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I had to be up in Monroe for work a few days last week.  With my kayak and all my bass stuff still in the truck from the Yak-a-Bass tournament it became a work during the day, fish during the evening kind of trip.  There is a ton of good looking water in and around the Monroe area and it was all at my disposal but in the interest of getting the most time on the water I stayed local and fished the bayou that runs right through ULM’s campus, Bayou Desiard.

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I fished from a couple different launches, Tuesday had me closer to town.  Bayou Desiard is loaded with cypress trees and submerged vegetation so the water clarity is awesome and there is structure overload.  You can fish anywhere in the bayou and not feel like you’re in a bad spot.  I stuck to pounding the banks (and the trees closest to the banks) as that is what I know best.  With a texas rigged red shad worm (I’m old school) I ended up having a nice day on the water catching lots of small bass up to 13″.

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Wednesday I went a little further out of town and tried a different spot.  Almost immediately I actually saw a male bass near a bed.  I pitched my worm over there and felt some pressure, but I could see that the male hadn’t taken it.  I was hooked up on a fish I didn’t see that came through the grass, a slightly larger bass – a nice surprise.

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That bass went 15″.  An upgrade to my 13″ bass caught yesterday, not a monster by any stretch of the imagination.  That actually ended up being the only bass I caught that day.  The early sight fishing kind of ruined me as I tried to replicate that pattern throughout the day and failed.  That didn’t take away from the paddling though – Bayou Desiard is downright stunning, an amazing resource so close to town.

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Bayou Desiard is a beautiful place to paddle.  Big thanks to looknfishy for throwing a few launch suggestions my way.  I was able to exercise some bass demons and got a nice, scenic paddle in as well – can’t beat that.

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!

Now is the time of year that all the big outdoor companies are releasing their new products to look for in 2013, Jackson Kayak included. Shows like iCAST, OR, and IFTD are the epicenters of this activity and for those that won’t be in attendance all we can do is wait for the info to trickle down. Fortunately JK has put out a video to satisfy our appetites which highlights their new boats and a few are sure to interest kayak fishermen. Check it out:

If they weren’t already, the folks at JK are up to their eyeballs in kayak fishing. With a new SIK and a new SUP specifically catered to fishermen, plus the arrival of the Cuda 12, they have shown that they are taking the kayak fishing contingent serious. Flying under the radar is the Cruise, which is basically a bare bones Cuda for less, a real sleeper in my opinion. Be sure to check out the JK website for more information on all the new boats, especially this page: http://jacksonkayak.com/newin2013/

I can already tell that a Cuda 12 is in store for me. 11-13′ boats are right up my alley, especially if I can stand in them, there is no better size for river and marsh fishing, which just happens to be what I like to do.

UPDATE: Isaac Miller has done an outstanding job of previewing the 2013 kayak fishing lineup from Jackson, much better than I could have, check it out here: http://yakfish.isaac-online.com/jackson-kayaks-2013-preview/