Thursday, May 21, 2015

Salt in my life - Day 2

Woke up bright and early to the sound or rain and thunder, it was 4:30 am.  I hadn't planned to get up that early b/c the bite on day 1, really didn't happen until lunch.  But, with nothing better to do, I hit the road around 5:15.  When I got to my planned starting point, I could see storms building north of me.  I sat and waited until the rain passed.

My plan was to head into the wind, just in case the forecast of 5 mph SE winds became 20 mph, like the previous day.  At least, I would have the wind at my back...unlike the day before.

Getting right to the point, I paddled about 2 miles out.  Stood up, and realized the tide was really high.  The reds had to be way up in the grass.  I suspected, I wasn't going to fool any with artificials in the AM hours.  I tried anyway and confirmed my thoughts.  Not a bite for hours. Started to think, this might be my first skunk redfishing.

Didn't see any reds.  Didn't hear bait being crashed.  Not sight or sound of any activity.  After a few hours, I decided to set down and just wait them out.  I knew the tide would fall around 3pm.  I had a few hours to kill.

Killing time

After eating lunch and checking in with my family, I decided to go exploring.  I wasn't expecting to catch anything.  But, I don't get down here very often, so I wasn't setting on the sidelines any longer.

I stood up and started polling around.  Didn't get far and saw a red.  1st red of the day on the fly. Skunk avoided...but I know it'll happen eventually (especially now that I said it).

Saw a wake and some bait dancing on the surface.  Made a presentation and caught a speck.  That wasn't expected...did it again...and another speck.  Awesome!

I stayed put and caught several more...most were under size but I was catching.  So I kept doing it, until I saw a really big shadow....looked like a huge 3' bull red but was blackish.

I decided to make a my fly was traveling towards the shadow, it surfaced and I saw a dorsal fin.  My clouser landed a few feet away, it turned and I saw the gills plates flare...crap!  Don't take my fly, plz don't eat...saltwater is the only place I've ever, NOT wanted something to eat my bait.  I guess it released it or just missed but I kept my fly!!

When they eat...they EAT!

Figured that area was ruined since there was a black tip mucking up everything, I moved on.  Found a shallow area and could tell the tide was flowing out...then I saw a nice red cruising in and out of the grass.  NOT again...corn maze game all over.

But this time I played with the fly rod.  Here's how it, out, back in and out, reversed.  I get a shot...foul on grass.  Don't move...start pleading with the red, to go back in the maze.  Eventually he did.  I shake free.  Anticipate where he'll be next and present.  He came out right where I expected...I strip...he chased, ate, and missed...but in the excitement, I set and the fly came at me.  Instantly, I put it back down beside the red.  He ate and missed again.  Now, he looks like a dog chasing it's tail, searching for my fly, that I kept putting down, and pulling back out.  Trying to get it in front of him....but he won't stop turning.  Finally, he locates the fly swimming and torpedoes it.  Success after a 10-15 minute stalking!

The day was shaping up to be a workout and test of perseverance.  I considered packing it in
several times, but kept telling myself, "wait for the fallout".  It'll be worth it, I hoped.  Just be patient.

And then it happened, the water started to drop, and I located fish.  They weren't very active but a few were cruising the grass line.  I managed to fool several and considered the day to be a success.

It's about 5 pm, and I'm exhausted so I started heading home.  Not expecting much to change.  I happen upon a wind blown point and saw 2 really big reds, setting in "I got your back formation"...each facing in opposite directions.  I slowly stop the kayak, grab my stake out pole (broom stick) and stake the scupper.  Put the paddle down softly, replaced it with my fly rod.

The question was, how to present to 1, w/o spooking the other.  The red not facing me is the larger of the 2...maybe 34"s and I really want it.  So I present, with a side arm cast hoping to wrap the fly line around the smaller red and not line it.  Probably could have just made a regular cast b/c I'm not that good...but somehow it worked and I had a perfect presentation.  I slowly stripped to the red and inhaled it.  At that moment, he went completely loco!  He put me into my backing within seconds.  I was scrambling to turn my kayak toward his run but had to unstake first.  I was using my hand to apply drag to the reel and as I stopped to remove the stake, he ran again!  Another 25' gone.  Stake removed, I started the chase, enjoying the sleigh ride.

Anyone who's caught a big red knows, a red that big isn't done after a couple runs...gone again, and again!  When I get him close, he dives under the kayak, and bulldogs the bottom.  After what seemed like 20 minutes, I try to net him...nope.  That's not going to happen.  Get the grips and pull him into the kayak.  Awesome!  Quick pic, and spent some time reviving him beside the yak.

Went back to the point, hoping to see that other red...I'm not that lucky, it wasn't around.   Discovered the point was also the entrance to a pond.  Of course, I decided to check it out.  Just as I got into the cut, I spooked a big red and it ran out (that's my kinda luck), waking the cuda, as it swam underneath me.

But now, I'm on alert and moving at a snails pace.  Stalking and scanning every inch of this pond.  Sure enough, I spot another big red guarding another entrance to the pond.  I'm in the pond so he's facing away from me.  Just need to not line him.  Make a good presentation, he eats, and goes ballistic...I've never seen a red jump so far out of the water.  Half his body was above the water line.  I'm certain his weight kept him from tail walking like a bass.  Another lucky break (you'll see why in a second)...since he was facing out...he ran out of the pond and I was right along with him.  Another lengthy fight, and I spent some time reviving him.

 I repeat this same scenario a few more times.  I can't believe they are still in that pond.  But, they were all facing out and as luck would have it, each time I hooked up they would run out the front door!  And the fight would happen in open water, 30 yards away from the pond.

Went back into the pond but didn't see anymore reds.  That's how the day ended.  Stayed and played the game to conclusion.  Rewarded with big reds on the fly, for sticking it out.

Missed part 1:
Part 1 here


  1. Drew
    The fight those reds put up have to a blast on the fly. What weight/length fly rod are you using to land those brutes? I'm really impressed with the fly rod combo you were using. Thanks for sharing

    1. I haven't found any other fish that fights as hard as a red. If you don't revive them the'll go belly up...they go all out in the fight. I'm using an 9' 8wt Orvis Encounter. Nothing special about wasn't very expensive, a plus when I'm fishing from a kayak. I tend to break stuff or lose it over the side.

  2. Hang on for a minute while I catch my breath! Most excellent description of the stalking, fighting and catching I've ever read. Thanks Drew.

    1. Thx Howard, I promise I didn't do it any justice. You need to go and experience it yourself...I promise you'll leave with a smile on your face.

  3. Drew,
    Don't take time to reply, you are on fish and having so much fun, so jealous, just kidding about not replying. The backgrounds and sky are so breath taking. Grew up 3 hours from here, in a small town in south LA. My dad would take us here many summers. Last time Patti, my wife and I fished GI was 1975!! WOW!! Loving the narrative and the pictures. Bill

    1. WOW! That's a long time Bill. I have a hard time if I don't get down there every 6-8 weeks. I love that area...great people, culture, and fishery. It's a special place! Thx again!

  4. Gawd I need to move to a coast with reds!!

    1. If I lived closer, I'd be useless. All I would do is chase reds.

  5. That's pretty much as good as it gets right there!! I'd still be on a high after that...

    1. Trust me, I'm still floating. I probably won't be down anytime soon. Already planning my return.

  6. Living vicariously buddy! An amazing day on the water and your tenacity paid off! I would have wet myself consciously thinking about a shark fishing the same water I was fishing as a highlander! HAHAHA Thanks for sharing the adventures and look forward to your next! Tighlines!

    1. Thx! It's always fun to spot a gator or shark in the water and when they keep their distance...all the better! Adventures like this one keep my batteries charged for all the misadventures I have also.