GAME OF INCHES

"IT'S A GAME OF INCHES, THE MOST IMPORTANT ARE THE SIX INCHES BETWEEN YOUR EARS"

-ARNOLD PALMER

5 years ago, I walked to the scales holding 2 redfish in a clear weigh bag at my very first tournament. Chad Lyden and Tom Stubblefield were looking for a third person to fish with them in a local tournament, so I decided to join. I met them at the ramp and paddled back to some flats that we knew were holding quality fish. It was not long and we had 2 fish on the stringer and we were done.

The only kayak team that entered the tournament arrived with what would of been a landslide victory of 17+ pounds for 2 redfish. We go for the W with a chance at $1500 and throw the 2 biggest fish we have. The first one measured just under 28" and was the big fish of the tournament. The other fish, which was much heavier than the other, stretched over the 28" mark on the check-it-stick by what seemed to be a 1/32". Our fish busted and just like that, we were back at the bottom. Ever since then, tournament fishing has appealed to me and our loss that day made me realize that this is not as easy as I once thought. 

 

This past week was the start of the Elite Redfish Series and the first stop was in Kemah, Texas. Me and 16 other anglers anxiously awaited for the beginning of the new series and we all had high hopes of being able to win some good money. Unlike the last tournament, I did not have an opportunity to pre-fish like I usually do. I got one day of fishing in before it started and was happy to find a few fish.

Even though Arnold is talking about Golf, I believe the same goes for fishing. The mental aspect of the game is a major factor that most people tend to neglect. No matter what happens with the weather conditions or any other factor, you have to have a game plan and never veer from it. You have to be confident in your lure selection, the area you are going to fish and every decision you make that day; plan B does not exist for kayakers. The 6" between your ears are the most important and will always lead you in the right direction.

Fortunately, I had my mind made up a month prior of exactly what I was going to do. I planned on driving back to my home waters, hitting an area hard and hope that I could find 2 fish for 2 days in a row. I never had an opportunity to search for fish in other areas, so I was dead set on my plan. Kind of a 'Damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation.

One of the reasons of why I love tournament fishing is the thrill of searching for that perfect fish. Having a slot limit makes it a difficult task because you are looking for a fish that is within 1-2" of the 28" mark. Fish that are within that length are great tournament fish but the perfect one's are hard to come by. I have always found it wild that 1/16" can either make you or break you. 1/16" short of the mark is perfect and 1/16" over will put you out of the runnings for a check. 

On day 1 I was fortunate enough to find a perfect tournament fish. I stuck to my plan, covered a lot of water and stuck a fish that would hit the 28" mark. Perfect! I continued to fish and stuck another one that was just under 27" and I knew that it was time for me to head to the scales. After weighing them, I had 16.52 lbs for both fish and was sitting in first after day 1. I had a 5 lb. lead and the game was good to me on that day.

The next day was completely different. A cold front came in with temperatures dropping, pressure rising and winds blowing 20 MPH+. I knew it was going to be tough to paddle in and less than ideal to fish where I was the previous day. My gut instincts told me to go back and find the same fish. I kept telling myself not to veer from my plan; my decision has been made for more than a month now and that morning was not the time to change it.   

That day of fishing for me was a prime example of the game that we play. 

"TOO SHORT IS JUST AS BAD AS TOO LONG"

I started off by hitting a school of redfish and landing a heavy fish. After putting him on my stick, he measured a 1/2" too long. The next 2 fish I landed were on the complete opposite side of the slot- I had 2- 20" fish on my stringer and I knew I needed more than that. Chad and I had a monumental day of fishing but every other fish I landed was too big. I went to the scales and both fish weighed 6.4 lbs. My smallest fish from the prior day weighed more that both of them. I ended up falling short by 1.7 lbs to Fishman Fil Spencer, who came from behind with 2 great fish on day 2. I took home 2nd place and could not be any happier about it. I executed my plan flawlessly and never once did I have a second thought or regret about my decisions I made on both days. I had the right 2 bites on day 1 and the wrong 2 on day 2.... that's fishing!

The game got me that day but that is exactly why we play. The uncertainty of where that fish will land on a measuring stick is why we gamble on it. On day 1, everything that could of gone right did and it was in my favor. On day 2, it was the complete opposite. That is part of the game and  is exactly what makes it so exciting! 

The first time my team and I threw a redfish on a weigh master's board is a moment that will always stand out to me (my heart is actually racing while typing this). Since that day, my adrenaline still kicks in when I throw 2 redfish on the table to be measured and weighed, no matter the size. I have had fish be just over the mark and bust, some that were just under and others that would barely cross the legal 20" mark. This is why I play though and exactly why I keep coming back. The uncertainty of coming up short, being to long or hitting it perfectly is the game we play.... the game of inches.

Enjoy Life

 

ONE 'MORE' YEAR

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year"

-Ralph Waldo Emerson       

A new year a new me? Nah not this guy... I plan on being the same ol' Dave. 2016 has come to an end and we are greeted with a fresh new year. We often look at January 1 as a day that is a new beginning and we try to change in a way that we will better ourselves. I plan on doing just that; I am going to better myself but still be the same ol' me...... how you ask?

Quite simply, I am going to do MORE!

I am going to fish MORE

I am going to travel MORE

I am going to see MORE

I am going to fail MORE

I am going to learn MORE

I am going to dream MORE

 Photo Credit: Joe Winston

Photo Credit: Joe Winston

This year, I am going to do MORE!

It has been but just a few short days and my desk calendar is already littered with ink. I have scratched in fishing tournaments, boat/fishing shows, kayak demo days, vacation and whatever else that I need to attend too. A majority of things I have on my calendar all revolve around fishing in some way. Even with the 2 weddings I have to be at, I am using that as opportunities to fish a few days prior. 

I am also going to fish every tournament that I am able to enter. In turn this is going to put me traveling for pre-fishing and for tournament days. Exploring and fishing new areas is always a fun and rewarding experience; I have never gone somewhere new and had a dull moment. The Texas coast is going to be a majority of my traveling but I have a fly fishing trip for Trout in the Colorado River in Arizona and a Tarpon trip in Campeche, Mexico. I have invited some people to both trips and have not heard anything back. At this point I don't care if I have to go by myself. I am tired of waiting on people; it is time to do more!

I am a firm believer that the best way of learning is by failing.......miserably. Having a degree from the 'School of Hard Knocks' is the most valuable piece of paper one can earn. That being said, the more I fail, the more I learn; no I am not going to go out and fail on purpose but it is inevitable so I might as well learn from it. This applies to fishing, kayaking, tournaments, photography and the list goes on.

For example, my tournament season was not near as productive as I was wishing for. I know it is fishing and it is kind of a crap shoot at times but you still have some control. I have heard it said that 'Luck' wins tournaments and I can not argue that point one bit but I am a firm believer that you have to be skillful enough to put yourself in a lucky situation. In order to be in this situation it takes a lot of time and effort to find the right fish. I had several tournaments this year where I produced some solid fish but they were 1/8" to long. Is that bad luck? Am I cursed? The answer is no... my outcome on tourney day should not be skewed because of 1 or 2 fish being over the slot. 

I did not put the time in like I should have. I remember one of my middle school teachers saying "Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice, makes perfect" Hard work pays off and this year I am going to do more of it.

 The perfect tournament fish

The perfect tournament fish

I really do not know if this is possible or not but I plan on taking more pictures... like a lot. I really want to work on my photography skills and be able to produce more quality images. My goal this year is to have one of my photos on the cover of Texas Saltwater Magazine. I also want to start taking more pictures of wildlife and capture the moments of people enjoying the outdoors, on and off the water.

As of now there are 359 days left in this year and we are continuously counting down to 2018. That may seem like a lot of time but like always, we will wake up one morning baffled that it is already Christmas. Time is the only thing that is consistent in this world and it is something that we can never get back. As John Fogerty once said "Someday never comes". The time is now; travel more, explore more, fish more, live more!

You have been granted one more year, how are you going to spend it?   

Enjoy Life

 

 

 

THE CONTEMPLATION OF A TOURNAMENT FISHERMAN

For the past few weeks my mind has been going a mile a minute with thoughts and emotions. I am sure by now the little hamster running on the wheel is exhausted; and mentally, so am I. Tomorrow is the start of the biggest tournament I have ever fished in my life. Not one with the largest field but one with the largest entry fee and payout that I have been apart of. The stakes have been raised in the realm of kayak fishing and well, things are about to get real. 

The Elite Redfish Series, who holds a professional tournament series for boaters, has decided to start a new chain of tournaments directed towards kayakers. The start of it and the first ever is going to be held on my home waters of Sabine Lake. Well I like to fish and I like to gamble so why the hell not? It is just another tournament and I have fished several before but I have treated this one differently.....

This one is HIGH risk, HIGH reward!

So that right there is enough reason to kill the little hamster who is trying to keep up with his wheel that is spinning out of control. I am spending a pretty good amount of money to enter a tournament with hopes to have 2 days worth of fish that will trump the rest of the field. This is not my normal tournament where I lose a days worth of pay but instead a weeks worth. But what if I win? AHHH but what if I win! That is a crap shoot that I am willing to throw the dice on.

I, for one, do love the idea of taking the chance of doing big things but quite honestly, I have not been on any good fish lately. Good ones, but not tournament winners; that in itself has put another level of stress on me. To top that off, nearly all of our marsh in our area is off limits due to duck season. So I have been forced to move to new areas and start fishing in new ways. I have racked my brain over where I should even attempt to try and fish! I have hit several areas, new and old, and they all have produced mediocre fish. My only hope is that consistency is a key factor and I can land a solid upper slot on both days. The fish I have been catching are the right shape and are healthy but are not the right length.

So that being said, you start to second guess yourself asking if you are in the right area or if you need to move? Am I fishing to slow? To fast? Wrong presentation? To heavy? To light? Wrong color? Wrong lure? Top water? Popping cork? Texas 2-Step? These are constant questions I ask myself with hopes that I will find the correct answer before my first cast once the tournament starts. 

The thought of this tournament has lingered in my mind since the day I signed up for it. I have been anxious, excited, nervous, doubtful and every other kind of emotion you can throw in there. I then remembered about the first time I marshaled for the Elite Redfish Series and I was paired with Rob Ferris. I asked him what our plan was for tomorrow and his reply was....

"We're going fishing!"

And that is exactly what I need to remember. I am just going fishing; do not over complicate this; do not overthink this; just do exactly what I do best.....and thats fishing. Go out and have fun, enjoy the day and the rest will come.

It is hard to treat tomorrow like another tournament because the stakes have been raised. I have literally woken up at 12 a.m., 2 a.m., 5 a.m., and in the middle of a dead sleep thinking about netting a fish that is in the upper slot range. Some people may call that anxiety but I call it adrenaline. After all, the difference between the two is either worrying about the situation or embracing it! So now comes the real question- Are you going to win?

That is a question that I do not have a answer for but I will say this....I am at the far end of the table with the dice in my hands and I have laid my money down........and I damn sure didn't bet on the house.

Enjoy Life

THE EXCEPTION

Exception /ikˈsepSH(ə)n/ noun. a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule.

I typically think of fishing as a unique sport that is far more different than any other mainstream activity. In reality though, is it? After all, it is you vs. them, angler vs. fish or however you want to put it. At the end of the day your main goal is to outwit and overcome your opponent (redfish in this case). You prepare by watching a weeks worth of news for the weather conditions; you prepare your rods and reels properly for the fight; you tie on lures that you have all the confidence in; most of all though, you have found where the fish are hiding and you know their every move. You have studied your opponent and from the moment you hit the water, the odds are in your favor. It should be a land slide victory that comes with a heavy stringer but you never planned on the exception.

The exception is when you get beat at your own game. The exception is when the book "Catching Redfish 101" is thrown out the window. The exception is when you make a flawless cast to a red swimming and he passes your lure as if he knew it was a glittery piece of plastic. The exception is hanging into a solid fish and him coming unhooked at the boat. You do EVERYTHING correct and were properly prepared for everything except.... 

The past month of fishing for me has been a roller coaster ride. I have spent several days grinding out my morning searching for a bite. Some were more successful than others but on tournament days, when you really need it to count, things did just not go my way. Call it what you will, bad luck, misfortune or whatever; maybe I need to sacrifice a hardhead to the Fishing Gods, hell I don't know. Lately, it has been rough!

I fished Cops Helping Kids Tournament a little while ago and we directly went to the back of a marsh flat. I see a red push and I put a spoon directly in front of his face. Of course he smashes it, I set the hook and as soon as he takes off my line breaks.... Frustrated we move on and I spot another good fish swimming. I pitch the trusty spoon out there and out of nowhere, a 16" rat cuts in front of the bigger fish to get the spoon. He takes off making all sorts of ruckus and spooks every other fish in that pond away. That pretty much sums up of how our day went.

A few weeks ago, my brother and I fished a smaller local charity tournament. We decided to make our way back to a set of marsh ponds that I knew were holding some fish. I made the corner in the bayou and I see a small wake pushing towards me. I cast my Skitterwalk just to the side and he comes towards it. He breaches the water with his mouth wide open, eats my topwater, and goes under. I wait a second, set the hook and I quickly dodge a Skitterwalk that is hurling towards my face. 6 hooks........... 6 hooks and not one found its way into that fish!

The very next bend I make I see the same thing; a small wake pushing, this time going away from me. I cast my lure, a Texas 2-Step, and the fish reacts and the fight is on! After landing him I knew that I had a money fish. I put him on my Check-it-Stik and the first measurement was 1/16" over. I reposition the fish and swept his tail again, 1/16" under the 28" line. After swiping the tail 7 or 8 times, half were on 28" or just under and the other half were just over 28". At that point you have to make a decision of risking to keep that fish for legal reasons, so I decided to let him go. 

To keep this long story short, I landed another red that was around 5 lbs. and was not enough for me to head to the weigh-in. However, I did lose 7 other fish. I would set the hook, fight them for a few seconds and then I would pull the hook on them. I can see doing that to 1 fish or maybe 2, but 7! Hell Blaze did the same thing with 2 of his fish. I even had a red swimming around in a little pocket that I tried to sight cast that completely ignored the 3 lures I had tied on. 

The fish that I have encountered lately seem to have the upper hand; it is as if they have done more homework on me than I have on them. They have broken out of line and are not following the typical rules. That being said, it is time for me to adapt and get out of my typical routine. The Lone Star Kayak Series is this weekend and I, for one, am excited. I know where some good fish are but in order for me to go to the weigh-in this time, I have to be a step ahead of them. I am going to change my whole style and presentation up come Saturday and show them something they have never seen. Little do they know, I am throwing the book out the window and this time I will be the exception.

Enjoy LIfe

 

 

SEIZE THE DAY

"Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster"

-Theodore Roosevelt

Hell I don't even know where to start.... The past few months I have been stuck working 7-12's with only a handful of days off. I have become the oyster and the gates of the refinery are my shell; they have kept me enclosed for sometime now but when I get a chance to bust out, I take full advantage of it!

That being said, I have been fishing only a few times which has made it slightly difficult to keep a consistent pattern on the fish. Also, no matter the conditions of the day- wind, rain, slack tides, whichever it may of been, I was still going fishing. The only advantage to working was that I knew exactly what day I was going to be off and I had a full 2 weeks to watch the weather play out. At this point, I was more acceptable of the conditions because I knew I was going to make a trip.  

It is no secret that we have had record rainfall this year and the water has been much more fresh than what it typically is. One of the benefits for rain is that the widgeon grass starts to grow. You find the grass and you will find the fish! I have hit several ponds in the past few months and the vegetation is completely different from last years crop. In turn, the fish are not in the same pattern they were last summer (from what I have found). Of course, they are oblivious of the change; all they know is that where there is grass, there is food and that is all they care about. 

My first few trips to the marsh were slightly productive and a good learning experience. I found that the bigger, wide open ponds were not holding any fish. This time last year, you could cast a popping cork in the middle, pop it once and watch the wakes come towards it. This year, nada! Not just here, but in Louisiana too. I went with a buddy in his skiff to the Sabine Wildlife refuge and we covered a vast amount of open marsh and we never spooked the first fish; that is unreal! My opinion of why they are not holding there (yet) is because there is not much grass growing along the bank and in the middle. 

They have to be somewhere right? Of course, they did not just disappear, so the hunt was on. I started waking up early and launching in the dark and paddling to new places that were DEEP in the marsh. I finally ended up finding a good congregation of fish hanging out- I just had to beat the boats there. After a trip or 2,  I started to pick up on their pattern for following trips and it was simple; find the grass. The grass though has been growing in smaller ponds and back pockets. I ended up pulling out this pretty gal at the Sabine Refuge in a smaller pond that Elite Pro Rob Ferris fished on the first day. He had it figured out 2 months ago- hit the smaller ponds and not the bigger, open water.

We pulled 3 more fish out of that same pond and missed a few others; they liked it for some reason. I took that pattern and brought it to our Texas marsh. So the next trip me and Chad fished the Galveston Grass Root Series in search of a paycheck. We started early and went deep once again. I only had 2 bites with both of my fish being over but we had seen plenty and had our opportunity. Chad had a nice fish on the stringer but we never could find a match with it; I guess that is tournament fishing at its finest. 

Over slot fish won't get you a paycheck but are still fun to catch, even on tourney day! Lately that seems to be what I have been finding but that is a hell of a problem to have. For Memorial day, I decided to hop in a boat with Nate and meet a group of guys out on the water.

We all traveled together and once we got to our pond, we were stuck fishing the middle. Nate and I decided to head to the back of it and I knew there was a bayou coming out there and was hopeful to pick up a fish. As we approached, I heard a familiar popping sound and I knew exactly what we found! A school of 20+ redfish where piled up at the mouth and well, we attempted to try and double up. We gave it the ole 1...2...3!

Nate hooks up before me but it's all good, fish on! He lands it and it is a stud fish!

Seeing that school of redfish was enough to to satisfy my itch of fishing for that one day. I then began planning my next outing 2 weeks from then. Stu wanted to come with me on this trip and I told him to come on but we are leaving early. Once again we headed a few miles back before we even started to fish. Once we did, I caught a nice 23" fish and we continued back. I then made a corner and seen a few tails pop up at casting distance. I wanted to get a few pictures but the water was so high they disappeared quickly. I threw a Gold spoon in the mix and it was on. As I landed my fish I heard Stu yell "Over here!" I turned to look at him and there was 7-10 tails flailing above the waters surface. He made a precise cast and pulled out a solid fish!  

We caught a few more fish that morning and got out of there quick before it got to hot. It was a beautiful day on the water and I was not at work, which made it that much better. 

I believe I have only fished 5 days out of the past 2 months which is not my typical fishing habit but what do you do? No matter what day I was on the water, I took it as an opportunity to put a pattern on the fish. I made the most out of my trips and progressively worked towards finding them. After every trip I would go back to the drawing board and scratch off where the fish were not. Eventually it would point me to the last option and of course, it had to pay off. 

When it comes down to it, in order to seek results you have to take action. That form may come in many ways but as long as you are making headway you are doing okay. The more I think about it I believe ole Teddy was right. We were not meant to be stuck inside of a shell all of our lives. When getting the opportunity to do something we should seek action and learn from our progress. Take advantage of the moment, embrace the uncertainty, and live every day to the fullest.

Enjoy Life! 

3 DAYS WITH A PRO

"Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning" 
 

Ever since I can remember, fishing has always been apart of my life. At a younger age we were always taking a family outing to Sabine Lake and as I got older, the allure of fishing turned into much more. What once was a hobby quickly turned into a passion that has lead me down a road of uncertainty. It is not my destination that I am uncertain of but the path that I will be taking to get there. I envision myself competing amongst a group of the greatest anglers ever composed with the goal of being recognized as one of the best in our field. Obtaining this achievement is very doable but has always left me puzzled; how do you get to this level? 

A few months back I learned that The Elite Redfish Series was coming to Orange, Texas. I also found out that they needed marshals to ride around with the pros and this was an opportunity that I was not going to miss. These are guys that are able to travel and fish all across the coast so I know they have a wealth of knowledge. I had several questions that I wanted to ask these anglers; How did you get to where you are at now? When you go to a new area how do you target fish? Why are you using the lures you have tied on? And the list goes on.

I currently have diminished this post to just an overall summary. My original plan was to write a day by day experience but I quickly realized that it was entirely to much for me and you (the reader). So here are a few things that I learned in my 3 days.

72.jpg

"Don't over think things, have fun and do what you do best"

The first thing that I learned and I took it to heart; some may not see it as a lesson or something worth learning, but I did. The night at the Captains Meeting I was paired up with Rob Ferris. Before I left that night I asked him if we were going to the marsh or the jetties? His answer was simple...

"We're going fishing" 

He made it seem like that I didn't need to worry about where we are going. Hell it seemed like he didn't even know what he wanted to do but he said it with enough confidence that I knew he had a plan. He made me believe that tomorrow is just another day and there is no reason to over complicate it; we are going fishing and that is exactly what we did.

"Whatever your style of fishing may be, have the equipment that will suit you best"

The first morning when I arrived to the launch I quickly realized that this was indeed the big leagues! The dock was lined with the competitors boats and it reminded me of a classic car show. They were the best boats that money can buy and every vessel was individually customized to their drivers specifications that suited their style of fishing. Some were plain and others had every gadget that could be attached but at the end, it was their boat and they had it exactly how they wanted it.

Some people like to stand 8' on a platform...

and others like to pole around when necessary. 

"You can tell a lot about a fish just by the way it looks."

On day 3, I was paired with Jamie Hough and he taught me a great amount about fish and the sport. In conversation he brought up that he can tell where a fish was caught and it's diet just by looking at a picture someone had posted. He explained that if a red is darker with a more orange/golden color that they are in fresher water. Also he could tell their diet by looking at the color of their tail; if it has a blueish tint then they have been eating shellfish--- shrimp, crabs, etc. "Think about it, when you crush a crab, what color does it bleed? ......Blue" The iodine in the shellfish is what will make their tail turn to that blueish color. There is your FunFact for the day, your welcome!

 Take note of the color of fish and the lilly pads; that is how fresh of water this fish was caught in.

Take note of the color of fish and the lilly pads; that is how fresh of water this fish was caught in.

 No crab in this gals diet!

No crab in this gals diet!

"Be confident in your lure selection"

The one aspect I was looking forward to seeing was their choice of lures. Out of the 3 days, nearly every boat that had their rods out, I made a point to see what they were throwing. Popping cork (of course, never leave home without it), A Johnson Spoon (Classic!), and this is the one lure that I never seen used or ever thought about using and that was a large paddle tail (the guys I rode with were using Yum Money Minnow, I seen others with different brands but same style). That being said, these guys were very confident in what they were throwing and it worked. I watched a few reds hammer that Money Minnow!

The thing that got me most came on day 2. I rode with Chris Rosengarten and I watched him go to the same pond that Rob and I were in on the previous day. I watched him pull out 2 tailing fish that Rob could not get to bite. Both were throwing Johnson Spoons but the ONLY difference was Chris was throwing a half silver half chartreuse spoon vs. Rob's proven gold spoon. For some reason that just dumfounds me but Chris had it tied on for a reason and it worked. Confidence is key.

"From Texas to Carolina, they are the same fish"

I asked Jamie Hough on Day 3 how does he come to a new area (in this case halfway across the country) and produce quality fish on tournament day? He quickly asked me "Do I like my steak with a bone-in or bone-out?" His question caught me off guard but I understood the point he was trying to make. "You can go to any town in the country and you know exactly what kind of steak you want and you know where to find it. It's the same with redfish; they are the same fish across the coast and have the same habits." He has a valid point, these fish will tend to stick to the same habitat, have the same diet and are consistent everywhere you go.

"The 3 P's: Points, Pockets and Patches of grass"

That pretty much explains it; hit the points, fish the back pockets and around patches of grass. The last Lone Star Kayak Series I did just that. I had one fish in the box and I loaded up and went down the road to another launch site. I knew that I should of been able to go back to this marsh and find at least 1 fish and I was pressed with time. I would only cast to a point, a back pocket or patches of widgeon grass along the shoreline. After a quick hour of doing so, I pulled out a nice 27", 7.5 lb red and that completed my stringer. 

 This gal was tailing around with a few others in a back pocket of a pond.

This gal was tailing around with a few others in a back pocket of a pond.

"There are no guarantee's when it comes to catching fish. Amateur's to professionals, everyone has that day."

Fishing is a sport that will always keep you guessing. If someone says they know everything there is to fishing and they always catch fish, they obviously don't know what they are talking about. I watched an angler make several precise cast to a few different fish that were tailing and they would not strike! This is a move pulled right out of "Catching Redfish 101"! That should be a caught fish 10 out 10 times but it was not the angler, it was not the lure, it was not the cast, it was the fish and you can't make them eat. Everyone has experienced days like that and no matter who you may be, it's inevitable......that's fishing.

 That SHOULD be a caught fish. Can't make them bite.

That SHOULD be a caught fish. Can't make them bite.

"It's not about being the greatest fisherman, it is about being a good person"

How do you get to this level? I asked this question to the guys I rode with and a few other anglers that I had a chance to have a conversation with at the scales.The gist of EVERY response included that it all is about being a good person. Make yourself known, make sure people remember who you are and leave a good impression and the rest will happen. I firmly believe in this industry your integrity and ethics will get you further than your tournament resume when it comes to receiving help from other anglers and sponsors. That being said, after meeting all the anglers  who are apart of the Elite Series, I know how they got here.

After my 3 days I believe that I came out with a much better understanding of the sport. It takes a lot of work to get to this point and requires sacrifices that some may not be willing to make. It requires a lot of money for travel expenses, entry fee and maintenance on your equipment. You will also be spending a lot of time away from your home and family. These are things that have to be done and considered when chasing after your dream.

My overall experience was nothing short of incredible and something that I am glad I did. I already have caught a few fish using the tips and tricks I learned on my 3 days. Huge thanks to Rob Ferris, Chris Rosengarten and Jamie Hough for letting me ride with y'all; also thanks for sharing information and answering any question that I might of had. I now have a better perception of what it takes to get to this level and that entails a lot of work- both on and off the field. With everything I learned, I am one step closer to my goal and the path getting there has become a little more clear.

Enjoy Life

  

 

TEAM TOAD SLAM- U YAK BRO?

"The best teamwork comes from men working independently toward one goal in unison" -James Cash Penney

 

When I think of tournament fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is standing on stage with a sack of fish that you just caught. In my case, bringing 2 solid red fish to the scales can prove to be a difficult task. Even when having a team tournament, you usually choose a good buddy of yours that you typically fish with and go out on tourney day and give it hell. If one angler is having an off day, the other teammate can step up and combine fish. Fair enough, but if a challenge was brought to you to find 5 anglers to individually produce solid fish on a given day, could you do it?

The exact scenario was assembled for a bass tournament on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. The Team Toad Slam was brought to my attention a few months back and we talked about putting together a 5 man team to fish it. The format was simple; each team has 5 members and each member gets to enter their biggest bass to complete the teams total. Sounds fun enough and after all, it was a great excuse to leave the salty marsh's of Southeast Texas and make a road trip to fish some new water. About a month ago we decided to pull the trigger; we got the final 5 members of our team, reserved our lodging, and started doing our homework on fishing the Bird.

I began searching forums on any information I could find about people fishing Lady Bird. I also started my study of Google Maps and I believe that the whole area is permanently etched into my memory. During my studies, I had one of the leaders of the tournament mentioned looking at Navionics; pretty much it is a electronic map that has the depth charts of certain bodies of water, with Lady Bird Lake being one of them.

The time came and we were all headed to Austin for the weekend. I had my kayak and poles loaded for a weekend away from SETX. Of course too, a Texas road trip is never complete without stopping at the greatest store ever, Buc-ee's! 

Without a doubt it was a beautiful day for a drive across Texas and I arrived in ATX just in time to meet up with Colt and Brent. After discussing our plans for the following day, we knew that Lady Bird Lake was off limits so we decided to go further up river and fish a little area on the Colorado. We got there right at daylight and I can not even begin to explain how captivating our surroundings were; the crystal clear water, the mountains with elegant homes overlooking the surrounding area, it had it all. This was not our typical trip along the Neches River- we do not get this back home.

We start our way down the river and peel off down a cut and start fishing. It was not long and I pulled a little guy off a point throwing a Fluke. We continued down and pulled a few smaller fish off the bank. I then decided to pick my camera up and take a few photo's of Colt and Brent fishing. The second cast Colt makes he hangs into a fish and I captured all the action.

Not the biggest fish but it was still cool to capture the moment. We ended up following the cove back and found a pleasant surprise on the side of the river. 'The County Line' restaurant was there and we were craving a bite to eat. After a pulled pork sandwich (which was on-point by the way) and a cold Shiner, we decided to head back and meet the rest of the group back at the house. We picked up a few smaller fish on the way back and Colt with a decent fish.

We then make it home and meet up with everyone and after they all get settled in we begin to discuss business. We crack open a cold beer, pull up maps, break out our tackle boxes and begin to put together a game plan for the following day. We found our launch point and each person decided which way they were going to go from there. The next step in our plan, and by far the most entertaining, was what everyone's lure choice was going to be. We all knew that Lady Bird held some big fish and people liked to throw HUGE swimbaits. By huge, I mean 10" and looks to be a Tarpon or Ling rod and reel they are using to just cast it! Of course we do not have anything that size but we muster up a few lures that we think may do the trick. Between all 5 of us we have different lures, presentations, colors and sizes; we are prepared for the unknown!

"Even Elephants eat peanuts!" -Joe Strahan

We heard the above quote all night until it was time to hit the sack and get some rest before the next day. We woke up at 4 a.m., made a pot of coffee and headed to Joe's Crab Shack for the sign-in and Captains Meeting. After we received our instructions, we were off and it was a race to the water. After a morning prayer, we all launched and started paddling. Brent and I went with our gut feeling and paddled north and the rest of the team lacked behind. The first cast was allowed at 6:30 a.m. and Brent and I did not give them a spare second. I started off throwing a Fluke along the shoreline and Brent started to throw a topwater. After the first 10 minutes, I see splashing beside Brent's kayak and he landed 17" bass; we are on the board! Not long I hear my phone go off saying that Colt and Logan both have decent fish caught on crankbaits. 

I knew then it was time for me to put a fish on the board and I continued beating up the shoreline. Not long after I hang into my first fish; not the biggest but as least I got a fish to enter!

I keep making my way down and I pull another smaller fish just off the edge where the drop-off is. About the time I start to catch on I run into Colt and he tells me they been finding there fish around the same area. At this point I decide to switch to the Magnum Super Fluke and try to upgrade to cull my smaller fish. I put a few tack nails in the head to let it sink a little quicker and start casting parallel to the shore and hitting the drop-off. It was not many cast later and I started to feel my line move. As soon as I set the hook, I knew instantly that I had a good fish on and that I needed to sit down and grab my net. At first glimpse of her, I noticed that there was a bigger fish swimming beside her trying to steal the bait out of her mouth; that in itself was a awesome sight to see and was well worth my trip to Austin! I land her and give a loud shout in excitement and this is when the shakes start!

    Always a very tense moment when trying to hold a big fish still while taking the perfect picture.

 

Always a very tense moment when trying to hold a big fish still while taking the perfect picture.

She ended up going 22" (21.5" due to open mouth) and we are guessing she weighed around 6 lbs.

Brent heard me yell so he made his way back over my direction. I gave him a replay of what just happened to me and we are both pretty jacked about the situation. He then proceeds to make a few cast around me and then I hear him say, quietly but tensely  "Oh my God!". I turn around to see his rod bent over and it never slacked up until she was in the net. Needless to say it was his personal best bass and excited is a understatement of what he was. She went 21.25" and almost 5.5 lbs on the Boga grips.

After high-fiving each other, we enter our fish on the Tourney X site and are floored that we are currently sitting at first. Colt and Logan had entered 2-20" fish that they caught earlier and we just needed Joe to catch a fish. We continued to fish the area and the bite just about turned off. The lake was covered with recreational kayakers and paddle boards, so we knew that the fish had to of moved into deeper water.

We reassured Joe that there was still plenty of time but to pull off the bank and keep grinding. We scattered out but was still within talking distance of each other. Around this time is when Logan finds a few objects suspended in about 10-12' of water on his depth finder. He makes a few cast and pulls a bass out; so we now know about where they were at. After that, we just paddled around with Logan looking for suspended bass on his depth finder and then proceeded to fish that area. The first school we come to, Joe cast and pulls out a keeper bass. We got 5 fish and what a relief it was! He caught that fish right around 1 so we decided to fish our way back to the launch and allotted plenty of time to get back to Joe's.

By the time we got back the tournament director had already shut off the live viewing of the score, so we could not see where we were sitting at after the rest of the pictures were submitted. While hanging around Joe's we mingle with a few of the other competitors and tell how our day was. After the cut-off time at 3:45 they began to announce the winners. 

Originally they only planned on having 6-10 teams and it was going to be a winner take all event. Well the tournament was a success and they had 24 teams and 123 people registered, which made for a really large pot. After thanking the sponsors, Joe's and everyone coming out they announced the winners.

Team U Yak Bro? came out and took 1st place with a total of 99.5". Needless to say we were all excited for taking home the win and could not be anymore grateful for the day we had. We took home a pair of Smith Optics (which are an awesome pair of sunglasses), a pile of swag and the money prize.

Also a big congratulations to Stevie Nicole Jones on Big Bass. Her fish went 10.2 lbs at 25.25 and was a stud of a fish! Nice job!

Also HUGE thanks to Chris Fowler, Xander Cremente, their fishing team and others who conducted the tournament. I know I can speak for my whole team and say that we had an absolute blast fishing in the urban waters of Austin and meeting every one of y'all. Without a doubt we will be there next year and ready to fish it again!

Going into this tournament I honestly never thought we would of won. We joked about it all weekend about how awesome it would be if we did. Brent even made me agree that if we did win that my next blog had to be titled "U Yak Bro?", well there it is... Fishing is one of those sports that when it goes your way, it just does. The only explanation I have is that we made a plan and never veered from it. We communicated well as a team and in the end, it took every team member to produce a fish.

This past weekend was a incredible adventure. Every time I travel to someplace new in Texas she never ceases to amaze me. Traveling this weekend is going to be the start of me taking time out of my normal schedule and go fish new areas and meet a few people along the way. On my trip home I ran into this and it served as a good reminder to always make progress, strive for your goals and just because you may be the underdog, it does not mean that you are out of the game.

  Enjoy Life!

 

BACK AT IT

Well a new year is underway and so far it has been nothing short of awesome. As Texans, I think that we all agree that winter never showed up and spring time is near. The warmer temperatures and abundant rainfall we had in December really made for a funky winter bite. This completely threw off the trout fishing on Sabine and made anglers, including myself, work hard to find them.

I did spend several trips fishing the well known areas and coming up short every single time. After 7-10 trips with not the first bite, I had to revert back to targeting redfish as a reassurance that I still knew what a fish felt like. My first trip was merely to explore a new area and hope to pick up a few fish along the way. The findings that I had made me question of why I ever stopped chasing redfish in the first place. I found flats with the water clarity being crystal clear  and only holding around 1-2 foot of water due to the northern winds. It did not take me long to start sight casting some big brutes in the shallows.

Big Red 2.jpg

The few colder days that we experienced did affect the fish in the typical winter time manner. When temperatures dropped it drove the fish to seek refuge in deeper holes in the channels and bayous. Once you found their little hideouts, it would make for a fun day of fishing because they would be stacked up!

Rod 1.jpg

So within the past month or so I literally have found fish in 10"  to 10' of water. Also with the water temperature being WAY warmer that what it should be for February and coming into March, it seems to have caused the shrimp to hatch earlier this year. So with the northern winds blowing a majority of water off the flats combined with a strong outgoing tide, everything in the flats has to exit and ride the tide out. These conditions have put redfish staging at marsh drains and any funnel point to gorge on the outflow of shrimp. I even found a pretty healthy trout hanging in the same area with some bigger redfish. In a few short cast I had a 34" red and a 26" trout fall prey to a gold spoon in the same marsh drain.

So just about everywhere I have fished I have found them to be stacked up and very aggressive. These gals are not planning on skipping a meal and you can tell they haven't! I have been trying to find the perfect fish for a upcoming tournament but have been finding a bunch that were over slot. Luckily on the day it counted, I found 2 reds that were under the slot and was good enough to land me 3rd place weighing in with a even 15 lbs. 

The past few months for me have been incredibly productive. I have found fish, broke out of my comfort zone and tried some new tactics, lures and explored new water. I also decided to rebuild and update my site to make it more appealing (which it is a major upgrade from what it was).

There are several new opportunities and adventures coming my way and I plan on taking advantage of every one of them. I have come to realize in the past few months that nothing is out of reach, if you want something, get off your ass and get it! It is ok at times to veer off course, stumble and fall but whatever you do, do not lose sight of your goals and never forget why you started in the first place!

"Practice like you have never won and play like you have never lost!"

Enjoy Life

ANOTHER YEAR OF WISDOM

 

WISDOM  /’wiz-dem/ n. – The quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgement.

With the year that we had, “wisdom” is the word that we can carry into 2016. From January to December, there has been something new and different that I have learned along the way. It constantly brought change and a new understanding of the sport we love. Not just fishing, but kayaking as well. The definition above explains it all: experience, knowledge and good judgement.

 

For starters, the weather that we have witnessed this year has been unreal. All of Texas has had a record amount of rainfall, which in turn, brought a abundant freshwater inflow. It also could not of come at a worse time of year for a saltwater angler. It fell directly at spring when every baitfish and gamefish decides to move into the lakes and estuaries for their annual spawn. At the time every angler cussed Mother Nature for her wrong doing. At the time that is! The freshwater kept a vast amount of trout and reds on the southern end of the coast. It did not take long for people to adjust and get on the action. After all, the fish were literally piled up; you could not go wrong.

The freshwater also brought good fortune to the marsh flats as well. It has been several years since I have seen the Widgeon grass as thick as it was this year. With grass like that, you have to completely change your style of fishing. The typical popping cork, She-Dogs and Redfish Magic were not going to work in that. So you have to think outside of the box. I am going to venture out and say that 95% of the redfish I caught this year came off of Bass lures. After all, bass fisherman spend a majority of their time pulling fish out of grass beds. My rod stayed tied with a Zoom Fluke all summer. After that I decided to try a favorite weedless topwater, a Spro Frog. I think I have stumbled onto my favorite topwater for redfish. They would absolutely inhale it! This year was like nothing I have ever seen so adapting to the changes was necessary.

 

I also have been able to experience new places and a few new species of fish. I fished Delacroix, La for the first time and let me tell ya….  their claim of it being “A Sportman’s Paradise” is exactly that! Not to many places can you catch a black bass, a trout and a redfish within a few short cast. Also not many places you can make a 5 minute paddle and sit in a pond and cast at 30+ redfish in a morning!

This year I believed that I was a fisherman and that I was always ready for any challenge a fish could bring me. Captain Ahab’s Moby Dick, Hemingway’s Marlin from Old Man and The Sea, who cares I was ready for it! I trusted that my mind and body was prepared for any fish that comes my way. Well this summer I decided to hang into a Ling. What in the hell did I get into when I set the hook!? It felt and pulled like I hung into Red October! After a 20 minute battle I won but damn! Seriously, this is the only time in my life that I legitimately thought about passing the rod off to someone else. I now have respect for the bigger fish of the sea after that encounter.

 

Mother Nature also blessed coastal anglers with a summer full of light north winds and calm seas. This in turn lead to once in a lifetime moments on the water for me.

 

I was able to stand waist deep in the Gulf while surrounded by a countless number of trout and bull reds. I found a afternoon where the trout were so thick you would kick them when walking through the surf. You could see them blowing bait up in a circle of 100 yards out and 200 yards across. It was nothing like I have ever seen before.

I also got to witness huge schools of Bull Reds chasing mullet in the Gulf. That was a sight that I was fortunate enough to capture with my camera. It was absolutely insane to see the carnage that this school of fish was capable of. I guess when you work as a team anything is achievable.

Reds 1.jpg




With all of the sights and new comings I observed, I was able to gather some knowledge from it as well. I learned when to use certain lures at the right time; there is a right and wrong time for even your favorite lure. I found out that a redfish will eat a frog and a trout will smash a topwater in the whitecapping swells of the surf.  If the weather conditions were not favorable, I figured out how to take advantage of it on that day.  I also learned that there is no such thing as to far of a paddle; A new spot is always worth scouting at least once, no matter the distance.

Now I believe that I personally have came a long way in this aspect of  the sport and that is good judgement. I do not know how many people actually read this but if you have made it this far, please do not stop now. If you get anything out of the things that I write, take this to heart.

Back in late January, I went and fished Keith Lake cut on a bitter cold and windy day. I was by myself and there was not another soul in sight. The tide was coming in quick and where it met the choppy lake the water began to collide and made much bigger waves. I, of course, was not wearing my life jacket and had waders on. I fished all morning flawlessly and never thought twice about that day until later that afternoon.

I got home and the local news had a story about 2 kayakers from Galveston that had died on that cold morning. Neither of them were wearing their life jackets while on the water. We both fished the same conditions and the thought of how easily I could of been in the same situation scared the hell out of me. I actually lost sleep at night for a week or 2 thinking about Port Author Fire Department dragging Keith Lake for my body. All because I did not want to wear my life jacket. Stupid thing is that I own one and was sitting strapped down in the back of my kayak. What good is it doing right there?

Ever since that day I have not made a trip where I did not have on my PFD. Good judgement is the greatest quality a angler can have while being on the water. It can and will save your life when a certain situation arises. People being rescued and deaths occur several times every year while a majority of the time it can be avoided. Wear your PFD and never underestimate Mother Nature. Be smart before launching and while you are on the water.


Tomorrow starts a new year and I for one am ready for it. If it is only half as good to me as 2015 was, I will be grateful. I have had opportunities come my way that I never could of imagined were going to happen. I have visited new places, explored new waters and met some great people along the way. I have witnessed nature at its finest and sceneries that even Picasso could not paint. That is what keeps me around and those are the things I live for. Tomorrow starts a brand new year of adventure for me….it was real 2015!

Enjoy Life

OKTOBERFEST

 

Well it is finally that time of the year where summer is on the decline and autumn is near. The days are starting to get shorter but are filled with mild temperatures and light winds. Your seasonal “Summer Shandy” is coming off of the freezer shelf and is being replaced Brewmaster’s “Oktoberfest”; a clear indication that the greatest season is right around the corner. This time of the year sparks my interest in more than just craft beer and cool weather. It is the fishing that really seems to grasp my attention.

 

The past month of being on the water for me has been pretty incredible. It is actually hard to believe that with each passing day fishing is getting better. I mostly have been staying in the marsh chasing shallow water reds to sight cast them; why would I ever veer from that?

 

 

Lately I have had a lot of redfish fall to a Zoom super fluke rigged with a 4/0 hook.  That one lure helped me place 3rd in the last Lone Star Kayak Series tournament. I had 2-27.25″ reds to bring to the weigh-in that went 14.65 lbs. I sight casted both of those fish which was a nerve-racking experience. Just for the simple fact that this fish can win you a tournament, if you catch him. You can easily blow this with a bad cast and have your whole day ruined. Luckily both cast were precise. I actually spotted my second fish blow up some bait in a pocket and it was a huge blow-up! Then I see 2 fish make their way towards me and for some reason something told me to take the smaller fish. Typically I would never do this, but I have already caught a few over the slot and the eruption I seen was immense. Sure enough, 27.25″ and with out a doubt the bigger fish would of busted and moved me further down the leader board.

 

IMGP0106.jpg

 

I have fished a few different marshes lately and have found fish in every one of them. They have been holding just on the outer edge of the widgeon grass growing on the shoreline. I have a new found love for throwing a Spro Frog along the edge of the grass line. The blow-up of a redfish slamming one of these frogs is a awesome sight to see. Also I like the lightweight plastic material used and how it sits in the water. The back end is weighted and the head floats. I believe that redfish have a better chance of being able to get this lure in their mouth; therefor resulting in more hook-ups.

 

 

 

For a majority of the past month the wind has been ideal for a fisherman. If it has not been out of the Northeast then it has been just a light breeze out of the South. The surf has been slick and the clearer green water was able to move in. I went a little while back with some buddies in search of Trippletail in the surf. We found one right away but he did not want to commit to our lures. Not long after the sun went behind some clouds and ruined our chances for sight fishing. Along the way we did find a huge school of Spanish Mackerel smashing bait and it was a pretty cool sight accompanied with a few fun fish to catch.

 

 

 

I also had another chance to make a trip to the Gulf in hopes to find a few Tripletail again. Although we came up short on that task, we did find a few ling hanging around. We free lined live shrimp and they could not resist. At the time I thought that I wanted to catch one of these fish, 20 minutes later I started to rethink what I had done. I have never fought a fish like this; she was extremely powerful, like nothing I have experienced before. In the end though I ended up winning (barely).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day I had planned meeting up with a few of my kayaking buddies to hit the surf to find some bull reds. We arrived at High Island right around daylight and began our way out. It was not long and we began to catch bull after bull. At the end of the day we landed 15 and lost several others. If anyone ever gets the chance to go sit in the surf and catch these big brutes, do it! It was such a good time and a complete different experience while doing it out of the yak.

Of course (and I will take the blame 100%) my GoPro had a smear on the screen and a majority of my pictures came out blurry. Luckily, one of the few good ones was Brent’s leopard red that he had caught. I think afterwards he counted 114 spots which is amazing. Beautiful fish!

 

 

 

 

As you can see too, it was a awesome morning to be on the water.

 

As of more recent, I have been trying to find a few new places to find some reds for the next Lone Star Kayak Series. I fished several places and found good fish, just not your tournament winners. I made my way back into a unexplored marsh and found some crystal clear water. I do not think I have ever seen water this clear on the upper coast of Texas. I slowly make my way back and see a group of lilly pads and then I see a bright orange/red tail sticking up in the middle of them. I cast my fluke on the other side, she bit, and the fight was on. She was not a huge fish but I just sight casted a red in lilly pads! Not many people can say they have done that. Really cool experience just because of it being so different.

 

 

I continue may way back and hang into another decent red back in the flat I wanted to reach. Along the way too I caught 3 smaller river bass which was cool addition to my fishing day.

 

On the way out I was standing up and I seen a group of 4 reds in a small pond. They were slowly swimming around looking for food. I eased over to the bank, staked out maybe 10 yards from them and watched them. After it was all said and done I think I took over a little of 400 pictures. It was so incredible to watch these fish act naturally and do their thing.

 

 

 



The very next day I went with my buddy Chad in search of fish in a completely different marsh system. After a few mile paddle first thing in the morning we started to realize why we never heard of anyone ever fishing it, it was far! We found a few decent size 22-24″ fish and I picked up a stud 32″. I actually hooked him right beside my yak and when I did my exact words were “Oh shit, that’s a big fish!” and it was! Chad had a pair of Boga grips that went to 15 lbs and they maxed out. We were thinking she probably went 17-18 lbs. She had a logger head and that is about the only way to put it.







Well the L.S.K.S tournament was next weekend and I was unsure of where I was going to fish. I went with a spot that I felt comfortable I was going to catch some fish in. At 6 a.m. I launched and could not of asked for any better weather. October is finally here! I arrived at my spot right at first light and I eagerly start to fish. I see a few reds busting bait but could not get them to bite. After 20 minutes or so I finally see a red and she smashes my fluke. I land her and automatically know that this is a winning fish. She measured 27 7/8″ on my stick and weighed 9 lbs. on the Boga’s. A absolute perfect tournament fish! I figured all I need now is another fish to join her and you have first place in the bag. I continue to fish and can not buy a bite. I thought the fishing God’s have cursed me and it was time to leave the marsh. This was when I made a cast and pulled out a 5.5 lb. fish. Time for me to head to the weigh-in. I get there and wait it out but long story short, my fish busted the 28″ mark and did not count. She did weigh 8.8 lbs. on the scale and was a huge fish. I later found out that my measuring device is a 1/8 ” off so that had a lot to do with it.

That has been fishing though all across the coast for the past month or so. Fish know winter is near and is time to fatten up while there is still plenty of food in the water. It will not be long until every baitfish will start to leave in mass numbers and head for the Gulf as temperatures drop. Anglers can line up and catch limits of trout, reds, and flounder. During this time of year that is an easy task to complete. October is my favorite time of the year to fish; there is nothing that can compare! The fishing is great and the weather is even better.

Germany has a 16 day Folk festival that they celebrate this time of the year; they call it Oktoberfest. I am sure that it is a hell of a time and I would like to attend one day. On the other hand though I am glad to be from Texas and right now we need to be enjoying our time on the water. There is no finer time to do so. This upcoming week I will be at Boondoggle in Louisiana. We will be fishing, camping, and having a damn good time with a few hundred other people that are there for the same reason. That reason is to celebrate a perfect time to be outdoors and that is October.

Enjoy Life

GOTTA GO!

 

Let’s be honest, it is hotter than hell outside right now! We are in the peak of summer here in Texas and of course, the heat is no joke. At times I question why exactly I put myself through what I do. Paddling in sweltering heat is not exactly fun or easy. Once you start fishing though, the effort put forth is rewarding.

 

I know 2-3 months ago with the torrential downpour Texas was having, there was not one saltwater fisherman happy about it. Now anglers can rejoice and thank Mother Nature. I believe that everyone can accredit that rain for their successful fishing trips they have had this summer. The fresh water has made an ideal habitat for spawning crabs, shrimp and shad. It also helped spring up mats of widgeon grass, which I have not seen in 6 or 7 years.

With all of the grass growing, shrimp and crabs find refuge here until they are big enough to migrate back to the Gulf. Since the bait is here, so are the redfish. It has been close to 7 years since I have seen the redfish in the marsh like they are. That being said, it is worth battling the heat to find these fish. I have been waking up at 4 a.m. and launching at 5 a.m. so I can start my paddle before the sun gets up. I start the morning off by paddling 2-3 miles which will put me deep in the marsh at first light.

 

I have found a few fish on a SkitterWalk, when I can throw one. The thick grass makes it difficult at times. I actually have been throwing a Spro Frog lately; it is weedless, lightweight and makes enough action to get the attention of a redfish. And for anyone who has bass fished with them, you should see how violent it is when a redfish blows-up on one!

The top water bite is always fun but I have really enjoyed being able to sight cast these fish. At times they are crawling around in 4″ of water and are always fun to stalk. I have been able to pull some out on a Zoom Super Fluke rigged weightless/weedless on a #5/0 hook. Also throwing a Buggs jig has been pretty successful for me as well.

 

 

 

 

This is always an exhilarating feeling being able to see a redfish slowly move across a flat and having a chance to catch it. This is equivalent to bow hunting to me. You put in time and effort to outsmart your opponent and when you do it is always a great feeling. No lie, just before making a cast to a visible redfish, I get the same feeling when drawing back the bow on a deer. Nothing like it!

 

And when they will not bite, might as well see how close you can get.

 

This gal fell to a Baby Bass fluke, she went 27.5″ and was every bit of 7+ lbs.

 

After making a bend through a channel, I found this one crawling around in a few inches of water. I slowly paddled out into the flat, tossed a Buggs jig in her face and the fight was on. Being able to watch a redfish take off in 6-8″ of water while pulling drag is why I keep coming back. It’s the little things! She ended up going 32″.

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, the redfish are thick in every marsh across the coast. The trout are also doing their thing on the south end of Sabine Lake as well. My buddy, Scott, called me and said a few friends were going out to his pier on Pleasure Island and asked if I was in. Sabine Lake and spending time with my best friends is my favorite thing to do, so of course, I was headed South. We ended up drinking a few beers, grilling and what not before we decided to make our way out there. When we did, we found that the trout were everywhere! It has been a long time since I have seen that many fish at the lights. We called some of our buddies a few piers down and they were having the same luck. We actually stayed up catching fish until the sun broke the horizon on the Louisiana shoreline. Had an absolute blast catching fish, drinking a few beers and spending time with some great friends.

This is also one of my favorite pictures I have taken so far. As soon as I get a man cave or beach cabin, this will be framed in there.

 

 

Recently the wind has been pretty calm for the most part which has made surf fishing pretty great. If you are able to, hit the surf, there are some good fish to be found right now in the Gulf. I also have been making afternoon trips with my brother throwing top waters in the ship channel and along South Levy Road on Pleasure Island. For the most part, they have been pretty successful.

 

I have made trips in the past few months that have been pretty sporadic. Often times on my way to the water, I question why exactly am I going fishing today? Sometimes the conditions are not ideal or even favorable, but when you have that “itch” there is only one way to satisfy it. Some days have been absolutely terrible conditions but have paid off. Others, absolutely ideal and can not find a fish. That is just part of the game I suppose; you live and you learn. With out a doubt though, a fisherman never learned how to catch fish by staying home.

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” – Albert Einstein.

Sometimes you just got to go.

Enjoy Life

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF A FISHERMAN

 

Lately my life has been pretty chaotic due to my work schedule and the typical everyday struggles that we all face. I have been working every day for a little over a month now which has really deprived me of being on the water and writing. Since the last time I posted, I received a job writing for the kayak section of Texas Saltwater Magazine, so I have been saving most of my material for my articles. Writing tends to be tough when you only have a few average days of fishing to talk about.

 

Fishing for me in the past few months has been an absolute roller coaster. It has been feast or famine, hit or miss or however you want to put it. One day you are slamming the trout and the next day the fish have disappeared. Thats just part of the game though and it will all change soon. It also seems the only days I have had off we were getting rained on which just made the fishing in Sabine lake worse. Lately though, the sun has been shining and the forecast of our typical summer is back in full swing.

Last Sunday I was stuck behind the gates of work on one of the finest days Texas has seen since early spring. The sun was shining on a blue bird sky day with a slight wind out of the north.  For a change, the steam stack was blowing the opposite direction which made me quickly pull up the forecast for the week. The weather gurus had predicted a full week of light north winds meaning only one thing for me, I am headed to the surf!

I called my brother early Monday morning and pitched my game plan to him and without hesitation he was in. I assured him that I would be off at 5 and would still have plenty of time to make it down to Rollover and fish, just as long as he was at the house ready to leave.  I got home, changed clothes and grabbed my rods in record time and I was walking out the door when my brother pulled up with one of our other friends. I hopped in and we were southbound to the coast.

Upon arrival there was one small breaker that may of got my shins wet when walking through it. I began to throw a Norton Sand Eel black and green, Ross is throwing a Big Purp Sand Eel and Blaze has a red and white. We have a slow start but about an hour into it Ross hangs into a nice trout but got away before he could get a hand on it.

 

 

After not getting a bite, I make an early change to a Skitterwalk; So far the only other fish I seen caught was when wading out another angler caught it on a top water. I chunk it as far as I can and nothing at first. About 20 minutes into it a trout smashes it and he was not planning on missing this easy meal. He was pretty close to the 15″ mark so I just got a picture and released him since it was early.

 

 

A few cast later I hang into another one and this is when we realize that my first fish was not a fluke. I got him on the stringer and we sent Blaze back to the truck for more top waters (and to grab another beer since he was headed that way). By the time he made it back I made 3 more cast and landed 3 more trout. We then continue to hang into trout and landing some while having others shake off before we could get a grip on them.

 

The wild thing though happened right at dark, the full moon rose on the eastern horizon and was plenty bright enough for us to stay on the water for a few extra minutes. During this time the trout had bunched up a huge pod of shad and was blasting through them. They did not want anything to do with top waters at this point so we just watched the carnage that was unfolding in front of us.

Plenty of moon light to fish on a calm summer night.

 

The very next day the word got out that the surf was still flat and people have been catching trout. I had a few friends asked if I had heard anything and wanted to go. Little to their knowledge at the time I was part of the catching the prior day and my rods and gear were loaded and ready for another trip to the surf. Blaze already got a head start on me but I was not going to miss another day like this again, mainly because the only fishing I can do is in the afternoon anyways, so why pass it up?

I eagerly jump out into the sand, snag my rod and hastily make my way back to the same area as the day before. Not long after, I am accompanied by my friends and we are all lined up chunking lures and on the search for trout. Right around the same time again the top waters start blowing up and we are all sporadically catching trout. We put a few fish on the stringer and had a few bigger ones that we let swim another day but as the sun starts going down everyone starts to walk back in. They are about to miss the best part of the day and do not even know it. Once again the trout were doing their thing but were much more active on hitting our lures and were not so fixated on shad.

 

Overall we had a cooler full of trout that made for a hell of a 2 day fishing trip and a pretty good fish fry. Blaze called me again Wednesday morning asking if I wanted to try again for a repeat. I had to decline because I already planned on spending my afternoon cleaning trout. He called me later that night and told me that they did not land a single fish. Just like that they vanished. I guess you should of been there yesterday.

Saturday I had my “Fatigue” day and it is mandatory that I spend a day away from the refinery. It just so happens that it fell on the same day as the Lone Star Kayak Series, what a shame right? I have not had time to pre-fish and have not found any redfish in a while. I figured though that I could fish Texas Bayou and at least pull out 2 fish to bring to the weigh-in. Recently I have been on the fish so I have some momentum going into the tournament. I have broken my slump and was determined to do well in this event.

I hit the water and at 6 a.m. I started paddling and was fishing at 6:03. I fished hard and every where. Reefs, points, bends, marsh flats; you name it, I fished it.  A valiant effort but I could not pull out the first redfish. I caught every other fish in the bayou except a red, that is the current luck that I am having.

 

I have made a few other afternoon trips and they have not been very productive. Not sure if it is the fishing or if it is just me enjoying my afternoon clearing my mind from everything.  On the bright side of being in this fishing slump, there is going to come a point where I will be out and back in the swing of things. It can only get better from here. Until then though, when you are on top, take full advantage of it and make it count. You never know what the tides of tomorrow may bring.

Enjoy Life

LESSONS FROM A LOONY

 

I am sure that we are all familiar with an old cartoon friend that goes by the name of Wile E. Coyote. In the Looney Tunes cartoon series his main objective is to capture “The Roadrunner” but he always seemed to fail, miserably! So what did he do? He called ACME, strapped some rockets to his feet and gave it his best shot! Even with his greatest efforts though, he always winded up empty handed with his prized bird.

It is now mid March here in Texas and it is starting to warm up fairly quick. Waders, jackets, and beanies are now being replaced with sandals, Magellan shirts, and Costa’s. My rod that has had a Corky tied on for the past 5 months has seen less and less action as the Skitterwalk is becoming my new favorite. Winter is over and my chances of catching that prized 30″ trout are slowly starting to fade. Though not impossible for March, the chances look slimmer and slimmer as the temperatures rise. So what did I do?  I have spent the past few weeks making one last valiant effort to capture that fish.

 

Last weekend I had my day lined out. It was suppose to be 0-5 MPH wind out of the SouthEast from early daylight until 10. I was hoping for a calm slick day on Sabine but I broke rule #1, “Never trust the weather man”.  The wind was 15-20 MPH and pretty brutal to paddle in.

I start throwing a topwater just before daylight and can not buy a bite, so I switch to my faithful Corky. My very first cast I quickly hang into a nice trout but she comes off before I get a chance to see her. Second cast and 2 twitches later another trout slams into it! Get her in and she was around 20″.

 

 

 

After making several more cast I decide to switch back over to my Skitterwalk. I start walking the dog and my topwater gets popped up about a foot in the air and as soon as it lands back on the surface of the water, another trout smashes into it! A little bit better fish this time.

 

 

A quick release of a 22″ trout and I make another cast. I start to work my lure and trout are blowing it up! They are coming out of the water just attacking this lure. The topwater bite is back in full action. I ended up catching 14 with a majority of them in the 15-17″ range. The action was quick only lasting about an hour but it was a really fun hour!

I fish for a few more hours and decide to paddle back. While making my trek I can’t help but to be slightly disappointed with the realization that I am going to have to wait until next winter for another opportunity for my trophy trout. Instead of being discouraged, I thought of Wile E. and thought what he would do. It was time to outwit my opponent and capture him, after all, it’s  just a fish…

I check the tides and weather and start planning my next attack. This is when I notice there is a new moon coming up on the weekend with a peak feeding time at 2 a.m. So I get the bright idea that I will sneak out in the dark of the night and fish until daylight. I finally devised a plan to outsmart my prized fish!

Thursday afternoon comes around and I decide that tonight is the night to unfold my master plan. I call my buddy Willie and he is down to join me. So around midnight we snag large coffees and head to Sabine. It was pretty foggy but just enough to where we could see distant lights for navigation. Really made for a pretty cool paddle actually, eerie but cool.

We start fishing and covering water and can not seem to get a bite. We continue on in the dark of the night searching for that fish but never could find her. Before to long the gnats and mosquitoes had found us floating on the water so we decided to head back around 4 a.m. Got loaded up and I decided to sleep in my truck for a few hours and catch the daylight bite. A few hours later I step out of my truck and begin to throw a topwater. I fished for 3 hours and never got a bite. Once again wound up short on my target.

Now that tournament season is a few weeks away I guess I will turn my focus to the marsh and start chasing redfish. I am ready for some sight casting in the shallows and the rush of heading to the weigh-in with a sack of fish! The past few trips have not been as successful as I had hoped with the dwindling chance of catching my trout. I guess I will take a lesson from the persistent coyote; regroup and redouble your efforts when you fail. So that being said,  it’s back to the drawing board!

Enjoy Life

SCIENTIFIC METHOD OF FISHING

 

When it comes to fishing, there are no rules, no certainty, no absolutes. Every day is a new day and it reminds me of a science experiment. Sabine Lake is my lab, my kayak and poles are my tools, and my waterproof jacket is my lab coat with my Costa’s being my safety glasses.

First off, you have to ask yourself a question that you will be testing to find if it is true or not. Fishing being the subject, we often ask “With these conditions, will the fish be biting today?”.  Thats a very broad question so we will just stick with Trout.  Now we have our hypothesis for the experiment.

A hypothesis is an educated guess or proposition that attempts to explain a set of facts or natural phenomenon.  Which we all can relate to having days of fishing that were indeed a phenomenon!

We start to gather data such as the wind speed, barometric pressure, and temperatures. We begin to study tidal charts and lunar phases and any other factor that we can attribute to this hypothesis that may lead us to a different result.

Last Friday I stepped into my lab with it being a cold, overcast day with minimum wind and an outgoing tide. I have fished this place for 2 years now and have never had any luck with a low tide. To top it off too, the barometric pressure was through the roof! I believe it was reading around 33 in. which is extremely high. I had 2 people tell me that I was wasting my time and was not going to catch a fish all day (I believed them as well) but I’m a stubborn scientist and this is what I do, I seek results.

I had a day planned and both of my friends who were suppose to meet me backed out first thing in the morning so I was on my own schedule. I caught the sunrise on Texas Bayou bridge and enjoyed my cup of coffee and the start to my Friday off. I was in no hurry so I took my time getting to my spot.

 

I arrive and the lake could not be any calmer, other than it being overcast and a little nippy, it is going to be a fine day. I had a 6 pack of Shiner iced down and was prepared for a slow day of floating on the water.

I start off with a broke back Corky that I have had tied on most of winter and it has not let me down. My 4th cast I feel a thump and I miss. 2 cast later she wouldn’t be so lucky! Got her in and she was just under 26″. Also she was not to lucky of a fish because it looked like a shark took a bite out of her back, pretty gnarly looking actually.

 

 

Well that is just one so I thought it may have been a fluke. Very next cast I hang into another fish. I knew she was a good one once she came up shaking her head! Got her in and she hit the 26″ mark as well.

 

I continue to fish and work my way slowly across this flat catching and releasing trout. After catching my first limit, maybe 45 minutes into it, I text my brother “Yea” just to leave him guessing of what my day was about to consist of. I then realize that my Corky box is still in my truck and the only one I have is tied on. So I retie and start fresh with a new leader.

I see a small splash way out but I decide to hurl my lure out there. I have the distance but my aim was a little off so I give 3 good jerks in hope to get the fishes attention. Then I see a head and back of a trout breach the water, almost is resemblance of a dolphin coming up for air. I tighten my line and set the hook and at this point is when I realize that I need a bigger net. Landed her, barely,  but she went 26″ too and was thick!

 

My 14th fish I set the hook into my line snapped, there goes my one and only corky. Well I dig into my bag and have been wanting to try this for a while now and figured what the hell, lets try a different lure to see if I can get a different outcome. I tied on a 4/0 offset bass hook and hooked a Zoom Baby Bass Fluke onto it. My first cast I hang into a trout, and the next cast the same. 2 cast, 2 trout and I am loving this lure and presentation. It is pretty much the same as a corky just not as bulky, a slow sinking mullet imitation with a smaller profile.

 

 

One of my buddies decides he wants to meet me down here and he has no idea what I have been doing all day, I let it be a surprise to him. This is no lie, in February, 55 degrees outside, trout were literally jumping out of the water.  I have never seen a feeding frenzy of trout like this, not even under lights, much less in the peak of winter time!

By the time Stu meets me out there I am on number 25. He thought I was joking with him until I landed another 2 and a trout popped right beside him and he was quickly on the action. I made a cast and felt dead weight at the end of my line so I set the hook and she just sat there, in a fixed position, trying to shake my lure but couldn’t. She went 27″ and was every bit of a 7 lb. trout, she was healthy needless to say!

 

 

She would complete my 3rd limit of trout and a solid way of doing so! I then decide to take a break and call my brother just to rub it in a little bit. Oh, and finally took a minute to crack open a Shiner and enjoy it as well!

We continued to fish right up until dark and the sun finally came out which made for a beautiful ending to an epic day of fishing. We actually left the fish biting but we decided to call it due to lack of light. To all of my friends that are reading this and I told you it was kind of a slow day and I only caught a few fish….sorry!

 

 

 

I alone ended up with 44 trout and 9 of them were over 5 lbs. Stu had caught right around 15, so between us 2 we had right around 60 trout. Not even going to include the ones that I missed. I think I can honestly say that day was probably my best day of fishing I have ever had!

 

Just when you think that you have the fish figured out and you know exactly what the outcome of your experiment is going to be, don’t be surprised if the results will make you look like a fool! Other times it will make you look like a genius.

I guess this is why we spend so much time in the lab experimenting with different variables to obtain different results. The only constant in this observation is the moon phase and fish have got to feed, everything else is constantly changing! For an accurate answer you have to fish everyday, record your results, find a pattern and test that over and over again to deem that it is indeed a fact and can be proven time and time again! Which brings us back to our question, “With these conditions, will the fish be biting today?”  Good luck!

Enjoy Life

WINTER WONDERLAND

 

Mid December; Christmas lights are hung all throughout town and neighborhoods, presents are wrapped and tucked away under the tree and hot cocoa is the drink of choice, merely to stay warm during this harsh winter month.

Not in Southeast Texas, no, here we are still sitting on our back porch drinking iced tea and enjoying a mild temperature day. Yes we have had a few cold snaps, but last weekend I was wearing sandals during the day and a light jacket at night. I am not complaining because the warmer weather mixed with the cooler water temperatures has made Sabine Lake a true “Winter Wonderland”

Friday morning we decided to take Pop’s boat out and I had a game plan of where and how I wanted to fish. High tide was right at daylight and there was a flat I wanted to throw Corkies on, since that was the better tide to fish. As soon as we break into the North side of the lake we spot a group of birds. Of course we do not miss the opportunity and veer off course towards them. Whenever we get to the outer edge of the group I look out to the rising sun and there are birds everywhere! Hundreds of them!

Finally we get into casting range and start to hook up with some solid trout. We put 4 or 5 in the box and the group disappears. No worries though, a short troll over and we are on another group. After an hour of this we have several trout in the box and the birds start to dissipate with the rising sun. Got a little sidetracked but we were back on course in search of some better trout now that we have enough for dinner for a few nights.

We arrive to our flat and start to make some drifts and nothing for the first hour or so. The bite has started to slow and the wind has started to pick up. Soon comes a comment from the peanut gallery (Pops) about why my $8 bait was not working? Not long after I feel an old familiar tug, only one that comes from a Corky, and I set the hook. Instantly I say get the net and as soon as I said that, she breaks the surface with a head shake and that confirmed that I did indeed need the net!

Got her into the boat, quickly removed the hooks, got a picture and she was back swimming in no time. She ended up going 24”, no not a wall hanger, but I have not landed a trout that big since March.

 

We continue around and can not seem to find any more so we move to an adjacent flat to try our luck there. A short drift and we find a little school. All of us hook up and are running around the boat trying not to lose our fish. Me and Pops both have reds so Rhett expects the same. Well he gets her to the boat and we see a silver flash so we know that he needs a net. He landed her and we did the same, quick picture and sent her back swimming. Oh, and Pops got to photo bomb as well!

 

We ended up calling it a day with a box full of trout, a pair of reds and got to release some bigger trout that will make plenty more come spring time.

High tide for Saturday was going to be again at daylight and I did not want to miss that. 4 a.m. came early but somehow I rolled out of bed with ease. I snagged a large coffee and was on my way to try and catch some larger trout. When I got to the water I noticed that it looked a little choppy, to choppy for the wind to be doing it. I stop, back up and roll my window down and I could hear and see the redfish schooled up. It is 5 a.m. might I add and still dark. I have never seen this many redfish schooled up, ever! I mean a pile of them!

I jump out of my truck, with it still running and the door open, leaving it right in the middle of the road. This is a rare opportunity and I am not going to miss it. First cast I chunk a topwater into the melee of redfish, my line goes tight and the fight is on! A fat redfish on the other end of the rod made for a fun and long fight.

 

I proceed to catch 4 more reds that were well over 30″ and break off on another one before the horizon even started to glow! The fish moved a little further out so I launched and started to chase down the school. I fished until about 7:30 and was off the water. While in my kayak I caught 3 more reds, with losing 2, and everyone of them was at least 30″+.  Huge school with huge reds! After landing my last fish, I look up and the fish have vanished. I have no idea how so many fish can just disappear without a trace in such an instant.

 

 

 

 

 

It is not very often that an angler can catch trout still working under the birds, having redfish still schooled up, and the larger trout are getting into their winter time habits. I guess the unpredictable Texas weather is good for something every now and then. There is a cold front moving in as I sit here and write this, which is going to make fishing this weekend completely different from this past one.

Sunday I plan on going in the search of big trout. My Corky is still tied on and I plan on making some long, slow cast waiting for that hit. I will be bundled up in my best warm clothes anxiously awaiting for that one fish. My toes will be numb, hands barely able to grip the rod and the steam from my breath will be the only visible thing as I look out across the broad horizon. It will all be worth it when she breaks the waters surface with a thrashing head shake and I am praying that my lure remains attached just so I can get a chance to see her.

Enjoy Life

GOING CRAZY!

 

“These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em.” These were words from Red, to his buddy Andy, in the famous movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. For those who have never seen it, the plot is about a man, Andy Dufresne, who has been wrongly accused of murder and is sent to Shawshank prison for life. After being stuck there, he goes crazy and escapes to his freedom.

I have never been to prison and nor do I want to go but where I have been confined for the past 7 weeks is close enough. I have been stuck behind the gates of my employer only to gaze out towards a rising sun and dream about freedom. Normally this would not bother me but honestly I can count on one hand of the days that have been overcast and rainy during this turnaround. It has been absolutely ideal weather in Texas the past month!

Thankfully there is a little group called O.S.H.A. that has made it a standard that for every 14 days an employee works, they shall have one day off, a “Fatigue Day” as they like to call it. So that being said, I have fished 3 days in the past 7 weeks, this is not my norm.

With every trip I took though, the fishing just kept getting better and better. My next outing would exceed my previous trip as if it was trying to top it. I had fished 3 different places and not once was I let down. I have fished the Neches River all the way down to the Sabine Lake area and have covered miles of water.

I found that the further in the marsh I got, the fishing just got better. I finally came across a small flat that was loaded with redfish! I quietly make my way around the backside and stand up to get a better vantage point and I began to grin. Not to often do you get to pick and choose which redfish you would like to take a chance at hooking. They were all in about a foot of water and easily visible. I pick up my fly rod and make some flawless cast, but the reds just did not want my popper that I had tied on.

So I snag my other rod, flip my fluke out there, 2 twitches and I am hooked up.  A solid 26″ red that I landed and gave her a quick release. I stood up and continued to catch red after red, everyone of them was sight casted. Really awesome thing I got to do. It is different than just blind casting, feeling a thump, and then setting the hook. There is something about being able to see your target, having to make a precise cast, and then watching your lure get inhaled before you set the hook; It is a completely different experience. I think round trip that day was a little over 7 miles but was well worth it.

I thought for sure that my buddy had missed out because I left him back several bends and flats throughout the marsh, but nope he found the fish as well. Same thing, he got to sight cast all of his fish. I guess it is all about being there when it happens.

 

 

Also had a very photogenic Blue Heron wading around looking for shrimp along a shallow flat.

 

 

 

 

After getting back to work and reflecting from my last voyage, I diligently studied the weather and tides that would be awaiting me for my next day off. There was going to be a little cold front come in the day before I was off but that was not going to stop me. A buddy of mine wanted to go since we decided to skip duck hunting that morning. We slept in, loaded up and was headed south around 9 a.m.

This was going to be Rhett’s maiden voyage in a kayak, he is not new to fishing but kayaking was a first. Even though is was a little windy, he quickly understood why I do this. He realized how close he actually was to the water and how peaceful it is because you are not bothered by the sounds of a roaring motor going across the lake. We make our way back and fishing is not the best and the slight innuendos start coming. Kind of looking to see where we were at and when his guide was going to put him on some fish.

He hung in there and not long his effort was going to pay off. We made a bend and on old familiar sound caught my attention. As I looked up there were 2 schools of redfish heading our way. We gently paddle across to the adjacent bank and patiently await for them to come into casting range. We both cast and are hooked up right away. We get drug around for a little bit and land our fish and Rhett has successfully landed his first red in a kayak.

 

 

 

After a few pics and get our fish on the stringer, we decide to head a little deeper. A few more bends back and we spot another school! So we repeat the same course of action and double up again.

 

 

This is absolutely insane! The reds are piled up, almost stacked on top one another. They are blind to the fact that we are there hunting them. The only thing on their mind is eating whatever is in their path.

We continue to chase school after school of reds. We even have a school so close to us in a small ditch that we could not even cast, we had to flip our lure out as if you were trying to cast under a dock or tree limb. The fish are going absolutely crazy back in the marsh! On our paddle back I assured him that for his first kayaking trip, it was nothing short of being completely epic.

 

 

 

I got tired of catching fish and started trying to get a few pics and I got some good action shots.

 

 

 

 

 

Soon enough though all of this work is going to be coming to an end and once again my normal life will be back in place. I will have the weekends off and be able to spend my time on the water. I believe I will catch it just right for the winter time trout pattern to start.

When I finally get out from behind these gates and get to head to my honey hole, I will feel like old Red, headed to the Pacific to see his newly freed buddy, Andy Dufresne.

“I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”-Red

Enjoy Life

MAKE IT COUNT

 

I often wonder if my time was limited in this world how I would spend my remaining days. I would like to think that I would be able to spend most, if not all of my time on the water because this is were I truly love to be. For a while now I have known this time was coming and there was no way to avoid it, but my job has forewarned me that all of October everyone was going to be working 7 days a week.This is a bummer because October is my favorite month to be on the water.

The cooler temperatures of October starts to push bait out of the marsh and it makes finding fish almost effortless, you just have to be out there! As the mullet and shrimp make their migration to the Gulf, pods of trout are thick underneath them just waiting for one of them to get out of line so they can get their next meal. In order to find these trout you have to use your senses, keep your eyes open and listen up. Always keep a watchful eye for shrimp popping on top of the water, if you see this, I guarantee there is a fish under him that made him surface. The other outcome to this is the seagulls and other birds hover above the waters surface waiting for the shrimp to emerge so they can steal it away from the hungry fish. The sound of screeching gulls will carry across the water and before to long there will be a large group all fighting for the shrimp popping out of the water. Fishing around these birds working can be a lot of fun and produce a quick limit.

Here are 2 seagulls waiting for a shrimp to reemerge again to make for an easy meal.

 

 

Even a Snowy Egret waiting on the shoreline is getting on the action.

 

Fortunately I had a few days of vacation to use so I figured why not? I had 5 days off before I was going to be locked away for over a month so I had planned to spend every moment outside and live up my last few days of freedom. So I was loaded and headed to Sabine Lake the next morning and was looking forward to fishing. I arrive and notice that the wind is terrible, but that is part of the game and I will cope. I make a short paddle over to some pylons and tie off to them because drift fishing was out of the question. As soon as I arrive I see some bait scatter on a point so I toss my SkitterWalk and start working it back to me. After the third pop a trout takes a bite at it and misses, and then another, and another. My next cast I hang into one and he is big enough to stick on the stringer. Make another cast and catch another fish. Not long after I think they had caught on and would not hit it but I started to see shrimp popping so I switched to my purple and chartreuse Norton Sand Eel,”Big Purp”, and it immediately pays off. The trout are all over it! After putting a few on the stringer I hear a familiar screech and I turn around to see a group of 20 gulls or so all diving in one area trying to catch breakfast. I do not even bother trying to fish them because I have enough fish right in front of me. Also, if I was to untie from my pylon the wind would of blown me all the way to Mexico in no time. Right around 8 A.M. I catch my 10th trout to finish off my limit. During the action I also caught and released 4 redfish and a 20″ Flounder. Not a bad morning of fishing and a great way to start off my vacation. This is the first stringer of trout I have kept in probably a year and a half, and it is a solid one!

 

 

 

My dad sees how well I did so he decides to take Thursday off and we we are going to take the boat out in the morning. He decides to let me be the guide for the day so of course I take hime back to the same area. The wind was still bad and was making it hard to stay still even with a trolling motor. So I maneuver over to the same set of pylons and tie off just like I did the day before. Pops first cast he hangs into a trout on the same point I started out the previous day. Then I catch one and before long we both are reeling in trout. Around 7:30 it starts to slow down but its ok because we had 15 trout in the box . We untie and start to work the group of birds behind us and we quickly hang into them. Most of them were smaller ones but we managed to catch 3 more to add to the box and decided to call it a day. You know it is a good day of fishing when the deck of your boat is littered with torn baits.

Friday I thought about doing it again but I decided to sleep in. As soon as I walked outside I immediately regretted my decision because it was an absolute perfect day. So instead of driving all the way to the lake I decide to make a paddle down the Neches river to relax a little and to check on a duck hunting hole that I have. It was an awesome day to just mosey slowly down the river and take in the sights and the sun!

 

 

 

Saturday comes around and me and a few buddies decide to head to the beach to try and catch some bull reds. This time of the year they come into the surf to spawn and if you are prepared, you can have a day of fishing that is unheard of. We prepare our lines, cut up some mullet and are ready to paddle some lines out. It looked a little rough but knew it was doable to get past the breakers and drop our baits a few hundred yards out. Well the 2nd set of breakers were twice the size than what it seamed from the shore. I struggled to get past them but I managed, dropped my line and made my paddle back. Got the second line and as soon as I hit the second set of breakers I could physically not get passed them, I was exhausted. My buddy Beau gets in and decides to give it a try and makes it out there, well on his way back the first rod doubles over and the drag is screaming! I set the hook and the fight is on. After a ten minute battle I get the beast to the shore and it by far is the biggest fish I have caught. She was well over 40″ and was around 25 lbs on the Boga Grips. I got a few pictures and released her back to the ocean.After this we decide it is to dangerous to paddle back out so we decide to just throw horseshoes and enjoy the rest of the day.

 

I decided to clean up my kayak and the back of my truck on Sunday and to use it as a recovery day before I started working overtime on Monday.

I had my 5 days off and I did what I enjoyed most, and that is catching fish, being on the water and enjoying the outdoors. I caught my personal best redfish and caught limits of trout that I have not done in a long time, so my time off was well spent. As soon as I get a relief day I plan on staying in the marsh and chase schooling redfish. That is an experience that I only get to have usually once or twice a year and it is something everyone needs to witness. Next time you have a day off or some spare time, go out and do something, be active. Rather it is playing golf, going for a run, or spending it on the water chasing fish, make sure you enjoy yourself. Every shot, every cast, and every day that you have, make it count!

Enjoy Life

COMING SOON

 

Hell I do not even know where to start. I have not been on the water since Grand Isle and have not fished Sabine in probably 2 months. I have came up with every excuse in the world of why I should not go, been to hot, been busy, but they were all justifiable right?

Last weekend I had spent my Saturday in Fulshear, Tx working a Kayak Demo Day for Fishing Tackle Unlimited. This was my first time to work an event like this but it was such a good time! Everyone from the area came out to get on a kayak and paddle around for a while. Some came to just bring their family to paddle and others were in the market to purchase one. Regardless of who was there, I thoroughly enjoyed putting people in a kayak and watching them mosey around the pond. Some were more experienced than others but was entertaining needless to say. We got rained on which helped to cool us off during the day and can not complain about that. Lately it has been pretty warm, the “Dog days of Summer” this year have been no joke. Not long though all of this is going to change.

This past weekend was the opening season for Teal. It has still been hot but who cares, duck season is finally here! I have seen a few birds hanging out here in the rice fields but they were not in abundance. I still had planned on hunting some public land around Sabine Pass. The hunting is not the greatest, but the fishing on the way out is worth it! Nothing better than a cast and blast, you get the best of both worlds. Friday morning I anxiously wake up to head to the marsh for some scouting of the pond I wanted to hunt and do a little fishing while I was there. I met Colt just before daylight at the launch and before I knew it we were sitting in our pond. I had seen a few groups of Teal, just not as many as I was expecting. After an hour or two we decide to start fishing. As soon as we rig up, a few water droplets start to land on us. They are soon followed by bigger and more droplets and before we know it, we both are soaked. The good thing is there was not any lightning in the area and it is not like the fish could get any wetter.

Colt quickly hangs into a few reds just around the bend of the bayou. Most of them were solid fish but with the rain I could not get a picture. He caught all of his on a Crawfish (Red and Black) Crankbait that dives 2′-4′. Finally the rain had stopped and he caught a nice red that I could get a picture of.

 

Not long after this I see a flounder jump out of the water busting bait. So I throw my Sand Eel and as soon as it hits the water my line starts cutting across the water. She put up a good fight, got a quick picture, and released her for another day.

 

Made it further into the marsh and caught a few more fish. All of the reds were 22″-24″ and made for a fun trip.

 

 

 

As you can see, I caught all of my fish on Ol’ Faithful, a black and green Norton Sand Eel.

Made it home and started gathering my things for opening day in the morning. I gathered my camo, decoys, and shotgun and was prepared for the next day. Morning came early but nothing a 24 oz. coffee can not fix. The boat ramp was covered with boats but surprisingly there was only one other guy with a kayak there. We split ways and head to our pond. Quickly set up decoys and now we just wait. It is an overcast day with a 20 MPH North wind, ideal for duck hunting. To top it all off if was probably 65 degrees outside and it felt amazing! Me personally, I wish it was about 40 degrees, that is duck hunting weather! After a little while we have a group of 4 birds come into our spread and well the excitement got us. I can not speak for Colt, but for myself, I shot all 3 of my shells as fast as I could pump them out. Im pretty sure I did not even aim. I tend to do that on the first flock of the year. Other groups of birds are flying around us but they are not to interested in coming our way. We hear very few shots in the area so that tells me it is not just us that are not having the greatest luck. Late that morning we decide to pick up our decoys and call it a day. It was to windy to fish on the way back but we made up for it the day before.

I had planned on fishing the Neches River on Sunday morning but I woke up and decided to mow my yard and do some things around the house. The nicest day we have had since April. I, for one, took full advantage of it. I never made it to the water but I was outside for the most part of it. I ended up hanging out with my family and friends in the back yard, sitting in the sun, and watching football through the open windows. My Sunday was filled with plenty of food, cold beer, football, friends and family, and to top it all off perfect weather! Summer is on the down slope and will be ending before we know it. Cooler temperatures coming in the near future will get everything active, including the fish. That time is coming soon!

Enjoy Life

HOLD ON TIGHT!

 

I have always found it incredible how a person can make up their mind and know an undeniable truth in a split instance. Every time you feel a thump and that moment as you reel down to set the hook, as soon as you jerk back you know immediately if you have a big fish or not. There is no better feeling in the world. My favorite indication is after setting the hook and watching the bow of my kayak swinging  towards the fish. If she is dragging you around and you have wakes coming off the kayak, it is a solid fish.

I have not been able to fish as much as I would like to be due to 2 weddings this month and also, lets be honest, it is to damn hot! At the first of the month I was the usher in a friend of mines wedding but there was a north wind that started Friday morning so the next day, before the wedding, I was headed to the surf. I had a few friends that called me and were headed down there so I was going to meet them at daylight. The wind was a little more than I would of liked but it was still a beautiful morning to be on the water.

 

Not long after taking this picture we hear some water crashing and we all turn around to witness something spectacular. About 200 yards away a group of Jack Crevalle had cornered a group of shad and was blowing up the water. This is the second time I have witnessed this and is truly a remarkable sight. Not long after that we see a guy with his rod doubled over and it is not letting up. 30 minutes later he is still fighting this fish so we knew he had a big Jack. For anyone who has never had the luck to hang into one, they do not give up easy. All of us have not had any luck all morning and just can not find the trout. Maybe an hour after we had seen the first school of Jacks, about 75 yards away from us were 4 guys and right in front of them another school popped up. The next thing you see is one rod bend over solid for about 10 seconds and then it pops back up straight and this occurs to all 4 guys. I guess they were not rigged up to catch big, powerful fish such as a Jack. Around 9 or so a buddy of mine hangs into a fish and we all knew he had a good one. The screaming drag was also a dead giveaway. Same thing though, 10-15 seconds of losing line and almost getting spooled before the line broke. Not long after that we started to wade back to the truck and I caught the one and only trout of the morning.

 

Last weekend the Saltwater Boys and I have had a trip planned to head to Grand Isle, Louisiana to fish the “Ride the Bull” tournament. I myself was really excited, for one it is new water to fish, and two it is a bull red tournament so your going to have to catch big fish. The minimum size red you can enter is 27″. So it is literally go big or go home! We pull out Thursday afternoon and check out the weather there and it is going to be North at 3 in the morning. Well one of the guys mentions that there is a few rigs in Grand Isle that are very close to the shore and we could probably catch snapper there. This of course gets all of our attention and assures us of having a completely awesome experience this weekend. So, Friday we are up at dawn and drive across to the beach to see what exactly is waiting for us. We spot a rig and decide that is the one and we start to unload. Before we do so though I had to snap a picture of the sunrise because honestly it was astounding!

 

We push off the shore and start our journey towards the rig. All of us have 2 oz. Rat-L-Traps we are trolling on our way there and probably a mile out Brent’s rod starts screaming and he has a fish on. After getting it up to the boat he has probably a 5′ shark and he breaks off before they can remove the Trap. After an hour of paddling to the rig I start to think that we are getting close but we are not. I realize we are almost there when off in the distance I can hear the annoying beep of the siren on the rig. After the first hour all we had caught was one shark and the snapper were not to be found in the area. Soon though we start to catch some sharks and they were all around 4′, so when you hung into one the fight was on! Some of them were spinner sharks so once they figured out they were caught they would always do a little aerial display which made them exciting to catch. Between the 4 of us we had caught around 20 sharks. Almost made it worthwhile for the paddle there and back, but not going to lie, it was exhausting.

 

 

 

 

After we get everything loaded up we head back to the cabin for a much needed nap. When everyone got up we headed to the captains meeting for a dinner they had and the GoPro video contest. I had entered a video of mine and they chose it along with 9 others for the top 10 to show at the meeting. At the end of it my video was chosen for the “Best Catch” theme and won me a brand new GoPro3. At the end we headed back for more sleep for tournament day. At the meeting they said there was 732 kayakers registered and will be on the water in the morning. Ride the Bull is now the worlds largest kayak fishing tournament and I was going to be apart of it.

We get everything rigged up that night and it is time for bed. Early to rise and anxious to get on the water and well, be a world champion! We are not far from the weigh-in so we decide to paddle there and get in the horde of kayaks for take-off. The horn blows and everyone starts paddling and for the first minute or so it is chaos! No troubles though and we all get on a point, anchor off, and toss out a crab and a mullet on my other line. Now we wait. In the meantime I talk to a few guys surrounding me and swap a few fishing stories. About 2 hours into it we decide to move towards the bridge because the only fish weighed in were near the pylons there. An hour into it, about 100 yards away, I see a kayaker hook up, and then another, and another. They are right up current for me and I just knew this school was coming towards my bait and I was going to be next. Well I was wrong and kind of disappointed because nothing happened. It was a long day on the water with not catching anything and seeing very few fish caught. Out of 732 kayakers only 24 fish were weighed in. Winning weight was 27 lbs. and was caught by a girl on a stand-up paddle board. Just goes to show you that anyone can win this tournament.

 

 

 

 

 

Really cool experiences lately between fishing offshore at a rig and getting to be a part of the worlds largest kayak tournament. Also getting to encounter multiple schools of feeding, ravenous Jacks is not something that many people get to witness. The way I look at it there are people that work for National Geographic that wait days and months just to capture that 30 seconds of mayhem. The past month I have not found the numbers but I have found big, quality fish. Next time you set the hook, hold on tight because you never know what is lurking below the waters surface.

Enjoy Life

THE LUCK OF A FISHERMAN

 

I have never been one to believe in luck. Most good things that happen in ones life I believe you earn them, you make your own luck. Although, there is a exception to that rule and it implies to fisherman. The luck of a fisherman is inconceivable. Some days you catch your limits in just a few short cast and other times you cover miles of water with nothing but a sunburn to show for it. Catching fish is not the only thing that plays a factor for someones luck on the water. Mother Nature has a big part in this as well. One minute you praise her and the next you curse her.

This past week, every day was a light North wind which made for calm seas. Every morning I would wake up and look at the surf camera at Crystal Beach, and every morning I would tell my boss he is lucky I am a faithful employee because the weather and beach were perfect! No worries though, Friday will be here soon enough for me to get out there and get on some of the action. I decide on where I wanted to pre-fish Friday for the Cops Helping Kids benefit tournament and had me a game plan. I am up early and get there at dark for just enough time for me to paddle back to my flat and be there at first light. Well, as soon as I arrive to my launch point there is lightning striking all around. Mother Nature sent me a little summer squall to sit through before I decided to launch. It passes over and I am on my way. I arrive and start throwing my Skitter Walk and after a few cast I hear a pop. No hook up but then I  hear another, and another. The fish want it but are not being very aggressive when it comes to feeding. This scenario  happens with 6 or 7 fish before I hook up and land a red. Anyways the day progresses and there are fish around busting bait all along the shoreline. I switch to a popping cork and make a few cast and not long after it disappears. I land a nice 26″ red which is a great tournament fish for tomorrow. 

 

 

I get a quick picture and release him for another day. I keep fishing and then all of the sudden my cork disappears again. I set the hook and nothing, I thought I may have just pulled the hook out or something. Wrong, I broke off, so I retied and was back at it. The very next cast I see a swirl, I set the hook and the same thing, snapped my line. Terrible luck right? I switch baits and start throwing a Buggs Lure, now these are new to me but I was told to throw one because reds can not resist. A few short cast later I hang into one but he came off, I already like it. A few minutes later I make a cast, see a swirl, and set the hook and then nothing. My line broke again. This was brand new P-Line 15 lb. test, it has never failed me before. I literally broke off on more fish in one day than I have in the past 5 years. Not long after this I decide to call it a day and head back home and prepare for tomorrow. I tell my team, which consist of Chad Lyden, and Blaze my brother, that our spot is covered with reds. Which it was, I caught 2 nice fish, missed 7-8 on topwater, and broke off on 3. I would say thats a good day. So we plan on meeting at the launch and it is going to be early.

I am so excited about this tournament that I wake up 15 minutes before my alarm goes off. I just knew that we were going to be top competitors in this tournament. Well Mother Nature knew what my attitude was and obviously did not like it, so she decided to throw us a curve ball. The wind is out of the SW blowing 15-20 mph. and no one likes fishing in these conditions. We enter the first flat and scatter across it and my only action was one red barely trying to eat my topwater. I look around and can not see or hear any fish cornering shad on the bank and crashing in on them. Around 7 or so, Chad hangs into a solid red, fights it all the way to the boat until he goes to net the fish and the trebles get hung into his net. The fish thrashes a few times and he is back swimming free again. Bad luck? I guess thats part of the game. So about 9 or 10 we do not have a fish on the stringer and our chances of showing up with fish are looking grim. My team has been looking at me all day with the look of “I thought there were fish here.”.

Mid day my brother strings up a redfish going about 5 lbs. So we will not be getting skunked today. Not long after I see my cork start dancing and moving sideways and I know a fish is carrying it somewhere. I set the hook and snap, my line breaks again. The brand new spool of line I have is coming off my reels and into the garbage. Of all spools of line, I grab the only one in SETX that is bad. I finally hang into a red at 1 that afternoon and he only went 4 lbs. A very slow day of fishing and was the toughest day I have had on the water in a while. Go to the weigh in and realize we are not even in the picture, but we have fish to weigh!

Sometimes I wonder what I could of done different to produce a better outcome and at times I can find a solution. Times like what happened to me this past Saturday I have no answer for. So until I figure out what I did incorrectly to guide my team in the wrong direction, I will blame Mother Nature, the fishing gods, and just plane ole bad luck! Along with that lives the fisherman’s saying, “You should of been here yesterday!”

Enjoy Life