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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.

 

Got out in the kayak this past weekend with Blake.  In the days leading up to the trip the forecast just kept getting better and better, which led to a somewhat inflated level of confidence for someone who hasn’t been out in the kayak since before Thanksgiving.  The weather was spectacular, but the fishing was pretty tough.  We weren’t fishing the Minimalist Challenge, but I’ve heard similar things from the competitors.  I have to attribute that to the cold front that moved through just a couple days prior because those fish were not on the flats in the morning like they should have been.  Even when we saw fish early on they were extremely spooky.  Eventually things warmed up and I was able to land a few fish on the fly, including a nearly 20″, 5 lb sheepshead and  a 32″ junior bull red.  Tough day, but a good trip nonetheless.

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The boys from Alabama made their annual trip to Grand Isle the weekend before Thanksgiving and I was able to join them for a couple of days of fishing and fraternizing.  The forecast looked bleak before I made the drive down and I was fighting a bit of sinusitis, but I knew that they would be having a good time no matter the weather and I hadn’t gotten a chance to see them last year so I was in no matter what.  Luckily for us the forecasters were wrong that weekend and we had two days of decent fishing weather before the bottom fell out.

Day 1 had three of us, James, Matt and myself, fishing together in a spot I picked because it would be somewhat wind protected and it had been a fishy spot in the past.  Plus a good biscuit spot was on the way down – always good to know the good biscuit places to meet at.  Conditions were great considering the forecast, the only real negative was the wind.  Winds were constant, but they certainly were not the 15+ mph that was predicted.  Water clarity was good, the sun was shining and the tide was out and coming in slowly – sightfishing wouldn’t be a problem on day 1.  The other positive was cooperative, aggressive redfish.

It took me a while to get set up as I was fishing out of a new boat (more on that later) for the first time and by the time I met the other two, James was on his way to a limit of redfish on the fly rod.  James had stumbled on a spot that I’ve had success at in the past on trout, only today it was stacked with reds.  It is an area where a few different bodies of water run together and make a little deep spot with oyster bars on the shallow ledges.  James was bumping his fly on the bottom and wearing out the reds with a fiberglass fly rod.  I parked a short ways away and found a spot of my own and figured out a similar pattern with a Matrix shad on a 1/8 oz jig.  We were basically nymphing for redfish, letting the current take our baits through the hole as we fished by feel along the bottom.  In no time we pulled our two man limit of slot reds between 16-22″ with one upper slot kicker that was around 25-26″.  Matt pulled up during the slaughter and announced he had his first redfish on the fly and it was a stud too at 25.5″ – would have made a great tournament fish.  I was thrilled that we had such early success at the spot I picked for us to fish, given the conditions and the fact that I hadn’t fished saltwater since June’s Trout Challenge tournament.

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After my limit I began tagging reds and after tagging another limit I decided it was time to move on.  We made our way further into the marsh and found that pretty much anywhere you had big mounds of oysters there were redfish hanging around.  Think of redfish and oysters like peanut butter and jelly or spaghetti and meatballs or lamb and tuna fish.  I caught a few more reds before lunch including the biggest I would land on the day at 29″.  He was pretty fun to catch as he broke the hook off my jighead on hookset, I had time to reach behind and throw my popping cork rig to him, but instead of him eating the Vudu shrimp he inhaled the cork.  I gave him some slack and let him try to swallow the cork then as he spit it out I set the hook.  Somehow the plan worked and I was able to hook the outside of his jaw with the Vudu – it was a wild sequence of events!

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After lunch I did more paddling than fish catching but did end up catching a few more reds.  I have to say it was probably my best day fishing for redfish this year.  I haven’t dedicated a whole lot of time to saltwater this year so it was awesome to have a great day.  When we were tired of the relentless wind we headed back to the camp to clean some fish and tell stories with the other guys.  My one request was that someone bring some beer I haven’t had and Rhodes came through:

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Day 2’s forecast was worse than day 1 so we weren’t very optimistic about our chances, however things change when you wake up to dead calm conditions.  I imagined things would get worse as the day progressed but at least it was good now.  James and I set out for a different spot, no matter how good the day before was I just don’t have it in me to fish the same spot two days in a row if I have a say so, must be the explorer in me.  We set out for spot 2, but upon parking we realized that it wasn’t in the cards.  A private landowner moved us along, which was a first for me, but I’ve heard it is happening a lot more down here.  It is unfortunate that all natural tidal water is not available to the public, but I have no argument against the rights of landowners so move along we did.  We went further up the road to a spot I haven’t fished in a while, but have had a lot of success at in the past.  Conditions were different than yesterday.  The skies were overcast, there wasn’t a whole lot of wind, water clarity wasn’t as good here and we would find that the redfish just weren’t as opportunistic as the day before.

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It took all day for us to catch a limit, but we each got one.  The average redfish size was better too, with several upper slot reds being caught.  In fact I had a slot red that went 7.9 lbs. – talk about a tournament fish!  The sight fishing was a lot tougher, but when I did see a redfish it was because his back was out of the water, which is a lot of fun when it is like that.  It felt a little more like hunting on day 2 and what a relief to end up getting into some fish after the slow start.  It wasn’t that I didn’t see them early on, it is just that I botched all my opportunities with missed hooksets and awful casts.

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We ate well that night with Cole’s legendary deer balls and boudin from Ronnie’s in Baton Rouge.  I had some Truck Stop in a can courtesy of Tidwell and Mark.  It’s always a good time when the Alabama boys come down and this might be the first year that there wasn’t a skunk for anyone that made the trip.  The redfishing was pretty darn good given the weather forecast, but specks were non-existent, I think there was one caught in the whole group and it was undersized.  I hope that is just an enigma and not a pattern, either way I don’t think anyone left disappointed.  Can’t wait to do it again next year!