TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

By bones72
Recipe is as follows: size #6-#2 Mustad 34007 or gamakatsu B10S 3/0 tying thread
1 Ten to 15 strands of crystal flash bind down leave long at either end
2 mono eyes large or extra large (the kind that are sometimes billed as nymph eyes) bind down with figure
dry fly saddle hackle palmered and clipped on top tie off.
3 UV glue (knot sense, Loon, solarez whatever just use the thicker stuff) glue around the eyes and cure it level with the top of the eyes.

4 tie in another ten to fifteen strands at the rear pull towards the front and cure more glue into a shrimp shape. wipe down with alcohol and give a coat of Sally Hansen's.

5 clip the krystal flash above the eyes to form a "horn". Clip the flash in the rear to form a tail and place a band on it with sharpie pen
By bones72
JStockard and several other online catalogs have those. I like the large nymph eyes because I want something much stiffer to place the UV glue between.
By bones72
The ones I get also give you over a dozen pairs as compared to a half dozen on the shrimp eyes. Saw a newer style shrimp eye in the Feathercraft catalog given the price, and the amount of product I may give them a try.
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By karstopo
I refused to buy the what I considered over priced shrimp/crustacean eyes.

Went through a series of ways to make my own and settled on these beads for shrimp eyes.

They come in a variety of colors and ended up balancing the shrimp fly just how I wanted. I cut about 1.25" of 60# mono, put two beads on the section, melt on end of the nylon monofilament and then push bead over the semi-molten nylon. The nylon cools and sets the bead in place.
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By karstopo
Funny how shrimp are so prevalent and delicious to fish. I went out in the Bryan beach surf last Saturday morning and the small brown shrimp were so thick they were getting into my wading crocs. There were way more shrimp than predators, but if the shrimp were getting worked over in a spot, it was a matter of tossing over a fly, I used the shrimp pattern and a borski slider, into the melee and get ready for a take. The mullet and even the menhaden were getting ignored by the trout, it was the shrimp they were afterImage

I went out yesterday afternoon to look at the surf and didn’t like what I saw so instead went to a bank fishing, mud hole of a spot I occasionally fish. The shrimp were also hopping in this low visibility water with predators on their heels, too. In this case, I couldn’t get any action on the tan borski, but put on a brown shrimp pattern and almost immediately started getting fish. Ended up catching several small redfish, a croaker and a 17” flounder that I retained. Not bad for a public walk up area that gets worked over by the bait soaking crowd. Three guys there soaking shrimp weren’t getting the action I was, but they weren’t covering water like I was either.

I tied up some more of the shrimp. Sometimes, the pattern does make a difference. Image
By bones72
Those are some good looking shrimp. Been tying a good bit lately and hope to get down soon. Trying to bring the youngest before he leaves for college. Probably not going to be much of a fishing trip but I hope to at least bring a dozen crabs home.

You said you got a croaker; are they eating sized here in Texas? They are a bonafide delicacy where I grew up in Virginia. Croaker and Spot were definitely big time on the list of target species and blast to catch as they came through in big schools especially the spot. Spot especially the mid sized schoolies around 10 or 12 inches loved to take a #6 bugger in white or olive. I'm also kind of a big fan of flounder but then again I don't know many piscivorous people that aren't.
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By karstopo
I’ve kept some of the croaker I catch. My threshold is probably about 10 or 11”. Once the croaker start getting some shoulders they are worth keeping. They are very tasty.

Years ago, I caught some croaker close to two pounds, on paddle tails, in Christmas Bay. I’m going to pay more attention to the fish I catch because I see spot looks a lot like croaker. I probably wouldn’t know the difference without looking them up. I really haven’t figured out a pattern or location that’s better for croaker. I get them just incidentally fishing structure and have never sight fished one. Glad to know buggers catch spot. I have only barely tried buggers in the saltwater. There’s a winter area I Fish that gets redfish stacked pretty thick and I tried a bugger on those, but it didn’t do nearly as well as redfish crack on those fish so I haven’t used a bugger out in the saltwater since.

The croaker I’ve gotten have come on small redfish crack, the shrimp pattern and borski sliders. Borski sliders are on size 4 hooks, but the SL-45 Gamakatsu bonefish hooks are light wire and small gapped on the hook bend. So are the SC-15 hooks. The shrimp are on size 4 hooks as well. I don’t really like those mustad 60 degree duratin hooks, but 60 degree hooks in that size are hard to find. The barbs are giant and I end up bending them down some. The hook will bend open before 15# tippet breaks so I have to be careful how I fight bigger fish. And they aren’t sharp out of the box so I have to work on that.

On these little panfish like croaker and whiting, sharp, light wire preferably carbon steel hooks are tops. Most Stainless hook points bend with the least little contact with shell and are typically on heavier wire as stainless isn’t as strong as tempered and forged carbon steel hooks. Carbon steel, even the ones with tin or other saltwater resistant finishes will corrode, but often not before the fly gets chewed up or lost.

Flounder will suck in a fly much better than a larger and heavier paddle tail on a large jig head. There’s no need for a count down before the hook set and no need for a super hard set with the sharp, thin wired hooks. Drag and bounce a hook point up pattern across the bottom in flounder areas, get a thump and do a little strip set.
By bones72
Spot and croaker don't seem to have a size limit here in Texas, not sure that we even have spot. In Va we had to pay attention because croaker had a 1 14" minimum and a 10 fish limit; spot were a free for all. Comparable in taste but croaker seemed to be better cooked any old way instead of just fried. Has me dreaming about a shrimp or oyster po' boy with crab cakes and a filet on the side with a frosty adult beverage and its only 0830.
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By karstopo
Croaker are probably the preferred bait for speckled trout fishermen. I've never used croaker as live bait, but evidently it's hard for a mature spotted sea trout to turn down a 3" live croaker. There's been some noise about giving croaker a game fish designation here in Texas thereby removing them as a legal bait, but I don't know if that will go anywhere. Many guides and others are way into using the fish for their big trout hunts and look to fight any measure to make them game fish.

I don't think croaker numbers are what they used to be and maybe the croaker bait trade has something to do with it. I do think removing croaker as a bait would help increase the numbers of speckled trout. although there's a lot of debate on the trout population and the state gill net data has been more or less steady or trending up over the last couple of decades.

I used to think about making a croaker fly, but I don't think anyone could replicate the sound and odor of a croaker with anything assembled on a hook.
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By karstopo
Walked my spot and got this little sheepshead among some more little redfish, one croaker and a 10” flounder. Blazing hot at 2:30 in the afternoon, but little fish still eat.
By bones72
Little or not I understand sheepshead are supposed to be really hard on the fly and called Texas Permit. I'd be overjoyed. I guess I really need to get to the coast and find a walk up spot.
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By karstopo
I’ve had some pretty good success targeting sighted sheepshead, mostly with tan and olive borski sliders and the shrimp pattern. They are a lot harder than a redfish. ImageImageImage
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By karstopo
Sometimes, I can’t make them eat at all. They appear to like to feed on a particular algae growth on oysters that happens in late winter and they become much more docile and much less vigilant, but seemingly oblivious to anything else. Other times, they will chase down a fly. Comparing them in a sight fishing situation to redfish, in general I find that the sheepshead need the fly to be closer to their noses and moved slower with stops than I might do with a red. When I’m in the kayak, I have to take great care on the stalk with sheepshead and they are often very much into the oyster reef so that presents issues for the shot.

It’s often a slow and difficult process getting into range and waiting out just the right time to toss over a fly. There’s more spooked fish and hang ups in the shell than with the redfish. I can only sight fish sheepshead for a limited amount of time before it gets to be where I don’t want to go through the trouble.

I’ve picked up a few just casting along reef, rocks and bulkheads. This walk up spot I’ve been fishing has an ancient concrete bulkhead covered in shell. The fish will usually show itself by disturbing shrimp and such so that I know something predator is underneath. Making casts to disturbed bait is one of my favorite ways to fish. The signs can be subtle and I spend a lot of time looking at the water for the sign. I seldom just blind cast to nothing and don’t do it for long.

Bulkheads and rip rap with moving water are good spots to try for fish in general. There’s some along the ICW and various canal developments. I don’t trespass onto private property, but some places are public easements. Shell margins and rip rap are a known hangout for fish like redfish and sheepshead. Shell is tricky to fish, but the key is careful placement of the fly and waiting out the right time to cast. I don’t weed guard flies for the most part, but careful casts to gaps in the reef can often be made with minimal snags.

This particular bulkhead has a 50-75 yard sweet spot. That’s how it’s been for me. Reefs, bulkheads, rip rap areas seem to have sweet spots that time and again hold fish and that might change with the water levels. I’ve fished the same basic water for over a decade and used to fish it over 50 times a year so there’s definitely patterns that emerge, not that new ones don’t continually arise with repeat visits. The new patterns and trying to tease out what’s going on keeps it interesting for me, but it’s nice to have some more or less reliable spots with a track record of holding fish.
By bones72
Ok now I know how to target them. I guess I meant how are they on the plate? Fried, baked, broiled. or grilled. Seems like folks like keeping them but was unsure of the taste because of their omnivorous nature. Fish that take veggies are most times not so palatable.
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By karstopo
I haven't been keeping the ones that I get at the 15" limit or over. most that I get are probably shy of 15" and the biggest I've gotten on the fly was about 17".

I've eaten them before and they are good, white flaky relatively firm mild fish. I caught a nice sheephead on a topwater of all things once in West Matagorda bay and we ate that one. The yield on the 2-3 pound fish may not be as good as some of the other fish but I've only gotten one really nice sheepshead, 6-7 pound type of fish, and that was on a gulp crab about 12 years ago and I threw that fish back.

Some people like sheepshead better than about anything to eat. some call them "bay snapper" and there's a snapper quality to the flesh. They are a little harder to clean than even a redfish. Redfish, speckled trout and flounder are what we tend to like to eat. Every once in a while something like a croaker, whiting, Spanish mackerel makes the cut.

I might keep the next good one I get. We do a lot more than just fry fish these days and sheepshead might really be the thing for some interesting thai recipe or whatever.
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