Wind: 0 – 5mph early, kicked up to 10-15 mph after 10 a.m. from S- SW
Tide: low at dawn for the Shell Beach station, range was supposed to be 0.7 ft, wind pushed water in and it was more like 2 ft.
Water Level: very low to start….lots of bank showing, cuts were empty
Water Temperature: ~ 65 F
Water Clarity: fair, 1-2 ft visibility, got muddy later in the day due to wind
Water salinity: didn’t check
Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional clouds
Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F
Moon: waxing half full
Solunar period: major periods @ 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Time on the water: slid the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6:30 a.m., packed up and driving home about 3:00 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 6 miles
Other fishers: solo trip
Game Plan: keep moving, find feeding redfish
Gear: one #8 fly rod
Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse
I stopped in at Gerald’s Donuts in Chalmette to get energized with some coffee and doughnuts and then headed on down to Hopedale. I made a combat launch off the roadside and pushed the kayak over about 10 yards of mud flat to get into the water. That was some low tide.
I cast to a drained out cut off a canal not far from the launch and got a 15” redfish. It looked like it was waiting for the water to come up so it could get back into the marsh.
I went on down a manmade canal for about a mile and a half and turned into a little bayou that went into a big pond. There was no action in the bayou, but when I got around on the leeward bank of the pond things picked up and muddy swirls were coming from spooked fish. I went down the leeward side and got a few shots at some tailing fish, and finally got a 24” red to pay attention to the fly. I grabbed it with the lip grip and did a water release, never touching the fish or bringing it ito the kayak. Having a crimped barb on the spoon fly makes unhooking the fish easy.
About 10 a.m. the tide was coming in fast and things started to get interesting. I was drifting quietly down the northern shoreline of the pond and a parade of redfish was marching up the shoreline. There was a fish about every 30-40 yards. Each one was hugging tight to the bank with its back out of the water. They all seemed to know that soon the water would be up enough for them to get back into the flooded grass and cuts. I cast to, fought, and lost then next two fish. The line was taught in both cases but somehow the hook pulled. Frustrating. I saw a tailing fish, cast, and did not get a bite. The wind pushed me away, so I swung out and back around for another shot at it. I flipped my line over to get it out of the way as I turned around and the line went taught. I set the hook and had a nice battle with a redfish that was almost 31” and probably weighed about 12 lbs. It buried in the aquatic grass a couple of times and I worked it free. Then it spun me around a few times and made a run under the kayak. I forgot to keep my foot on the pedal and the redfish wrapped the line around one of the fins. So I put some slack in the line, pulled up the mirage drive and freed the line. I cranked the reel and the redfish was still hooked. I got it in, put down the Cajun anchor to stop from being blown across the pond, and worked the redfish onto the ruler for a photo. It is always a struggle to get a good picture of a bigger sized fish, especially when it’s windy. The kayak is rocking and the fish can start to flop around and quickly make a mess of things. Fortunately this fish was calm. I got it back into the water as quickly as possible and watched it swim off.
I had some shots at other bank cruisers but had trouble getting them to see the little fly. The water along the edge of the bank was getting dirty from the wind and incoming tide. The wind made it hard to get the cast on target. I went around to the windward side of the pond and saw a few reds sitting in a drain with bait pushing toward them. It was very shallow and I saw the wake of a nice one moving about 15 yards across from me. I got a good cast out in front and started to strip the fly to get it positioned for a take. It’s always cool to see the redfish give the “Hey, look what I found swirl” and feel the line go taught. I gave a sharp strip strike and battled the 24” redfish in the shallow water. I had instructions to bring home a redfish and this guy went into the fish bag. A little olive oil and Tony’s made for a tasty meal of grilled redfish on the half-shell. As usual, I got a really good night’s sleep after a day of kayak fishing.