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BCKFC held a tournament this past weekend and that can only mean one thing, well two things really, conditions were brutal and good times were had by all.  These things still hold true in the seven or eight years I’ve been fishing their events.  If you are a kayak fisher and you’ve yet to make a Paddlepalooza or a Fall N Tide, you are truly doing yourself a disservice.  Yeah the weather is bound to be crappy, but the food, the friends, the fishing, and the overall atmosphere is rivaled by no other kayak tournament, at least that I’ve been to.

Fall N Tide was Saturday down at Cypress Cove Marina and I fished the lower Plaquemines area on both Friday and Saturday.  I did my best in the constant 20+ mph winds and sketchy low water conditions and managed a 4th place finish in the leopard red division.  Not my best, but no complaints here after a tough Saturday on the water.  Although conditions on both days were very similar, I could not replicate the success I had on Friday, and I heard that same story from many kayak anglers at the weigh-in on Saturday.

Friday was a scouting day for me, but when I say scouting I mean fishing, as scouting isn’t that much different than a regular day on the water for me.  What made it a scouting trip was I got to fish a new area I hadn’t before and despite the poor conditions I really hammered the redfish in the morning, with pretty much all of them caught sightfishing.

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I arrived at my roadside launch shortly after sunrise on Friday and was greeted with a stiff wind, bright blue skies, and low water.  Water clarity, as I’d come to find out, was good near the launch, but not so much as I began to venture further away.  I picked a spot to explore where I could be protected from the relentless Northeast wind that was predicted for both Friday and Saturday – which ended up being a good call as I was able to do a lot of fishing without being blown all over the place.  I started fishing as soon as I launched and was into redfish in a matter of minutes.

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The marsh was full of small shrimp and minnows and redfish and gar were blowing up schools of bait along the thick stands of cane.  It was a beautiful sight to see and I was happy to toss a Matrix shad into the mix and wait my turn.  Unfortunately due to the forecast I left the fly rods at home, figuring the wind would have me frustrated, and brought only tournament tackle.  The shore grass at this spot however was tall enough to provide plenty of wind protection and I was kicking my self for not at least having one fly rod to have fun with.  I’m only kicking myself in retrospect, it was still a blast, no matter the tackle.

In an attempt to avoid any pre-fishing juju I didn’t keep a single fish and used whatever available tags I had on me at the time.  Afterwards I thought about it and wondered what would be said if I did end up weighing in a fish on Saturday that I had tagged on Friday, it would probably raise some eyebrows but also amuse at the same time.  This scenario didn’t play out, but I certainly would have loved to have the 9 spot red I tagged on Friday pay me another visit on Saturday.

Besides the 9 spot red I managed to catch a red on the other end of the spotted-spectrum.  It was spotless.  It’s rare, but it does happen, and I’ve caught them before.  Redfish look naked without their spots.

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As the morning progressed the reds quit blowing up the bait, but that didn’t stop them from giving themselves away in other ways.  I started to see backs and tails as they crawled along the shallow flats, no doubt looking for crabs, which were also in abundance (bait was everywhere!).

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Although the redfishing was outstanding, they weren’t necessarily great tourney reds, they were low to mid slot fish, great to eat, but not much to weigh-in.  The biggest I caught on Friday went 25.5″, which is not necessarily a keeper red at Fall N Tide.  It would be a good red to have though in the slam division, but probably wouldn’t sniff the big red division so I had to make decision whether or not to fish the same spot on Saturday.  Not catching a single trout or flounder wasn’t making that spot promising either.  I picked up after lunch and headed up the road to hit an old standby and see what was happening up there.  As it turned out, not much was happening up there.  Water clarity was better, but fishing was not.  I caught a few more reds, none bigger than what I had already caught.

With no trout and no flounder at the two spots I hit on Friday I decided to head to a different spot on Saturday a little further up the road.  I’d love to tell you I had an outstanding day and things couldn’t have been better, but it downright sucked.  I launched just before sunrise and made my way to a marsh drain as the sun was peeking above the horizon.  There I hooked a fish under a popping cork and promptly broke him off cork and all.  Typically when this happens the cork comes up and you just chase after the bobbing cork to try and land the fish – a hilarious and entertaining situation when viewed from an outsider’s perspective.  It is a bit maddening when it happens to you on a tournament day, especially when the cork never surfaces.  IT NEVER SURFACED!  What did I catch, the Lochness Monster?

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The rest of the day at this spot was ho-hum, not a single bite.  I take that back, I caught the smallest rat red ever in the middle of a bay looking for trout.  I picked up at lunch time with nothing to show for my troubles and was left with another decision to make, pick up and head somewhere else where I may have a chance to catch a slam or hit the tried-and-true redfish spot I found on Friday.  I conceded the slam and headed to catch some reds.

I got to the spot and talked to a couple guys who were picking up, one had a small slot red and a trout(!) and had caught a couple bull reds as well.  He did say the water had dropped significantly though and things were getting worse.  I launched anyway and headed to the ponds that produced for me the day before – I really just wanted to catch some fish.

The water had dropped and places that I had no problems navigating the day before were big mud flats on Saturday.  There also weren’t redfish blowing up schools of bait like there was on Friday.  The gar were still there, some even doing their best redfish impersonations, teasing me, but eventually I did luck into a 21″ red.

I hit the rest of the spots that worked for me on Friday without success.  I then decided to go check out some interesting looking water (on an aerial) that was across a shallow bay.  I almost couldn’t get there and probably wouldn’t have in a pedal drive yak, but I made it and sure enough as soon as I arrived I saw a crawler.  I somehow kept my cool, waited for my chance to make a good cast to him (he was in a bunch of cane) and connected with him once I got my shot.  He went 23.5″ and had a more spots than two, I didn’t make an effort to count them at the time, I just wanted to get him in the bag.  Anything was better than what I had at this point.  Not long after I connected again on a 22″ red and suddenly I was on some redfish, only problem was that this spot had run out of fishable water and I had to head back across the bay.

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I slowed everything down and began trying my luck for flounder, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  I was tired, hungry, and ready to get off the water.  So I packed it in, called it a day, and headed back to the cabin to take a shower.

The first thing I noticed at the weigh-in was that the line to weigh fish was not very long.  Out of a total of 138 paid anglers, I believe less than half turned in fish.  In fact only three folks turned in complete slams and in our rules three fish slams of any weight will always trump a two fish slam.  My redfish went 5.51 lbs and had a total of six spots – good enough to net me a 4th place finish in the leopard red category.  After a long day of fishing and only bringing four fish to hand, it was nice to take home a plaque and a gift card.

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One cool story from Fall N Tide was that the overall winner was Vlad’s brother from Romania.  He was in town visiting family and Vlad told him “fish the bank for reds, the bay for trout, and the bottom for flounder” and wouldn’t you know it worked.  It just goes to show that everyone has a shot to win a tournament, you just got to get out there and give it your all.

I posted the final results below.  The one category that was really impressive to me was the Big Redfish category.  An 8.93 and an 8.77 lb slot redfish is no joke – those things are hammers that would compete in redfish series tournaments.  Congrats to Rick and Eric for finding those stud reds.  Really, congrats to everyone that made it to the leaderboard, it was a tough day on the water and every placing was well earned and deserved.  Looking forward to Paddlepalooza in April of 2016!

Final Results:

Cajun Slam 
1 Fernando Mihalieseu 10.23 – 3 fish slam
2 Chris Weaver 8.51 – 3 fish slam
3 Rick Jarreau 5.23 – 3 fish slam
4 Steve Neece 9.94
5 Eugene Cortez 8.33
6 Kirk Hess 8.05
7 Lee Wolfe 7.9
8 Brendan Bayard 7.68

Big Redfish
1 Rick Dembrun 8.93
2 Eric Stacey 8.77
3 Craig Brown 7.81
4 Elliot Stevens 7.23
5 Vlad Moldovemu 6.89

Mule Trout
1 Eric Muhoberac 2.49
2 Marty Mood 1.51
3 Jason Powers 1.44
4 Cristine Phillips 1.44
5 Tommy Eubanks 1.43

Saddle Flounder
1 Brian Carson 2.32
2 Chris Cox 1.99
3 Luke Beslin 1.86
4 Stacey Martin 1.18
5 Jared Leroy 1.04

Leopard Red
1 Donny Elliot (9)
2 Tyler Drude (7)
3 Mark Eubanks (7)
4 Ben Roussel (6)
5 Michael Ethridge (5)

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I picked up a new boat from Massey’s the other day – the Jackson Kraken 13.5.  This is a brand new boat for 2016, a shorter version of their original Kraken, a boat designed with help from Jim Sammons that has been really popular with offshore kayak anglers since it’s debut.

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I don’t intend to use it much offshore, but I liked the design and think it will be a great fit for inshore fishing down here in Louisiana.  Jackson really didn’t have a dedicated kayak fishing boat in the 13 foot range that wasn’t a tandem, so this one piqued my interest when I heard about it’s release.

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I’m hoping a boat in this size will hit a sweet spot for me between speed, stability, and weight.  I picked up the Elite version which comes with it’s own color coordinating K-Krate.  Not sure if it will take the place of the tried-and-true milk crate, but we shall see.

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I got a chance to take it out this past weekend in less-than-spectacular conditions.  I caught some trout, the boat performed well.  I’ll hold off on a full review, but suffice it to say I am pretty excited about the new ride.

For more info on the new Kraken 13.5, check out these articles:

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.

Kraken-top-JM-modified-V7Another announcement from Jackson Kayak last week was the release of their new offshore fishing kayak – the Kraken.  This is the boat that Jim Sammons has been working with Tony Lee and the design team at Jackson Kayak to create.  After fishing in Panama with Jim for a week back in February, I know that he is pretty stoked that this boat is finally a reality.

“Our core mandate was to build a great paddling boat for fishing, instead of a fishing boat we can paddle,” said Jackson Kayak design team lead Tony Lee. “The end result reflects all our design experiences pulled together into one very awesome paddling kayak.”  This is a paddler’s fishing kayak, something speedy for the big water guys, which is right up Jim’s alley.

“Key features of this monstrously equipped ready-to-fish kayak include the following:

  • A new and improved Elite seat with fore/aft adjustable trim to compensate for large load swings;
  • All new, more comfortable foot pegs;
  • New hinged center hatch for easier hull storage access
  • 4 behind-the-seat rod holders: 2 RAM Rocket Launchers, 2 Flush Mount;
  • Neoprene sealed dual-level front hatch;
  • Bait tank pump scupper;
  • Transducer scupper for fish finders.

Rotomolded of linear plastic, the Kraken weighs 75 pounds and has a capacity of a whopping 550 pounds. MSRP is $1799; $1999 with rudder.

The Kraken will debut to sporting goods buyers at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City Aug. 4 – 9.”

For more information on the Kraken, be sure to check out these links:

Jackson Kayak release 

Kayak Fish article

Kayak Angler article