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.