Delacroix (wind and weeds) 5-12-2018

Delacroix, 5-12-2018

Wind: started about 5 mph, soon around 15-20 mph, S – SE

Tide: little range at the Shell Beach station

Water Level: average @ the grass line

Water Temperature: ~ 75 F

Water Clarity: very good, 3-6 ft visibility, a few dirty spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast

Temperature: ~ 70 F, going up to about 90 F

Moon: Waning, sliver

Solunar period: major period at 1 p.m.

Time on the water: slipped the Hobie Outback in the water at 6:30, off at 6:00 p.m.

Water covered: about 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: combat launch, look for redfish

Gear: one #8 fly rod, and medium spinning reel

Lures: gold Waldner’s spoon fly, ¼ oz. chartreuse Aqua Dream spoon

Total: 9 redfish from 16.5 to 28.5”. They seemed to be headed upwind along banks.

The WIND AND AQUATIC VEGETATION (“weeds or grass if you prefer”) were the big factors for today. By the time I pedaled and paddled out to the area I wanted to fish it took over an hour due to a rising headwind. I brought the spinning reel in case the wind became too rough for fly casting (good idea).

I started fly casting to some likely spots (cuts and points) because the sun angle was still too low to sight fish. The wind was making it complicated, and after pelting myself in the back of the head with the spoon fly a couple of times and getting the line tangled I decided to give it a rest and picked up the spinning outfit. (For those who haven’t tried it, a spoonfly feels about like someone chunked a rock about the diameter of a quarter at the back of your head.) The spinner is a better way to go when the wind is up and fish can’t be seen. I caught 3 redfish pretty quickly and then tried the fly rod again. I gave it a couple of hours, became frustrated, and switched back to the spinner. I was standing and drifting down a little chain of islands when I saw a nice school of redfish working upwind through an open area in the weeds. I flipped the spoon beyond them and brought it across in front of the school. Naturally, the smaller one (24”) in the crowd grabbed it. I had the drag set pretty tight so I could pull it up and out of the weeds, and the wind quickly pushed me out into the open water away from the school.

I thought the school might still be around so I moved around upwind and took another shot at them. This produced my best redfish of the day. It was difficult to unhook the fish from the way the hook had twisted. Essentially, the fish was hooked twice. After a little surgery and resuscitation the redfish swam away quickly. I decided to crimp the barb on the spoon and had no more unhooking difficulties with the other fish I landed. I tried it another round with the fly rod. I spotted the fish as I drifted downwind and got a cast near them. They were reacting to the fly but I was drifting away and about to be slammed into the bank by the wind. I ended up yanking the fly away from the fish before they could get it, but at least I didn’t crash into the bank and fall out of the kayak.

I decided to try the fly rod as I started back in. Headed downwind, I shortened my cast to about 30 feet so I wouldn’t tangle the line and prevented hitting myself with the fly. I saw a flash of orange under the water in front of me – a nice sized redfish probably after a crab. I got the spoon fly in front of it and the game was on, and kept it up and out of the weeds. I fished the fly all the way back in and picked up my 9th fish of the day, a small 17” red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pointe a la Hache 4-13-2018

Wind: around 20 mph, S – SE

Tide: little range

Water Level: a bit below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~ 68 F

Water Clarity: good, 3-6 ft visibility, a few dirty spots

Water salinity: didn’t check

Weather/sky: good sunny periods, occasional overcast

Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F

Moon: Waning, sliver

Solunar period: major periods at noon

Time on the water: on at 8, off at 5:00 p.m.

Water covered: lots

Other fishers: Rich Waldner

Game Plan: Launch at Beshel’s Marina, fish leeward shorelines of marsh on east side of the MS River

Gear: one #8 fly rod, #30 tippet for the weeds

Lures: Waldner’s bullet-proofed clouser

Total: 6 redfish from about 5 to 10 lbs and one bass of about 1.5 lbs.

I had always wanted to meet Rich Waldner, so on this Friday the 13th I had the good fortune to do it. Rich is an ex-marine and long time fly fisher who chose to make Plaquemines Parish his home after he retired. Rich is the inventor of my favorite “fly” for going after redfish in the marsh – the flashy little Waldner’s spoon fly. Rich has also created a nice crab fly, and today he turned me on to his “bullet-proof” clouser. He uses purple and white synfiber with some gold flash for the body, and epoxy on the hook, body and head. He includes a stiff mono spike to protect the hook from weeds. I was surprised how weedless this fly was in the aquatic salad that we fished today. I only had to stop 3-4 times to clean it during a day of fishing. Rich fishes from a 17’ Dolphin flats boat with a 60 hp Yamaha. It has fore and aft platforms for casting and poling. Rich did a great job of keeping me well positioned to cast despite the horrid winds. He is a super experienced captain who put me on some nice reds today.

The WIND was the big factor for today. It was blowing hard when we started and sometimes gusted to 25 maybe or more. And, of course, it always seemed to blow harder at the wrong time. Nevertheless, we managed to prowl along the broken marsh and had lots of shots at fish. The wind made it tricky to put a cast in the sweet spot and it was frustrating. My best success came when sighting fish in front of me. I spotted my best redfish about 30 feet in front of me. The fish was facing away from us and I got off a 40-foot cast beyond it and stripped it back for an easy eat. After a nice tussle I got the fish to Rich’s net and it went about 10 lbs on the Boga grip.

Cloud cover came up in the afternoon and things slowed down. The redfish were not helping by revealing their location – we did not see a tail or back all day. But Rich had some tricks up his sleeve for these conditions and we moved to a big pond, overgrown with vegetation, but with a deep bayou through it that held crystal-clear water. It held a group of nice redfish, but the evil wind pushed us so fast it was hard to get a fly in front of one. Rich checked his gps and we were moving at 4 mph. Rich moved us over to a pond that made it possible to sight fish in spite of the overcast sky and wind. We had some more shots at fish but they appeared too quickly and were on us before I could pull the trigger. Finally I got a fish moving away in front of me and put the clouser in front for a nice eat. I had to pressure the fish to keep it out of the weeds and got it to the net. It was about 4:40, we called it done, and high tailed it for the ferry. We just made the 5:30 ferry run back across the MS River in the nick of time.

It was a great and challenging day on the water with Rich. He has a world of experience in the marshes and a real passion for taking redfish on the fly. I really enjoyed hanging out and talking with him – great guy to fish with. His web site is http://www.fishwithrich.com

 

 

 

Hopedale 3-25-18

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.

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Delacroix 3-17-2018

Wind: 0 mph in the morning, kicked up to 10+ after 9 a.m. gusting to 15, from S, SW
Tide: low about noon at Shell Beach station, range 0.5 ft, wind held the water in
Water Level: average
Water Temperature: ~ 70 F
Water Clarity: clear to very clear in most spots, some muddy spots later in the day due to wind
Water salinity: didn’t check
Weather/sky: partly cloudy, good sunny periods
Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F
Moon: waning crescent
Solunar period: major periods @ 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 6 a.m., packed up and driving home about 5:30 p.m.
Water covered: ~ 7 miles
Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find fish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly in chartreuse, white and tan gurgler

Having a pedal drive kayak was not much of an asset today. The summer conditions are coming on quickly at Delacroix. It is getting really weedy. Lots of spots I fished were about 2-3’ deep but had 2’ of thick weeds growing up from the bottom. There was about 6-12” of super clean water above the grasses in most spots. There were large mats of thick algae that were difficult to traverse. It was like paddling across wet carpet.

Strategy/ patterns: I tried for trout early as I passed some cuts, got a few strikes on the gurgler (topwater) but could not keep them on. I eventually got one undersized speck. They all seemed small, so I pedaled and (mostly) paddled on to some ponds and broken marsh looking for reds.

Along the way to the ponds I saw a tailing redfish that disappeared about the time I was ready to make a cast. I made a few casts in its general direction and hooked up. It turned out to be a 16.5” trout that put up a pretty good fight on the fly rod.

I got to the ponds and found them to be filling in with aquatic vegetation – good for the fish, but difficult for anglers. It’s hard to paddle through the weeds and sneak up on fish. I saw quite a few backs and tails but it was hard to get into range. The wind picked up too, and that made fly fishing from the kayak even more complicated.

I was going through a narrow shallow cut and had to plow my way through with the paddle when a couple of redfish came from behind and around me about a flyrod’s length away. So I flipped the spoon fly to them and got an immediate take from a spunky red that went about 23.5”.

The wind and clouds picked up and became more difficult to fly fish. I covered a good bit of marsh, albeit slowly due to the weeds and the wind. I finally found some redfish stacked in the weeds on a protected shoreline. I could see them but had difficulty sneaking close enough and then getting a fly to them without it snagging on the weeds. I eventually had success and got another 23” and 15” reds. I had a close encounter with a nice sized red that was about to eat until it saw me and turned away at the last second.

The paddle in was challenging. I was headed into 15 mph winds (not too bad normally) but could build little momentum on the paddle stroke due to the weeds and algae mats. I went to bed early and slept well that night.

They went another direction so I hope they did well. I saw lots of good birds (big flock of gadwall, ibis), nutria, and alligators on this trip.

Delacroix 2-18-2018

Wind: 0-5 mph in the morning, 10+ after noon from E

Tide: Falling, low at about noon at Shell Beach station, range 0.7 ft

Water Level: pretty low, lots of shoreline showing, frequently bumping bottom in the kayak much of the day

Water Temperature: ~ 70 F

Water Clarity: clear to very clear in most spots, some muddy spots later in the day due to wind

Water salinity: very fresh

Weather/sky: partly cloudy, good sunny periods

Temperature: ~ 68 F, going up to about 80 F

Moon: new waxing crescent

Solunar period: minor period @ 8:30 to 9:30, major period about 4:30 p.m.

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 8 a.m., packed up and driving home about 5 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find fish

Gear: two #8 fly rods

Lures: Waldner spoon fly in chartreuse, silver and white deceiver

Strategy/ patterns: The water was very low in most spots and I had to paddle instead of pedal the kayak for most of the day. I had planned to go out to a particular area but spotted a feeding redfish along the way. This caused me to move to a small pond where I could see several fish working. I detoured for several hours to chase reds here. It was very shallow and there were lots of aquatic weeds and algae in water that was only about a foot deep or less, but the shallowness helped in spotting fish. I had to work the spoon fly pretty quickly to keep it weed free. The first fish was pretty easy. I got the spoon fly to it and it ate. It was about 20” and it made it into the fish bag. I moved around and got upwind of another working fish about 15 minutes later, drifted silently in range, cast and the fish inhaled the fly before I could strip it. It was about 24” and I released it. I chased after a few reds and had a lull in the action. Then things seemed to pick up again. I landed a 22” red that I put in the bag. A few minutes later I hooked into a nicer sized redfish that went close to 27” and I released it as well. I decided to give this group of fish a break and went looking for some trout.

I went across the pond and hit some really shallow water that grounded the kayak. I decided to push through rather than turn back and after a few minutes of plowing I got to deeper water. I made it up to a cut with a scour that was about 6 feet deep where I often catch specks, but no one was home. I threw the spoon fly and the deceiver in the trout hole without any luck. So, I moved on to some other redfish spots to look for more fish.

When I arrived there was a nice big tail with a black dot that was flapping and I got upwind and drifted down to the fish. By this time the wind was strong and I couldn’t see the fish when it went under water. The fish went down and I cast in its general direction without success. I kept bringing in gobs of algae on the fly. Then I drifted too close and the redfish bolted away and grunted (drummed), leaving with a big wake. A few minutes later I passed over several fish that grunted as I spooked them. I went up into a small pond and suddenly saw a 30” red that was about 20 feet away and closing. I guess I got the fishing equivalent of “buck fever” and as I tried to flip a simple cast to it the spoon fly hit and wrapped around my rod. The fish spooked and I said a few special words that were appropriate for the situation. I found several other nice sized redfish but somehow always managed to snag my fly on underwater weeds or spooked them as I made a cast. It was getting frustrating. The fish were much harder to see now than when the wind was still earlier in the morning. By the time I spotted the redfish they were too close and saw me as well.

Finally I hooked up with a little bass by blind casting to a likely spot. Later I caught a small redfish hiding right behind a wind-blown point. I headed back in and had to paddle most of the way. The water never really came up in spite of the east wind. I cleaned my two redfish and grilled them for supper the next evening.

Other notes: Lots of big flocks of ducks today….. heading north. I saw two decent sized gators of 6 and 8 feet (they’re back), and an otter. It was good to get back out and catch a few fish.

 

Delacroix 12-16-2017

Wind: steady at 10 mph from N

Tide: Falling, low at about 11 am, range 1.2 ft., N and W winds have been draining the marsh

Water Level: pretty low, a foot below normal, lots of crab traps out of the water

Water Temperature: ~ 49 F

Water Clarity: amazing – clear as a swimming pool

Water salinity: ~ did not check

Weather/sky: supposed to be partly cloudy, but was overcast all day and the flats did not warm up as I thought they would

Temperature: ~ 45 F, going up to about 55 F

Moon: 1/8 waning

Solunar period: major period @ noon

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 10:30 a.m., packed up and driving home in the da

rk about 6 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 6 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, find fish after the cold front came through Thurs./Fri.

Gear: Two spinners and two bait casters

Lures: Vudu shrimp under a sliding cork, Aqua Dream spoon, in line Seein Spots spinner with a Saltwater Assassin Die Dapper in Chicken on a chain pattern, small Unfair Lures gold/silver topwater.

Strategy/ patterns: Look for fish in or near deeper spots since the weather has been cold lately. I started later in the morning to let the duck hunters do their thing and to give the water some time to warm a bit. The water temperature did not go up because the sun never came out and the air temperature was not very warm either. Nevertheless, some reds were prowling the shorelines later in the afternoon. The two lures that were successful were the in line spinnerbait and the Vudu shrimp. The spinnerbait is rigged weedless and could be fished slow enough that the fish could see and attack it in the weedy, low water (usually a foot or less). The Vudu shrimp produced at the scour holes where the water was deeper (up to 6 feet).

Saturday’s weather looked like a window of opportunity between cold fronts so I took a shot at it. It was supposed to warm up more and be sunnier in the afternoon but that did not happen. Instead, it was a cold and gloomy day with a steady 10 mph wind, so I had to make lemonade from my lemons. There would be no standing to fish today with the wind and overcast sky, although the water clarity was still incredible for SE Louisiana.

I had to paddle out into the stiff wind and the water was only deep enough for the pedals in about half of the 6 miles or so that I covered today. Much of the shallow, cold water seemed devoid of fish and bait. I approached a deeper cut in the bank that had a scour and it held some fish. I got a 24” red on the spinner and then switched to the Vudu shrimp/cork rig. That produced a bass, followed by a nice 17” trout, then a 15” red, another bass, and another 15” red. There did not seem to be many trout here or else they were too cold, so I moved out to the marsh to look for reds. I had to cross a big pond so I trolled the shrimp and the spoon, but did not intersect any specks along the way. When I got to the other side I was greeted by a couple of redfish tails. Of course the wind was pushing me hard and I got a couple of casts off at one of the reds before I was pushed past and out of range. So I quietly paddled back into range and finally got the fish to see the spinner. It was cool to see the torpedo wake rise behind the lure and I remembered to let the fish have plenty of time to take it rather than anticipating the strike and yanking it away. When I felt the weight of the fish I set the hook and it was on. A few minutes later a nice 7.5 -8 lb red was in the net. I netted this fish instead of doing a water release because I wanted to get it in quickly and was trying not to scare off the other fish a few yards down the bank. After releasing the fish I went after its buddy. The fish was still showing its back and I moved closer and cast to it. The water was shallow and my weedless lure kept coming back in with a gob of vegetation on it. The wind blew me away so I had to paddle back toward where the fish had been. The fish had moved closer than I realized as it had followed the lure toward me and I scared it away.

So it went for the rest of the afternoon. I would see a back or tail of a fish, I’d try to move in, get off a few casts, and eventually I hooked up with another nice upper slot fish. It was difficult fishing conditions between the overcast sky, stiff wind, the shallow, cold water, and the weeds.

I ended the day with 2 bass, a trout, and 5 redfish. All the fish were released in good shape to fight again another day.

Delacroix 12-2-2017

 

Wind: 4-10 mph from N to start, after noon it came out of the ENE at 4-0 mph

Tide: Falling, low at 11 a.m., range 1.5 ft., but the N winds have been draining the marsh

Water Level: low, a little below the grass line

Water Temperature: ~60 F

Water Clarity: amazing – like a swimming pool

Water salinity: ~ 1 ppt

Weather/sky: fogged in until after 1 pm. Then it cleared and was sunny.

Temperature: ~ 60 F, going up to about 75 F

Moon: waxing near full

Solunar period: major period @ noon, minor @ 5 p.m.

Time on the water: Slipped the Hobie Outback kayak in at 9:30 a.m., out at 5:30 p.m.

Water covered: ~ 7 miles

Other fishers: solo trip

Game Plan: keep moving, look for redfish

Gear: Two #8 fly rods

Lures: Waldner’s spoon fly (chartreuse), small beige elk hair crab

Strategy/ patterns: Throw flies to reds in shallow water 1-2 ft. deep. Water was super clear and the redfish were not too spooky, but they were aware of me and would move away when I got too close for comfort. I had to get within about 40 feet or so to make a cast. Get any closer than that and the redfish would move away. Remember that a fly line has to go backward almost as far as it goes forward, which is tricky in tight marsh. I can cast further than this while in the kayak, especially when standing, but it requires more false casting that scares the fish. I try to limit myself to two false casts.

The fog was the main difficulty early. It was so thick I could not see more than a few cast lengths in front of me. I used my Motion-X GPS app on my cell phone to navigate (this app has saved the day on several occasions). Since duck hunters were set up somewhere out there, I navigated to open water spots and stayed near the camps along the road so as to not disturb them. Later, when it finally cleared off, it became hard to sneak close enough to the fish without being seen. The sun was already moving into the west and both me and my shadow had to move to make a cast.

I pedaled and paddled (it was too shallow for the Hobie fins in many spots) through some canals and fished a few trout spots that are deep scours where the canals join to ponds. The first fish I got was a small bass. Then I had a hit from a nice fish that I thought was a trout, so I swung around and tried again. Sure enough another struck the spoon fly and it turned out to be about 18”. I tried a bit more, and then switched to the crab fly. I got a 17” speck on that and then it shut down so I moved along.

I tried to stand and sight fish as I got to the redfish territory. But the fog and low sunlight made it hard to see fish. I did spot one, but I was on top of it and it swam away before I could do anything. I headed upwind so that I could use the wind to move me through the area I wanted to fish. I was doing some blind casting and got a nice 26” redfish. I kept moving through the little ponds and bayous and about noon I went into a pond and found wakes and tails of feeding redfish all over the place. I put the spoon fly in front of one and wrestled in a nice 28” redfish of about 10 pounds. I moved slowly got a duplicate fish a few minutes later. The other redfish in the pond did not go far while I was landing my fish.

After recouping from the battle I proceeded to the next fish up. The best one of the day was about 30” long. It looked to have been caught before. It was roughed up, had some line cuts, and looked as though it might have bounced around on the deck of a boat for a while before being released. I chased the fish for a while and hooked into a “smaller” one of about 28” while seeing a much bigger tail rising up about 50 yards away. I tried to get the hooked fish in quickly so I could get on to the bigger one. I worked the fish close and it made a hard run around the rear of the kayak, cut the line on the rudder, and took away a nice piece of jewelry. I had to tie on a new spoon fly and did not see the big one again, but caught another 28” fish.

It was getting toward the end of the day and I started to head in. Of course, feeding fish kept popping up in front of me and I had to make a cast or two at them. I was about half a mile from the launch when 2-3 fish appeared in front of me. I cast to them and the line hitting above them made them dart to the sides. I went after the bigger one, and it kept hanging just out of range. My casts kept falling a little short and then finally it got a look at the fly and ate it. I got it in and it was about 28”. Today was “over the slot” redfish day.

I tried a shortcut between a couple of islands on the way in. About halfway through I started to bottom out and gnats started attacking since I was close to the shorelines. I had to dig hard to plow through the mud and weeds and covered up the kayak with marsh muck. But I got through, made it back, and lived to tell the tale.

Ended up with a bass, two trout, and 6 fat redfish (24”, 26”, 3 x 28” and 30”, not counting the break off on the rudder). All the fish were released in good shape to fight again.