Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fall 'N' Tide VIII

Against All Odds

The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Clubs’ Fall N Tide tournament is a favorite amongst kayak tournament anglers throughout La and surrounding states, it’s held in Plaquemines Parish, the kayak fishing capital of the world (in my opinion of course).  It’s during the fall when the specs are transitioning into the marsh, the redfish look like footballs and the flounder begin to show up at every point with moving water.  Unfortunately this year’s event met obstacle after obstacle.  First the tournament weigh in location had to be moved from Empire to Venice, then it was rescheduled from October 5th to November 16th due to a tropical system threatening S.E. La, and finally as the week of the tournament approached, a cold front entered the area and the weather man was calling for 3 days of 20+ mph winds starting before and running through tournament day. 

With over 120 kayak anglers showing up to compete in the event, it turned out to be one for the books, the weather turned beautiful (at least during tournament hours), there were several slot reds weighed in that were pushing the 9lbs mark, there were only 16 slams weighed in for the day, there was a four way tie for 2nd in  the leopard red category, 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall winners were all within .32 ounces of each other, there were four kayaks given away,  and the winner of it all was a Cinderella story in the making.

Rick Dunbrum,
the overall winner of Fall N Tide VII, weighed in his Cajun Slam, a flounder, speck, and redfish, for a total weight of 11.38 lbs.  When asked where he fished and what he caught his fish on, his response was simple and surprising. He said, “I fished the white pipes, just like the internet reports said too,” he then followed that up with, “I caught the red on a spoon, I caught the spec on a spoon, and I caught the flounder on that Gulp bait that was in my captains bag.”  It was great to see someone new to the sport of kayak fishing come in and pull off a win like this one.  Rick was awarded a Hobie Pro Angler 14, courtesy of Hobie fishing and The Backpacker.  Other top winners were Brendan Bayard in 2nd, Tommy Eubanks in 3rd, Jason Austin 1st place Redfish, Smokey Cook 1st place Trout, Toby Armand 1st place Flounder, Clayton Shilling 1st place leopard red, Barbara Johnston 1st place in the ladies division, and Rory Craft first place in the kids division.
 To top off the great event there were some charitable efforts made and several thousand dollars presented to a couple non-profit organizations. 
The FiN Crazy Kayak Fishing Team presented a $1500 check to Heroes on the water, La Chapter (an organization that helps in the rehabilitation process of wounded veterans through kayak fishing), and Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club presented checks for several thousand dollars to the Up 21 foundation
 (an organization that raises awareness for Down syndrome) and to Wounded War Heroes (an organization that aids in the rehabilitation of wounded veterans through outdoor activities).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Winter Time Twitchin

Summers are for Mosquitos and Itching
Winter Times for Twitching 

It’s no surprise that finding a flat with drop offs, or defined slopes that lead to a big hole or to the edge of a river channel can set off a red light alarm inside your brain that screams STOP HERE….FISH HERE.  And so many times those perfect images on the depth finder, that awakened that spirited angler inside you to come alive after a long day of fishing the underwater flat plains of Louisiana’s marshes and bays, turns out to not hold any fish, or at least any fish that are interested in your lure.  Well, keep those drop offs, slopes, ledges, holes, and channel edges marked on that GPS, because what looked good, but hasn’t been productive for you this past summer will change come winter time when the water levels and temperatures drop due to the north winds carried behind the upcoming cold fronts. 


As the temperatures begin to drop, unfortunately so does the top water action, and while you can still produce on top, it’s what you throw below the surface that really brings in the action.  I’m talking about baits you twitch, like when you walk out your door and the cold hits you so hard it causes at least one body part to twitch, shiver, or go into hiding, well that’s when you know it’s time to break out the twitch baits, the suspending lures, sinking lures, lures that you know how fast they drop, how many feet per second does the lure sink, how long will it take you to get that lure into the water column that those fish are sitting at.   For all you top water fans, I understand the frustration it takes to learn and get comfortable with twitch baits, I am still learning every time I tie one on.  I used to be the guy that would through top water daylight to dark all year long, and while it does produce, I have learned that twitching produces a lot more trout and a lot less misses during the winter time. 


Now is the time to start revisiting those marked alarms on your depth finder that looked great last month, but weren’t productive.  Find that ledge and that hole and approach it with a lure that you know you can sink down and work it at the depths you want to.  If your lure has a sinking rate of a foot per second, you should be able to count its fall to the depth you think the fish are holding at and begin to work your twitching magic there.

 A twitch bait retrieve is fairly simple, although most make a very common mistake of twitching it nonstop and ignoring the reeling process.  Let your lure sink its way into the depths you prefer, at that countdown mark begin your retrieve slowly by reeling and twitch the lure with a short solid twitch(wrist jerk) in your rod tip which will in turn cause the lure to jolt to one side or the other.  A common misconception of many multi-treble hooked lures like the Mirrorlure, Catch 5, Catch 200, or 14-27 MR, is that you should twitch and twitch and twitch and only reel to pick up the slack between twitches, well this routine usually results in your line being wrapped around the front treble of the lure yielding a poor performance retrieve.  Rule of thumb, if you find yourself foul hooking your own line, reel more and twitch less, also remember we are winter fishing, and trout are NOT looking for a fast moving hard to catch bait, they are looking for a
slow moving easy to catch injured bait, so SLOW IT DOWN. Start with a twitch every 4 seconds and then change it to 6 or 7 seconds, use a single twitch and then a double twitch, slow the retrieve, speed the retrieve, almost every time I am on the water there seems to be a change in the presentation that makes all the difference in the world. 


Once you get a handle on twitch baits, you will find a way to work them into your spring and summer days of fishing.  I have actually used more flukes and sluggos over the past few years for specs and reds than I have for largemouth bass.  Using soft plastic twitch baits Carolina rigged works wonders on drop offs and deep holes, the action they provide and the their buoyance keep them off the bottom and in the line of fire for those big specs.  When it comes to hard plastics there is no substitute for what Mirrorlure provides, my favorites are the Mirrodines 17 & 27 MR with the holographic colors in sliver, black and blue, and I never leave home without a green bottom, blue back, silver body Catch 2000, or a pink, silver, and yellow  or black, silver, and purple Catch 5.  And when the water temps get real cold and I want the best mixture of hard baits and soft baits, I turn to the Paul Browns famous Corky, the original and the corky devil are my favorites, and always remember when you are fishing the Paul Brown
lures, if you think you are working it slow enough, slow it down some more.


Twitch baits can be fun all year long once you get the confidence of using them, but if you never take the chance to learn, you will never experience the excitement of that ferocious top water strike 2-6 feet below the surface.  We all know that subtle bump we get on a jig head with a soft plastic attached as we bump it across the bottom, and every once in a while you will get that strike that nearly jerks the rod from your hands.  If you’re interested in getting more of those aggressive, I almost lost my rod he hit it so hard, strikes, then pick up a couple of hard plastic twitch baits, get on the water, find your holes and ledges, and start practicing.


Good Luck