Springtime is here! All the fish and their surroundings are going through a huge transition. As water temps heat up, grasses begin to grow, and bait begins to pour back into our bays. The grass flats will come to life! Fishermen and women will shed our winter clothes and break out our warm weather gear in search for hungry fish.
SNOOK- They will be pouring out the mouths of creeks and rivers. Look for them scouring the flats eating just about anything that crosses their path. This is one of my favorite times of year to throw top-water plugs like the Yo_Zuri 3DB. There will be full blown aerial assaults on top water plugs with fish so fired up they will literally come out of the water to nab the baits.
TROUT- Our huge gator trout will start to thin out inshore but, there will be plenty of nice size trout on the grass flats. Anywhere you can find good moving water with grass flats littered with deep potholes, you should find as many trout as your heart desires. Suspension baits like the Mirro Dine are a great baits to cover lots of water until you locate these fish. Don’t be afraid to work these lures with fast twitches. If you don’t plan on keeping these fish, I like to put single hooks on them to help preserve their soft mouths.
REDFISH- Look for these fish to be schooled up. Sometimes you will find two to twenty of them but, don’t be surprised to run into schools with over fifty of them. As much as you may want to start plugging away at them… Watch them for a little while to see what their pattern is, and then start working them. My first bait I like to throw at them is top-water lures and then soft plastics like the Monster 3X X-MOVE. What ever baits you decide to throw, make sure to get it out in front of them. Once they see you or your fishing line bounces off them, you will be playing cat and mouse all day!
Good luck! Be safe and respectable to your fellow anglers! There are plenty of fish in the sea for everyone! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all!:)
This weekend was the first tournament for the Kayak Bass Series. I had charters all week up to Thursday so I didn't get much time to pre-fish. Also, I have not freshwater fished since the last KBS tournament! I was just going over there because it is a fun tournament with great people and I wanted to get back to my roots- my first fishing experiences as a child were fishing for bass. I headed over to the other coast Friday morning around 4 am to do some bass recon. Needless to say I was on a mission to find some bass for the tournament the next day. I pushed out on to the beautiful St. Johns River around 8:30. The only thing I could get these bass to eat this day was the Yo-Zuri popper. I ended up sticking 3 nice bass and lost a really nice one. I didn't fish too hard this day because I didn't want to sore lip the bass for the next day. Once I had found fish, I knew where to go and what my game plan was going to be for the next day.
On game day (Tournament Day) I pushed out around 6:30 on the prowl for my 5 bass bag limit. Since I had so much success the day before on top-water, I started throwing a top-water popper and a frog. I lost two fish right off the bat, both in the mid 20's!!! Then I did the thing they say you should never do... leave fish to find fish. When I reached the other side of the lake, I saw Andrew Mixon sitting in the spot where I wanted to fish. I had to be respectful to my fellow angler/friend and not carry on to that spot. After watching him catch 3-4 fish right in front of me I headed off to re-group for another game plan. I went back to where I lost those other fish and just slowed everything down. I put on a speed worm and rubber worm with a bullet weight, both rigged weedless. I finally figured out that if I didn't have my bait in the weeds, I was not getting bites! After I tuned into the bite, I had my 5 bass bag limit in no time! I lost a couple of more lunkers on the top-water frog that made me wanna throw up! lol! My bass game was just a little rusty and couldn't get a good hook-set with the frog. Needless to say, I had one of the most fun days watching some of the most EPIC eats I've ever seen from bass on top-water. And I was just happy that I was able to compete with people who had been pre-fishing for two weeks and who bass fish on a regular basis. Who knows where I would have been in the ranking with the couple of the fish that I lost. Shoulda, Woulda , Coulda! :)
The St. Johns River is a Beautiful fishery and would love to go there again some day. My hats off to all of the competitors and Andrew Cameron/Crew for an fun tournament. Also great job to my friends: 2nd place Andrew Mixon, 3rd place Jason Broach, 5th place Bart A Swab. I'm sure this series will continue to be a blast! Check out Kayak Bass Series if you are a bass fisherman.:) I would like to thank everyone who makes this possible for me God, wife, family, friends, Johnson Outdoors, Old Town Kayaks, Ocean Kayaks, Bending Branches, Yak-Gear, 3-TAND, Humminbird, EGO, RailBlaza, Monster 3X , Yo-Zuri Lures, Mister Twister, EXUDE, Mirro Lure, Paul Brown, St. Croix Rods, Owner Hook, Seaguar, Mojo, Intova, River Bum, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses.
Winter time can be
one the best times of the year to go fly fishing. Soon baits
like larger pilchards
and threadfins will start to dissipate and most fish will start
to switch over to
eating more crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, blood worms,
etc…). Also as water temps
start to drop, the fish appetites will begin to slow down.
As their appetites
begin to slow down, the fish start to prey on smaller baits.
This making it the
perfect time of year for throwing flies!
My all around go
to rod and reel this time of year is a St. Croix 9 ft./ 8wt.
Legend Elite with
a 3-TAND T-70 reel. The rod has plenty of backbone/
sensitivity for throwing
most flies and handling fish from 1-2 lbs. up to 30plus lbs.
The reel has a
sealed Nano CF Drag system, interchangeable larger arbors
from 7-9 wt., incredibly
strong for a great price that doesn’t break the bank! I
prefer to use Teeny’s
weight forward floating Redfish line. This WF line was
designed to help
kayakers cast while sitting down, but, rockets out of the rod to
make for a long accurate
cast. Most of the fish I
target with this line will in pretty skinny water unless
I’m fishing deeper
creeks in which case I will add more length to my
leader. For my leader,
I start out with 4-6 ft. of 40-50 lb. test, then connect
that to a 3 ft. 30-25lb
test leader and finally connect that to a 3 ft. 20-10 lb.
leader. I do adjust my leaders due to fishing certain
species of fish or during this
time on windier days I like to shorten my
leader up to about 8
Now for my flies
of choice this time of year… I have been having lots of success on
River Bums chartreuse/white deceiver. Catching everything
from trout, redfish,
to snook. Another fly that I have lots of luck on
is a simple white
gotcha. It is so small and simple looking but, I have hooked
some huge snook on
them this time of year! Last, but, my favorite is a Tan
Epoxy shrimp. This
fly is killer this time of year for just about all types of
fish! Also what is
cool about this fly is that because it is made out of epoxy,
I like to put a
little shrimp flavored Pro Cure on it. Work it extremely
slowly along the bottom
and it is game on!
Hope this helps motivate
anyone thinking of picking up the
fly rod this winter. Until next time… stay warm! Tight
Lines and Tight knots!
Kayak Fly Fishing
Posted by RiverBum Pro: Eric Henson on February 05, 2016
Kayaking and fly fishing can be a beautiful marriage. They complement each other in so many ways. Fly fishing for example, you must be extremely stealthy and you have to use most of your senses. Eyes, to engulf your surroundings and zero in on your target. Mind, to evaluate the wind, speed, and direction for the perfect cast. Then your body, to feel the load of the line bending through the eyes and then as it transmits the energy through the rod. Kayaking is nearly the same with a stealthy approach where you need to utilize your senses. Eyes, to see your surroundings and take the desired path. Mind, to process the wind, current, and speed to get you to your destination. Then your body, to transmit the power and energy through your paddle as you glide through the water. Both kayaking and fly fishing are a full body experience and I can’t think of a stealthier way to do both…
People kayak for many reasons. Some for the sport, exercise and health. Others to sight-see and to enjoy nature to the fullest. Many kayakers go to places where most boats or people can’t get to. I kayak to do all of these things and also for FISHING! Kayaks are one the most quiet/stealthy ways to move through the water with little disturbance. They can take you to places that you didn’t even know existed. There is no other feeling in the world like being in a remote area, where all you can hear is the wind pouring through the tree tops, birds squawking on the shoreline, and water as it pushes through the blade of your paddle. Just when you are wondering to yourself if anyone has ever been here before… a fish pushes out from the mangroves. Your heart starts to flutter and knees begin to shake as your mind starts to race towards a plan of action.
Similarly, people fly fish for many reasons. Some do it for the beauty and artistry. Others for a more primitive feel of fishing. Lots of people fly fish for the sheer challenge of it. I do it for all of these reasons and much more. There are so many motions that a fly angler goes through to landing that special catch. First picking the right rod, reel, and line leader for the task at hand. Then choosing just the right fly that matches the hatch of the area and the targeted species. Once you’ve managed to located the fish, now all of your primal hunting instincts start to kick in. You feel the direction of the wind in your face as you determine the direction of the tide for the perfect cast. You listen to the line as it loops back and forth, trying to sync your breathing. The line lays down onto the water and then the fly to follow with the slightest splash. The fish turns on the fly, you hold your breath as you begin to strip your line. Strip, strip, and BOOM! Fish On! A huge sigh of relief exhales. The sound of the screaming drag sends chills down your spine. When the fish finally makes its way into your net, you are filled with emotions that are indescribable!
The similarities between kayaking and fly fishing make for a fantastic joint venture. I believe that those who are drawn to fly fishing would definitely love the fun and challenge of trying it from a kayak. Look me up if you are ever on the west coast of Florida and I’ll show you how it’s done!
Tight lines & Screaming Drags!
Eric Henson is a RiverBum Pro, and the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC, Eric Henson has over 30 years fly fishing experience and frequents the waters of Tampa Bay down to Charlotte Harbor in Florida. His favorite targets are redfish, snook, trout and tarpon. Read more on Eric at his website and blog.
Winter time fishing is one of my favorite times of the year to fish. If you are a true Floridian like me, it’s time to break out the winter clothing. Things I like to wear to keep me warm include a nice warm pair of paddling gloves, hats, buffs, and I even knock the dust of the ole waders. But, the number one thing that keeps me warmer than anything is a good windbreaker. You can cut the chill in half with a good windbreaker and they aren’t very bulky, so it's still easy to move around. Although this year has been a little warmer than previous years so far, look for fish this month falling into their winter patterns. Once you learn the patterns of the fish you are targeting, it can be literally like plucking fish out of a bucket.
Fishing will be most productive on the couple of days right before cold fronts and generally a few days after the cold front has rolled in. Fish get extremely fired up right before a front. Even the day as the front rolls in with crazy high winds, I’ve had some of my best days! Just please be careful if you are in a kayak. As the front rolls in and the fish feel the pressure dropping, it triggers them to feed hard. Then right behind that, the pressure will begin to rocket back up with cold high winds and blue bird skies. The fishing will generally be slower right behind the cold front. Then usually 2-3-4 days after depending on the size of the front, the high pressure will let up and the fish will begin the eat more heavily again.
Extreme winter time negative low tides can also give anglers a clear advantage targeting fish. First off, all extreme tides are caused by the full and new moon’s gravitational pull. Fishing as a whole, is generally better on these big tide swings. Also with the heavy winds this time of year, it can blow the water out even more. Think about it like this, less water- less places for fish to hide…(mangrove shore lines, docks, etc.) As the water pours off the grass flats, target nearby creeks, rivers, and boat channels. These will get narrower as well, giving you a better chance with less water to find them. If you enjoy wading, this is a great time to walk the grass flats. Fish holes that you’ve found previously fishing on the higher tides. Sometimes you can find fish stuck in them from the water getting sucked out to fast. Now that's like fishing in a bucket! These extreme low tides can help you learn a lot about the layout of an area for future fishing trips.
So remember to check the weather and your tides this winter and try some of these methods. I promise it will give you an advantage to fishing in the winter months. Stay warm and be safe! Hope everyone’s holidays were blessed and fishy! :) Tight lines and Tight Knots to the New Year!
One of the greatest accomplishments in a day of inshore fishing is catching an INSHORE SLAM! The inshore slam consist of a snook, redfish, and trout all caught on a day of fishing. That is pretty much my goal on a daily basis while fishing the flats. There are some days where we catch one to multiple inshore slams which makes for an amazing day! Some days for what ever reason only one or two of the species will eat which is still great but, falling short of catching the slam.
Most of the tournaments on the central west coast of Florida are Slam Tournaments due to challenge of catching all three species. I recently just won the Kayak fishing Classics Johnson Outdoors Championships in Tampa Bay, FL where only 5 people out of all the anglers caught a inshore slam. Inshore Slam Tournaments are generally scored by whomever has the longest measured inches of all three fish. Even if an angler has two fish which measure longer than someone who has all three species, the angler with all three species usually wins.
Most people know that any given day, most fish are going to feed heavily an hour before and after sunrise and sunset. For me, on a day where I am trying to target all three species, the first fish I will target will be a trout. I usually head straight to my trout spot and try to catch a good one right off the bat. Most of your bigger trout like to feed early. Then I try and bang out a snook. Snook are another fish were I seem to catch the bigger ones in the twilight stages of the day. Last but definitely not least is Mr. Redfish! I seem to catch redfish easier through out the day. This is just a guide line on how most of the to anglers in this area plan their trips on the quest of catching a inshore slam. A lot of the times I will catch one the three species while targeting another species which ends up being a bonus!
Good luck on your quest of landing a INSHORE SLAM! Happy Holidays! Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to everyone!
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!
Fall is near and the fall fishing patterns are not far behind. One fish that doesn't come to everyone's mind for inshore fishing is the Cobia. When people usually think about Cobia, they think offshore. Although that is normally the case for these fish most of the year, during fall and spring these fish will make there way inshore hanging around pass bridges, inshore wrecks, and scouring the flats searching for their next meal. Most of the time when you find these fish, they are not alone. Either they are cruising around in small groups or tagging along with stingrays and/or manatees.They are mainly brown and white with a dark lateral stripe that runs from head to tail. Many people refer to them as the man in the brown suit. Their long sleek body, broad head, and long pectoral fins almost makes them look shark like. Although you don't have to worry about teeth, one thing to look out for are the first dorsal fins/ spikes right behind the top of the head.
Cobia are pound for pound one of the hardest fighting fish on the West Coast of Florida. Their body design makes for incredible long runs and being able to change directions in a blink of an eye! Even smaller Cobia put up insane fights, launching themselves into the air numerous times and never giving up until the very end. Never under-estimate the power of a Cobia. Larger ones have been known to bang up boats and people pretty badly. Although it can be hard to net these powerful fish, never gaff one unless you know for sure it is over 33 inches. If you do decide to keep one that meets the legal size limit, you are in for a treat. They are extremely good table fare.
Many times when catching these fish, I wasn't even targeting them. They will literally pop up out of know where.This time of year always be on the look out for these cruising fish on top of the water because that is usually going to be your best chance to present a bait to them. You always need to have something ready to throw at them like a free lined live shrimp, pinfish, crab, for when they are really on the prowl. Artificial baits like buck-tail jigs, Monster 3X soft plastics, and flies work great as well! None the less when you hook into a Cobia, you better have your best gear because they are definitely going to put it to the test!
The two different Cobia that I hooked earlier in the year were both on the flats while I was fishing for Snook, Redfish, and Trout. The first one I hooked was on a 8 wt. fly rod. My client and I were paddling back to the launch at the end of a trip when all of a sudden two Cobia popped up right in front of us. We chased them for what seemed like forever until we decided to split up to try to cut them off. It worked so I was able to site cast and landed my first fly-caught Cobia! The second Cobia I caught was while I was fishing in a Slam Tournament. I pitched a soft plastic towards the mangroves hoping for a big snook when a 44 inch Cobia inhaled my bait! I was only using a 3000 Shimano CI4 on a 6 1/2 ft St. Croix spinning rod with 15 lb braided line. Both setups were a little small for the task but, they got the job done leaving me whooped! I promise if you ever hook a Cobia on a kayak, it will be an epic adventure that you will never forget.
Till next time, be safe! Tight knots & Tight Lines!
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.:)
Well, it's tournament season in the southeast! Do you like fishing? Do you like to compete? Do you want to meet others who love to fish? Do you need a good excuse to get out on the water all day? Think about checking out some of your regional fishing tournaments this summer.
One way to get involved is to join a local kayak fishing club. Some clubs do monthly competitions with entry fees and prizes while others just connect you with new friends who like to kayak fish, but all of them allow you to meet fellow anglers and will keep you up to date on local tournaments. You can always check with other anglers and local fishing stores to see which tournaments they recommend.
When looking for a tournament to fish, you want to see a nice, well-organized website. You also want clear, detailed rules. It's nice when they do things like raffles at the weigh-ins so that everyone has a chance to win sponsor prizes from great companies like Johnson Outdoors, Old Town/ Ocean Kayaks Bending Branches, Yo-Zuri Lures, Mirro Lure, Monster 3X, Yak-Gear, RailBlaza, Intova, Engel Coolers, etc,, even if you are not into the money that day. As long as the attendance is good, most of your larger tournaments pay out through the top ten. Also some tournaments have ways to win extra money by signing up for the Angler Advantage or the Calcutta.
Once you find a tournament you would like to fish, get on their website and sign yourself up. Read the rules many, many times! Every tournament is different and you want to be sure that you know what to do to give yourself the best chance of winning without being disqualified. You will be expected to attend a "Captain's Meeting" the night before the tournament- these are mandatory. There, you can get all of your remaining questions answered- anything that wasn't covered clearly on the website or in the rules. You will have a start time when you are allowed to push off into the water on tournament day and specific rules about how to take pictures and measure your fish. You want to be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back to the weigh-in location, because in most tournaments if there is a tie the angler who checked in first wins.
Some of my favorite kayak clubs are KAWF and Hard Core Kayak Angler Cub. Favorite online tournaments are onlinefishingtournament.com, 321Fish.com, and kayakwars.com.
Some of my favorite Florida tournaments include the Kayak Fishing Classics, IFA Kayak Tour, Kayak Bass Series, and Extreme Kayak Tournament. There are so many more fun tournaments out there that you can fish for just about every species of fish you can think of...
Hope this helps you get motivated to try something new. You've got nothing to lose and lots to gain! Please feel free to come say "hey" if you see me at any of these events. Tight lines and Tight Knots!
Redfish have been in full force the last couple of weeks. Schools of hundreds of them scouring all over the flats! Some days they have been a little tricky but other days eating anything you throw in front of their face. This was the perfect week for Leolla to call me and say that she wanted to surprise her husband for his 40th birthday with a kayak fishing trip. She told me they had some fishing experience but had never fished off a kayak. I told her that I would love to take them out and introduce them to kayak fishing.
Leolla told me that its was a surprise when we spoke earlier that week. As they pulled up I walked up to the truck to introduce myself. The husband at that time still didn't know what was going on or who the heck I was! lol! Then Leolla blurts out... We are going Kayak fishing! He was super excited to try kayak fishing. I gave them both a quick run through of the kayaks and we were off. I decide to use shrimp that day because of it being their first kayak fishing experience. The husband was just saying, "I would be happy if my wife catches fish..." Not even a second later her first cast and boom fish on! Slot redfish:) As I went over to assist and put her fish on ice, I look over and see his rod bent over with the drag just screaming off! Literally within the first 5 minutes we had a slot redfish and he landed a 30+ inch redfish. I told him you were suppose to save the big fish for the grand finally.;) He said to me, who's to say that will be the biggest fish... I said I like the way you think!:) Next thing you know people started pouring in around us so I decided to move. Usually I don't like to leave fish to find fish but, it worked out this time. The birthday boy ended up catching an even a bigger red than the first one. Totaling four over slot redfish ,with the largest being over 33 inches! Also a few trout. The wife caught 1 slot red fish, a few nice trout, and a shark. I ended up cleaning a redfish, trout, and a flounder for them because they were having a birthday dinner at Walt's. Leolla spoke with them earlier that day. Walt's Fish Market lets you bring your catch in and they will cook it for you.:) A great ending to a nice B-day of kayak fishing. They are already thinking about buying kayaks.:)
Being a Kayak fishing guide here in Sarasota, FL I have to make the decision every day, artificial or live baits...Both can be extremely productive if used properly and in the right scenarios. I usually try to feel out each of my new clients to find out how much fishing experience they have and to see what type of fishing and baits they would be most comfortable with. The most common response to my series of questions is, "you are the captain...whichever you think will work the best!" I wish it were that simple! : ) Generally, though, if someone has less experience I usually start with the live bait and then work them into artificial lures.
Live and/or cut bait is really hard to beat! My go-to live baits are hand picked shrimp and or white bait. When working with live shrimp, I like to mostly tail hook them with a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook. I then usually free line them. If they are sitting in grass too much, I'll rig them under a popping cork. Leaving just enough line under it to keep the shrimp just above the grass level. Every couple of minutes or so I'll give the popping cork a couple of rips across the top of the water to attract the fish. If the fish aren't on a good bite, I like to pinch the tail off to release more scent into the water. Red fish can't resist it! For white bait (green backs or pilchards) make sure you use the right size hook to match the size of your white bait. They are a delicate bait. You want that bait to swim as naturally and freely as possible. I nose hook them and try to cast them as few times as possible. If you are anchored in a spot where you know fish are there, it always good to chum with the extras. You know what they say... if you chum they will come! For cut bait I use mullet, lady fish, or pin fish. Freshly frozen will work but always try to use fresh fish from that day whenever possible. Then take the whole fish and cut into 1inch chunks and use a 2/0 circle hook or up depending on the fish you are targeting. Soak it in a hole or a spot where fish are known to hang out and wait until it's Fish On!
Being on a kayak you are limited on how much space you have and how to keep live bait ALIVE! Artificial baits when mastered can be extremely productive. Most of the time they are easier to cast and you can catch multiple fish on one artificial bait. Being able to cast farther means you can target the fish farther away without spooking them. When throwing lures you also cover much more water. You are able to reach fish that you might not of had a chance at while waiting for the fish to come to your live/ cut bait...
The first artificial bait I start clients on are soft plastics. These are probably the most versatile of the artificial baits. Soft plastics are easiest to learn and catch many species of fish. Either rig them with a jig head or a weedless hook depending on the bottom of the water you are fishing. If you are fishing in 2 ft. of water or less I would generally use a 1/16 oz jig head or 1/16oz weedless hook. Right now I am still catching tons of fish on shrimp pattern soft plastics like the Montser 3X Shrimp in the most natural colors as possible. As the white bait starts to move more into the the bays in the next couple of months, I will be using more bait fish patterns like the Monster X-Moxe and Exude's shads. I always start out working them slowly and then speeding them up until I find out what speed the fish are chewing. For suspension hard baits I like to use Mirro Lure's MirroDines and Yo-Zuri,s Jerk-Baits. Keeping your rod top down, start out slow with the twitch-twitch-pause, then speed up from there... Top water is by far one of my favorites! Seeing the fish exploding sometimes clear out of the water is an amazing thing to see! I like to use Yo-Zuri's (3DB) and Mirro Lure's (Mirro Mullet). You can make long accurate casts with these lures. As the lure hits the water, always let it sit there until the ripples dissipate, then start your retrieve. These lures are heavy and when they hit the water the fish will move away from the lure and then turn back on it to investigate. If you immediately start retrieving the fish will sometimes keep swimming away. After the the ripples leave, a lot of times the hit will come very soon, just as you start to walk the dog with the lure. But, make sure you always work it all the way back to the kayak because some fish will follow it all the way in and blast it right at the boat. Walking the dog... You must point your rod tip to the water as you continue to make short twitches with your rod tip. Remember, always start out working it slowly and then work it faster until you find that magic speed at which they are eating.
The spring time transition frenzy has started! Our large trout have started to move out. The red fish have already begun to start grouping up in small schools. And snook are moving out of the backwaters, ending up up on the flats as they make their journey to the beaches to spawn. The bait has already started coming in strong! Although the bait is coming in I have been still catching tons of fish on shrimp artificial lures like the Monster 3X! Other very productive baits have been Mirro Lure's Mirrodine and Yo-Zuri's Sashimi Top Water Pencil. Sometimes if my clients do not feel comfortable using artificial lures I have been using live shrimp, which has been productive as well. A couple of days ago my clients were using shrimp catching nice red fish and flounder. They told me that they would love to watch me to catch something on artificial lure. I saw a large shadow of a fish, of just its head inside of a pothole. I pitched my top water over at it and it took off into the grass where I couldn't see it anymore. Soon as I finished my retrieve I launched it into the dark grassy area. My second twitch BOOM it missed it, then BOOM it missed it again, and the third time the snook inhaled it! Fish ON! I had to pull the anchor because it literally almost spooled me! I was only using 20lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon and could feel the gills of the fish cutting through it! Finally I got her to the boat and I could only fit her head in the net! Measured just under the 40 inch mark. My client Freaked out and told me he couldn't believe that there were fish like that in the water! lol! He said I was just standing in the water with that thing! I then told him that the fish had know teeth, and that you could actually hold him like a bass. He was truly amazed that an artificial lure caught the biggest fish of the day. I tell everyone that if you believe that you will catch something on a lure, YOU WILL! Confidence is the key to success!
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!
First off sorry it has been a while since my last blog. Had some computer issues that I had to take care of...
Fall fishing was excellent with everything in it's transitional state. Now winter is here and the fishing is still great if you are using the right tactics. First off don't worry about getting on the water at the crack of dawn to catch the early bite because it is nonexistent. Even with the warmer days heating the water temps up, the fish are still in their winter time patterns. If you are on the flats look for fish to be sitting in super skinny sand holes trying to warm up, and if you are in the backwaters look for the darker areas where the water is going to heat up faster. Once you have located the fish, slow our presentation down if you are using artificial lures. Most of the bait has moved out except the large schools of glass minnows. Exudes shrimp pattern soft plastics, smaller Yo-Zuri swim baits (Sashimi Jerk-baits), and crustacean looking flies are my baits of choice this time of year. Also remember what I said about SLOW YOUR ROLL! The winds have been pretty heavy lately so make sure you are not blowing by the fish. I use Yak-Gear's Anchor stick or Drift anchor, connected to my Anchor trolley to slow my presentation down. If you put all these techniques together, you will have great success. Until next time Stay Warm! Fish On! Fish On!
John was freshly retired and looking for a new Adventure. He picked up a nice used kayak that he modified to fit his needs. I could not believe some of the ingenuity that he came up with... The one thing that stood out to me the most was the up raised seat he designed out of a luggage rack! Great Job! He was new to kayak fishing and wanted to learn the basics. After teaching him a few tricks and techniques about rigging fishing gear/kayaks, we headed out on to the water. When showing new people to artificial fishing, I always start them out with soft plastics. Showing them different colors, size jig heads, hooks, and speed variations for certain situations. And Why? I began showing him what to look for and where to look for that prized fish. Before you know it, he put it all together and hooked into a Nice red fish. After a nice red fish sleigh ride from a beautiful lit up up fish. John had fell in love with kayak fishing! We ended up catching a only a couple of red fish and a few trout but, he was ready to rock n' roll in the future on his next kayak fishing adventure! Great Job John!
Learning to fish from a kayak can some times be challenging but, can also be very rewarding in the end. If you are new to an area or new to kayak fishing and want to fine-tune your game quickly I would recommend going with a guide for the first trip. It's different from other fishing because there is not a lot of space on a kayak. So don't overload your yak with things that you will never use and if you do, being organized is the key to success! I usually bring a paddle, PFD, whistle, rod/reels, just enough tackle for what I'm fishing for, fish grips/ landing net, measuring device, anchor, water/snack and my phone for pictures/ in case of emergency... That may sound like a lot but, if its stowed away properly its no problem at all! The first thing I look at before planning a trip is the tides and weather/WIND! There are many different bad situations you can put yourself in by not checking both the tides and wind before you launch... Safety first and fun second ; ) Once you have all that down you are ready to catch the fish of a lifetime! Nothing funner than taking a kayak sleigh ride from a nice fish. Also please be respectful of your fellow anglers on the water! If you see someone fishing, go around them and try not to disturb the area they are trying to fish. There are plenty of fish in the sea :) Until next time Be Safe, Have Fun, and Enjoy Florida's Beautiful waters!
The Fishing and weather has been Great! Fly fishing this time of year is great because the water is starting to clear up, making easier to sight fish. Although you can see them better, they can see you better!Lol! So taking a stealth approach is a must. Match the hatch with your fly, and make sure its the right fly for the water column you are fishing. I have been Catching tons of trout in the 3-6ft depth. Snook and reds have been in super skinny water, which I have been catching most of them on top water flies. Keep an eye out for huge Jacks coming through. They can be a lot of fun on the fly rod! Till next time... Fish On! Fish On!