On Saturday I fished in the 2nd annual UP21 foundation Fishing for a Cause tournament, which was held out of Fort Beauregard Estates, down in St. Bernard Parish. The event is a fundraiser for the foundation; whose mission is to provide support, resources and education to families of individuals with Down syndrome and the community to foster an environment in which individuals with Down syndrome achieve their full potential in their community. Fishing a charity event like this is a no brainer – I get to fish and my money is donated to a great cause, t’s really a win-win for everyone involved.
Fellow Jackson teammate Cole Landry and the UP21 fishing team help to organize the event and in their second year met their goal and had just over 100 folks registered! They really put on a first class event too. After a long day on the water it was nice to be greeted with a bowl of shrimp creole and a cold beer.
I haven’t spent a whole lot of time fishing in St. Bernard Parish, opting to usually fish down La. 1, but all that may change after the day I had Saturday. On a recommendation from a friend I headed to an area I had never fished and hoped for the best. This is not a new thing for me, I love to explore when I’m out on the water, I just usually don’t do it while fishing a tournament, but I honestly didn’t have that tournament mindset when I set out to fish on Saturday, I just wanted to fish some new water and try to get on to a few fish. It was no pressure fishing and it paid off.
I got on the water just as the sun was rising, which was later than I probably should have been on the water, but I’m not much on paddling in the dark. The weather was perfect, wind wasn’t a factor and cloud cover was scant. The water clarity was excellent as well, submerged vegetation had a lot to do with that, but I think it would have been good had their been no grass either. I began my trek to a spot I thought may hold some trout and stopped to fish several good looking spots on the way.
I picked up my first fish working a She Dog alongside a cut in some rocks when a 21.5″ redfish sucked it down. I threw him in the fish bag in case I didn’t catch another red all day – it was a tournament after all. The tournament had three categories to place – biggest slot redfish, biggest trout, and leopard red. I continued on my way and while navigating my Kilroy through a bayou I made a cast into a cut that opened up into a big pond, as soon as my Matrix Shad hit the water I had a fish on, must have landed in his mouth. To my surprise it was a decent bass.
I knew it was possible to catch bass and redfish in the same spot in certain areas of St. Bernard Parish, but I still had yet to do it from a kayak, so it was a bit of a surprise to me.
After that bass I continued my paddle toward the supposed trout spot. As I got there I discovered that this spot was pretty popular with th boaters. To say it was crowded would be putting it lightly. So I made a few casts and then decided to suck off into a nearby pond.
The pond had a large mud flat at it’s entrance and it didn’t take long to spot an out of place redfish. His back was completely out of the water, after a well placed cast and a short fight he was in the boat. With 6 spots he went in the fish bag too – I’ve seen leopard red categories taken with less, so he was coming with me.
Continuing into the pond the clarity began to increase as the amount of grass increased as well. With mats of vegetation along the shoreline, I decided to work the edges of the grass with the Matrix shad and not bother to go totally weedless with my rig just yet. Not too long into the float I stuck a good fish I thought was a red. When it jumped out of the water though I was clearly wrong, it was a big marsh bass!
At 18″ and very fat, it was the biggest bass I had caught from a kayak all year. I was definitely stoked to catch this beast of a marsh bass. These things are like footballs, short and fat.
This pattern of working the edge of the mats of grass continued to produce for me throughout the day on both bass and redfish.
If I didn’t feel the redfish we’re going to make the grade for the weigh-in they got tagged and released. Bass that were big enough to get a good fillet off of were harvested.
It wasn’t all blind casting either, I was able to sight fish for both redfish and bass and had an interesting moment when trying to pick off a bass the lure got nailed by another fish, an 11″ trout! That got me thinking, there can’t be a whole lot of places where you can catch bass, redfish and trout in the same pond. To take it further on my way out of the pond I paddled over a flounder at the inlet. Gotta love St. Bernard!
I continued to sight fish reds as the bass bite slowed down. The biggest red I could muster was about 24″, I didn’t think I had much of a shot at big red so I left the pond in search of trout. I had spent nearly all my time in one big pond and had a blast doing it, but it didn’t leave me much time to catch anything else.
By now the trout spot was empty so I tried my luck and quickly picked up a 13″ trout and a couple throwbacks. It wasn’t much, but at least I had a trout in the bag and could weigh-in a fish in each category – if I could make it back in time. I pushed it to the limit because the fishing was so good and didn’t leave myself much time to pack up.
I made the long paddle back to the launch, loaded everything up in record time and arrived at the weigh-in with five minutes to spare. Looking back at the day now I covered at least eight miles, tagged and released nine fish, kept six and released many more. It was a really productive day on the water.
The weigh-in atmosphere was great, lots of folks enjoying a beautiful summer day in South Louisiana. The food and drink hit the spot for a tired angler like myself. It didn’t take long to get the final results tallyed and Cole did a great job addressing the crowd after it was all said and done.
As it turns out the fish that put me on the leaderboard was the little ‘ol 13″ trout caught late in the day, that weighed in at a massive 0.76 lbs – 3rd place trout never looked better!
I had an awesome time at UP21’s Fishing for a Cause tournament and plan to do it again next year. Summer time is a great time to fish St. Bernard parish, looking forward to getting back out there.