TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


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By karstopo
#2229022
Got out this past Saturday in the low water conditions. Water was completely off the flat of the large oyster studded Lake. Makes searching for the fish easier as the water area is so limited. Paddled around some and found what I was looking for, nervous bait and mud boils.

First cast with the weighted shrimp fly gets a small red. I never moved much after that. Staked out and tossed the fly along the edge of the drain. Water was maybe 2-3 feet. The middle of the drain held nothing, nor did the edge, there was definitely a sweet spot. That's a pattern that repeats itself this time of year when the tide levels are low.

Kept at it for a little over an hour and brought 12 reds to hand. 2 went right at 25" 1 23"plus and the rest underslot. I do little quick explosive strips with the shrimp fly and the reds hit it hard on the pause. The key seemed to be bouncing it off the bottom and shell. It had to be low in the water column.

Glad I had the 7-8wt CGR. One 25" red came at me fast and circled around my stake out stick and the powered under the kayak. Rod got bent double, not sure a graphite one would have stayed intact.
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By karstopo
#2229025
I stand and fish from my WS Commander 140. I think its about ideal as it's stable and there isn't anything between my feet to catch loose line. I usually put a couple of fly rods there to act as a de facto stripping basket. Some of the stripped line ends up draped around the fly rods instead of clumping in one spot. The sides of the kayak help contain the loose line on windy days. I stand up and paddle along while standing which gives a great advantage over sitting when looking for sign, structure and fish. Because of the bench seat, getting up and back down from a sitting or standing position is easier than from a lower positioned seat. I really wouldn't change anything on this kayak.

I find using a 7'6" -8" rod is important. The spare rod tips stays within the kayak. It's easier to handle a shorter rod. Short rods offer great leverage. I never felt like it was about any extra distance a 9' rod might bring. I can usually close to within easy casting distance in a kayak. If you are wading, then a longer rod is nice, but I seldom wade except in the surf where a kayak is a liability most of the time. Standing up in a kayak you are plenty high enough you don't need the extra clearance over the water.
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By karstopo
#2229026
The whole wintertime low water action is different than stalk and shoot sight fishing. I still rely on my vision to find the structure and sign like mud boils and bait activity. It's not blind casting. Every time I do this, the cast has to be on target like you would in a sight fishing situation. Randomly casting into a drain doesn't seem to get much. The redfish bunch up along a reef and next to the drop off. I've noticed this in several Freeport area locations. Mid-drain is seldom good unless it is a tiny drain.

You can't beat stalking sighted redfish for the excitement of the hunt and cast and take. Low water drain fishing has a different feel. I love trying to hit my spot on the cast, love working the fly in, and love anticipating the take. Redfish tend to swim right at you in the deeper water and don't go on long runs like they do in the skinny stuff. I'd choose stalking redfish over drain fishing, but you can't beat the numbers that you might find in a drain without ever moving. I get tired of it after so many fish, but I can stalk fish most of a day and one exciting stalk is worth 10 drain fish.
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By Drifting Yak
#2229064
Enjoyed the post Karst and thanks for the detail. You're getting my blood boiling so will have to get out and release some steam - and hopefully some fish!
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By jakehardgrave
#2229090
karstopo wrote:I stand and fish from my WS Commander 140. I think its about ideal as it's stable and there isn't anything between my feet to catch loose line. I usually put a couple of fly rods there to act as a de facto stripping basket. Some of the stripped line ends up draped around the fly rods instead of clumping in one spot. The sides of the kayak help contain the loose line on windy days. I stand up and paddle along while standing which gives a great advantage over sitting when looking for sign, structure and fish. Because of the bench seat, getting up and back down from a sitting or standing position is easier than from a lower positioned seat. I really wouldn't change anything on this kayak.

I find using a 7'6" -8" rod is important. The spare rod tips stays within the kayak. It's easier to handle a shorter rod. Short rods offer great leverage. I never felt like it was about any extra distance a 9' rod might bring. I can usually close to within easy casting distance in a kayak. If you are wading, then a longer rod is nice, but I seldom wade except in the surf where a kayak is a liability most of the time. Standing up in a kayak you are plenty high enough you don't need the extra clearance over the water.



I see, I didn't realize the size of the opening until I looked up the kayak, I didn't realize how big and open it is. Nice!
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By karstopo
#2229138
jakehardgrave wrote:
I see, I didn't realize the size of the opening until I looked up the kayak, I didn't realize how big and open it is. Nice!


There are probably other good stand up and fish out of kayaks out there now, I haven't really looked at what been coming on the market in a few years now. Seems like one can fly fish sitting down from a kayak, I've done a little of that, but I just never liked fly casting from a sitting position and just have grown not to like fishing for long stretches while sitting all that much. The other option is to use the kayak to paddle somewhere and then get out and wade, but that option isn't all that great in an area where 80% of the water is too soft bottomed or too reef infested to wade. For me and where I fish, that kind of leaves standing in the kayak while fishing or just getting out of the kayak game and moving into a skiff or something. I still like the ease of loading a kayak on the spur of the moment and unloading quickly and all the little improvised launches. I like paddling, the exercise and the pace and how it makes me much more in tune with what is going on. My friend has a good sized power boat that we can mother ship kayaks in and that solves some of the range issues. I've poled a Gheenoe and that's a nice rig, but I'm not sure how much I'd like it doing it solo. It just seemed harder to coordinate the transition from poling into position to the actual shot. The Commander is so easy to maneuver in skinny water and is easy to transition from the stalk to the shot. It seems about ideal as a redfish stalking platform in shallow water if you do most of your fishing solo. If you could always guarantee having a partner to go along with you, then one of these skiffs would probably beat any kayak because the guy on the bow could focus solely on the spotting the fish and the cast. If I lived in an area with lots of hard bottomed good wading flats, just a good fast kayak or some other platform would be the way to go. Wading definitely gives one the most control of the stalk, especially in shallow water. But the more I stalk redfish, the better I get at the line management, stalking, stealth, paddle placement, all the little details of a successful stalk and shoot.

I think it's fun to work all this out. Everyone does their own math on what works for them. All we can really do is share our experiences. There are so many ways to enjoy fly fishing and even the little niche of pursuing redfish. I would never say the way I go about it is better than anyone else's. I like hearing about other ways and methods. There is always different things to consider and people to learn from.
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By Piscator
#2229284
I used my T140 for years, but standing was tough for an old and overweight guy. I got Commander 120 not long after it came out and standing was fairly easy. The bench seat is great. I would pole along using the paddle and it was so much easier to see fish and cast while standing. I now have two 7.5 foot fly rods, but have not been able get them on the water yet. This will be the year to do several fly rod only trips. I have paying attention to your fly selection.
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By karstopo
#2229289
Piscator wrote:I used my T140 for years, but standing was tough for an old and overweight guy. I got Commander 120 not long after it came out and standing was fairly easy. The bench seat is great. I would pole along using the paddle and it was so much easier to see fish and cast while standing. I now have two 7.5 foot fly rods, but have not been able get them on the water yet. This will be the year to do several fly rod only trips. I have paying attention to your fly selection.


I like to have a fly that can work a little deeper, 2-4 feet, along with me in the fly box. What's nice about having the extra rods ready to go at my feet is that I can have on a fly that's weighted heavily on one set up, a lightly weighted one, and an unweighted one. I could have a set up with sinking line in the mix, a sink tip, an intermediate line. I most enjoy fishing floating line and fishing areas that aren't much deeper than 4 feet, so all of my set up have floating line with fluorocarbon leaders.

The little 3/16" tungsten bead sends the shrimp fly down pretty quickly, about a foot a second. Not as quick as a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce lead jig head rigged with a soft plastic, but you can still get that bounce off the bottom, jigging action that seems to really stimulate the fish to strike. My neighbor uses those 1/16" ounce lead jig heads so very well the way he bounces it off the structure I was partly going for a match his hatch kind of deal with the shrimp fly. But the shrimp fly has more potential for finesse than a lead conventional tackle jig head. I do a mud minnow tied the same way with the bead and it works too.

But if I'm in shallow water and going for sighted fish the tungsten beaded shrimp is more of a liability. It's tougher for me to deliver it on target, lands harder, and will get hung up on any shell as I can't strip it in fast enough. I've gotten into that Avalon permit fly because it looks so buggy and the bead keel, I use glass beads or a mix of glass and metal, makes a little noise that I believe will turn a redfish in sensory range towards the fly . So many times around here you have shallow murky water where you can see the fish feeding but it can be tough to get the fly in close enough mainly because in the murk often the fish isn't visible anything like 100 % of the time. So I try to combat this with a pattern like the Avalon Permit fly that has a built in noise maker or use a version of redfish crack that I put in a flashy eyelash yarn collar in place of the EP.
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By Crusader
#2229343
karstopo wrote:Got out this past Saturday in the low water conditions. Water was completely off the flat of the large oyster studded Lake. Makes searching for the fish easier as the water area is so limited. Paddled around some and found what I was looking for, nervous bait and mud boils.


Which bay system you were fishing?

Need to learn how to catch winter reds... But these damn crappies make it hard :-)
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By karstopo
#2229349
Crusader wrote:
karstopo wrote:Got out this past Saturday in the low water conditions. Water was completely off the flat of the large oyster studded Lake. Makes searching for the fish easier as the water area is so limited. Paddled around some and found what I was looking for, nervous bait and mud boils.


Which bay system you were fishing?

Need to learn how to catch winter reds... But these damn crappies make it hard :-)


My parents live on an oxbow lake infested with Crappie. Every so often I'll fly cast off their dock or go out in the boat, but it's been a couple of months. Do you use a strike indicator and little jigs for them? I've used little plastic panfish jigs, woolly buggers, and clousers with my CGRs out there, but haven't tried them with an indicator yet. That, crappie jigs under a cork, used to be good this time of year with conventional tackle.

I was in one of the Freeport area marshes.
I've have hit most all of those, there are a number of them, in low water events prior to fly fishing and many during low water since I started fly fishing. My take on it is that I think they will mostly all have fish bunched up during low water, but that I haven't always figured out exactly where on any given day.
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By Piscator
#2229446
I tied an Avalon a few weeks ago. Starting and stopping a video as I tied. Tied in the quartz glass and gold beads, Looked great until I realized the keel was in front of the hook like a weed guard. I clipped it off and may redo it later. I did swim it around in front of a couple of bedded bass in the neighborhood lake Saturday afternoon. Swims nice, but they were not amused.
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By Crusader
#2229468
karstopo wrote:My parents live on an oxbow lake infested with Crappie. Every so often I'll fly cast off their dock or go out in the boat, but it's been a couple of months. Do you use a strike indicator and little jigs for them? I've used little plastic panfish jigs, woolly buggers, and clousers with my CGRs out there, but haven't tried them with an indicator yet. That, crappie jigs under a cork, used to be good this time of year with conventional tackle.


I use vertical jigging 95% of the time. Probably misled you unintentionally -- I am not a fly fisherman (yet?). But I must say that crappie bite is worse than crack -- so addictive that I can't find time to scout/learn marshes in winter. :-)

I was in one of the Freeport area marshes.
I've have hit most all of those, there are a number of them, in low water events prior to fly fishing and many during low water since I started fly fishing. My take on it is that I think they will mostly all have fish bunched up during low water, but that I haven't always figured out exactly where on any given day.


Yes, reds move a lot and often it is hard to predict where they'll show up. I need to check my honey holes and deeper water around them... But on the other hand -- I know I'll get at least few bites if I go after crappies. Hard choices...

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