When the paddle becomes a shovel, and the kayak a plow

Fishing Report

Date: 01/24/16

Place: Delacroix

Wind: 5 mph from E

Tide: not notable, forecast low at about noon, range forecast was about 2 ft., but never saw it rise

Moon: full

Solunar period: strong major period at 1 p.m.

Sky: Mostly clear, sunny

Temperature: 52 F for the high

Water Temperature: cold, 50 F or so (warming)

Water Level: very low, about 2 ft. below normal

Water Clarity: poor, about half a foot of visibility, seemed to be clearer on top than bottom and settling

Time on the water: noon to 5 p.m.

Water covered: About 6 miles, but mainly paddled the Hobie Outback because water was 1 foot or lower in most places, only pedaled when in an open pond about 3 ft. deep

Other fishers: solo trip

Fishing the 2nd day after a cold front, temperature was about freezing earlier during the morning hours. Not ideal conditions. I had planned to fish a better location (Hopedale Lagoon), but the bridge to reach it was out of order and this spot was plan B. Today was a conventional tackle day. I brought a bait caster and three spinning reels. I rigged a spinner bait on the bait caster, and chartreuse and gold spoons on two spinning rods, and a Gulp! shrimp under a cork on the third. I had to do a lot of paddling to reach open water that was deep enough to be fishable. Usually there was about 8-10 inches of water where there normally was about 2-3 feet of depth. Some places were too shallow to pass and I got stuck and had to back up and go around several times. The water was so shallow and the wind was so light that if there were a redfish around, it would have betrayed its location with fins and a wake if it moved. With the cold weather, the fish would not be likely to be in such shallow water anyway. As I paddled out I saw a dead sunfish floating and a few dead minnows that might have succumbed to the cold snap. After about 45 minutes I reached some open water and tried casting the lures. I passed some familiar deep 6-7’ cuts between islands that previously held speckled trout this fall and early December, but now it was colder and the water was only about 4’ in there. I felt a few half-hearted taps to the chartreuse Aqua Dream spoon, but got not real bites. Maybe the spoon was moving too fast for them, so I slowed it down and went to the Gulp! about 18” under a cork. I picked up a ~18” redfish on the Gulp! in the cut, and it fought really well for its size. I thought I might be on a bite at that spot, but that would be the only fish I would connect with that day. I kept moving and covered over 6 miles. At one point the wind quit all together and I could survey large portions of water, but saw zero movement. I passed over some smaller fish as I paddled, perhaps seeing sheepshead or rat reds that took off from the bottom leaving mud trails. I found several schools of mullet and minnows in very shallow water. They had been pushed out of their normal weedy territory and had no place to hide. But they only had to watch out for the gulls from above, because there were no larger fish around. It was a useful trip in that I confirmed that this area was probably too shallow to hold fish when it gets cold. It was also useful to see lots of subsurface features, such as oyster and clam shell beds, that were not so apparent when water levels were up. Naturally, now that duck season had ended, I saw several hundred ducks – many scaup (dos gris), mixed with some grays (gadwall), teal, spoon bills, and buffleheads. They were still shy and did not let me get very close. It was impressive when they all decided to get up and fly. The nutria and the pelicans (both white and brown ones) were also busy today.