This Saturday was a a fun day helping people compare some of Jackson's fishing kayaks on Bayou St. John, in the heart of Mid-City, New Orleans. The local dealer, Massey's, brings out a fleet of boats, and people get a chance to really feel out the differences in how the boats paddle, and make sure they get the boat that fits them. Despite a bike race that shut off Carrolton/Wisner Ave and much of the surrounding streets, there was a good turnout of folks interested in the kayaks, a few of which really took their time paddling quite a few different models to get a feel for them. It was actually really awesome to see people excited about their first fishing kayak; really brought me back to that excitement I felt when I first started going out and fishing. I spent a bit of time going back and forth with a couple of guys on the pros and cons of the Cuda/Coosa/Kilroy models for fishing locally, and they paddled them all both sitting and standing, and in high/low positions. They both left the demo with a lot of good information. Another couple came in to look at tandem kayaks, but after a couple of minutes paddling the tandems, settled on individual kayaks, eventually taking home a Mayfly and Cuda! Personally, I had a chance to paddle the Mayfly around for the first time. I was really pleasantly surprised with the speed and maneuverability of such a wide, heavy boat. On a fairly windy day, it did a great job shedding the wind, with the very low profile deck. The turning radius seemed good, although my much lighter Kilroy turns a little easier. Standing was a joy, and I really, really like that you can rack the seat forwards and backwards - hoping that becomes standard on Jackson fishing kayaks. I also got a kick out of meeting a couple of folks that had read some of the articles on my blog - great to know that someone out there is reading and enjoying some of this stuff! Thanks to Dave Woodward for organizing the event, and bringing delicious donuts... Even got to visit a bit with my in-laws and my son, who got a kick out of sitting in the kayaks and watching people paddle around on a beautiful breezy day on the bayou.
Two weeks had gone by since I'd had a chance to fish, so I went ahead and made a quick trip to Reggio/Delacroix this past Sunday. I needed to be back to play a gig by 2pm, so I left early and was on the water by 6:15. After paddling past quite a few alligators, I got a nice sunrise to start the day. I immediately knew I would be limited in terms of where I could fish, as I could see that the water level was way down, and a lot of areas would be too shallow to paddle. As the sun came up, my heart sank a little bit as I saw the water condition, which was maybe 6" visibility. Not at all great for that area, and not great for sight fishing. To top that off, the wind was quite a bit higher than forecast (imagine that), and my goal of using primarily the fly rod was taken off the menu as well. Well, that's fishing, so I put my head down and did some paddling. I caught two fish casting at swirls and tails, and eventually posted up in an area that creates a natural funnel between two bodies of water, and usually has fish in it. Missed a bite on my soft plastic crawfish, and decided I would switch over to a Zman chatterbait, a brand new (to me) lure in my box. Tied it on, threw out a test cast, said "oh this might work well in this dirty water", cast it out again and watched in horror as it flew off into the distance. Check your leader, dummy! That one hurt, as that is not a cheap lure, and it literally lasted ONE cast. At this point I was a little frustrated by the conditions and technical issues, so I grabbed a bite and some water, and sat down to enjoy the scenery for a minute. That is a technique I have to employ sometimes to get my head back on straight and get back to fishing intelligently. I decided that I had seen enough of the area I was in and wanted to head over to find some water that was more protected from the N wind. My main concern was making sure I found a route through the marsh that didn't involve me getting stuck in the mud. I was constantly bottoming out throughout the day, and the wind can help push you into places that can be hard to get out of. I had a very miserable experience pushing my kayak through about 100 yards of chest deep marsh mud at one point, and that is always in the back of my mind. In any case, I found a route through the slightly deeper channels of the marsh, and eventually found a grass line that had some fish on it. I caught fish numbers 3 and 4 there, and decided it was time to switch back to the fly rod since the wind had laid down. I had a couple of good shots at fish, but no takers on either a spoon fly or a mouse fly I found in Alaska, and it was time to get out of the heat and back to the city for work. All in all, 4 redfish in a morning trip isn't too bad, but I sure do wish the fishing was like it was last year in July. It doesn't seem like the grass has thickened up as much, nor has the wind laid down enough to create the super clear water we enjoyed last year. I'm craving a few great days of sight fishing pretty bad, but just haven't had it this year. I did have a few cool wildlife sightings, including two pretty big catfish and a couple of very sleepy alligators in extremely shallow water (all in the video above). Not a bad trip, I'll take it!
Edit: I almost forgot the scariest part of the trip - on the way home my front tie-down popped off, and I pulled over to fix it. I needed to turn around in someone's driveway, and as I did, the tie-down (still attached to nose of kayak, which sits on its side on top of the car) got wrapped on my front tire. I heard and felt a very not good sound, stopped, got out and saw my precious Kilroy with the whole front end bent at least 15 degrees... My heart skipped a beat, but it seemed to recover once I freed it, and shows no visible signs of permanent damage.
Fishing report for Reggio, Louisiana. Sight fishing the shallow marsh for redfish in a Jackson Kilroy kayak.Read More
AFTER a few months of not getting out to fish, I was really looking forward to getting out on the water this week. There's nothing like not being able to go to remind you how much you really love getting out on the water. In December I started a bathroom renovation that is just now wrapping up, and on top of that, my wife and I had our first child a little over three weeks ago, so fishing has been on the back burner. I was a bit in doubt about how the water clarity would turn out after the high winds and rain we've been having, but the weather was pretty perfect Tuesday and my wife signed off on a trip, so off I went to Delacroix. I got on the water right about 8:30am, said my hello's to the local alligator population, and started poling around, rigged with a dark color soft plastic rigged Texas style. I was immediately encouraged that the water wasn't very dirty; with the sun out for the whole day, I didn't need aquarium-clear water to sight fish. I knew, however, that the extremely high water from the strong S winds would let the fish spread out all over the place, and that finding them could be a bit of a challenge. In any case, it wasn't too long before I saw a couple of fish, and after spooking a few, I stuck my first fish. It was a little over slot, so it went back in the water, but I was encouraged.
FISH number 2 came along pretty soon after the first, but managed to spit the hook after a weak hookset. Don't let anyone tell you that taking a few months off won't make you rusty - I was definitely feeling a little off my casting/fishing game at first. I'm pretty familiar with the area I was fishing, and decided to head off to an area that almost always has clearer water due to what seems like constant vegetation, since I wasn't seeing a ton of fish in my first spot. As I made my way there, I kept an eye on the water clarity, and ended up coming across an area that couldn't have been more than a couple of football fields long that had much clearer water than everywhere surrounding it. Fish were easily visible as they stationed themselves close to the bank, and I picked up my 5 fish limit pretty quickly, all within that one small area. I wish I had a bit of a better idea about WHY that particular area was so much clearer, but it must have held the perfect combination of grass and angle to the wind. Once I had my limit, I decided to push on to the spot I had planned on fishing, to have a look at water there and hopefully keep brushing up on my sight casting. After having wiped out my stash of fish in the freezer, I was pretty happy to have 5 healthy reds in the bag early.
FROM there on out, the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, with only two more fish coming in. The area I know to typically hold clearer water did have clearer water than most of the surrounding area, but the fish were spread out with the high water, and I missed quite a few casts. I made a long trek to check out an area I have noted in the past to contain big grass mats, but never seems to have any fish, and was once again greeted with the same scenario. Practically crystal clear water, seemingly totally devoid of redfish activity. Definitely a puzzler for me, must be something going on with the food chain that makes the redfish uninterested in that area. It's funny, because it's not far at all from areas that hold tons of fish, but I've never seen any reds there. I put the kayak back on the car around 2pm, called in a sandwich order at Last Stop and called it a day. Nothing earth shattering, but the weather was great, and I came home with plenty of fish, including one for the neighbor across the street. Sure wish I had brought the Fujifilm setup, but all I had with me on this trip was my iPhone.
TOTALLY unrelated to fishing, but the most enjoyable part of the process of creating a second bathroom for my house out of what was a storage/mudroom has been using some of the great old wood I salvaged from the windows for a sink top, window trim and (soon) mirror frame. There was a mix of old cypress and redwood in the 6 double hung windows and trim that I pulled out, and it looks great when sanded and finished. The redwood in particular has a deep hue that I like a lot. Should have enough wood for a few more projects, maybe to include some bookshelves for my son's room.
LASTLY, just a couple of photos of my son, because I'm crazy about the little guy. Can't wait for the day when we can make some fishing trips together.
Till next time! - Scott