TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


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By Chubs
#2253813
Since it's winter, I planned my trip around the latest satellite imagery I could find which showed the clearest water at the back sides of the bays.
Last good picture was Jan 4th, mostly the water looked good everywhere (expect Galveston).

Being a little fearful of run-ins with angry duck hunters, I decided to head over to Brazoria Wildlife refuge and launch from the Salt Lake access point on Saturday which apparently the fishing areas are off limits to hunting. Also it's just a hour-thirty from my house! I saw warnings from others on older posts here that the place is swarming with Gators. I didn't see any but I did spot a barnacle encrusted bump sticking out of the water than made me panic for a good 10 seconds!

Since it's winter, I decided to launch later in the day, my goal was 8:30ish, I didn't actually get to the launch till 9AM though, and not on the water though till 9:40. This is my 1st time to go kayaking in the cold so I was dinking around with my winter gear a lot and had a lot of indecision. Lessons learned!

I started out by trolling a 3" Cocohoe Minnow, Cock of the Walk color, on a 1/8oz rattling jig head. Trolled to the north east side Salt lake for about an hour with not a bite to show for it.

Saw a group of birds working an area when I tried to go to but the action died by the time I even got half way :\

Headed to the cut on the NE side and pissed off a whole set of ducks and pelicans!

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I proceeded to waste the next 30 - 40 min tossing lures/ changing lures/ and stepping into some sinking mud near the "Do not enter" cut area with no bites.

Frustrated; I swapped lures again and trolled to the cut between Salt and Nicks. Again no bites, was trolling over oyster beds this time.

Took me about another 30 mins to get to the cut, and then to my great dismay, I saw a boat was in my spot I had planned to fish! And to make matters worse I saw them reeling in my fish I planned to catch! So I sat around and pouted for an hour while I tried various different lures again. This time wading in the water on solid ground as much as I could manage.
All kidding aside, I was setback when I saw the folks where I had planned to be. Chalk it up to being inexperienced at this, but I thought maybe I could pick off some fish on the outer areas they weren't fishing at. I should have just kept moving though cause all I did was burn time and swap out lures another round.
At one point I looked over at the boat and I saw they had a freaking turtle they were all taking a selfie with!!! They eventually had enough fun molesting turtles only for another boat to come up and mooch their spot. Lol. The other boat was having as much luck as I was so he eventually went to go too. He went the wrong way into the mud which I got to see for a bit, that was fun :) He did get unstuck though and headed out while creating a serious wake I would have been annoyed about if I was in my kayak at the time.

It was now about 12:40 and I had told my wife I'd head home at 2PM; so I made my way back to my kayak and tied on a 3/8 oz jighead with another cocohoe minnow in Pink with glitter belly and chartrues tail. Trolled around the cut making my way to nicks. I was about 10 mins into my troll and I wasn't getting bites so I stopped after I rounded a bend to make sure my lure was still there; and then the line pulled back!
Reeled this bad boy in; about 21"

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Yes I screwed up his mouth with my boga's :( but I kept him so I can assure you he is not injured…

Getting the trout boosted my spirits so I went back to when I figured I hooked him; tossed the lure for about 10 mins with nothing, so I decided the trolling was working so I kept on through the cut. About another 10 min later I think I got a hit. Turned around to cast around but never got anything to bite.

Kept going. Made it to the exit and thought I was getting more bites. So I stopped and casted about a bit. I kept getting a lot of resistance while retrieving, lure kept bumping. I thought I was hitting the bottom or something; but just the same, I started trolling again. Kept seeing the rod dance but there was nothing on reel in so wasn't really sure what was happening. So I anchored and fan casted around.

Bingo!
18ish rat. I let him go and cast back to where I hooked him. Immediately my rod bends over!
I proceeded to reel in about 10 more redfish after that! Didn't take many pictures at that point because I was having too much fun.
I managed to score 2-3 keepers out of the group, I kept 1 of them; the rest were just almost 20" mark or just shy that I didn't want to risk it (up to the limit of course).
All of this was on the same pink cocohoe with 3/8 oz jighead. I decided it's time to try a different bait so I threw my Paul Brown "Soft Dine" bait - I'm not sure if that is considered a fat boy imitation or not? Also I couldn't guess what the specs are on the lure because it's been about 2 years since I bought it. It casts far, maybe it's 3" or more, and sinks slow.
Anyway, I tossed it and was trying to "walk the dog" underwater with no success. I changed up my retrieve to be just fast enough to take up the slack. That seemed to be the ticket because next cast I reel in this guy:

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He was 22" so into the fish bag he went. He bent up my lure but I found I could flatten it back out. Not sure that is supposed to happen though lol.
Caught a few more with that lure but the action was slower but the fish were bigger so I think that was the ticket to picking of the big daddies of the school. Here was the biggest of the day 24 - 25":

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At some point I looked at my clock and saw it was 2:45… Sorry honey!!! I left them biting with my tail between my legs and made like a bandit back to the launch.

Of course I trolled my lure back :) I hooked up with a rat red on the troll back where the turtle club party barge had been earlier.

Tossed him back and kept going. Was snagging bottom too much with the 3/8oz, so tried to troll the soft dine. That didn't produce anything the whole way back.

Go back to the launch by 3:49 and a large family was fishing the launch area. Chatted a bit with them, they hadn't caught much of anything but I figure the wind was wrong for them (east wind most of the day and they were on the west side).

All total I think I landed 15 fish, I probably hooked 20ish - some got away, including a big fighter right at the side of my yak :(

Anyway, Thanks to everyone for the pointers earlier, they worked out.

Lessons learned is I need to move faster if a spot is unproductive.
I need to trust in my lures I tie on and stop cutting line to re-tie at every spot, if they didn't bite the 1st time from a fan cast they probably aren't there.
Also I need to just move to my next spot is someone is in my planned spot.
Also I think next time I'll swap to a bigger lure faster if the bite is on fire with dinks and rats.

Note, I can't figure out how to upload more than 4 pictures :( I had a lot more the 1st time I tried to write this :(
User avatar
By karstopo
#2253816
Nice going! Nice working for it and then finding them. Fish earned are the best!

That’s a favorite spot of mine, Salt Lake, but I haven’t been in a good long time. You can only fish in one place at a time.

That cut between the lakes is usually a good area to focus on. It’s not a secret place or anything like that so the boat traffic can get pretty obnoxious (that’s probably what they say about the kayaks) and it’s hard to escape them as there isn’t any legal marsh off the lake to duck the kayak into. I think it was last time I was out there, it might have been about a year ago, there was some Yahoo doing donuts at high speed around the perimeter of Salt lake in a big flats type boat. I don’t really know how many times he circled the lake maybe 100 yards off the bank if even, but it was several. Every redfish I saw up shallow that day was quickly heading for the exit. But if one has zero tolerance for cruddy behavior out on the water, one might as well give up fishing immediately.

I’ve never seen a gator in the lake. There’s been a big one that hangs out near the launch in Salt Bayou, but he’s likely holed up someplace until it gets solidly warm.
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By Cityfisher
#2253820
Wow, what a good day! Love your report and appreciate all the details.
I think there is a size limit on the photos you can upload. The ones from my camera I can only upload 3 at a time.
People can be so stupid out on the water sometimes. Molesting sea turtles, doing donuts around the lake, blaring your boom box and screaming across the bay. It's just crazy.
But like Karstopo said, if you have zero tolerance for "stupid people" you might as well stay at home...and never leave your house!
I hope you didn't get into to much trouble with the wife, but if you did, I think it was worth it. :)
User avatar
By Crusader
#2253831
Yep. One thing about saltwater fishing -- if they are not biting you gotta keep moving... :-)

This day will keep you addicted for a long time. It doesn't happen very often even to the best of us.
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By Chubs
#2253875
Well I got home and I hear my almost 4 year old bawling from inside the house while I was getting out of my truck. See my wife feeding the 1 y/o his dinner and so knock on the door cause I buried my keys somewhere in all the salty mess in my truck. No answer >_<
Back to the truck to find my keys... (she claims she didn't hear me but I think it was revenge!)

It's all good though :)

I forgot to mention incase it's helpful, one red had 2 - 3" crabs in the stomach contents. One had a crab and I think a pin fish (not sure what a pin fish is but that is what I assume it was). One red had went hungry that day. And the spec had maybe 2 pin fish.


Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
User avatar
By shoffer
#2253885
Thank you for posting your report.

I, too, went through an experimental phase when trolling. What I have learned after 8 years is this. For trolling an area that is 3 feet or less, I will troll two rods with two baits - one with a 1/8oz jighead, and one a 1/16 oz so as to cover more of the water column. I know it seems too light, but you will find that the 1/8 oz. even gets hung up in 3 feet or less. In 3-5 feet, I usually troll two 1/8 oz. jigheads, but if you are trolling against a stronger current, then a 1/4 oz. should be fine as the paddle tail will ride up higher in the water column. In 5-8 feet of water, two 1/4 oz. or you can try a 3/8 oz., but I only use those when trolling deep channels (10-12 feet) in the winter.
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By karstopo
#2253895
One time I trolled across from the launch at Salt Lake to the cut to Nicks a 1/8 ounce jig with a paddle tail and was paddling along in high cruise speed mode which in my Tarpon 140 was pretty quick. About dead center, I get a nice mid slot red. Really surprised me getting a redfish paddling along like that and being way out in the middle of the lake.

I’d usually cast about as far as I could and then let out a bit more line to troll. I use braid with an Albright Special to fluorocarbon leader and loop knot to jig head.
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By karstopo
#2253899
Chubs wrote:Well I got home and I hear my almost 4 year old bawling from inside the house while I was getting out of my truck. See my wife feeding the 1 y/o his dinner and so knock on the door cause I buried my keys somewhere in all the salty mess in my truck. No answer >_<
Back to the truck to find my keys... (she claims she didn't hear me but I think it was revenge!)

It's all good though :)

I forgot to mention incase it's helpful, one red had 2 - 3" crabs in the stomach contents. One had a crab and I think a pin fish (not sure what a pin fish is but that is what I assume it was). One red had went hungry that day. And the spec had maybe 2 pin fish.


Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk


I like looking at Fish stomach contents. The shrimp seem to be gone from the menu, but they’ll be back before long. Trout never seem to be the crab eaters that redfish are.

In the freshwater trout world, they used to use marrow spoons (and maybe still do) to examine the contents without killing the fish. I might have to try that with the salty fish one day.
By mwatson71
#2253902
screwston420 wrote:nice, im going out today, not sure where tho.. lol


I'd love to see a review after your trip today as I thought about going out a well but a last minute meeting prevented it.
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By Chubs
#2253903
karstopo wrote:I like looking at Fish stomach contents. The shrimp seem to be gone from the menu, but they’ll be back before long. Trout never seem to be the crab eaters that redfish are.


I'm not marine biologist, but I'd guess it's due to their mouth arrangement. I looked at the reds I caught and they have a hard plate at the back of their throat probably to crush up the crabs. I didn't notice the same on the trout so I'd guess they can't successfully kill them when they eat them, so they probably don't like the crab wiggling around while it's being digested? Maybe that's part of the learning process each baby trout goes through and decides that crabs are not for them.

I was really curious on what the heck the fish would be eating in winter because I saw no sign of bait anywhere the whole trip. I did see a dead big crab one of the birds had probably done in, way to big for the fish I caught though.

Maybe fishing with a spoon would have been super effective on the school I found because I hear the reds think a spoon looks like a crab. Or maybe more helpful for you fly fishing folks ;)

Oh also something neat, I actually found out the reds have teeth too. Tiny little baby teeth all in a row on top and bottom. If you press lightly on their lip you see them come out. I didn't try to put my finger in there to find out how sharp they were, but it kept snagging any cloth I put near them while I was cleaning them.

We like to cook our fish whole most of the time, I noticed scaling the reds was a lot of effort; the trout the scales just melted off so easy. And these fish were both about the same size too.
Amazing those fish are from the same family yet quite different.
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By Cityfisher
#2253904
I found out about the teeth reds have first hand. I used to lip red fish all the time before I bought some fish grips, and if you get your thumb in there just right you can squeeze and hold it without really feeling them. But I tried to lip a bull red one time and the thing clamped down and started wiggling on me and those teeth (like tiny, sharp needle like brushes) sliced my thumb to pieces. I didn't think it would ever stop bleeding!
My favorite way to eat redfish is grilled on the half shell. Just filet, leave skin and scales on and grill.
I hate scaling a red!
User avatar
By karstopo
#2253905
Chubs wrote:
karstopo wrote:I like looking at Fish stomach contents. The shrimp seem to be gone from the menu, but they’ll be back before long. Trout never seem to be the crab eaters that redfish are.


I'm not marine biologist, but I'd guess it's due to their mouth arrangement. I looked at the reds I caught and they have a hard plate at the back of their throat probably to crush up the crabs. I didn't notice the same on the trout so I'd guess they can't successfully kill them when they eat them, so they probably don't like the crab wiggling around while it's being digested? Maybe that's part of the learning process each baby trout goes through and decides that crabs are not for them.

I was really curious on what the heck the fish would be eating in winter because I saw no sign of bait anywhere the whole trip. I did see a dead big crab one of the birds had probably done in, way to big for the fish I caught though.

Maybe fishing with a spoon would have been super effective on the school I found because I hear the reds think a spoon looks like a crab. Or maybe more helpful for you fly fishing folks ;)

Oh also something neat, I actually found out the reds have teeth too. Tiny little baby teeth all in a row on top and bottom. If you press lightly on their lip you see them come out. I didn't try to put my finger in there to find out how sharp they were, but it kept snagging any cloth I put near them while I was cleaning them.

We like to cook our fish whole most of the time, I noticed scaling the reds was a lot of effort; the trout the scales just melted off so easy. And these fish were both about the same size too.
Amazing those fish are from the same family yet quite different.


I don't think I've ever scaled a redfish or if I have I don't remember it.

I've noticed when the redfish are heavily feeding on shrimp, they get funny round pot bellies.

Redfish must get poked, stabbed and pinched a lot by their choice of diet. I've noticed they sometimes hardly react to a fly hook set and you can see them working their jaw if the water is clear as if a crab got a hold of their lip.
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By Yaklash
#2253921
Great report and sounds like you had a great time. A couple of things to note:

One, should any of us ever come across a turtle, either to rescue it, get it off of our line or, heaven forbid, catch it by choice, please do not touch them with your bare hands. It can very bad for them.

Two, the Softdine is Mirrolure's concept of making their previously awesome baits better by making them out of the same stuff as a Paul Brown Corky, thus the "Soft." It is a soft Mirrodine. It can be walked subsurface but, as you found out, it ain't easy. I just reel and twitch. Love me some Soft-Dines

And finally, if you get somewhere and there's a boat on the spot you hoped to fish, look for the nearest close approximation of that spot.
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By Chubs
#2253928
Cool info. I need to pick up some more soft dines and get a few fat boys too. Based on my success with them over the weekend I'm a believer now :)
What colors are best? Or just the standard Dark color and Light Color? As you see I have the red head white body one, I seem drawn to that color personally heh.

Another reason not to touch the turtles, I've heard they carry salmonella as well.

Ya I really needed to move on when I saw those guys in my spot. It's a small opening though since it's a small cut so I couldn't really share the area without encroaching on what I consider "personal space." But cuts have two sides of course and as a matter of fact, I caught all my fish at the other side.
User avatar
By Chubs
#2253931
Cityfisher wrote:I found out about the teeth reds have first hand. I used to lip red fish all the time before I bought some fish grips, and if you get your thumb in there just right you can squeeze and hold it without really feeling them. But I tried to lip a bull red one time and the thing clamped down and started wiggling on me and those teeth (like tiny, sharp needle like brushes) sliced my thumb to pieces. I didn't think it would ever stop bleeding!
My favorite way to eat redfish is grilled on the half shell. Just filet, leave skin and scales on and grill.
I hate scaling a red!


Ouch! I'm never brave enough to stick my hands into a fishes mouth; even bass lol :X

The scaling was a lot of work, I have this tool though which made it pretty easy after I figured out what I was doing with the 1st one.
Image
http://www.anglers-secrets.com/the-best ... aler-ever/

My wife got it for me a few years back and I've used it a few times. There is a trick to it though which I always forget when I use it the 1st time.

We like to cook the whole fish, I like the eat the head meat, best part of the fish is the cheeks!

I'll have to try on the half shell next time though, that actually sounds easier and like the scales would make a good buffer for the heat of the grill.
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