Every year, Morgan City hosts the Shrimp & Petroleum Festival on Labor Day Weekend. While many people were downtown taking in the festivities, I was back in my kayak.
With Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club‘s PAC Attack tourney coming up, we wanted to make an early trip on Saturday to scout out a new location. We were planning to launch from one of the marinas in Pointe Aux Chenes, but none of us thought to bring enough cash, so we ended up making a roadside launch. We were fishing by 7:30. And within the first half hour out, I had the first bite of the day. He was a small guy, just over 16″. Within the next half hour, Andrew had hooked up too.
At some point after that, Andrew decided to break off from us and fish an area to our east. Karl and I continued to work around a large section of marsh. Andrew called us to tell he found a cove full of tailing reds and to get over there. By the time we did though, the school had mostly moved on. Andrew had caught another one or two. Karl hooked up with a straggler.
Finding clear water was a challenge. The water wasn’t like chocolate milk, but it wasn’t clean and we were never able to find cleaner water while out. Every so often, we’d see reds cruising near the surface but they weren’t interested in eating. The water seemed a little high too. Most of my casts were right up against the flooded banks.
Karl picked up a few more here and there. I landed an undersized guy (15.5″) which was tagged and released. In the process of measuring and tagging him, my paddles fell out of my boat. I had to use my bump board as a paddle to get me close enough to them to grab them. Thankfully the current/wind factor was not bad.
We picked up a few more, as well as had a few misses before we called it a day around 11; I had to get back home. Karl limited out, and Andrew and I kept 3 each. Most of the fish were around 16″-18.5″ with only a couple over 20″.
We decided to continue scouting on Monday, Labor Day. We got out a little bit earlier than on Saturday. Conditions were pretty much the same; dirty & kinda high water. There was a little bit more wind from the west though. We fished an area further down the road than on Saturday, looking for larger fish.
Again, within the first 30 mins, I had a 16.5″ red in the boat. Andrew and I both decided that with quite a few fish already in the fridge, we would be releasing any fish caught today (exception to trout, flounder, or sheep). So back in the water he went. Unfortunately, the rest of the day was very slow. Andrew eventually picked up a 18″, which was also released. Karl broke away from us and fished the same area we were at before. I started to target the sheepshead that I was seeing, which will continue to be a bigger learning experience for me. They seem to be much more picky.
The only other action I saw for the rest of the day came from what I thought may have been a trout. I got a few light taps on my lure and as I went to set the hook, the fish flew out the water, came unhooked and almost hit my boat. I planned to go back and watch the video to see if that’s what it was, but the camera angle was bad and I’m blocking the action.
GoPro batteries held up this time and I will have a video up soon from the day.
So earlier in the week I headed down to the marsh. Mark, who has joined Andrew & I before, had still yet to catch a red, so I figure he and I could try to change that.
We got down to the launch around 8am on Tuesday & got stuck talking to some guys that were crabbing down there. We didn’t get on the water until around 8:30 and high-tailed it to an area I had been before that offered decent sightfishing. When we got there, we started seeing reds everywhere but they were not digging my offer. I finally got one interested enough, but no sooner had the fight started it was over. Bad hook-set maybe? I’m not sure. Anyway, we called it a day by lunchtime and headed home. Mark’s interest lasted about 2 hours into the trip and he spent the rest of his time paddling around while I fished.
The next day I headed back out to the same area. It was pretty much the same story. Winds were out of the NE and varied between 5-10. Watched plenty of fish, but they weren’t interested. I worked a large area for quite a while trying to get one to bite, changing up lures and trying everything I had but with no luck.
Finally saw one a few feet to my left swimming in the opposite direction. The first cast that I made was off. By the time I was ready to cast again, he was I few feet behind me but the cast was right on. He chased it down and put up a good little fight. He measured in at 24.75″. Last month I joined the tagging program by the CCA. I had still yet to tag a fish and had planned to tag any fish that were caught that day. So this guy was my first tagged fish.
After that, I hung around that area just a little while longer before moving on. All morning I had seen quite a few reds & schools of mullet all over the area. But after moving on, I started seeing drum & sheepshead everywhere. I gotta figure them sheepshead out!
I continued on in search of any more reds. Sight-casted to several more but it was mid-day by then and they just cruised on.
On another note, I’ve realized that even with the battery backpack, GoPro’s battery life is horrible, so I’ll soon need to invest in back-up batteries for it.
Here is a cool article I found that shows some of the info that the tagging program provides: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/tagged-redfish-recaptured-nearly-23-years-later/2137880
My solo fish in this post was caught on an H&H Secret Redfish Gold Spoon.
Well, all of the build-up and publicity paid off this year as Ride The Bull, in Grand Isle, earned the title, “Largest Kayak Fishing Rodeo in the World”, with 488 on-the-water participants. Two of those participants were Andrew and I.
We got to the island around 4pm on Friday, after checking in our hotel and wandering around Leeville looking for live crabs or cut mullet. There was already a small crowd when we arrived at Bridgeside Marina. We got our captains bags and hung out around the area while waiting. There were a few guys out in Caminada Pass prefishing. The weather was pretty nice and the water looked pretty calm for the area.
The dinner was fixed by the Friends of Grand Isle and was awesome! Barbecued chicken and baked beans (w/ chili mixed in) were the highlight of the meal. There was welcoming and sponsor shoutouts. The Backpacker provided a Hobie PA for the angler weighing in the heaviest red. GoPro was providing prize cameras for those who would compete in the film festival and a second contest on tournament day. Heroes On The Water were raffling off a K-2 Cooler, and BCKFC were raffling off a Hobie Outback.
We stayed for the first part of the film festival. There were a few great entries (which you can watch here). We did not stay to vote, though. We decided to head back to our hotel in Galliano.
We woke up in the morning around 5 and started back to the island. Lightning in the distance told us the weather would be the opposite of the day before. The marina was again packed by the time we got there. It was great to see the many different kayaks and rigging ideas. That’s been one of my favorite things about tourneys so far.
We didn’t get on the water until after the start, and many of the others did likewise, waiting for a break in the weather. The current was not horrible once out in the pass. We anchored and started fishing. My rods got tangled on a drifters rods, then once cleared, on their rudder. They were nice and got it untangled. As I was getting that rig cleaned up, my other rod started moving. I started pulling it up with not a lot of resistance and found a small hard-head catfish on the other end. He had somehow gotten one of is fins hooked.
Soon, the water stopped moving and the only thing determining our direction was the wind. Then the tide started falling. That was the story of the day. At the same moment, the rain came, heavy. I paddled under the bridge and had to continue paddling to keep from being pushed back by tide and wind. Somewhere in the madness I managed to upgrade my catfish weight… stupid catfish.
By the time the rain had stopped, I decided I didn’t want to put up with the tide anymore and headed in. Andrew, as well as many others, were making the same decision. In short, that was it for us as far as participating went. After eating and loading up our gear, we walked out to the end of the fishing pier to watch the action. The tide was moving even harder it seemed. Several anglers had tied up to the pier to anchor themselves. We watched as paddles and bait wells were lost, and one poor guy lost control and flipped his boat. Luckily, he was not alone and several anglers helped him out. We later found out that it was a common occurrence. The chase boats were turned into rescue boats as well as towing vessels. Many participants were towed back in.
When the after party started, we learned that bull reds were actually caught. First place went to Jeff Gleason with a 32lb red. And there were MANY prizes in the prize-pool for the top-ten and later the raffle winners to choose from.
All-in-all, it was a very well put on event. Bridgeside handled the crowds very well and Danny & Kristen Wray did a great job organizing the tournament. It was not “my style” of fishing, but fun nonetheless! It will no doubt be interesting to see how many participate in Ride The Bull V.