Finally, Back on the water

After feeling the call back to the marsh for months growing stronger and stronger, I finally decided that it was time to make it happen. That was a couple weeks ago, followed up by a second trip the following weekend.

Back in the gap (2013), PAC was still kind of an underground kayak fishing location. It’s not that it was unknown, but many people would respond with a “where’s that?” if you told them you fished in Pointe Aux Chenes. At that time, Eddie and Lisa hadn’t established PAC Kayak yet, and our little group hadn’t started launching at PAC Marina yet. Instead, we would opt for the Island Rd. WMA. Eventually we realized the expanse of marsh available to us by driving to the end of the road, but for a while Island Rd. was our launch point.

I’ve fished the WMA a few times in the last few years, but not consistently. With my current kayak being a hybrid Native Ultimate 12, and me wanting to avoid larger boats and currents while getting readjusted in this kayak, I decided that fishing that old spot might be a good idea.

The open water that stretched between the Island Rd. public launch and the northern sections of marsh have since been filled in with terraces which keep the area from getting rough on windy days (you can see a comparison below). I figured I’d might use that to my advantage and fish on the way to the northern marsh by throwing a topwater or spoon along the banks of the terraces periodically.

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The problem I ran into when arriving down there was that the Island Rd. public launch is currently shut down for maintenance. So, calling an audible, I decided to combat launch at another old favorite, the Island Rd pump station. This gives you access to much of the immediate marsh just to the north of PAC Kayak. Combat launching wasn’t a problem at all, but I found mostly murky water. I did see a tail pretty quickly, but no luck there after casting. Not long after being in the water, a shrimp jumped into the kayak. You might guess what I did after noticing that.

I quickly traded out my Skitterwalk for a Z-man EZ Shrimp. Having a Twitch-clip made that transition way quicker than trying to tie a new knot. I fished that area for a few minutes with no further luck.

As I drove in, I noticed a large amount of matted grass on the south-side of the road, and right up to the road. I decided to head to that area. I searched a little and still only found dirty water (grass, you let me down). As I came to the end of a narrow stretch of grass ending near the roadway, I finally saw a red pushing a wake in front of me. I threw the EZ Shrimp but the fish didn’t seem interested at all. He disappeared and I stood and waited for him to give himself away again for another chance.

In the meantime, another surface-break caught my attention. A tail. No, two tails. I did my best to disturb as little water as possible as I tried to creep closer to these fish. I was within close range casting from them but now they were in the thicker patches of grass. No good. I followed and waited for them to reach an opening. But then they just stopped and hung just under the surface. I figured I might as well take the shot. I casted a bad cast and once I was ready for another throw, they had moved on.

I figured it might be a good idea to stay close to the road and search around the grass some more. I paddled down to a small patch of islands just off of the levee to the east of the pump station. I got another two shots out a smaller reds, hooking one but losing him with a bad hook-set. I then paddled up the levee to the road and “poled” myself toward the pump station. I eventually crossed paths with a nice red, looking to be around 25″. By this point, I had swapped to another rod rigged with a Buggs Curl-tail Jig (there’s alway a rod ready to throw a Bugg on my yak). This fish wasn’t interested. He didn’t spook, just swam past.

I kept on eventually coming to a sheephead that I tried for a bite from. After casting to him, I looked around and saw the same pair of reds from earlier swimming up, this time in a clearing. I went to cast and they spooked as my lure was heading their way. I decided to repeat the same route again, taking a wide back track-route to give the zone a chance to reset.

Side note: If I see redfish but can’t get a bite in a certain area, I’ll sometimes take a few minutes and then back-track to repeat the route. If the fish are hunting, they’ll sometimes prowl the same bank over and over again. Hopefully, by targeting the area again after giving it a “reset” I’ll run across fish again and get another chance for a bite or two.

After back-tracking, I’m confident I ran across the same three fish again. The larger, 25″ fish looked more interested in the Bugg this time, but still swam on. When I saw the pair this time, they were in the perfect clearing and I was at a great angle. The cast was on target and one of them fell for it.

1/8 Bugg Curl-tail Jig

By this point, I needed to head home, but I had supper so mission accomplished!

After that trip, I was hoping for another opportunity the following weekend. My friend, Chris, had an opening in his plans and decided to join – as well as my friend, and a veteran to be included in my posts here, Karl! We did stop at PAC Kayak and spoke with Eddie and Lisa for a few minutes before heading to the pump station again.

We all kinda split up once on the water, but met up occasionally to update each other. I headed east towards the levee, but instead of staying near the road, I went south. I explored and searched much of the marsh that extends out from the levee. This go-round, the Skitterwalk came off to make room for an Aqua-Dream Blue Crab Spoon.

A flash of copper caught my eye while nearing a point along the levee. I casted and assumed it didn’t see the spoon, but before I could lift it out of the water, the fish attacked!

I released this fish and continued on. I eventually came into a pond with some activity. As I drifted near the back of the pond, a red well into the 30 inch range came off the bank and swam alongside the kayak. I pitched the spoon and he ate. I was hooked up for about 15 seconds before he threw the hook with a head-shake. I’m really needing to brush up on my hooksets.

I met up with Chris and Karl to find that Chris had caught one. Karl was still waiting for his first. I was still hoping for one to bring home.

As we continued to fish the area, I saw a few more with no success. I did briefly hook up while blind casting an area, but again; bad hookset.

I found the cleanest water of the day in a shallow marsh cove. It was full of mullet and I thought I’d follow them around this cove and maybe run across a red. It worked well. As I neared the entrance, two reds appeared but neither were interested in the spoon. As they moved out, I turned to see a straggler. A few casts with the spoon showed he was interested but couldn’t commit for whatever reason.

As was the case the previous week, I left the cove for a second. Reset. Grabbed my Bugg rod, my St. Croix Legend Extreme Inshore. I headed back to the cove and repeated the first route. No reds this time – but as my kayak settled along the bank near the entrance, I saw two that were in the school of mullet. I zinged the Bugg into their area. I think it took to casts to get them to see it. But it worked and I finally set the hook correctly. Fish tacos for dinner!

I’m happy with how those trips went and I see where I’m still rusty. I’m also impressed the weather held out for both trips. While there was wind, it was never horrible. Great overall sight-fishing conditions.

Afterword, we turned our eyes to the gulf as we watched Tropical Storm Marco fall apart, and then prepared and hoped for the best with Hurricane Laura. We faired fine in the Morgan City area. Very little damage, if any at all. My heart and prayers go out to those on the west side of Louisiana. From the photos we’ve seen, Lake Charles looks like a war zone. Holly Beach and Cameron were all but wiped from the map.

There are plenty of organizations that aim at helping in disasters. One that I’ve discovered was founded after Hurricane Henry a few years ago by South Carolina charter captain, and owner of Redfish Mafia, Jamie Hough. The organization is called Southeast Rescue & Relief. Visit their site to find out how they help and how you can too.

Until next time…

New (Old) Footage

Here’s a quick clip that I edited shortly after the last trip I took last year. A real quick sight-fishing catch and release.

New reports coming soon…

About time for an update

So… it’s been a while.

My last post recapped a trip I helped guide over a year ago for Pack & Paddle.

We all know the rollercoaster that 2020 has been so far. It’s been eventful for me as well, just not so much on the fishing front. At least not in the realm of fishing that I’ve been accustomed to. I’ll start in June of last year…

My last kayak fishing trip of 2019 in May.

In June 2019, I had a bit of a wake-up call. Nothing major, no life threatening situations that usually follow that phrase. I just basically took inventory of what my priorities were in life, and felt that I wasn’t giving my family enough of myself. I also felt that I needed to recenter in on my faith, which has always played a big role in my everyday life.

My response in handling this revelation was to step back – almost completely – from the fishing world (aside from work involvement at Pack & Paddle). I didn’t provide much of an explanation at the time, but I think I was trying to figure all of it out for myself.

From June 2019 to January 2020, I did not fish aside from bank fishing with my son. Instead, I spent days off with my wife and kids, I started playing guitar in church again, and I fell back in love with photography.

On January 1st 2020, I joined up with my friends whom I never fish with anymore, Karl & Trey. We finally got the kayaks wet again down in Pointe Aux Chenes. I can’t remember if they caught anything, honestly, but I do remember catching a rat red, but that was it.

One of the only photos from our New Years Day fishing trip to PAC; Dawn on 2020.

Again, no kayak fishing after that for a while.

In March, a door opened at a local fabrication shop, literally about five minutes from my house. After six years of living in Morgan City/Berwick and traveling to Lafayette everyday for work, and also noting my desire to be closer to my family, I went in for an interview. At the time, my experience in that line of work was very, very limited but I got the job and it’s been going well. I’ve learned a lot and am continuing to learn everyday. I do miss Pack & Paddle and the friends I’d made in that season, but luckily most of us keep in touch regularly.

I sold my main kayak, picked up another one, and then another one.

I hit the waters of PAC again in April for a massive skunk of a trip. I saw plenty, plenty of redfish scattered around the marsh and cruising banks, but never could get one to bite. I finally got two shots at one red, and though he missed it the first time, he nailed it the second time. Then I proceeded to jerk the lure from his mouth. I remember throwing down my rod in frustration, sitting back down and paddling back to the truck in the rain feeling pretty defeated.

Another long break from the water until June when I took River out in the kayak (a Native Ultimate 12) to try and catch his first kayak fish…

Father’s Day Fishing in Stephensville, LA.
River, the “Bluegill Slayer”, with his first kayak fish.

Fast forward again to July, and now the itch is starting to return. My co-worker Chris just bought a couple of kayaks for he and his son. After getting them, I joined them on the Bayou Teche near Calumet to bass fish and snap some photos…

Chris and his son Gauge getting use to their new kayaks.

Now, I’m mostly caught up. The itch is back and I’m ready to get back to sharing fishing trips again.

That being said, I joined up with my former P&P coworkers (Mark & Max) a few weeks ago and we hit the water in Mark’s Xplor Skiff. While it wasn’t the fishiest day we’ve ever had, we had a great time and they got to watch me try to knock off the “I haven’t fished in months” rust. It took a little time, but we all brought home fish – and both of my kids finally tried fish and said they liked it (my wife is NOT a seafood fan)!

The struggle was real, but hard work paid off. Photo: Mark Carline
Photo: Max Dugas

I’m hopeful to again hit the water soon, and have some more reports to share!

Also, check out the most recent issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. One of my photos made the cover! I’ve contributed a few how-to and where-to-go articles in the past for KA, but getting a photo on the cover was an awesome surprise!

Louisiana Hooked: Pack & Paddle Guided Fishing Trip – 3/10/19

I had the pleasure of helping guide another kayak fishing trip for Pack & Paddle, which was held out of Point Aux Chenes at PAC Kayak Rentals. I CANNOT stress it enough, If you’ve never visited PAC Kayak Rentals, you’re missing out. It’s likely THE BEST kayak fishing centered location in the U.S. From the put-ins to the accommodations, from the hospitality to the actual fishing. If you’re a kayak angler and are visiting Louisiana, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you do not visit Eddie, Lisa, and the rest of the crew.

Anyway, I arrived in PAC the night before the trip to insure that I’d be there in time & not having to leave my house at 4am. Upon arriving, I met another angler, Rick, down at the fishing pier. He was casting his fly rod and catching small reds and trout on a brown Clouser. I threw around a Buggs Click-bait Shrimp for a bit with a few reds falling for it. A nice way to start the overnight stay.

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I woke up the next morning in total darkness. No marina lights at all. One of the campers had an external light working which we all gathered around to welcome the morning. Turns out, someone ran into a telephone pole up the road and knocked power out to all of Pointe Aux Chenes.

As the sun came up, my co-guide, Mat, arrived and we began getting things ready for the trips. Mat’s group would be fishing the marsh out of the marina, while my group boarded Eddie’s mothership and headed out into the marsh. I did a little trash talking (unusual for me) before leaving, which I immediately felt I may have regretted. Haha!

The mothership ride out was nice. It was a beautiful morning, and we all know how badly we needed some good days!

Eddie dropped off myself and my group just off of Grand Bayou in a section of marsh that Eddie refers to as “The Green Mile”. My group consisted of Jennifer, her son Kyle, and Josef, a student at LSU. I got everyone immediately started using different lures. Kyle caught a keeper trout immediately on topwater, and Jennifer hooked up soon after, but the fish got away. Josef caught his red a little afterword as well.

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As we continued on, a thick fog covered the area. It was both beautiful and kind of eerie. We hugged the bank on the edge of an open lake and I noticed tails right along the grassline, which I tried to get Jennifer in position to cast to, but I’d lose sight of them quickly in the fog.

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We soon entered back into the marsh, where everyone started getting bites. Jennifer landed one first, and soon after so did Kyle. As I was reaching for Kyle’s redfish to put in my cooler, the fish did a quick thrash and slipped from my hands. I felt so bad for losing his fish, though he did land a few more and some trout!

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We kept exploring this section of marsh, working our way back to the pick-up point. It was here that we came to an old weir. By this point it was midday, so I had them throwing a mix of market bait and Gulp. Jennifer hooked up on a red but her line broke right away. The breakage occurred above the cork, so we circled it to try and hand-land this fish. He kept slipping past us. So, while sprawled across the nose of my Outback, I glided up to the cork and as soon as the cork went under ( from the fish running), I reached down and was able to grab the line. It ended up being around 17″, which was fine for the table!

After that bit of excitement, and a few more hooked and lost fish, Eddie picked us up and we headed back for the launch!

Mat’s group did well too, catching reds and some really nice sheepsheads. We ended the day with our group photo.

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UPDATE!

Sorry that it’s been a while. Things have been busy, and the weather’s been ugly – but it looks to be turning around now. At least I hope.

I’ll have a couple of recent trip reports from the last two weeks coming out within the next week, but here’s some photos of my little bit of action since January.

New Gear

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Started the year off by selling the last of my 13 Fishing reels. I had no issues with them, but was just ready to transition back to Shimano. I started using 13 reels when Shimano changed the body-style of the Curados, and I didn’t like it. I feel that with the Curado K & DC, they’re back on track!

First Tournament of 2019: Redbone’s PACman

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For Redbone’s first tournament in early February, conditions were brutal. We’re talking windy and cold brutal. All layered up and I still couldn’t feel my fingers. I fished for around 3.5 hrs. before I couldn’t take it anymore. Turns out, only 4 fish were weighed in. I’m a little late now, but congrats to Terry, Sean, and Ricky.

More Fishing with River

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One of my favorite new ways to fish…

New Toy

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After several years using the Raymarine, it was time to update. This time, I went with a Lowrance Elite 7TI. Obviously, I got the Totalscan transducer for it. Maybe that’ll help with the bass?? Maybe???

More updates to come!