I’ve been on a bass fishing kick lately. I enjoyed seeing Iaconelli’s new show, Going Ike. In the first episode of this new series, he fishes with Louisiana native and Elite Series pro, Cliff Crochet. This is one of the better fishing shows I’ve seen in awhile. Entertaining as well as informational to an inshore dude trying to bass fish, haha!
For a lot of kayak anglers in South Louisiana, tournament fishing is a big deal. We’re a competitive bunch. Maybe some not quite as much as others, but we like putting ourselves to the test. When I was first getting started with kayak fishing, tournaments were something I wanted to do, but I was a little intimidated and didn’t want to fail miserably. Now I know. It is competitive to a degree, but it’s also about camaraderie and learning.
Eddie and Lisa Mullen, owners of PAC Kayak Rentals and Oak Point RV Campground in Pointe Aux Chene have started a pretty cool tournament that’s very laid back, and easy for new guys to get involved with and not feel intimidated. This is the PAC Redfish Series.
The series lasts a full year starting in February, and ending at their tournament, The Polar Challenge, the following January. Each month, competitors are given one of five designated days to fish the tournament. If you cannot fish any of those five days, every competitor is given five “hardship” days for the year.
In February, I missed a chance to fish the tournament during the designated days so I had to use a hardship day. I paddled out a little ways and as I was getting to my spot, a thunder storm started rolling in and after a few minutes and checking the weather, I decided it best to get back in before conditions got real nasty. Unfortunately, I ended my day with a big fat ZERO on the leaderboard. All of the Pack & Paddle crew were scattered in spots 2-15, and I was bringing in the rear near last place. I’ve had a crummy start to tournaments this year. End Part 1 of this entry.
This month I didn’t have to use a hardship day. I fished this past Monday. when I got to the launch, Eddie and Lisa informed me that my coworker, Max, was also fishing and had headed out early that morning. I set off and felt a little bit more serious than I normally do about tournaments. I had a game plan and planned to stick to it (I’m bad about deviating from my fishing plans).
I headed south from Eddie’s, hitting the oyster beds and the shelf that borders the main canal. I picked up a smallish (2.5 lb) red along the canal as he was coming around a point. I saw shrimp popping, then a subtle wake. I pitched a spoon and a few moments later, he was in the bag.
I made my way further down the canal and into some marshy areas. The water was low in the morning and I put a few new oyster scars in the bottom of my kayak. As I was pushing myself through the mud in this broken marsh, I see a red with it’s back out the water coming towards me. I pitch my favorite redfish lure to him, a Buggs Curl-tail Jig. He inhaled it and as you can see in the title image, it was down his throat a little ways. Into the bag he went. This one was a little bit bigger, around 25 inches and 4.5lbs. I needed three fish and I was hoping for two more studs.
I picked up anchor and moved around another corner where I found another two reds working a shoreline. Neither one looked too big, but were an easy target. Again, I put the Bugg to work and again, another fish was bagged. This one was about the same size as the first. I now had the three fish but could still catch another two, so I’d start focusing on size.
I took a quick second to get acquainted with where I was in the marsh, trying to read Google Maps through the glare on my iPhone screen. I started making my way back to the main canal where I found birds diving. I headed towards them and picked up and released a quick dink trout and then moved on.. after all, I’m looking for redfish.
I paddled about another mile to an area I know has a few grass beds. The main bed I wanted to fish was blown out by the wind, but there were a few beds protected within some marsh islands. Immediately, I started seeing some action from some nicer sized fish. I thought, “I should’ve come straight here.” I started sight fishing, slightly fighting the wind in the process. I just got a new rod specifically for pitching Buggs to reds and I got another opportunity to use it. It worked out nicely. Another decent red weighing around 4.5 lbs. Definitely not the preferred size, but I’d take it.
By now, it’s mid day. I’m not seeing quite as many reds but did pick up another red near the same size. I let it go hoping to catch a bigger one or at least another around a similar size. I already had my tournament fish but was hoping for one more stud to finish my limit and give me a good weight to weigh-in. While I did see a few more nice reds, I couldn’t get any to bite. They were either spooked or about to spook when I’d notice them. After about another hour, I headed back, picking up small reds along the way.
Oh yeah, there was also this Moon Jellyfish, though it looks like a washed up plastic bag… but it’s definitely a jellyfish.
I also noticed a lot of Comb Jellies in the water in certain areas. These aren’t uncommon. I see them all the time. They’re small with oblong bodies and tiny luminescent lines on their bodies. Pretty cool to see. Signs like Moon Jellyfish and Comb Jellies, and even sting rays are pretty good salinity indicators. I would gather that if you see those types of creatures, the water has to have decent salinity.
I don’t remember my exact weight. I think it was somewhere around 13.64 lbs. If nothing else, it did give me something on the board and put me right in the middle of the pack as it currently sits. We still have 10 months to go, and a lot can change in that span. Until next month, PAC Redfish Series!
Well, my first club tournament of the year came and went. It was Redbone’s Cinq Petite Rouges tournament in Cocodrie. It’s a reversed weight format. Lightest weight of five reds would win. Nobody had a problem catching reds, the problems were the size of the reds being caught. Long story short, I couldn’t catch a tournament-legal fish. All of mine were either too big or too small. Randy Robicheaux won the event with four nice reds. He had the heaviest weight, but because he weighed-in the closest to five fish, his weight trumped the others.
Here are some pictures from the event… there’s a story to one of them particularly.
My buddy, Mike, was bringing his fish into the weigh-in and had his three on a stringer. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow one of them came loose and swam off with a carabiner and 6ft piece of bungee attached to it. Mike was so frustrated by the situation that he spent most of the weigh-in watching the water to see if the fish would surface.
This wasn’t a great start, obviously, to my tournament season. In the next few days, I’ll be putting in my time for the PAC Kayak Rentals’ Kayak Redfish Series. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s a cool and new series-style event. Head over to PAC Kayak Rentals on Facebook for more info!
There was some discussion between a few of us at the shop during the days leading up to Fat Tuesday. A few of us knew we wanted to be on the water come Mardi Gras, but there were some concerns; one being the inevitable boat traffic, and the other being the weather (always a factor). It was looking to be windy, real windy. My original plan to fish PAC or Cocodrie was not looking good, but I’ve been trying to fish more freshwater lately (I say this at the start of every Spring). After talking it over with my buddy & coworker, Stephen, we decided to go bass fishing.
There’s no hiding where we went as it’s one of the most fished spots near Morgan City, the little town in Lower St. Martin Parish, Stephensville. We fished on the Lake Palourde side of the levee and used the camps as protection from the wind. We made our way to a residential canal that we both normally fish. Stephen and I were joined by Stephen’s friend, Derrick, who caught the first bass. It was small but still a keeper and better than my first two. He caught a second right as I was landing my first.
I was throwing a crankbait along the banks and around the base of the cypress trees. The first and second fish were about the same size and were caught where the water went back further into the swamp.
We decided to start heading out to the main channel. Stephen left a lot of his bass tackle in Lafayette while visiting his family so I let him take a pick from my crankbaits. He tied on a deep-diver and went to work. After a little while, he starts freaking out that he had a big one in the middle of the canal. At first I thought he was snagged and joking around, until I saw his rod tip. After an interesting fight and a broken set of fish grips, Stephen boated a 30 lb. (approx.) catfish. Say what you want about catfish, it was still a nice fish and a fun fight for Stephen.
After we left the residential canal, we headed across the bayou to a small bar pit pond. The pond is about 7-8 feet deep and has stumps along the bottom. We were both cranking deep divers and trying to find a deep bite. After about 30 mins, I decided to change up and use the wind to help me troll the bank while throwing a spinnerbait. I left the pond after hooking a long-nose gar. I headed up the main bayou to where it opens up a bit and found a protected bank. I got snagged twice before finally finding a bite. A 2.5 pounder isn’t huge, but it worked and qualified as satisfactory for me.
The second shot was taken back at the launch after I’d gotten out and taken off my life jacket, I always were it while on the water. Anyway, I always release bass when I do catch them and even most times I fish inshore. John Williams, Pack & Paddle’s owner, does fish print art and I wanted to get him a bass to print for me, and this fish will work even though it’s average for our area. And because this is Louisiana, it will be cooked and eaten.
I wanted to try to keep the bass alive at least till I got home so that River could see a live fish. He recently learned to say “bass” as a type of fish (we’re working on “redfish”). It was a treat for him and he enjoyed seeing it.
I can’t wait for him to get the full experience. But until then….
Every year, Pack & Paddle hosts a very popular seminar. Steve Lessard (current Hobie World’s Champion, among other credentials) and Brendan Bayard (Former IFA Champion, BCKFC Angler of the Year, among other credentials) come in to share tips, tricks, strategies, and stories that help with their very successful tournament record. It’s always a very popular event. This year, Doug Menefee (another decorated tournament angler) offered to live stream the seminar for the store. It does cut-off, but we did get a lot of really good information recorded.
And now, through the magic of technology…
… in all of it’s previously recorded glory…