This week I wanted to get out and have a look at some parts of Reggio, as well as get some sight fishing in. As musicians would say, I need to shed on landing lures quietly. In other words, I need to practice. I knew right off the bat that the water would be high from the tropical storm that passed recently, but I didn't think the clarity would be too bad, and I was pretty on the money with those predictions. The wind was predicted to be around 10mph from E/NE, and it was one of those days with intervals of clouds and sunshine. Once I got out on the water, I realized it would have been marginally better to launch on the other side of the highway and fish in Delacroix, which offers a little more protection on an E wind, but it was still manageable in Reggio.
The first fish of the day came very shortly after nosing into the marsh, and alerted me to its presence by splashing around on a bank attacking bait. I chucked a crawfish lure up on the bank, dragged it down into the water and watched the line take off before setting the hook. Nice eating size fish, and it went in the cooler, as I have managed to give away almost all my frozen redfish to friends, neighbors and family.
After a little more paddling, I made it into the area of the marsh that I wanted to take my time fishing, and stood up to get and idea what was going on in the water. Standing up and fishing just gives you an incredible advantage in terms of understanding what is going on in the water. Even if sight fishing isn't working out due to wind, or if you're uncomfortable casting and fighting fish standing up, knowing what the water clarity, grass and bait situation is can be helpful. I noted right off the bat that the water was surprisingly nice and clear, but that it was way over the top of the grass, and I wasn't seeing as much bait and crabs as I had last time I was there. That was no surprise, as the water level being that high allows anything with fins or legs to scatter to the four corners of the earth. There were all kinds of shallow ponds and passageways available to me that aren't typically passable. The wind wasn't ideal, but was just low enough to be able to do some sight fishing, although I was getting blown around more than I would like. In that situation, my usual technique is to set up drifts across areas I think will hold fish, using my paddle to slow myself down and steer, and holding a rod ready to cast. When I eventually get blown up to a bank, I'll paddle back into the wind and set up another drift. Luckily enough, the wind and sun were both in the E, so I was facing away from the sun for maximum visibility into the water. I wasn't seeing a ton of fish, but the ones that I did get a cast at were smacking the lure with authority, or at least trying to. I had one classic hookup where I cast at a fish that was parallel to the bank and coming towards me, set up the lure to cross in front of him as he swam, and BAM, another fish I hadn't seen came off the bank and stole it from in front of him. I was kicking myself for not having the GoPro running, so I got it out and switched it on. First thing I captured was a swing and a miss on my part - I cast at one fish that didn't see the lure, then saw another coming right at me. Got the lure in front of that one, and he went after it, only to either miss or pull off it right at the last minute. I think he may have seen the kayak right as he was about to inhale the lure. Here's the video:
That situation was so typical of kayak fishing, I had to laugh, and I knew I would find other fish. You have to embrace the turmoil and disasters! Not long after that, I caught a good hookup on video:
After catching four fish, things slowed down considerably as the wind seemed to pick up. It was around 10am, and after not seeing any fish for a good little while, I decided it was time to do some sightseeing, and set off for an area I had been wanting to have a look at. On the way, I dropped in on an area I have fished before to see what it looked like, and caught one more. For the rest of the trip, it was just paddling, sightseeing and hoping that none of the fast moving summer storms were going to ambush me, as I was at least an hour's paddle away from the launch by that point. Between about 11am-1pm, I poked around various ponds and flats, and found some great clean water but very few fish. Apparently they all decided to go on siesta right about at 11am. It was getting cloudier and tougher to sight fish though, and I did hear quite a few of the typical "drum" sounds as I spooked fish that I hadn't seen. The water being deeper than usual was allowing them to sit just under where I could see into the water. At one point I came up on a pond that was chock full of 3-5' alligator gar, who were splashing around but not feeding, as far as I can tell. I need to find out more about that behavior, but my uneducated guess was that maybe it is related to spawning. I also had a funny hitchhiker, a tiny gar that somehow managed to jump into my kayak and squirm under my seat. Thank goodness the Kilroy is a stable kayak, because it was a total circus trying to lift the seat and grab a flopping gar while standing up.
On the way back to the launch, I checked in on an area I usually fish closer to the launch, but the water was considerably dirtier by then, and it was pretty obvious that the redfish action for the day was over. I'll take a day with those conditions and 5 sight caught fish. I was reflecting a bit that a year or two ago, I would have been lucky to catch 1 or 2 fish on a day like that, and there would have been a great possibility of skunking. They were just so spread out, you had to really take advantage of any that you saw. I can't say for sure, but I don't think blind casting would have been much better, since they didn't seem to be traveling in pods or grouping up anywhere. Kept the 3 smaller ones for the freezer, and let the 2 big ones go, with whispered promises to see them some tournament day right before they hit the 27" mark.
Couple more photos:
Until next time...