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The next two days were spent fishing and filming in Grand Isle.  Along with Brooks and Jameson from JK Media House I also had the pleasure of getting back on the water with Josh Tidwell, who runs a kayak outfitter near Gadsden called Big Wills Outfitters.  Josh is a good dude, I’ve known him for a long time; well since that one year I lived in Alabama post-college.  He’s the man to see if you want a Jackson Kayak in Northeast Alabama.  After seeing bull reds caught the last two days, my hopes were high that we’d be able to net a few more, only this time on camera.

We were fishing out of the new Cuda HDs, which is the reason Brooks and Jameson were down in Louisiana, to get some good footage of the new boats.  We started the day off throwing topwater at points and around rock piles getting blow ups from small trout.  Hook ups were infrequent though and we moved on toward the marsh.  I knew these guys came down to catch redfish, not load up on small trout, but it’s hard to pass up likely trout spots, you never where that 24″+ gator trout is laid up.  After coming around a big point and through a big bay I got to a bayou that runs through some marsh and saw a familiar site of shrimp popping along the grass where a red was attacking bait.  After a decent cast it was fish on!

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It was a nice mid-slot red, Jameson was there to film a little of it, I was happy to get on the board and even more excited that they were feeding.  I started making my way further up the bayou and then Jameson gets a call that Brooks has a fish on and it’s a big one – right off that big point I just passed.  I worked the area before moving through, but just like James the day before, I passed the area a little too early and missed a shot at a big fish.  Got to be in the right place at the right time.

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It was awesome to hear that a bull red was caught and Jameson was able to paddle back and take some pics. While they were busy over there, I had stumbled into a pile of little trout in the bayou and was picking through the throwbacks.  Mixed in were a few rat reds as well.  It was a nice little flurry of activity, but eventually the action tapered off.  Soon the rest of the gang caught back up to me and we fished the interior marsh off that bayou until it was getting late.   We headed back as the sun was setting, stopping to fish those trout spots, ya know, just in case.

img_0303(Brooks Beatty – JK Media House)

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After a late night, with some uncoordinated Onewheel action, we bid farewell the next day to Josh and the rest of the Alabama crew, but welcomed Bart Swab from St. Augustine, Florida.  Bart operates a kayak charter business over there called Action Kayak Adventures, they do fishing trips and eco-tours.  Bart was pretty stoked to be down in redfish country and was looking forward to catching a few on the fly.  This would be the best weather day of the trip so I thought he’d have a great opportunity of doing just that.  I was able to stick around for the morning and fish, but I’d be leaving early in the day to head back to Baton Rouge.  This was my last opportunity at bull red glory.

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We headed back to the same spot and the weather today let us fish a new pond that was getting hammered by wind the day before.  As soon as we hit that pond I saw a big, bright, orange pumpkin float to the surface, but after reaching for a rod he submarined and I was left fan casting the area just hoping he’d see my bait.  I came up empty there, but it didn’t take long for Bart to find a little school of reds and as he hooked up he hollered over to me to come catch another one and this time my cast was true and we were doubled up!

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It was very cool to get that double, which was the start to a pretty good week for Bart, as he’d move with the guys the next day from Grand Isle to Point-aux-Chenes where the weather and fish continued to cooperate from what I understand.  I pushed on sight fishing the big pond and eventually did see another good bull red.  This time I was able to make a good cast, then another good cast, and finally a third good cast, the fish just didn’t eat.  I couldn’t believe that I finally had a great opportunity to catch a bull and the damn fish didn’t want to eat!  Jameson on the other hand had hung around that area I saw that first bull red and saw the fish again, this time he was able to get it to eat and for the fifth time in four days someone I was fishing with had landed a bull red.

img_0304(Brooks Beatty – JK Media House)

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Five bull reds, four different fishing partners – I was turning into quite the guide.  It was getting to be that time when I was needing to head out, so I bid everyone adieu and before I hit the big open water, I made one last stop to a flat to see if anyone was home.  Lucky for me a few fish were home and a junior bull was my consolation prize.  Of course it came when the professional cameras weren’t around, but I was happy to at least catch one over-slot fish in Grand Isle.

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The Cuda HD is another winner from Jackson Kayak.  The hull is fantastic, it’s a very stable boat that tracks well and is fairly quick.  It’s not Kraken fast, but that’s not what the Cuda HD is designed to do.  This is an inshore boat and it’s going to be a great one.  The redesigned front hatch is very nice and simple to use and there is no shortage of built-in rod storage options.  It’s a tad on the heavy side for a 13′ boat at 85 lbs, so cartopping just means you’ll have to lift one end at a time.

The past four days were a blast!  Fishing was very productive for the Alabama crew and it was just starting to heat up for the Jackson guys.  I had a great time fishing with so many different people, but maybe had more fun just hanging out with everyone at night, just shooting the shit under the camp.  It’s trips and tournaments like this that make kayak fishing so special.

 

Back in October the ARF crew made their annual pilgrimage to Grand Isle.  Of course the weather was terrible and fishing was tough, which is pretty much why I never got around to posting about it.  I only managed to make it down Saturday into Sunday morning.  The wind blew and the tide was high but clarity was good and the trout were out there to be caught. I stopped in Leeville on the way in and caught about a half dozen before I decided I had had enough of the wind.

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No reds for me which feels weird, but that’s how the weekend went – at least for me. This was my first opportunity to give the new Kraken 13.5 a go and it is very nice. One trip is hardly enough for an adequate review, but I liked what I saw in it on Saturday. Can’t wait to use it in good conditions. If there is any question of it’s stability – I was standing in the marsh fishing with 20+ mph wind gusts and it was no problem. Way more stable than I thought it would be, and I’m thrilled about that.

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That night under the lights, while most were asleep, I could have caught a million undersized white trout and specks with the fly rod off the dock if I wanted, but then it started raining – and it didn’t stop until Monday.  Big thanks to the guys from ARF and their perennial drought relief services.

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Head to the ARF website to read the rest of the reports: Bayou Bash 2015 ‘Embrace the Blow’

I have not had much time to sit down and write lately as I have been busy – busy with work, busy with family, busy with life in general.  That being said this blog has been nominated again this year in the YakAngler 2014 Kayak Angler Choice Awards.  I’m honored to receive a nomination because it shows that there are kayak anglers out there that appreciate and are entertained by this blog and for that I am very thankful.  I hope I can keep things fresh and promise I will eventually find time to write (and fish) again.  If you’d like to extend a vote my way I would be happy to accept it: YakAngler 2014 Kayak Angler Choice Awards

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If you don’t know whom else to vote for in each category I will offer some suggestions:

Angler of the Year – Hands down Steve Lessard.  I can’t think of a more deserving kayak angler out there than my friend Steve.  The man consistently whoops our behinds in BCKFC and IFA tournaments and he was up to the task on foreign soil in the Hobie Worlds.  He is an exceptional angler and a great guy – he is my AOY.

Kayak of the Year – I’m a Jackson guy so I may be a little biased  but I’m torn here between the Kraken and the Big Rig.  Each of these boats is a game changer in their own way.  I got to paddle a Kraken at the Dealer Summit and can tell you that this is one slick ride.  They don’t mention it much but guys like me can stand and fish from the Kraken and still have the fastest boat on the water.

Paddle of the Year –  The Manta Ray carbon and the Surge carbon from Aqua Bound have been my two favorite paddles I’ve ever owned.  Surprisingly the Surge carbon wasn’t on the nomination list, so the nod here goes to the Manta Ray. Compare it’s weight and blade size with other paddles that have been nominated – you won’t find another high angle paddle under 30oz.

Forum of the YearBayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club is my local club.  It’s a great group, no surprise they were nominated.

Outfitter of the Year – Another local favorite here – Pack & Paddle.  Why do I love Pack & Paddle?  Let me count the ways – huge kayak rigging section, local tackle and flies, a knowledgeable staff that fishes, great seminars and demo days, Beer & Gear, and one of the best kayak displays I’ve ever seen.

Location of the Year – Grand Isle, easy.  The site of the biggest kayak fishing tournament in the World in Ride the Bull.  This place is kayak fishing mecca and I have some converts from freshwater Alabama that may agree.

Video of the Year – Business as Usual by Team HookedonYak.  I love this video because its fun, original, it comes from regular guys like you and me, not some video professionals who want to blow you away with drones and forced fishing drama.  These are some South Louisiana boys going to work on some reds showcasing the incredible fishing we have to offer.  If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch below.

Got around to editing some footage from a trip in July. While working down in Grand Isle I got an evening to get out and stalk some reds. It was windy that day, the tide was high, and clouds were intermittent – basically conditions were working against me when it comes to sightfishing. However, I managed to one flat that was full of individual mangrove plants and had a few small reds too. This flat probably only floods on a high tide so I was in luck that it actually had water on it. The reds were a bit spooky because the water on the flat was shallow and clear and there really wasn’t much sneaking around I could do. After a bunch of refusals I finally had some success and now have a spot in the back of my mind for when the tide is super high.

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The second leg of the IFA Kayak Tour Louisiana division was held yesterday out of Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle. 52 anglers signed up to compete in the event and despite weather conditions being horrible, most showed up to fish the tournament. Most brought their A-game as well because a lot of nice fish were weighed in yesterday, it was by far the most competitive IFA event that I have fished. The weather was horrible due to a low pressure system in the northern Gulf, it wasn’t organized enough to be a tropical cyclone, but it produced enough wind and rain to make it feel like it. I made it down to the island Saturday afternoon and was planning to do a little pre-fishing when I got down there, but decided against it due to the weather, ended up just hanging out with some friends until the captain’s meeting.

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I had two gameplans to choose from for Sunday, one being tried and true and the other being new to me. Since I didn’t get a chance to pre-fish the new area I opted to fish a spot I’ve done well at in the past. With a low pressure system in the Gulf the high tide was somewhat magnified. The water at the boat launch was spilling into the parking lot when I went to launch the kayak in the morning. I actually got off to a nice start in the morning with the World’s smallest slam.

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The action on dink trout and reds was fast and furious where you found moving water in the marsh. It was nice to be catching fish as the rain was non-stop throughout the entire day and I don’t want to think about how miserable I would have been if the bite was slow. Thankfully it was usually just a drizzle, but a few times it would open up and really come down. Interestingly enough I caught two fish when it was raining hardest, the flounder and my big red on the day. I was waiting out the heavy stuff, tucked against the marsh grass, I just tossed my popper in a cut to do something instead of just sitting there Eventually it went under and attached was a 12″ flounder. I saw the big red cruising the shoreline of a pond I was in and as I made a cast to him the skies opened. I was laughing as I fought him in the rain – I didn’t think I’d be able to do any sightfishing on a day like yesterday. 

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I had a 13.5″ trout and a 27″ red by 9:30am and because of the weather I seriously considered just packing up. I kept at it though heading to areas where I thought bull reds might be hanging out. The weather seemed to improve as the day went on, unfortunately though the fishing (for me at least) did not. I was never able to upgrade either fish, so I ended with a 40.5″ aggregate. My consolation for staying on the water was one more slot red. He gave himself away as he was crushing crabs against the bank.

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I wasn’t sure where my agg would hold up against the rest of the guys, but I figured with the weather we had anything was possible. As it turned out a lot of folks had great days, here are the results:

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I ended up 17th, not bad, not great either, but I’m happy with it, it was about where I expected 40.5″ to be. I was pretty excited to see my buddy Brendan take first, no one works harder on a tournament day than he does, nice to see him at the top again. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy seeing my name above his whenever possible.

One thing I’ve noticed fishing these tournaments is that you have three levels of angler that enter. 1 – You get your new guys and guys that aren’t there for the competition – they are there to learn and have a good time.  2 – You get the guys who are pretty good anglers and are getting better. 3 – Then you have the next level guys, guys with a do-what-it-takes-to-win mentality – these guys take risks, paddle far when they need to, and are motivated to win. I like to think I fall in category 2, but trust me I’m a category 1 guy at heart. It was obvious this weekend that I don’t fall into category 3. Mad props to the guys that pushed themselves in that weather to get after the big fish.

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From left to right: Casey Brunning(big trout), Brendan Bayard(1st and big red), Steve Lessard(2nd), and Scott Harper(3rd)