With two days of pre-fishing over the last two weeks, I felt I was fairly prepared for this weekend’s Redfish Rumble in the Hopedale, Delacroix, Pointe a la hache area, the 2nd of a 5 part tournament series for the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Clubs Angler of the Year.
for a story on site fishing and tournament preparation.
While on trip #2, I was able to land several red fish that were either over the slot or in the lower range of slot, and while we did catch fish, I didn’t feel that this particular location would yield the results I was looking for on tournament day. With that in mind, I decided that these waters were not worthy of returning to and that I would stick with my original game plan, the hidden launch of pirogue past.
The morning of the tournament started early for me, as I didn’t sleep 5 minutes the night before, and left my house at 11:30pm and headed to the Waffle House in Chalmette. After several hours watching people come and go, and a pot of coffee, my launch partner showed up for a bite to eat, and then off to the launch we went.
As we arrived at my launch point, I dropped off my yak and all of my belongings, and then headed further down the road to another launch location. From there I had my launch partner bring me back to my yak, and there I waited in the darkness alone. Over the next hour or two, I watched several trucks loaded with yaks pass my location without a care in the world, I was in such a secluded area surrounded by 6 foot tall cane in all directions and the smell of a Thermacell keeping the skeeters at bay, I wasn’t concerned at all of someone discovering where I was, I felt like Arnold, in Predator, when he was covered in mud along the river bank hiding from the alien. This little spot was a top producer years ago, and gets very little pressure; in fact, I have only seen one boat within this location ever. The water is always low, even at high tide, but the water is crystal clear year round, and site fishing reds here can be done from over 40 yards away.
As 5:00am struck, I slid my yak in the water and began the two mile trek to my grounds, paddling every bit of it by hand, as I stared at my mirage drive strapped to my front hatch with every stroke, due to low water. As I reached the grounds my game plan was in play, and I wasn’t changing it, work the waters darkness with a weedless frog until the sun comes up, while starting at the most northern part and ending up on the most southern end as the sun should be rising. My timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as I made it to the southern end, the sun broke and I immediately saw a reds back bulging out of the water. I grabbed my fluke and sailed it just short of the beast, one twitch and he turned and attacked it.
A solid 30” fish in hand, too bad it was over the slot. After a quiet and quick release, I stood up and began to let the breeze drift me at a snail’s pace. As I came to an area that I knew had fish, I injected my 8 foot park n pole in the mud more than 4 feet. I could see the water boiling in every direction. First cast into the direction of a swirl and bam, he hit it, as I got the fish to the yak, I stumbled trying to net him and off he went. Frustrated, YES, but I knew it was early and I was still in the middle of a red fish buffet.
Next cast out, a red attacked the fluke again, set the hook, and pop, my leader snapped in the middle. I reeled up the loose line, cut the leader off and tied directly to my braid, I wasn’t going to play break the leader today, like I did two weeks earlier. 5th cast, another blow up, and as I set the hook, POP, my braid broke, and that has never happened. I was confused as to what was going on, my drag was set good and I thought my braid was fresh, all I could figure was that the fish were bigger than what I was targeting. As I reeled in the loose line, AGAIN, I was grateful that I brought an entire pack of hooks on this trip. I pulled about 30 yards of line out, cut it off and retied. The next hour resulted in 10-15 redfish landed in the yack without ever lifting a paddle or moving from my anchored location. The smallest red of this location was 22 inches. I had a solid stringer of fish at this point, with 4 above 22 inches and 1 above 24 inches.
I pulled my pole to venture further down, where some current lines where crossing between 3 islands and meeting up behind them. As I arrived, the sun was covered by clouds, but I could see fish activity and bait everywhere. About the time I was set up, the sun broke for almost a minute and I could see fish on all sides of me, and they were good looking reds. I anchored in and started slinging the trusty fluke, but no takers. Fish, after fish, after fish, they just looked at it, not a worry in the world, they didn’t run, they didn’t inspect, they just sat there. I changed colors and it yielded me the same results, I threw a topwater next and nothing. I was convinced at this point that the fish could see me as well as I could see them, but then I reached back for my always productive Seein Spots inline spinner.
First cast, bam, fish on, 3rd cast, bam, fish on, 5th cast, bam, fish on, and this continued on for the next 9 red fish. I don’t know what happened to the pattern, but they went from fluke happy to flukes are nasty in a matter of seconds. I have never experienced a turn off like that, not with red fish at least; I kept thinking that the couple fish that broke my line earlier were swimming around showing off their new lip jewelry to all the other fish and warning them to not eat the fluke, DO NOT EAT THE FLUKE, I could just imagine them yelling it everywhere they went.
At this point I decided that my stringer was solid enough to accomplish my goal of a top 10 finish, and if I was to catch a bass, maybe I could break into the top 5. I moved a little further north and closer to a dead end in hopes of picking up a bass. I threw my inline spinner into a bare bottom mud highway surrounded by grass from top to bottom on both sides, and all of a sudden, bam, I had a bass on, it wasn’t a big one, but it’s all I needed. As I slung the bass over my yak and back in the water, I then calmly raised him out of the water and over my yak, as I looked at him coming over the side, I smiled as big as a 6 year old on Christmas morning, and then all of a sudden off the hook he came, straight down into my mirage drive. Well actually what would have been my mirage drive, if I would have actually put it in the hole, the bass took a 5 foot nose dive straight to freedom through the heart of my Hobie. I was devastated, I just knew that 8 inch bass was going to be my weight changer.
As time was ticking, I pulled in 3 more reds in the 22 inch range while searching for another bass, when all of a sudden I got that solid bump and thrash that only a bass can mimic, and it was on, I had this fish coming to me like I had a 50:1 ratio reel, he didn’t even have time to react. I pulled him out the water at mach 2 almost 10 feet before reaching me, I dropped my rod and in midair caught him like it was a life and death dodge ball tournament. I had this fish grasped in my arms against my chest and securely anchored with a fin embedded deep in my chest, and I didn’t care in the least. As I maneuvered the boga into his mouth I put him in the fish bag, boga and all.
Off I went, time to get back to the launch point and call my ride to pick me up. Amazingly, on the way, I was able to land another redfish that managed to pull my rod from my hands and caused me to chase the dang thing for almost 50 yards before I stabbed the reel with my paddle and was able to reach in the water and pick it up. It took me a minute or two to clear the grass from the end of the rod to the reel before I could manage a crank. As I got the fish to the yak, I was impressed to see it was a 23-24 inch fish and a solid upgrade for my smallest fish. I got him on board, measured him and weighed him, and began to get excited about where this fish could put me in the final ranking, when all of a sudden he flipped up and took the same route the bass did from earlier in the day. He nose dove to freedom right through the heart of my yak, I just sat there and laughed, not much else I could do, I had a good day, and some neat stories to tell around the campfire one day.
On my way back, I called my launch partner and told him I was headed back, as I arrived to my cane break launch, he pulled up in perfect timing, I jumped in and we were off. As I reached my vehicle, I hurried up, loaded and strapped everything down in what felt like seconds, and I was off, relieved to have not seen anyone in the process.
As I made it to the weigh in, the stories began, I caught nothing but bulls, I couldn’t find a fish, the bass where everywhere, I couldn’t find a bass, it was the stories that I look forward to at every event. I get a kick out of hearing the different things that happened to others on the water, it seems no matter who is telling it, it always offers up an opportunity to learn something for later use or to mentally prepare you in case it ever happens to you. Kind of like, keeping your mirage drive in, even in shallow water, or better yet, make sure you bring the blank that fits in its place.
It was a great event, with a great turnout, great stories, and great people. Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club is a special group of people like no other group I have encountered. I feel lucky to be involved in such an organization. Congrats to all who participated and a special congrats to the top winners.
1st Place Steve Lessard
2nd Place Casey Brunning
3rd Place Clayton Shilling
4th Place Johnny Bergeron...missing pic, sorry Johnny
5th Place Rick “chickenwing” Dembrun
BIG FISH – Eric Muhoberac
Lures that produced, was a 6 inch fluke rigged weightless, and a Seein Spots Spinner with a Kamikaze Vortex Shad in tow. Pressure was 30.00 and dropping early on, cloudy skies, and a 5 minute sprinkle at daylight, with the sun peeking through for a combined showing of less than 3 minutes. Water was crystal clear, and air temps and water temps ranged from in the 50s to 70s, winds southeast most of the day.
Until next time, stay safe and Catch1....
Until next time, stay safe and Catch1....