Hopedale Lagoon, 11-18-2018

Wind: 0-5 mph from E to SE to SW as the day progressed, and the gnats were fierce as I expected. The Amber Romance kept them at bay.

Tide: not much range from the Shell Beach station, water came up by half a foot even though it was supposed to fall all day.

Water Level: low, mud banks showing

Water Temperature: ~ 56 F

Water Clarity: dirty, visibility about 1-1.5 feet

Water salinity: did not check

Weather/sky: sunny, bluebird sky

Temperature: ~ 60-70 F

Moon: waxing 2/3 of full

Solunar period: minor ~ 10 to noon

Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak about 7 a.m., driving home at 4:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: find specks and redfish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: big perch float popper with a Popovic shrimp dropper 2.5’ below, yellow half and half on the other rod. The average depth of the lagoon is about 3’ deep so the 2.5’ dropper should get to the fish without snagging on the bottom (fly fisher’s version of a popping cork).

I launched at Pip’s with a couple of other kayakers. Lots of trucks and cars were already in the parking lot across the highway from the boat ramp – duck hunters were out in force this morning. I headed left as I entered the Hopedale Lagoon and trolled the lures behind me as I pedaled out to my target spot. I was casting to some drains hoping to find displaced redfish waiting there. The popper/shrimp combo was being trolled behind as I casted, and the rod started bouncing. I brought the nice 16” speckled trout in and put it in the bag. I cast around the area for about 5 minutes, but it seemed this fish was a loaner. No reds spotted on the banks.

I tried fishing around the deeper cut where the big boats run (6-8’) and saw fish on the Lowrance but they were not biting. I went on down to the intersection and turned into Dow’s Ditch. I was hoping the water might be a little cleaner in there. It wasn’t. But it was shallower (1- 2’) and weedier, and there were redfish actively feeding back in there. I could see them making wakes and tailing amidst the big mullet and gar that were also making disturbances. I saw the flash of a tail and eased the kayak over to it. I made a good cast of about 30’ and put my first redfish in the bag. I repeated the process and got another fish of the same size that I released. I chased some fish around the pond and then saw a “bigger disturbance” on the water near a high spot in about a foot of water. I paddled up quietly, made a few casts, and hooked up with a hefty 29” redfish – the best fight of the day. It tried all the tricks — running under the bow, running under the rudder, plowing into the grass beds, and it finally came to the net that held less than half of its length. I easily got the crimped hook out and released it without even bringing it in the kayak. I circled around the pond and caught a second trout of about 14” and put it in the bag. I had a point blank shot at a pair of redfish coming right at me and as one of the fish went for the fly I pulled it out of the fish’s mouth. Later I hooked another redfish that came straight at me and I couldn’t keep the line tight enough to keep the hook in its mouth.

It was about 1 p.m. so I decided to reverse course for the truck. The light wind was kind and shifted to a tailwind – perfect for cruising the shoreline on the way in. I went back to one of the drains that leads into a “posted” duck pond. Although I heard no shooting from back there I didn’t want to chance messing up someone’s hunt, so I just fished the drain opening at the lagoon. I blind casted and got another 20” redfish, caught a surprise bass, and then got another cookie cutter redfish. They liked that yellow half and half, which is the fly fisher’s equivalent of a chartreuse jig. It is a good choice for dirty water on a sunny day.