Each year we stop to give thanks for all the good gifts we’ve been given. I am truly blessed and I always thank God for the gifts of the “three F’s.” That’s family, friends, and well…yes fishing! Yes, I know I am thankful for the gift of having good health and I am truly thankful for all the gifts God has given me, but this is a fishing report and frankly, the “three F’s” has a better ring to it. 🙂 This year, I’m especially blessed to have an addition to my family, my new son-in-law, Nandi and his family. The fall is my favorite time for inshore fishing, but we have been busy with the wedding itself and numerous parties leading up to and after it. Additionally, I’ve had school responsibilities on weekends and the limited number of weekends that I could spend on the water have resulted in winter storms with winds in excess of 10 to 15 mph…not the kind of weather where a fly fisherman who fishes out of a kayak wants to be. As the Thanksgiving break was approaching I scoured the weather and wind reports to look for a small window of opportunity to get on the water. That opportunity presented itself this Wednesday morning.
Knowing that we were going to be entertaining people on Thursday, I knew that I would be cutting it close with my wife, so I made sure to take care of cleaning the house, both inside and out prior to Wednesday. The stars and moon were lining up. Did I mention that I’m thankful for a wonderful wife?
I left early Wednesday morning with a young man who’s like a second son of mine. Well, since my son had to work and I hadn’t seen him in several months, Austin would be a real treat to fish with. I had made plans to begin our day at the southern-most point of Highway 1 (Bay Laurier) and work our way back up north if the fish wouldn’t cooperate. As we approached our destination, the excitement built as we watched a perfect sunrise on a cool crisp morning with nearly no wind at all. While we were unloading the kayaks to launch, my buddy said, “Oh shoot.” He had chained his Hobie Outback to the bed of the truck the night before but he left his keys in Baton Rouge in his truck. Our options were to either find a set of Allen wrenches and unscrew the bolt in the front of the handle or find some bolt cutters and cut the chain. Either way…so much for getting an early start. We kept a good attitude as I headed to Moran’s Marina. I noticed three Harbor Police cars and trucks parked in the front and I figured that one of them should have a set of tools with them. I went in and asked the officer, who was just finishing breakfast, if he had a set of Allen wrenches and he said he did. Three minutes later, I was thanking him and we were heading back down the road to my “plan A.”
Fifteen minutes into our paddle, we were sight fishing for redfish. I was stalking with my fly rod, while my buddy was using a baitcaster with a swim bait. It didn’t take long for him to catch a keeper redfish.
I followed with my first on a gold spoon fly.
We continued to see reds all morning long. I had a limit by 10:30 and was playing catch and release when I decided to talk my buddy into switching out his commie tackle for a fly rod. He was only one fish short of his limit so I took him over to a small duck pond that was now being fed by a slight wind. I knew there would be some bait in there as the tide was falling and the wind was blowing into the pond. Sure enough, when we got there, my buddy spied a pod of about 7 redfish feeding on a school of minnows. With the wind to his back, he was hooked up within seconds.
After that, we followed that pod further into the marsh. I was able to catch two more (I switched from my gold spoon fly to a black one) and my buddy caught two more as well.
Somewhere around noon (I really don’t know because I didn’t have a watch) we decided to quit chasing redfish and try for some speckled trout. By now the wind was blowing 10 – 15 mph and I didn’t like our chances. We had passed an area of deeper water earlier in the day with good tidal movement and I thought that it would be a decent place to anchor up and try with Lafleur Charlies under a VOSI. I don’t know how long I was there before I got a strike. Immediately, I realized it wasn’t a trout. I told my buddy it was either a drum or a big redfish. I usually pull up my anchor pole and let a big fish like that fight my drag and my kayak, AKA the Cajun sleigh ride. I didn’t, however, this time and for the first time since I started fly fishing, a fish had taken me into my backing! That’s when I saw the fish’s tail break the water and I realized it was a redfish and not a drum. I ended up having to pull up my anchor stake and the fish took me on a sleigh ride. Finally I was able to get some line back but the huge fish kept going on runs and taking more line out. After 10 or so minutes of burning fore arms and wrists, I was finally able to land the beast. The fish ended up being my personal best, not only on my fly rod, but it was my personal best from a kayak! Period. It also will bump me up on the Massey’s CPR tournament.
I once told someone that I’ve never had as much fun fishing in my life as I have since I began fishing out of a kayak. I was pumped during and after the fight with that fish and I laughed and hollered out loud several times. Meanwhile, I think I got another angler into the sport of fly fishing from a kayak. I told Austin to have his girlfriend call me before she goes shopping for his Christmas present. 🙂