Fishing for black drum out of a kayak.Read More
Fly fishing can be one the most exhilarating things to try if you are an angler and desire a novel experience or a new challenge. It is pretty much the most intimate fishing experience that you can have. From tying your own flies for your next catch to casting a fly rod, the whole experience could most definitely be considered an art form.
First, you pull just enough line to cast and give it a good stretch so that you have less room for error once you reach your target. Once you find the fish you are looking for, you get into the best possible position for hitting your mark. While you are casting, you breathe as you feel your line loading through the rod and you listen to your line starting to form tight loops. Then you release your line as it rockets through the guides of your rod and lays down ever so softly just in front of your target. You begin to strip your line as the fish turns its head with its pectoral fins out, and rushes over, mouth wide open to inhale your fly. Boom! Fish ON!
One more good strip set as you begin to feel your line peeling out through your hands until it is tight on the rod. Then you palm the spool for just the right drag while you feel the sheer power of the fish. You look at the backing of your line hoping that you have enough just as the fish’s will starts to break. You reel reel reel and then the fish decides to go for another run! Finally, you get all your line back as you see fish getting closer and closer to you until the fish rolls over on its side into submission. When all of this comes together it can be one of the greatest fulfillments in fishing.
This is one of my favorite times of the year to fly fish. As the water clarity continues to improve and air/ water temps are cooler, sight fishing will be key. The fish are easy to see but it is also easier for them to see you so you need to have a good plan of execution. Also this time of year the fish are starting to feed on smaller things which is a great for fly fishermen. I like to throw crustacean type patterns now, although they will feed on smaller bait fish patterns as well. Sometimes the wind can be a bear this month so don’t be afraid to hit the backwaters. The fish will be making their way back there anyway if they aren’t already there.
Sharks can be one of the most fun fish to catch in SW Florida and just about anywhere in the world really… Pound for pound they can be some the strongest fish, with long line burning runs that never give up. They can be caught in waters less than a foot or in deep sea waters. They also come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
The most common smaller sharks caught in our waters would have to be Black-tips, Bonnetheads, Spinners and Reef sharks, but, we do have larger ones as well like Bulls, Lemons, Tigers, and even Great-whites! Targeting the smaller species out of the kayaks can be lots of fun. And if you really want to target the big boys, the best way is to do it from shore and to use your kayak to paddle your bait out past the sand bar. Sometimes when we are fishing for smaller sharks we end up with bigger ones than we would prefer so we enjoy the fight, get as much line back as possible and then cut it.
There are many techniques to target sharks. My favorite way to target them is to sight fish them with artificial lures. Top water lures like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil and the Monster 3X X-MOVE are my go-to artificial lures for sharks. If you prefer other bait, anything fresh and bloody will work every time! Cut pinfish, mullet, jacks, bonita, and lady fish to name a few of my favorites. Also chumming never hurts or even tie a bonita carcass off the side of your yak. If you chum, they will come!
For smaller sharks 4 ft and under a size 3-4000 size reel, 7 ft. med-heavy action rod, 15-20 lb braided line, and 30-50 lb. fluorocarbon leader will get the job done. And for the larger ones I like to use an 8000 size reel, 8 ft. heavy action rod, 40-50 lb. braided line, 80 lb. fluorocarbon leader with a steel leader tippet. Of coarse the larger the sharks you are targeting… the bigger and beefier your gear had better be!
Please make sure you are very cautious while doing this out of a kayak. Sharks are a bundle of muscle, cartilage, and teeth. They will beat you and your kayak up if you bring them into the yak without having complete control of them. Also be careful when releasing them because many sharks can reach the tip of their tail with their teeth! As always, Be Safe and have fun! Tight Lines and tight Knots to all!
This can be one of the hottest times of year where the outside temps and water temps are at their highest. The fishing can be RED HOT as well if you plan your trips out right. I like to get out on the water earlier and finish up before the hottest part of the day.
REDFISH- They are really starting to heat up large schools of redfish growing just about daily. You can find these fish in the shallow grass flats early in the morning and then look for them cruising the outer edges once the sun gets up over head. Remember to be stealthy because if you scare one, you have scared them all. I like to target them with top water lures like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil first thing in the morning. Then I switch up to soft plastics like the Monster 3X X-SWIM or suspension baits like Mirro Lures Mirrodine.
SNOOK- My favorite place to target these fish is with a fly rod off the beach close to the passes as they start to migrate their way back to the flats, creeks, etc… The set up I primarily use for this is an 8 wt. St. Croix rod, TF 70 3-TAND fly reel, Teeny’s 8 wt. kayak series fly line, with a Seaguar fluorocarbon leader 30# tippet. Look for groups of smaller fish close to the shoreline with larger fish lurking around I a little deeper water. I’ve been catching some nice snook on River Bum’s purple tarpon toad early in the morning and then switching to gotcha flies later.
TROUT- Look for these fish to be hanging on the grass flats in deeper pot holes around the 4-7 ft. range. Most of these fish are in schools averaging about the 15-19 inch range but, perfect if you are looking for dinner. I always like to start throwing top water plugs like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil because they are a blast on top water!. Then I move onto soft plastics like the Monster 3X X_MOVE.
So this summer beat the heat! Not only do we need to take care of ourselves from the heat like staying hydrated but, also take care of the fish… If you are practicing catch and release, spend a little extra time to reviving them. “Quick tip” Fish can be a little sluggish on hot days so don’t be afraid to cast out an ole trusty piece of cut bait. It might just do the trick! Till next time… Be Safe, Stay Hydrated, and have fun! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all.
Eric Henson is the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC. a guided kayak fishing company out of Sarasota Florida. He specializes in inshore light tackle or fly fishing from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. To book a guided fishing trip with Eric check out his website www.CastingKayaks.com or give them a call at 941-504-134
Tarpon fishing from kayaks!Read More
The black drum is a cousin of one of my favorite fish… the redfish. It is the largest species of the drum family. The average black drum is about 5-30 lbs. but, they have been known to reach 90 lbs. The juveniles look very similar to the sheepshead. They are a silver-grey color with 4-5 vertical black bars running across their body. The main difference are that sheepshead have crazy human-like teeth and Black Drum have chin barbells. When they grow longer than about 24 inches they start to lose their black bars and become a solid dark silver-grey color. Their mouths are on the bottom of their face with whiskers under the chin, making them the ultimate bottom feeder!
The smaller fish usually like to hang out in brackish water near cover or structure. The larger fish will venture out into the saltier areas where most of the time they like to hang out by structure as well like oyster bars, rock piles, piers, docks, etc… Look for black drum tailing like redfish near oyster bars on low incoming tides. Or on higher tides look for them in small tight schools cruising the flats. Most of the time the pods of fish are 3- 12 fish slowly swimming around looking for their next meal. This is a great opportunity to sight cast to them. Targeting them around bridge pilings are another great way to catch HUGE Black Drum. I’ve have friends who vertical jig for them along the pilings and catch monsters. My favorite way is to drop down good size fresh chunks of blue crab down and wait. It won’t be long until you have a monster on your line.
Baits I like to use to target them…Starting out with artificial baits -Right now in the backwaters, I have been catching them on heavy jig heads with a root beer colored Monster 3X X- Swim 3 ¾ inch shrimp. Also small bait fish patterns as well. Working them slowly, bouncing them off the bottom. On the flats, I have been using the same method just lightening the jig head and sight casting tailing fish or pods of fish cruising. With a little Pro Cure scent and working it slowly, it will usually get the job done. If you like using live bait… A shrimp on a jig head or free lined on a 2/0 Owner circle hook would be my next bait of choice. Most of the time they won’t be able to resist ole trusty shrimp! Fishing Docks, bridge pilings, or structure would be my next choice, using a chunk of crab on a circle hook with enough weight to keep it down near the bottom. They will smell that out from far away!
Black Drum are great fighters and under 15 lbs. can be absolutely delicious! Next time you have a chance at a black drum, give them a shot. It might become one of your new favorite species! Till next time, Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots!
This is one of my favorite months for Red Drum. I call it The Hunt For Red October! Red Drum are also called redfish, spottail, or channel bass. Red drum are named after the drumming sound they make when taken out of the water and during breeding. They have broad heads and stout bronze/ red colored bodies normally with a black spot right before their tail fin starts. You can find them just about anywhere inshore and offshore in our region. The bag limit for our region is one fish per angler 18-27 inches.
This time of year, huge schools of bull redfish are here and on the prowl for their next meal. The majority of these fish will be over slot but are very fun to pursue . Some of the newer schools that are coming in from offshore will be a washed out lighter grey color and the schools that have been here for a little bit will be a beautiful bronze color. When you see a large school of these fish coming at you, it will literally turn the water a bronze reddish color. A lot of the bigger fish in the upper 30’s – upper 40’s might look a little beat up from spawning. Be careful to release them because these are our big breeders.
Right now I am targeting them on the grass flats. On the higher stages of the tide in the mornings and afternoons, look for huge pushes (wakes) as they will cruise around in the 2-3 ft. depth range. Then concentrate on them in the 4-6 ft. depth as the sun comes up or the tides go out. Also look for them staging in large potholes. The biggest thing is once you’ve found them, try to be very stealth! They can feel and see you coming from pretty far away and once they know you are there, fishing for them can become very frustrating.
Baits that I like to use to target these schooling fish… First thing in the morning throw a top-water plug like Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Pencil. Make long cast out in front of the school, wait to work it until they get close enough to see it. Their mouth is on the bottom of their head, so they have to really commit. Watching them hit a bait on top of the water can be an incredible sight! Then as the sun comes up, I start throwing soft plastics like the Monster 3X shrimp or the paddle-X. There are lots of weeds out there this time of year so be sure to rig them weed-less. Last but definitely not least would be your favorite suspension bait like a Mirrodine. Of coarse live or cut bait works great as well. Some days these fish will be feeding like Piranhas, eating anything you throw in front of them and some days they can be quite finicky. Regardless, it is an amazing sight to see a school of reds the size of a football field coming at you!
Redfish are pouring into our bays, with new schools showing up just about daily. Look for them cruising the flats on the higher tides in the mornings and afternoons. Or hanging out on the deeper edges and holes on the lower stages of the tides. When you find them, you must be extremely stealthy because they are very spooky! Most of the time you can pick a few out of the school if you are quiet and patient. Once they know you are there it can become very frustrating, like chasing ghost! These fish will only hang out in the same area for a few days until they have eaten everything they can eat in that area. Then on to the next areas food source!
My favorite way to target them is by using artificial baits. I usually start out by throwing top-water plugs like Yo-Zuri's 3DB Pencil. Stay as far away from them, making long cast out in front of them. Wait to start working it until they get right behind it. Usually it is game on from there. Sometimes redfish can be a little clumsy hitting a top-water bait so that is when I will switch over to ole faithful soft-plastic like Monster 3X Shrimp with some Pro Cure. Let them smell the bait out working it very slow with light twitches. If your line is in the middle of a school and your line bounces of one of them, it will usually spook the whole school. Suspension baits like the Mirro Dine are another great bait for making long cast out in front of the school.
I've spent the last 4 days with back to back charters on the same school of redfish. Client Chase Deskin nailed the biggest red of the week out of all my charters this week. It was about a 35 inch red, while working a soft-plastic out in front of them. Great job Chase! Most of the the redfish this week were from the mid 20's to mid 30's. I have been seeing some MONSTERS out there! Looking forward to getting on the water with my next charters.:)
Kayak Wars is a year long tournament that is held world wide. Team Get Bent Fishing is in the US Southeast Division. We blasted off the tournament with a great start! The fist week we managed to land 6 red drum over 20 up to 29 inches, 13 trout over 20 inches, and 24 snook over 20 and up to 37 inches. The first day we caught 5 trophy snook which is any snook over 32 inches. We are aloud to use live bait but, all the fish so far have been caught on artificial lures like soft plastics (Exude's Darts, Mirro Lure's Lil Johns, and intimation shrimp), suspension lures (Yo-zuri's Shashimi Jerk-bait, Mirro Lure's Mirrodine), and Top-waters (Yo-zuri's Pecil , Heddon's Spooks). For inshore, I usually stick to 15-20 lb braided line with 20-30 Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader depending on the targeted species and clarity of the water. We only get to fish together once or twice a week so strategically picking spots is crucial! Also choosing our gear has has to be top notch, so we have the best chance possible. My kayaks of choice are the Old Town Predator 13 for inshore and Ocean Kayak's Prowler Big Game 2 for the offshore. Both Outstanding kayaks for the Southeast Region's waters. Paddles of choice are between Bending Branches Angler Pro, Angler Ace, and Aqua-Bounds Manta Ray Carbon. All these paddles are exceptionally light weight and cut through the water with ease. For my kayak accessories I depend on Yak-Gear. They have everything thing you can imagine to make kayaking more manageable. (Anchor Systems, Rod Holders, Lighting, Camera Booms, etc...) For eye wear I can't even imagine being without my Costa Sunglasses! The 580 Green Mirror or Amber are my lenses of choice, helping me see incredibly more on the water. Last but definitely not least is Buff USA. Their buffs and gloves are comfortable and provide great UV protection to keep me on the water longer. Being equipped and organized is one of the biggest keys to success on the water! All though we are still looking for one more teammate, we are all very passionate about fishing and hope to continue on this epic adventure! Up above are teammates Adam Calderon, Patrick Nespeca and I with trophy snook.:)
This is my first kayak bass tournament ever. Although I normally fish 20 - 30 tournaments a year but, they almost always are inshore saltwater fishing...I thought it would be fun to try something different. My roots of fishing as a kid was always freshwater but, now I probably only fish freshwater 2-3 times a year...
I headed up to Astor, FL a couple of days early to do a little prefishing and to scout the area out. It was so beautiful and completely different looking from Sarasota, FL. Its rich green lily pads, miles of cat-tails, and cypress trees filled with Spanish moss were truly breath taking. I got a little bit of a late start the first day around 9 am. As I took this long dirt road into what seemed the middle of no where, I ended up just above Dexter Lake on the St. Johns River. I knew the major feed of the day had to been going on because I was seeing tons of wildlife(Deer, birds, hogs) moving through the forest. Finally getting my yak in the water, I pushed off into the beautiful St Johns River. I paddled around for a bit, soaking it all in before I got to my destination to start fishing. I started out throwing many different kinds of artificial baits like plastic worms, spinner baits, crank baits, etc... But NO LOVE! I could not bye a bite! I had paddled pretty far so I decided to start heading back. I did manage to get a couple of bites but no solid hook ups on my journey back. I also ran into a couple of more kayak fishermen who were in the tournament. They to were also having a tough day. One of the guys hooked a little bass on a white spinner bait while I was talking to him but, they literally had only two bites before that all day!
Day two I decided to put in close to Deleon Springs and head down the river to Lake Woodrift where I thought I might find spawning bass. As I was putting in the old timer at the boat ramp told me that I didn't need to go that far. Just to fish Spring Garden Lake. Watching five other kayak fishermen before me shooting toward the river, I decided to take his advice. Me and one other little john boat were the only people to share the lake all day! Starting out I threw tons of different artificial baits that people suggested. Not catching anything for the first couple of hours I decide to go back to what I know. Keeping it simple with purple /black and red/ black plastic worms on a 1/16 oz bullet weight with a size 2 /3 worm hook. Immediately started getting bites landing 3-4 pound bass that made my day! Unfortunately a front started rolling in and the wind started kicking up. I decided to paddle back in a little early to eat some lunch before heading to the captains meeting.
Tournament morning was very cold! I woke up with a soar throat not feeling great but, It was time to compete. I am a pretty competitive person so the feeling that I get during a tournament can push me through just about anything! lol! Deciding to head where I found nice fish the day before, I launched just as the sun was breaking the horizon. Beautiful pinks, oranges, and blues were breaking through the forest as the reflections burst off of the glassy lake. I pretty much had the lake to myself much of the morning but, couldn't get anything to eat. It was sooooo cold the night before in the 30's so most of the fish I saw were glued to to the bottom and had lock jaw! I did see a few really nice fish that I wish I could have got to eat. By the time I had gotten to the spot where I caught my nice fish the day before, the wind had completely changed directions and it was blowing so hard making it unfishable. It was now 12pm and I had not measured one fish. Had to make a game plan fast! Thinking of how cold the water might be from the temps dropping so low the night before, I paddled almost two miles in directly into the heavy winds to where the spring poured 72 degrees water into the lake. Time for a hail mary! All or nothing! lol! I finally get there and nothing. At 1pm I started thinking my throat was killing me and my nose running uncontrollably. I told myself its just not my day and its time to head in. Literally less than five minutes of heading in I took a cast at in between a group of pads that just looked like there should be a fish there. BOOM! Fish ON! Quick measurement and released it. Less than two minutes after that, BOOM Fish ON! Now I had two fish. a few kayak fishermen in the tournament saw this and here they came starting to surround me. lol! I slowed down, anchored up and held my ground. After landing and measuring my third fish, I new I still had to log my fish on to the I Angler App. Took my time as I entered each fish. Luckily I had cell phone service so it made it easy to log my catches. I now went from NO FISH to having my bag limit. Having less than an hour before I had to check in at the weigh in, I had to make a decision. Head back now or try to quickly upgrade. I started working my way back but, still casting a every spot that looked fishy. Right as i was ready to call it quits again BOOM I get smashed by a solid game changer fish. It came up and gave one good head shake and spit the worm directly at my face. Luckily it hit my rod before smacking me in the face!lol! My heart sunk into my stomach but, that's fishing. Can't land them all. I felt blessed enough to go from having no fish less than an hour ago, to having my limit. So I put all my rods away and headed in.
Getting to the weigh in, I began talking to a lot of people who also seemed to have a tough day on the water...There was one really nice bass caught by Jason McRae measuring over 25 inches. Jason was one of the most knowledgeable bass anglers I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with and truly a great person as well. Some how I was able to squeak my way into the top ten which I was very happy with not being an avid bass angler
KBS and all the staff did an outstanding job hosting there first tournament! I wasn't sure how the I Angler App was going to work but, it was a success. Great job to everyone involved. Looking forward to entering more KBS events. Thank you to all my Sponsors! Johnson Outdoors, Yak-Gear, RailBlaza, Bending Branches, Aqua-Bound, Mister Twister, Exude, Yo-Zuri Lures, Mirro Lure, Paul Brown's Lures, St,Croix Rods, Ross Reels, Costa Sunglasses, Buff Usa, Mojo Apparel. This could't happen without you!