fisherman, become a better paddler – this video provides a good start as the forward stroke is the one you will be using the most.  I think most guys getting into the sport are fishermen first, without a paddling background, so instead of knowing proper technique, they go out and buy a kayak, get it out on the water, and figure it out on their own.  There is nothing wrong with this, it is exactly how I got into the sport, but after awhile it becomes apparent that you aren’t paddling as effectively or efficiently as you should be.  The good news is that it really isn’t all that hard to break bad paddling habits. Try to remember what Mike points out in the video every time you are out on the water and with practice you will become a better paddler.

Remember

1. The catch is at your toes.

2. The exit is at the hip.

3. The power comes from torso rotation.

4. Your hands should pass in front of your nose during recovery.

After logging the mileage I did this past weekend I was glad that I watched this video prior to the trip. I made a few changes to my forward stroke and I felt faster in the kayak(being in a Cuda 14 rather than the 12 helps too) and the soreness that normally comes post-paddle was minimal.  If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the water in a kayak it is probably a good idea to learn how to do it right.

kayak-logo-clear

The IFA Kayak Fishing Tour held it’s first Louisiana division tournament of 2014 this past Sunday down in Empire at Delta Marina. 52 kayak anglers signed up to compete in the event and were treated with excellent weather conditions which ultimately meant a lot of nice fish had their pictures taken this past weekend.

With the event being Sunday I had a chance to pre-fish Saturday at an area I thought I could have some success at not too far from the weigh-in. I launched just after sunrise and paddled a short way over to what I hoped would be a trout spot and began plugging away with a Rapala Skitter Walk. It didn’t take long to get into fish and the first fish of the day ended up being the biggest. I was casting my topwater to a point and walking the dog back when a nice baby bull red decided to explode on it right next to the boat. At 28.75″ it would be a fine candidate for tomorrow’s tournament so she (or he – I don’t really know) was tagged in set back in the water. A few casts later around the same point resulted in another explosive take on the topwater, but this time it was a trout. It was a short and stout 17″ speck who didn’t look like she missed many meals. The day was off to a good start.

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_2689

Fishing slowed at the point and I made my way through the marsh en route to another hopeful trout spot. As I paddled I noticed that water clarity here was not the greatest, even in the marsh, you could see a paddle blade deep at most. A bummer, but it was certainly still fishable. The tide was up as well, so most of the shallow flats were flooded which meant any sightfishing that would be done on the day was going to be pretty tough.

I found an area where a lot of water was being funneled through a narrow cut in some marsh. I staked out there and begin working the area. In short time I picked up a couple 14.5″ trout clones and an 11″ dink. Satisfied with the find I moved on – this was a scouting trip after all and I now had two spots I could possibly catch trout at tomorrow.

After I caught those trout I decided to do some exploring. I put the Aqua Bound Manta Ray carbon to work and started learning more of the area, fishing here and there. I picked up a couple rat reds in the marsh and then ran into one of my favorite situations – the moving cork. I love finding a moving cork on the water because you never know what is going to be under it – usually it is a solid fish! After a few errant casts I finally made a good one and hooked the line under the cork with my jig. Reeling in the cork I was really surprised to find a 16″ redfish on the end of the line. Who loses an entire cork setup to a 16″ redfish? At least the little guy had a pretty blue tail. The spot he was in had some good oyster bottom so I worked the area a little more and came up with a bit better red at 24″.

IMG_2690

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

I picked up a couple more slot reds in the marsh on the way back to the truck. Despite the high, stained water I caught them sightfishing. They were floaters so they gave themselves away fairly easily. I ended up having a pretty good day on the water catching around a dozen different redfish and trout. My aggregate for the day was 45.75″ which would have been good enough for sixth in last year’s IFA tournament. I could live with that so I tentatively planning to head back to the same spot on Sunday. I didn’t even make it to the big fish spot that had been recommended to me by a friend.

That evening was the captain’s meeting and one of the main reasons I enjoy fishing these events – I get to hang out with my kayak fishing friends and try to decipher the lies from the truths. One thing that was pretty consistent for everyone was that the water clarity was crap all over Louisiana and there weren’t a lot of big fish being caught. These two things helped cement my decision to head back to the same spot on Sunday. I was on decent fish so why not?

IMG_2692

Sunday morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise. I launched and made my way over to the point I had success at the day before. Water clarity today was better than the day before, so I was very optimistic. Doing everything I did the day prior though failed to yield the same results. I didn’t leave the spot empty handed however as a 16.5″ topwater red was all I could muster. Not a good sign but not time to panic. I made my way through the marsh toward the backup trout spot. On the way I ran across a flat that had a lot of activity. A pair of redfish cruised by my line of sight and soon I had an upgrade in the boat. At 23″ it still wasn’t what I was looking for in an upgrade but it would do for now. Unfortunately much like spot number one, the backup trout spot with the moving water failed to produce any fish.

IMG_2696

IMG_2698

At this point it was decision time, keep at it where I was at and hopefully pick up a trout and an upgrade at redfish or make the long paddle out to a spot that I was told would produce big trout and potential bull reds. With the weather as nice as it was it really didn’t take much time to pick the home run shot and put my Manta Ray carbon to work again. I was already almost two miles from the launch, this paddle would put me almost four miles away but it would all be worth it if I was able to get on some fish. One thing was for sure at least I didn’t have to worry about the wind.

IMG_2699.jpg

The paddle out to the spot went by faster than I thought it would be, I should have timed it but I didn’t. I guess I underestimated the speed of the Cuda 14. The IFA weekend was actually the first time I put my new Cuda 14 to work. I love this year’s urban camo – it is a really sharp looking pattern. The water clarity out here was beautiful. I worked the area hard, with every bait I had tied on. I got on a trout bite just slow rolling a jig through the area, unfortunately the size of the trout was nothing to brag about with 13.25″ being my biggest. I continued to work the area, but couldn’t come up with anything bigger. I decided to head back toward the marsh to try and upgrade my redfish. I was disappointed that all I had to show after the long paddle was a dink trout, but had I not made the paddle I probably wouldn’t have even had a trout, so it wasn’t a complete bust. Plus I got to check out a really cool spot that has lots of potential.

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_2700

I fished hard the rest of the day and came up empty. 36.25″ was what I had to turn in. I knew that wasn’t good enough for anything, but I decided to make my way to the weigh-in anyway because it is a good rule of thumb to always turn in your fish. You just never know. After an excellent club sandwich and a lot of BSing with the guys we finally got to hear the results. No surprise here, but Steve Lessard came out on top with 61″. Steve is a friend and an excellent fisherman, he is no stranger to the leaderboard of our local kayak tournaments, when he talks you listen. Richard Webb took second with 59.50″ and big red at 41.75″. Richard was out of Jackson, MS fishing in his first IFA tournament. He got a tip to fish Venice and it paid off for him. I hope we see Richard at the Lafitte event later this summer. Benton Parrott took third with 55″ and big trout at 23″. Benton has a knack for catching big trout and he did it again this past weekend. The rest of the top 20 are below:

empire_kayak_top20_2014

As you can tell I finished out of the top 20 – I ended up 24th. What is crazy is that last year 36.25″ would have been 12th and actually been in the money (67 competitors). What a difference a year makes. I remember last year’s weather being much worse, that could explain the low numbers. Or it could be that the competition is getting better, experience is catching up with folks and we are seeing better fish all around. Perhaps it is a little of both.

Congrats to everyone who finished in the top 10 and made money fishing this past weekend. The aggregate lengths were very impressive this past weekend, can’t wait to see what happens at Lafitte on August 3rd.