I’m currently sitting in a Kia dealership in New Iberia waiting for my wife’s vehicle to be serviced, so I figured I should knock out this post real quick.
It was a few days before this cold front blew through, so the temperature was still pretty comfortable outside. When I arrived at Coco Marina, I could see that the water was back to it’s normal level… still muddy, but that’s Cocodrie.
I headed south from the marina and targeted a couple of open mud flats just off of the main channel. There were definitely more signs of life than my previous trip. Bait was scurrying and jumping out the water, mostly shrimp (it’s that time of year!). Still, I didn’t see any actual fish in the first flat.
The first bite came way in the back of another flat area that turns to marsh ponds. I noticed a splash along the shoreline and started moving towards it. Through the muddy water I could make out the dark profiles of a small redfish school – maybe five fish. I still had the Z-man EZ-Shrimp (rootbeer/chart.) rigged up from last time so just pitched that ahead of them and started twitching it. Fish on! It was a small slot red, and being that I was pre-fishing for an upcoming tournament, I wanted to find a few nicer fish.
I headed to some marsh further west than I normally go, and found a lot of activity. Fish started to spook which caused me to change out to my “go-to”, the Buggs Curl-Tail (2nd Gen.). I soon had fish number two in my sights…
When in the marsh this time of year, even when you can’t see wakes, or sight-fish traditionally, one tactic you can use to sight fish indirectly (meaning not seeing the fish itself) is watching the shoreline for jumping bait. It can be subtle, but that’s how I casted to the next red. I noticed a trail of shrimp jumping along the shoreline, giving away that they were being antagonized from below the surface.
I casted ahead of the direction the bait were blowing up, and when it seemed like the right timing, I started working the lure. A short fight later and the red was brought aboard. It measured just over slot.
This went on a little longer before I needed to make the trek back to the marina. The way back was over the ship channel which was a bit choppy with the higher afternoon winds. The Outback pushed through fine, but the deck did get a little wet in the process, not a big deal for me.
Ultimately, the tournament was to take place last weekend – the same weekend as BCKFC’s Trout Challenge. I don’t worry too much about fishing in the rain or some wind, but I try not to underestimate the power of the weather. And with winds reaching gusts in the 30mph range, and knowing the area, I decided not to sign up. The officials decided to cancel and reschedule the tournament anyway, and I do plan to take part – though now it’s been moved to PAC.
Kayak : Hobie Outback (2019)
Paddle : Werner Cyprus Hooked
Rods : St. Croix Avid Inshore Series Spinning Rods & St. Croix Mojo Yak Casting Rod
Reels : Shimano Stradic 2500, Shimano Nasci 2500, & 13 Fishing Concept C
Lures : Z-Man Rigged EZ Shrimpz (Rtbr./Chart.) & Buggs 2nd Gen Curl-Tail Jig (Blk/Gold)
To finish off the month of October, I wanted to try something new. Well, kind of new. In 2013 I fished the famous Ride The Bull Kayak Rodeo for the first time. That experience can be found here. I fished it again in 2015. Neither time did I catch anything other than catfish and white trout. I also didn’t really know what to look for.
Now, with a bit more experience and some coaching, I headed down to Grand Isle to target some massive reds again, this time with a game plan. I would be meeting up with Mark Carline, a co-P&P Guide and former co-worker, and his father and brother. We would be targeting these bulls IFA style, meaning on artificial lures rather than the Ride the Bull typical cracked crab and cut mullet.
I arrived a little before Mark and started fishing for trout near the rock breakers. There were schools of mullet swarming on the surface, but nothing crashing from underneath. After Mark – and family – arrived, We headed out to the deeper water. Using my depth finder, I was looking for a school. In around 11ft, I picked up on a school of something and made a cast. Using a 1 oz. Jighead and Gulp, I jigged the bait a few times and had a bite. I reeled up quickly, but pulled up an empty hook after the fish got off.
A few minutes later, Mark’s Dad, Mr. Mark had hooked up. I was nearby so I got some shots of him and then assisted in landing the fish.
Mark’s brother, Josh, had also hooked up a few times throughout the day, but I was never close enough to get photos.
After helping Mr. Mark with his fish, I soon hooked up again, and . this one didn’t escape!
Mark and I were fishing for LKFC’s CPR Tournament, so length was really what we were after. This first bull measured in at 34″. Not even close to what I needed, but still a lot of fun!
Mark was next to hook up…
It went on this way for a few hours. Between the bulls, there were black drum and catfish also caught.
One of the highlights of the trip was when Mark hooked up to a roughly 40 incher on the fly. The fight lasted on the better side of ten minutes and got a little interesting as a crew boat passed nearby.
The biggest red I’ve caught up to that point had been a 36.5″ that I caught in Fourchon for last year’s LA1 Slamboree. Here’s some flashback photos…
I beat that twice on this trip. The first was a bull around 38″ (Photo further above). The second came around 1pm as we were fishing the tideline. I’d been catching catfish the last few casts – but knew fairly quickly that this wasn’t a cat. It helped that it started pulling drag…
Managing a big fish like this can be tough to take a CPR photo. Between controlling the fish, having it’s nose against the bumper and trying to get every bit of length from it, you’ve got your hands full. Thanks to Mark for helping get the photos of this fish. And also a shout-out to Tourneytag, who makes the sleeve that my CPR card goes in. It keeps the card dry, safe from the ink bleeding, and (as seen here) it’s strapped to my wrist so it’s one less component to worry about keeping in place.
We had a great time and it was a new experience for me. Especially different from marsh fishing and watching for tails! While I’ll definitely fish for bulls this way again, it’s time to get to the marsh, so that will be the next trips I make!
My Rod/Reel Combos
It’s definitely been a little while since I’d made my way down Hwy. 56 to launch at Coco Marina. Almost a year, actually. The last time I even fished anywhere in Cocodrie was about six or so months ago. But we’d gotten a couple of fronts in and I love fishing in Coco after a front (2-3 days after), so I headed down there to let the new Outback taste saltwater.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to tell about. Despite a pretty sunrise, the majority of the day was overcast and somewhat windy. Water was also high, about a foot up from where I like it to be and it was dirty. The clarity of the water is a bigger deal for me than the height.
Still, I gave it my best. Made adjustments and kept casting. Didn’t even try to sight-fish, I knew it would be a waste of time. I headed for all of the typical honey holes that I know of to no avail.
It finally changed when I parked myself in a back pond. I’d already seen a couple of wakes and had a bite. I knew where the fish like hanging out in this particular pond so I nudged up against the bank and started using a Z-Man shrimp and working it back slowly. That’s when a smallish red hit it like a freight train! First saltwater slime for the ’19 OB!
By that time I was about ready to head in. I hadn’t brought food and it was after lunch, and you notice hunger more when the bite is slow, haha!
November tenth is Redbone’s last tournament of the year, Festivus For The Rest Of Us, which takes place here in Cocodrie. I considered this to be the first scouting trip for that tourney. I may be headed back later this week and then once more next week before the tourney. Coco can be such a great fishery, I can’t wait for it to turn on!
My Rod/Reel Combos
There’s that old saying that “the only thing constant in life is change.”
My absence from the blogging has been reflective of my absence from the water since selling my Jackson Cruise FD. The lack of fishing was mainly due to the waiting game, waiting on my new model for 2019. But there’s been a major change for me as far as kayak fishing goes, in that I’ve resigned from my position on the Jackson Regional Team. This had been due to a few different reasons, none of which had anything to do with Jackson Kayak or the team itself.
Before continuing, I want to say it here, just as I did on social media… My experience as a Jackson Team Member has been phenomenal. I truly love the company and the products. But it’s mainly the people that make the JK brand so awesome. I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve made and hope to keep those friendships into the future.
Now – due to my new position, or lack there of, I felt that it was perhaps time to change things up and I wanted to demo a few new models from other brands. I’ve worked at Pack & Paddle for almost 5 years now and have a lot of experience with the different models, so I had a strong idea on which way I would go. I’ve always told myself that if I were to buy anything other than a Jackson, that it would be a Hobie. And as of 2017, the model I leaned towards by Hobie was the Compass. I liked it’s sharp nose, clean deck layout, large storage area, and overall stability. A huge plus for me is also it’s paddle-ability. These kayak are known for their pedal drives, but in my style of fishing, the pedal drives mainly just get you to a location, and then it’s stand-up-paddle time.
Then, at the end of August, Hobie unveiled what so many people had been waiting for, an updated Outback. The Outback has always been Hobie’s best-seller and it’s one of our top-sellers at P&P. The new design took everything I liked about the old Outback and added what I liked about the Compass, and threw a little Pro Angler spice in the mix as well.
So many of the features were ideas that I had been waiting for and hoping someone would figure out.
When I have been asked why I made the jump to Hobie, I compare it to the purchase of my favorite kayak since I started kayak fishing… the model I used for the longest – the Cuda 14…
– My very first kayak was a Jackson Coosa (the OG). I did (and still do) love the design of that ‘yak. But the first time I used it in a bay I realized why the Cuda 14 was the model everyone seemed to be pointing to for South LA. For about two weeks, I stopped at Pack & Paddle any chance I got to just look at a Cuda 14 they had on display. I didn’t just look at it, I stared at it. It ended when I just couldn’t take it. I sold the Coosa, and bought a Cuda.
This has been somewhat the same for me. The overall layout of the new Hobie Outback is just too great. From the clean deck-floor design, to loads of integrated tracks around the boat, the cupholders, the hatch areas, and the huge tank-well area.
All I can say at this point is that I’m looking forward to using this boat throughout the coming months, and seeing what this “Hobie thing” is all about!
A while back, I mentioned that one of the days for last year’s Jackson Kayak Team meet-up in Pointe Aux Chenes was dedicated to the idea of a friendly tournament. There were to be two teams and Jameson & Brooks would film it for a cool video.
That video has finally been released!