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.

2012
2020

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…

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