Friday, October 24, 2014

Fast and furious - shad it's whats for dinner!!

Planned a last minute trip after realizing I wasn't going to be able to fish this weekend, bummer.  So I did my normal stay-at-home dad routine...get the kids feed, dressed, and to school on time.  Being extra careful to not suffer from a fish brain moment.  Making sure they were wearing actual jackets and not life jacket's, I dropped them off and made my way to the refuge.  It's 8:30 am and I'm ready to start paddling out.  But before I get gone, I decided to try my gear, since it had been a few weeks since my last bass trek.  Standing at the ramp I made my first cast of the morning and wouldn't you know on, 8:24 am!!

Still at the ramp - gonna be a good day!!

I'm not superstitious, not worried about the first cast/fish stuff.  Actually it was the exact opposite, on the drive I had decided to try a shad type bait (crankbait, swimbait, or spinnerbait) and this bass made the decision easy - swimbait.  

Tree lined flat was looknfishy.  Not today.  Should have taken a selfie to show where the fish were hang'n.

Around 9 am, I was trying to decide if I should fish the tree line along the edge of some flooded flats or hit the timber towards the middle.  I made a cast towards the shallow flat with no success.  When I looked behind me I saw a gleaming spiderweb, and remembered a tip I read or heard somewhere, about breaking webs.  The idea is that no one has fished that spot or the web would be broken.  So I made a cast behind me, slightly awkward in a kayak, but I managed to stay in the kayak and hooked into my 2nd fish.  Broken web = 2nd fish of the day.

Decided to stay put and work the timber harder with the swimbait.  2 minutes later and fish number 3 was smiling for my camera phone!!  He absolutely killed the swimbait, if it wasn't for my kung fu grip I may have lost a rod/reel today.  But luck was on my side today and the bite continued and even got hotter.

Not the biggest but this little guy was a good example of how the bass were responding to swimbaits.  Choked it!!

Same fish just showing the choke hold

Kept hitting the timber with success.  The strategy was to keep moving and cover water while the fish were feeding. I knew it wasn't going to last all morning.   The biggest bass of the day, a solid 4lbr was caught at 9:21 am.

But his buddy wasn't far behind at 9:33 am.

3lb, choked again

It went like this from 10 - 11 am...but the average size went way down.  A few pics to represent how the bite ended.

Had lunch at 11:30 and started my paddle back.  Off the water at 1:30 pm.

Today's fish hang out!!

From 8:30-11 am, I caught 10-12 bass.  I packed 3 rod/reels but never reached for anything else.  It's that time of year when the bass are on the feed.  Any time is my favorite time to fish....but fall fish'n is my favorite'est!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Beautiful day wrapped up with, Bows!

Got the word from a buddy that the Browns were moving around and some big ones had been caught on the Little Red.  Made a plan to visit family in Central AR and watch some football.  Then make my way up to the river Sunday morning.  Well, I watched way too much fish porn Friday night and couldn't make it till Sunday.  So at midnight I packed up and headed out.  I hate fish porn....but I love it too!!!  Sorry family...

Bottom of the steps, start of trail to river.  Where a cuda is wait'n for paddler

The drive was uneventful for the most part, except, 1 little speed bump.  At 4 am, I was look'n for deer, I missed that black and furry critter (sorry dude) hanging out on the yellow line...sort of...but I think he got me back.  Black truck smell'n bad...guess I'll have to name it stinky face.

I arrived 2 hours before the sun was awake.  Decided to try the Libby Shoal access...meaning I had to walk my cuda and gear to the river...about 50 yards I guess...down a steep flight of stairs, along a dirt trail...all this at 4am.  Let's just say, after 3 trips, I was ready to fish.

Think'n the big fish would be out I decided to try a big streamer on my 8wt.  I was slinging that big articulated streamer hard...I could hear it ripping past me.  It was at that moment....

Nice Bow that fell for a sowbug

I remembered I wasn't wearing eye protection.  Gotcha!!  Really the only brown that I hooked into was a stick...but it made my heart jump.  So did the almost splash down I had.  Slinging that 8wt, I had that cuda rock'n good.  You know what they say about a kayak-a-rock''re about to be swim'n.  That's how the before sunrise fish'n went.  But I was set on hook'n a big brown so I kept at it after the sun was up until about 8 am.  But the water wasn't helping, almost 0 flow and very clear.  Not the best conditions for big streamers.  So I put the 8wt in the hull and pulled out the 5wt with a bugger.

Leaves are piling up on the water and in my net

Hooked up on 3 straight casts...but my set sucked.  1st fish, I strip set like I was redfishing, 2nd fish, try'n not to set like it's a red, I basically set like I was hold'n an egg.  3rd fish, more of a hybrid between the 2 others...and the fish was on for a little while.  I think I lost it more to it's impressive underwater yoga...head-to-tail touches...those bows are very flexible.

Great color and very healthy

The bows seemed to like the bugger I was throwing and I stuck with it for a couple hours.  I stripped it, swung it, and dead drifted it.  I managed about 15 bows.  The low, clear, zero flow conditions demanded an indicator and sowbug (not my favorite way to fish).   But it produced.

Get'n bent

 Didn't get as many, b/c I don't have the patience to watch a bobber (I missed several b/c I looked away), but they were with me.

Ended up covering about 3 miles of river and caught around 25 bows, all with great color and very healthy look'n.  Not a bad day for a guy trying his best to not snag himself.  Spoke with several people on the river, no browns caught.  I saw 2, and 1 looked like a log...they both saw me first and went real far, real fast.

Sun started to fade and I was exhausted.  I had been awake 36 straight hours, and still had to carry everything back to stinky face (I found the aroma long before I found the truck).  Which might explain why at one point, I looked down and saw a muddy cloud, and thought I had spooked a redfish.  Ended up being a sandy bottom.  Fish'n all over AR and LA maybe make'n me crazy...but I love it and fish porn!!!


Friday, October 10, 2014

GI - Look'n for trout and find'n reds (Part 2 of 2)

The final fishing write up for the trip.  If Tuesday was a great day, then Wednesday was greater'r or something like that!  The night was much more peaceful, as I planned/expected, awake at 3 am ready to fish.  However I had to break camp 1st since I had to drive home later.  My plan was the park along the road heading out of GI and fish until about 2 pm.  With coffee running through my veins, I was on the road at 5 am, passing through all the 25 mph zones when you have red fever is pure evil.  Bang'n my head on the dash as I crept through an empty town...not a sole in sight...waterboarding GI style, fun stuff!!!

I knew today was going to be different for me.  The winds were expected to be much higher, 10-15 mph so I wasn't expecting to do much sight fishing.  Plus, I was wanting to try my luck at specks...I know nothing about catching specks...probably caught 10 total in all my trips.  But I was going to give it a fair chance today.  As the sun was come'n up I was walk'n the dog at every every fishylook'n spot.  That lasted, umm...about 25 mins b/c I could hear reds all around me...I also have no patience for doing something I'm not good at.  So much for a fair shake.

Away the topwater went and on the search I went, look'n for reds.  Just after 7 am I found a red crashing bait.  I slowly crept up on him and put the spoon in a good spot.  He turned and crushed it.

Between 7:20 and 8am I stalked and caught 4 reds and 1 drum.  The drum was tailing, I thought it was a red, sun in my face, I put the spoon over a reed and jig'd it a few times in front of him then he smashed it.  My 1st drum.

At this point I was following a canal and it ended at a "T".  As I was push polling along, I had to reach deeper and deeper to make contact with the bottom.  I thought, if I'm going to catch a speck this has got to be the spot.  The flat fell from  2 fow to over 5 fow and I suspected 7+ in the middle.  I picked up the speck rig with a TTF killer flats minnow (purple/chartreuse tail) and made a cast along the drop. 1st cast nothing.  2nd cast a little further out from the drop - NOTHING.  I hate specks...I suck at this!!  3rd cast on to the flat and work it down the drop...HARD THUMP, I set the hook and immediately whatever is on the other end peels 30 yds of line from my reel, NOT A SPECK!!  I reel, nothing runs again..another 20 yds off the reel.  At this point, I'm expecting to be I start paddling to catch up...get the momentum going and let him pull me, drop the rudder and start the high speed pursuit.  We do this dance 6-7 times, I gain line, he takes it back.  Then he turns and goes back the other direction.  I haven't gotten within 20 yds of the fish or sea monster.  I can tell he's getting tired so I put some pressure on him and get him close to me...then I see the tail and it's got a big spot.  BIG RED!!!  Now I'm regretting that trout knot (perfection loop knots) I used to attach 14lb mono leader to braid....14 inch rainbows don't test knot strength like this...and I wasn't expecting a bull red.  We've gone a good 100 yds and I can tell he's almost ready...I try to net him...he looks at me like, "nice one loser."  Toss the net and grab the lip grips...attempt 1-fail, attempt 2-fail, c'mon man!!  Finally I get the grip's attached and pull him into the cuda.  My biggest bull red, 38 inch's.

I spent 5 min holding his tail refreshing him and when he was strong enough, he pulled free and swam away.  Think I was addicted before...I get chills writing this!!!  Afterwards, I just set there and thought about how lucky I be able to fish, travel to awesome locations, able to land a fish on an untested knot, and using the wrong gear!!!  I'm very fortunate.  As I was letting the burn ease from my forearms I noticed a porpoise going crazy 25 yds away.  All I could think was, I sure hope he doesn't have that red cornered.

After I recovered, I felt like I needed to hit that big hole again.  Drifted down it and set up.  No more messing around, I cast right to the middle...not expecting much of anything to be left after the fight that just occurred in the middle of the dance floor.  I was clue with trout.  1st cast and fish on.

And it went like this for about 20 trout, white and specks.  Not much size to them.  Only half were keepers...not that I had any way to keep them.  Fish brain struck and I left my fish bag at home.  I wasn't going to keep reds...but I would have kept trout...I don't have any!  That hole dried up and an idea struck me in the face...a cajun slam...need a flounder...never even seen can do it?!  Long story short..spent an hour do'n something...not sure what, b/c all I caught were these.

Catch a sail cat  or hard head and pick snot off your line...what's not to like?!

Found another fish I suck at catch'n.  Move'n on...sight fish'n more reds.  No new story here...went look'n found more willing to eat.

28" baby bull

30" baby bull

Found a few.  Last fish was caught around 1 pm.  Final tally for the day, ~30 reds (couple baby bulls and 1 legit bull), ~20 mixed/trout.  My plan of leaving by 2 was right on track.  Time to load up and head home.  Don't remember the drive...and the rest of week has been could burn my house down and I wouldn't care.  I'd move to SELA tomorrow and feed the addiction on a regular basis...and be easier to deal with I might add!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Warning, redfishing is addicitive - Grand Isle - Oct. camping trip (Part 1 of 2)

Someone should have told me this 18 months ago...too late now.

Last trip to GI was in Aug and that's just too much time away for me.  I can't function, all I think about are tailing, bait crashing, drag screaming reds.  I know it's getting bad when I start checking tidal reports, weather reports, and BCKFC for fishing's an addiction!!!  My wife understand's my addiction and gave me the "ok" to drive down and spend some time getting my "fix".  I didn't hesitate, had the truck loaded, childcare arranged and gone in under 2 hours...sent a text to my wife to let her know I was headed south.  A minute later, I found out she didn't mean "right this minute."  My bad!!

Gonna have to split this up into 3 parts b/c the fishing was that great.  Drove to GI state park Monday afternoon but I have no idea what it was like...I was in zombie redfish driving mode.  Set up camp and relaxed...or really ..started counting the hours till Tuesday morning.  To pass the time I re-tied all my baits, looked at google maps for ideas on where to fish, and organized my tackle.  That took all of about an hour.  Now it's about 7pm the sun is setting and I have HOURS to wait...what am I gonna do?  Needless to say it was a sleepless night.  Finally decided to make some coffee and count mosquitoes at 3am.  Sometimes it's better to leave my house at 12am and drive the 6 hours...I end up with the same amount of sleep.

When I couldn't wait any longer I headed to a spot I had fished in the past.  No secret location...plenty of people fishing off the bank.  I just try to paddle along way away from the launch before I start fishing.  After 45 mins of paddling I was where I wanted to be...a shallow flat and I could hear the reds crashing bait.  It didn't take long to catch my first red...a rat but it was a good sign.

Rat - 1st fish at 6:40 am
The next 5 reds were caught in nearly the same location, sight fishing them as they came past.  They were on the move chasing minnows and shrimp.  I had a 5 fish limit in 30 mins, phone tag says 7:21 am to 7:51 am.  It was so steady I could post a pic to my FB page and when done look down and see another victim coming my way.

After number 5, I decided to give the fly rod a go.  It's was near perfect fly fishing wind and fairly clear water.  I got set up...and realized the fish conveyor belt had mal-functioned...the fish weren't coming around any more.  So on the hunt I went, 8wt and clouser, ready for action.  It didn't take long and fish on.

I'm getting really excited about the confidence shown by the action shot above.  Bring the fish to hand.  Nothing big so far but plenty of action.

I hear some commotion in the next pond or 2 over and I'm off in search of the next take.  I round a corner and see the entrance to a large pond.  Inside I can hear the sounds of reds at the buffet.  I push pole my way in slowly and what I see made my heart nearly leap from my chest...about 20 (18-20") reds...some crashing, some tailing, some patrolling...they're every where. I should have taken a breath but instead I load and shoot line...dummy!!!  In my excitement, I hurried and made a terrible cast...put the fly on 1, the line over about went from glass to boiling water in 2 seconds.  All I could do was watch as 20 reds freaked out and made a jail brake.  My bad!!  As disappointing as that moment was, I could hear fish in the distance, so I'm on the move again and it wasn't long until I found a few...unlike conventional gear, the fly is much more of a challenge for me...only been doing it 5yrs.  I probably ran across 10 more reds before I hooked up again.  It was 9:15, I had spooked about 30 reds before I tricked this one.

I ran across 2 more schools and managed several others on the fly.  Along with a few rats, most in the 18-20 inch range I think I caught around 20 reds on the fly that morning.

Biggest at 29"
My last fish, was the biggest I hooked on the fly.  It was over 30" and fought like a freight train.  I thought I had him beat and went to grab the leader and he made a last minute, unscripted,  run under my kayak...not wanting to break the tip of my fly rod I held onto the leader and he snapped off.  That was the end of the day for the fly rod.  I was wanting to catch more fish so I decided to go back to what I was using earlier in the morning.

The reds were super aggressive and on the feed.  I could hear them crashing bait all day.  The tide was on the low end and the reds were holding tight to the grass line.  After lunch, I got sloppy and tired of taking photos so I only got about half of what I caught...but taking my phone from my pocket and putting it back was a pain.  And on one occasion, I heard a splash and looked down...last time I heard that sound I watched my 2 month old Costa's sinking...this time, I could see my orange life jacket saving my iPhone...needless to say pics were taken less often.  This is why I can't have nice stuff.  Something always ends up in the water.

Managed to find a few more schools.  I can usually pull 2 fish from a school by doing what I learned striper fishing. I keep 2 similar baits tied on, catch a fish, net him.  Then throw the other bait out...2 fish in seconds before the school goes real far away, real fast!!!

Back 2 school - 2 rods/baits and 2 reds in the net.
More fish caught sight casting.  Just a gorgeous day in the marsh

At the end of the day I estimate I caught between 40-50 reds over 12 hours of fishing.  All done sight casting, except for about 4 rats and 3 others that I caught blind casting.  It was a great day.

Part 2, check back for details about day 2 - More slot reds, trout and 38" bull red.

Click here for part 2