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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

Steve and I set out last Saturday in search of Largemouth bass with a penchant for topwater frogs. We’d heard from a friend that a certain swamp to the west of town held good numbers of them and was the perfect place to try our luck. So we ignored the urge to head to the marsh and went bass fishing in the swamp instead.

It was a beautiful day, winds were fairly light, and temps hovered in the low 90s, which also meant the mosquitos were out in force. We set out around sunrise and when we reached our destination we were greeted with some super fishy looking water, which always gets the adrenaline going. Steve didn’t waste any time getting onto the water. As always, I was a little slower.

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I’m almost ashamed to admit, especially living in Louisiana, but I can’t remember the last time I fished water like this. Despite being surrounded by them, I generally avoid still, swampy waters like this because they are tough to see through and there’s no telling what the oxygen levels are like. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see excellent water clarity, that is, under the duckweed. Of course the duckweed covered most of the surface like a bright green blanket – which is why we would be frog fishing.

Steve got on the board early on with an 18.5″ LMB on a frog and I followed up with a 24″ choupique on a texas rigged soft plastic, which proved to be the only fish I’d land on the day.

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I threw the soft plastic in places where the duckweed was more broken up, however where it was thick, the frog was our best bet, in fact it was the only bait that even elicited a strike from a LMB. Steve had better luck than I did throwing the frog and ended up landing a few, all around 18″ if I’m not mistaken. I came up short on the hook set on every fish that hit. Being new to frog fishing, I was under powered and over anxious, throwing medium tackle with light braid and setting the hook way too early. Still it was a lot of fun to watch the toilet bowl flush and feel a taught line, even if it was just for a few seconds.

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Each of us did have our exciting moments though. I hooked and fought a nice 18-20″ bass for a short while, only to lose him right next to the boat, in mid air – it had my heart racing. Steve, however, lost a true beast.

We were fishing parallel to each other, with some distance in between. I was on the opposite side of where he was working his frog when I heard a huge blow up. I looked over and all I see is a giant tail and a portion of his body breach the surface as the fish leaped from the water, Steve’s line went loose during the acrobatics. It was a very large bass, one of the biggest I’ve seen in public water, “dangs” and “dagnabbits” were definitely uttered.

Fishing the swamp really opened my eyes to the opportunities I often overlook. It was tough fishing and even though I only landed one fish it was still rewarding. Above average bass are certainly there. Next time I head that way I’ll be better equipped and hopefully my stories won’t be about the one that got away.

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