Tag Archives: Matrix shad

Got out again in the Kilroy this past weekend and with favorable conditions on the coast I made the long drive south to fish for reds.  I hit an area that is new to me, but was recommended by a friend at Paddlepalooza.  Another benefit to an already long list of reasons to attend a BCKFC tournament and stay through the weigh-in is just talking to and learning from your peers.  There is a lot that is lost in translation if all your research and knowledge-base comes solely from the internet.

I arrived at sunrise and worked a topwater early, but to no avail.  I was hoping to stumble upon a few trout, but that wouldn’t be the case as the day progressed.  Working Gulp under a cork began producing small redfish.  They were tagged and released and hopefully in the future Tag Louisiana will give me an update on these fish.




Conditions were pretty good throughout the day.  As you can see, winds were calm and it was very overcast – seemingly perfect conditions to walk the dog, but I didn’t have any luck.  It didn’t much matter as the water clarity was pretty good in the grassy areas and I was able to sight fish reds with either the fly rod or on spinning tackle using a good ‘ol tight lined Matrix shad.




The reds went from 13″ up to 23″, so no big upper slot reds or junior bulls were had, but it was a lot of fun just catching consistent fish throughout the day.  Most of the fish I caught came on the fringes of the grass or around cuts and points, I didn’t mess around with any of the thick grass.  A few of the fish I caught were pulled from schools, which are always fun to see and hear.  You’ll just be minding your own business when all of the sudden around a point comes a wave of red terror, with bait popping out of the water in front of it, looking for any escape.  It doesn’t matter what you throw in front of the red mass, it just matters that you throw something.  It was a lot of fun trying to pull of the double by throwing the fly rod first, getting a hook set, then picking up the paddle tail and pitching it in the area.  I wasn’t able to connect this time around, but it is always a hoot to have the opportunity.

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.



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!



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:


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.



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.


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!

In years past the Trout Challenge was a tournament I didn’t attend.  Not because I didn’t want to, but typically by the time it rolled around I was out of contention for the BCKFC tournament series and it didn’t make any sense, being a redfish guy, to drive all the way out to Big Lake to fish for trout.  This year has been a little different – the series is still wide open, I’ve had a couple decent finishes in the first two events and the Trout Challenge became a “go anywhere” event, meaning the entire state was fair game – you just needed to catch five trout and bring them back to Cabela’s in Gonzales for weigh-in.  With the tournament being in June it seemed like a no brainer that my best bet would be fishing in the surf, more specifically the Grand Isle surf.  The added bonus was that Gonzales was on the way home from Grand Isle, so I really wouldn’t have to go out of the way to fish.

With all this in mind I left work on Friday at lunchtime hoping to get a little bit of scouting in.  I was so confident fish were in the surf that I hit a marsh spot that holds trout in the Spring, just to see if they were still around.  I figured they wouldn’t be, but it was worth a shot to eliminate a spot.  I was on the water around 2pm and the first thing I noticed was the water clarity was not very good, which doesn’t normally bode well for trout fishing.  It was a bit high too, but all that aside it was still fishable.  It didn’t take long to paddle to my spot and within minutes there was activity.  It wasn’t trout, but redfish, they were wreaking havoc on the bait in the pond, specifically crashing crabs on the shoreline.  The amount of bait was unbelievable, shrimp popping out the water, fiddler crabs lined the shore of the marsh and blue crab worked the fringes of the oyster beds – it was a veritable redfish smorgasbord and they couldn’t help themselves.

I picked off a couple rat reds with a Matrix shad and was blind casting around some oyster beds when I got hung up.  Of course just at that same time a better redfish crashed a shore line within casting range.  I had two other rods handy, a popping cork and a topwater.  Opting for the topwater I bombed a perfect cast to the fish and before I could even work it the topwater got sucked under.  I’ve got to admit – it felt pretty good when that cast met it’s mark and the fish obliged. It was a slot red of around 21″ and proved to be the biggest on the day.  I caught one more red then decided that I should probably move on and locate trout since it wasn’t a redfish tournament I was scouting for.

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I moved on to the surf at Elmer’s and met up with my friend Jeff.  He had just made it out there and hadn’t caught anything yet.  We tried for awhile in the kayaks, but there wasn’t much doing.  The water off the beach wasn’t the prettiest and the beach itself was covered in sargassum – something that rarely happens down there so I’m told.  The beach was smelly and full of gnats as a result.  I parked the boat and started wade fishing.  The action was inconsistent but I was able to boat a couple keeper trout and threw back a couple more undersized fish.  I wasn’t convinced this was where I needed to fish in the morning so I had to come up with a different plan.

The plan I hatched wasn’t very creative, it just involved moving further down and trying the surf out front of Grand Isle in the morning.  I was sticking to my guns – the surf in June is the place to be.  Jeff decided to tag along and we met before sunrise the next day.  Dragging the kayak a long way from the public access, over a dune, through the sargassum, and into the water I really hoped the work would pay off.  We started working the rocks in front of the beach and as the sun came up every spot you could wade and fish was occupied by a body, most of the them with live bait.  We were reduced to throwing artificials only, but that didn’t matter as no one was catching fish.  The shrimp were thick behind the rocks, the wade fishers had no idea but they were popping all over the place.  If I had a cast net I could have filled my ice chest and gone home happy – I’ve never seen shrimp so thick.  I’m not sure that the fish weren’t there or that they just had enough food already, but we didn’t have any luck. After a few hours work we picked up and went to get a biscuit at Jo-Bob’s.  We had caught a few trout at Elmer’s yesterday so we may as well head over there to try our luck.


On the way to our spot at Elmer’s we ran into another buddy, Jason, and stopped to see how he was doing.  The news was bleak, but he had at least caught a couple trout.  The water still looked pretty nasty out there, but we decided to give it a shot.  We moved on to our spot where the water was a little cleaner and started catching fish.  Only problem was the fish we were catching were pogies.  Some foul hooked in the back, others near the mouth. They were big pogies too, pompano sized pogies.  Hopeful that big trout would be under the pogies we kept at it, but the only predator that was hooked was a Jack Crevalle that straightened out the hook on Jason’s bait.  After a few hours a white trout and a ladyfish were the only action I saw that weren’t foul hooked pogies.

It was a disappointing two days in the surf around Grand Isle, but I did get to enjoy fishing in the company of a few friends.  Besides Jeff and Jason, Blake was on the island as well to work on Saturday, he joined me in the surf Friday evening.  I made it up to Cabela’s for the weigh-in, although I had nothing to weigh, I at least got to catch up with a few other friends.  This was my worst outing in a tournament in a while, but I still had a good time and that’s what I love about kayak fishing.  The results of the tournament I’ll post below, but you can expect the usual suspects at the top again.


Trout Challenge 2014 Top 5

  1. Steve Lessard
  2. Casey Brunning
  3. Brendan Bayard
  4. Denis Soignier
  5. Ty Hibbs

Big thanks to Cabela’s for hosting the weigh-in and donating prizes.  Also a big thanks to Jim Smith who let Blake and I crash at his camp on Friday night.  It was also good catching up with Jim and Bud Friday night, it had been a while since I’ve seen them, I know they did better than we did on Saturday.  I’m hopeful that my lack of success this past weekend was just a fluke and not a sign of something more serious as an article in the Advocate suggests: .  Only time will tell.