I can finally make one of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club tournaments next weekend, so it made sense to make this week's fishing trip useful to that end, and check out some new territory along Highway 23. The weigh in for the event is in Venice, and although all waters south of Belle Chasse are open, it makes the most sense logistically to fish somewhere close to Venice. The tournament is judged by weight, with the heaviest stringer of 1 redfish, 1 speckled trout and 1 flounder taking first prize. Although I'm not the biggest fan of focusing on tournaments, I think this is a great way to get me out of my comfort zone. I'd just keep sight fishing redfish if I didn't have a reason to switch it up. My real goal is to learn how to catch flounder, something that I have only done accidentally in the past. Josh Reppel and I made the trip this time.
- Wind: Calm, picked up just a tiny bit in the afternoon.
- Water Temp - around 82
- Tide - falling for most of the day, with a 1.5' range
- Solunar - average
- Water Clarity - varying but never more than about a foot. Clearest right up around the banks, and in small winding bayous.
- Distance - about 12 miles
The area we fished had a fairly long paddle to get out to where we could start fishing, and despite leaving the house at 4:45am, the sun was already up by the time we made our first casts. My first fish came pretty quickly - a redfish that I saw tailing on a wrecked piece of industrial debris. He rushed at the bait and made a pretty impressive wake, which is always one of my favorite things to see. I whispered a little in his ear about sticking around, and let him go - measured right under 27"! After that I fished around a bit more structure, finding another redfish and a ton of white trout - almost every cast. In the meantime, Josh had found a good speckled trout bite, and I paddled over there. Somehow, he neglected to call me on the radio when he found the trout bite.... ANYWAY.... The trout had mullet cornered, and were having a big ol fiesta with them. We stayed with them for a good little while, and Josh was able to upgrade his trout submission for the Massey's Fish Pic tournament that is wrapping up soon. The trout were good sized, including a couple in the 19-21" range, and only a few throwbacks - I had totally forgotten what it was like to have a trout pull drag, and one fish had me convinced it was in the mid 20's (NOT). Eventually we went along to some other structure points and picked up a few more fish. I was really trying to fish the bottom slowly in hopes of finding the magical mystery flounder, but wasn't able to. An unidentified fish, possibly sheepshead, kept nibbling my baits and at one point bit the tail off a curly-tail Z-Man bait, but redfish and trout were the only fish I brought over the side of the boat.
Had this been tournament day, I would have kept fishing for flounder, but since we were scouting, we decided to have a look at the marsh. Up until that point, we had been fishing open areas with structure, and wanted to get an idea of how many fish we could find deeper in the marsh, and the water clarity. We ended up splitting up to cover more ground. I checked out a few ponds, which turned out to be duds, and Josh made his way into some more interior marsh and found slightly clearer water and some redfish. I decided I'd head his way after writing off the area I was looking at, and made the paddle his way. As I was standing in the kayak and paddling along, an enormously loud CRACK rang out, and my paddle was suddenly no longer a single entity. Boy, I wish I could have seen my face. The insert that joins the two pieces cracked pretty impressively. Luckily, by that point I was pretty close to Josh, and able to lamely paddle my way to him. Let me tell you, paddling with two halves of a kayak paddle SUCKS. He was able to let me borrow his spare paddle, since he has a pedal drive kayak. I will have to either start bringing a spare paddle or some serious reinforcing tape in the future, because that would have been a miserable paddle back with a broken paddle. By this point, Josh needed to head back, but I was a little irritated because of the paddle, and I decided to poke around a little bit and clear my head before heading in. I found a few concentrations of redfish, but they weren't playing ball at all - the water clarity was such that I would keep seeing them just as I paddled into the pod and spooked them. I did get off a couple of good shots at them, but the lures were either spooking them, or not being seen. I had an inline spinner with a dark body plastic on at first, then a dark blue crawfish plastic with no spinner. The clarity of the water was making it hard to let them see it in a natural way, and they were getting scared at the bait appearing out of nowhere. In retrospect, I think I should have used a more natural color plastic and slowed the bait down, or used a smaller lure. After poking around in the marsh a little longer with no luck, I put my head down and made the long paddle back - a solid hour of paddling at a steady pace. It was grueling, but the wind wasn't bad, and there wasn't any chop. As I got closer to the launch, I found quite a few redfish tailing in some structure, and picked off a few before heading in. I hadn't planned on keeping any redfish, but one of them had eaten the lure in a strange manner, and I wasn't too confident on his survival rate, so that one I kept. As I pulled in to the launch, a couple of boaters were loading up their boat, and asked how we had done. I remembered seeing them when we launched around 7am. Keep in mind, it is nearly 5pm by this point. They didn't catch a single fish. How 3 guys in a boat, loaded down with bait manage to not catch a fish is beyond me, but I gave them my redfish! I tried really hard not to rub it in, but I'm not sure I totally succeeded. That, and the guide at the launch in the morning telling us we wouldn't find any trout really made my day.
Now, where the hell is this mystery fish known as flounder??