Archive

Tag Archives: Surf fishing

I made it back out to Johnson Beach a few days later and this time I decided to put some miles under my feet before I wet a line. There’s about 7 miles of beach I could cover in this section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and so far I’d only fished the bay side. On this morning I decided I’d try and cover both the bay and the surf.

I got out there a little later than I probably should have as people were already beginning to line the side of the road, but I was still early enough to catch the sunrise and greet a fellow angler of the avian variety. He was a local so I didn’t have any beef with him being there before me.

I walked a couple of miles down the beach, stopping and casting around anything that broke up the homogenous sand flat. There really wasn’t much action going on in the surf. That’s not to say there wasn’t fish there, it just wasn’t happening for me. I decided to move to the bay side and try my luck on the grass flats there.

Eventually I made my way into a bay off of Big Lagoon proper and it was there that I began catching fish. The pinfish were in abundance at this spot and I caught several of them, this was one of the bigger ones I caught. It was also here that I saw a few different redfish. I never got a good cast off to any of them, but at least I saw some Florida redfish.

I waded along the edge of the bay and into a very shallow inlet tucked away that looked fishy and figured if I was going to catch a red it would be here. I did catch a fish along the edge of the spartina, but it was small, a longnose killifish as I’d come to learn.

I was still throwing a charlie with a nymph trailer as there were a lot of smaller fish around. In the back of this inlet though was a big fish lying still on the bottom, a nice sized gar. I had no idea the species as I was in brackish water and the only gar I knew that liked brackish water in Louisiana were alligator gar. This was no alligator gar as his snout was way to narrow. With research I found out that longnose gar are common in Perdido Bay so that’s what I assume this was. I made several casts running my charlie along the length of his body and finally managed to get him to follow and then swipe at it. Surprisingly I was hooked up!

The fight wasn’t all that glamorous, he made a few strong runs, but was easy to wear down with my drag. As he got closer I could see that there was some trauma to his upper mandible as the top part of his snout was missing! That may have played into the fight and why it was so easy to make a solid hookset. I brought him to hand, thanked him for coming in easily, popped my fly out, and sent him on his way. It was definitely a cool experience to catch a gar while wading a sand flat. The close combat fight was a thrill.

I exited the inlet and kept covering water in this bay, making sure to fish all the grass edges, deep troughs, and deeper shoreline spots I came across. This tactic landed me a pretty good sized cocahoe minnow (Gulf killifish), more pinfish, and the juvenile pigfish showed up again.

It was starting to get close to lunch time so I made my way back toward the surf to make some casts there while walking back to my car. While walking the beach I came across a massive conch (I assume) shell that was partially buried in the swash zone. It was the biggest I’ve ever seen.

It was a hell of a find and really made the day that much cooler. Not long after that I noticed a school of fish in the surf and after a few missed eats I got a solid hookup. After the first jump it was clear it was another ladyfish.

After a fun fight with some aerial acrobatics I got him to hand. The ladyfish was really the cherry on top of a pretty stellar morning! I kept walking and casting at fishy looking spots down the beach, but never hooked up with anything else or came across another solid school of fish like that.

After two mornings I had quite the mixed bag on Perdido Key and came away really enjoying the experience of fishing both the grass flats and the surf. It was totally different than the style of saltwater fishing I do in Louisiana which is typically from a kayak, purely out of necessity. If I could wade fish for reds in Louisiana I would absolutely prefer it to the kayak. There is something about covering ground and catching fish on my own two feet that I really appreciate.

Spent a long weekend in Grand Isle and for the first time ever I wasn’t down there primarily to fish. I was actually down there to work. It was my first time doing oil spill clean up, but, as my luck would have it, working conditions remained unfavorable nearly the entire time I was there, providing me with more than enough time to fish, and wouldn’t you know it the company just so happens to have rented a camp on the water for the crew to stay out of. The weather, which started crappy, turned out to be pretty awesome as well, so win-win for this guy!

I made it down Friday with enough time to hit the beach for some surf fishing. The wind was rough when I first made it out there, but as the evening progressed it calmed. And as is normally the case in June, the speck fishing was great where you could find good looking water. I wouldn’t say nearly every cast, but the catching was steady enough to keep me out there until dark. Unfortunately there weren’t too many keeper size out of the bunch, but there were a couple fish that just flat broke me off. I thought they might have been bull reds and as it got dark I had the pleasure of experiencing something I’ve only seen on YouTube, a redfish blitz! A school of bulls was crashing bait within casting range of the shore and a few other folks fishing down the beach were hooked up. I was ill-equipped throwing the popping cork, but I still tried. I even had a couple hit the cork itself, but none ever touched the Gulp! 4″ swimming mullet that was underneath. Outfishes live bait my ass! It was still amazing to witness.

IMGP8175

IMGP8176

Saturday morning a front moved through and rained out work. After the rain subsided I headed back to the surf. It was still up and waves were still gnarly, but fish were still there. The fishing was slower than the day before, but once I switched from a popping cork to a slow retrieved double speck rig it picked up. Size was similar to the day before with only a few keepers brought to hand, but I had enough specks to keep me happy. I headed back to the camp for lunch and to gameplan for the afternoon.

IMG_0922

I figured a trip to Grand Isle wouldn’t be the same without bringing the kayak down, so I decided to launch into the bay to see if I could hunt down some reds. Winds were light at first and allowed me to sight fish a nice red with my fly rod of nearly 28″, but they picked up throughout the afternoon and made paddling pretty tough and fly fishing downright impossible. At times it felt like I was always paddling upwind, but I was able to find a few places that provided some cover and because tides were low, I was still able to sight fish. I ended up keeping three that were perfect eating size and releasing two other upper slot reds. So despite the lousy conditions I felt I had a pretty good day.

IMGP8181

IMG_0926

IMG_0929

I knew the forecast looked really nice for Sunday, but I assumed that there wasn’t even a chance I’d fish because I was sure we’d have to make up for lost time Saturday. Well, apparently the island we were working on had so much rain that the ground was super saturated and was nightmare for data collection, so it was called around lunch and I had time to fish the afternoon. I headed straight to the surf, but this time I was able to launch the kayak and try a different area that might hold bigger trout. I tried topwater because conditions seemed perfect, but didn’t even get a look. Same with the popping cork. Started slow rolling a jig and began picking up hits nearly every cast. Just like when I was wade fishing though the specks were mainly small with a few keepers here and there. The action was so consistent I couldn’t leave that spot – even when swimmers showed up, I just fished around them.

IMG_0935

Soon I got a tremendous strike, it was the trout I was after. I felt the slow head shake of a big trout and after not long into the fight the fish came off. I was a bit heartbroken, but what can you do? Not long after the tide went from incoming to falling, I have never actually noticed it change like that, I guess because I’m always fishing the marsh, but this was like someone flipped a switch. Fish quit hitting where I was fishing and I was having trouble staying in my spot, so I headed in to wade fish. I grabbed the fly rod and started picking up trout on a dropper-popper rig with every fish landed on the dropper. I did have some fish come out of the water for the popper, but I was never able to get a hook in them. I was actually able to land specks over 14″ on both the fly rod and the kayak so I had them weighed over at Bridge Side for the CCA STAR tournament. I know they won’t place but they still do the raffle in each division and after winning it last year it seems foolish to not enter it again.

IMGP8180

IMGP8178

Monday was my last day down there and wouldn’t you know it work was the same as the day before. We drove all the way out to this island only to turn around and head back in because conditions were the same, but I ain’t complaining, I had another afternoon to fish. This time I launched at the camp and headed out to the bay from there. I was seeing reds, but I wasn’t making the casts I needed to make. Finally I got a nice 27″ red to eat a fly and I noticed he had this bright red fin. When I got him in the boat it looked to be inflamed from sea lice, I’m guessing he was fresh out the ocean to be in that condition. I tagged him and let him go. I missed a few more opportunities at fish before finally sticking an 18″er on the way back to camp. It wasn’t a banner day, but that didn’t really matter, I was down in Grand Isle fishing on a Monday – that never happens!

IMG_0941

IMGP8182

IMGP8184

IMG_0943

IMG_0944