Wind: 20+ mph from E, with stronger gusts
Tide: Rising about half a foot, low about 10 a.m., high at 5 p.m.
Moon: waxing, 2/3 moon
Solunar period: minor period around 10 a.m.
Weather/sky: overcast, sometimes heavy clouds, light rain from time to time for a few minutes
Temperature: 72 F for the high
Water Temperature: 70 F
Water Level: super high and climbing
Water Clarity: variable but generally good – 1 to 5’ visibility depending on spot
Time on the water: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Water covered: only about 4 miles, but I was continually pedaling and paddling except for about 30 minutes when staked out
Other fishers: solo
My internal fishing clock woke me up at 4:30 a.m. even though I had planned to sleep until about 6:30. I made some coffee, piddled around with my fishing gear and slowly got it all in the truck, listened to Outdoors with Don Dubuc and got Brendan’s kayaker’s report, and then had some breakfast with my wife. She was working this morning, so it would be good timing for a trip to the marsh. I hit the road to Hopedale about 7:15. Today’s fishing forecast was a poor one, with high winds and waters and not much activity for the solunar period. But I was determined to fish, so I prepared accordingly for a high wind, making sure that everything would be secure and not blow out of the kayak (except for my hat, which blew off three times today). I left my flyrods and baitcasters at home and selected spinning outfits rigged with the usual spoon, in-line spinner bait, and jigs as the weapons of choice.
I planned to combat launch off Hopedale Highway (624) just above Breton Sound Marina and hit the adjacent marsh. I selected this spot because most of my traveling and fishing would be in the N – S direction and this area should afford some protection from the strong E wind. In general, the plan worked out pretty well and I did not have to fight the wind too much. On the way down to Hopedale it became quite obvious that the water was super high and not far from coming over the highway in many places. When I got to the launch there was a guy that was bank fishing in “my spot”. I asked if he minded if I put my kayak in and he said it was OK. So I got everything ready and wind-proofed and then shoved off. The E wind caught the Hobie Outback and sent me flying down Bayou Laloutre, but I dropped in the Mirage drive, flipped the rudder down and I was off. I went across the bayou and into a canal not far from the launch. There was a little cut that water from the canal was pushing up rapidly, so I decided to make a few casts there. I tossed the Seein’ Spots in-line spinner with a Salt Water Assassin (chicken on a chain pattern), a lure that’s typically for redfish. I got a strong strike on my third cast. At first I thought it was a redfish because it was taking line off the reel, but as I got it up it started head shaking and then jumping and I could see it was a nice speckled trout. It tried lots of escape tricks and I finally got my net under it and brought it into the kayak just as the hook came out of its mouth. I had a little hole in my net and the trout did its best to squeeze through but she was too big and fat with eggs and it was not going to work. I got her up on the ruler for a photo (little over 20”) and then tried to decide what to do with her. I planned to release her, but getting stuck in the net had done some damage, so I carried her over to the guy who let me launch. He was not having any luck, so a three pound trout might help him out.
I went back to the spot and caught another speck on the next cast. I had not planned to keep any fish, but this was looking easy so I got out an old stringer and put the 16” fish on it. Next cast, another fish of about 13”. I had visions of a quick limit of trout as I strung the fish. And then the bite went cold – not even a nibble after that. So I moved on out to the broken marsh and tried to stay out of the wind. I picked up another speck on the in line spinner as it passed over a bed of oyster shells that I discovered back in winter when the water was low. This spot has almost always been good for a fish or two. I move on to where I usually catch redfish, but the water was about 2 to 2.5 feet higher than normal and they did not seem to be around. With the conditions today, there would be no sight casting unless the fish came up out of the water to volunteer its location. So I kept throwing toward obvious structure – bass fishing technique. I found another drain with moving water and hooked up with a nice fat 22” redfish (tagged and released). Then I missed a strike from another fish and later saw a fish finning but could not get a bite. The cut had water pushing in, so I figured there might be some fish up in there. I headed smack into the wind across some flooded grass using the paddle (fins and rudder up) and eventually pushed myself up into open water again. I missed two more really good strikes; both times the fish took off and the drag sang for a few seconds but somehow the hook did not find its mark. Then I hooked up with a smaller sized red, tagged it and set it free. I missed a few more hard strikes, and one was from a fish that was either a small gar or a larger sized trout. It hit my in-line spinner and tore the plastic lure off without getting hooked. It was getting later in the afternoon so I started back. I picked up another 13” speck trolling a Gulp shrimp as I pedaled down the canal to the truck.
I took a few photos of the snails that were climbing up the marsh grass. I guess the high (and salty?) water made them climb up the grass stalks. They were everywhere I went today. The water had risen over the time I was fishing and had come up onto the road in places. The water was higher than I have ever seen for this location. It was only a couple of feet below the drawbridge over Bayou Laloutre. Although the conditions were not the best, I scratched out a few fish for supper, tagged some reds, and enjoyed day in the marsh with the mottled ducks, eagles, and ospreys. If I had caught the ones I missed it would have been a pretty good day of fishing, but now I know there are a few out there waiting for me on the next trip.