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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

Drifting Yak and I went out early, early Friday morning to hit some canal lights in West Bay. We had not been at the lights for some time and so were looking forward to getting back out. We were debating going Thursday evening/night or Friday morning and ended up on Friday, due largely to a better chance of some water flow. At launch the air temp was low 50’s, overcast and a bit misty, light winds. The water was 54 degrees and as clear as I have ever seen!
The first area we headed had nothing going on, so we move on. Mike is testing out some equipment mods along the way. We came to a set of lights that normally has some fish visible, but this night there was nothing. Then I noticed a shadow from the light and a few casts later I landed a rat red. So at least we know now that there are some fish present.
It was still a while before the tide should be moving so we moved off to another area. At the first light we do finally see a few fish swimming around and we both land a rat red. At the next light I see no fish, until a nice red comes up from below to snag my lure – I have a nice 21” red in the boat. This action has all been on a swim mullet on a small jig head.
The water was still calm and we still saw no obvious water movement of the dropping tide but there are some areas affected by wind. As we move along the canals I switch to a small jerk shad lure in Arkansas Shiner color. I do not normally throw a jerk shad in the lights but was curious how this would do in the darker color. I came upon a light where there were a couple of nice sized reds just sitting near the surface right above the light – not swimming around. I made a cast just to their left with the lure landing beyond the lighted area, planning to bring it past the these two. I let the lure sink a bit before retrieving, then – bam – a fish is on. After a bit of a battle I have a 22.5” red in the boat.
A short time later I landed another 21” red! But then the action slowed for a spell.

Moving along the canals we begin to see some schools of fish swimming around the lights. Mike ID’d these as mullet. They were fairly large, 7”-10” perhaps. At a location with a closely spaced pair of lights, a school was slowly circling the pair. I began to cast into and around the school to see how they would react. If I swam the lure through them they would just go around it, if I landed it on them they would scatter some but soon regroup. On the 3rd or 4th cast I get a strike and have a fish on! - soon getting a nice 19” spec in the boat. Mike said that he thought he had seen some specs swimming with the mullet, plus we have heard that specs may swim with mullet schools at times. I will certainly target these again in the future if they are there. I do not recall schools of fish this large in the lights.
Has anyone else seen specs associating with schools of mullet?

So, the dawn was soon upon us and we spent a bit of time fishing a cut and flats area outside the canal area to catch a morning bite. I landed a couple of small specs. Mike had caught a flounder while in the lights and got a couple more in the cut. He used the trip to evaluate some equipment issues and he also earned a big gold star during the trip! He can fill in the details.
Last edited by YakRunabout on Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By YakRunabout
This was a bit longer than our average outing, on the water at 1 AM and off at 9. Most of that time was spent in the canals around houses, so it was lit up from the house lights. We were away from development for some of the time but still there is some visibility. The advantage this night is that we have been to this location several times at night and so knew our way around.

We also have fish finders with the map option and so our tracks are displayed. We can then just follow the outgoing track when returning to the launch.

I have been to undeveloped areas at night but they have been areas that I had been to before. Also there has generally been a moon up and that can provide a lot of light. Even in these areas you can see lights on the horizon for direction reference.
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By shoffer
Thanks for the report! I love fishing the lights at night, but the wintertime has usually been very sparse for night light fishing for me. You guys did well. I love the night/sunrise combo, especially in the summertime.
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By kickingback
Very good report!!! Thank you for sharing, great read.
I too fish a lot at night. It is fun, exciting, and relaxing with the peace and quiet at night. It's not hard to navigate as long as you know the area first and have a good sonar with GPS to help you find your way. I always carry my phone as a back up GPS locator. Have plenty of lights both in and for around your ride. I have green LED's all around my yak and I can see for 1/8 a mile when sitting still. I use a spot light to see a mile or further out. I have a head lamp to see in the boat. Better to be safe than sorry. As well, make sure to fish with a buddy if you are not quite sure or still have any fears. I got over any fear I had after so many night trips I fish alone a lot now in those areas I know well.
On a full moon you can see lots of things as well. Plan a trip to coincide with the full moon and you get the good bite and be able to see somewhat better. Study Google Earth before you go and you will have a great time I can bet you.
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By shoffer
I agree with Kickingback. Headlamp, super-bright flashlight on my PFD that I can to scan areas, and a Scotty 360 light are all I use. So peaceful, productive and fun not having to search for fish - you know where they are.
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By YakRunabout
Just to whet your appetite for some night-time fishing at the lights or under moonlight - here are some pics from previous outings, 2 from canal lights and one during a full moon at a marsh area a couple of miles from the launch. On the recent outing we saw very few small baitfish. The size of bait fish schools shown here should be only a few months away - this was from mid May.
Last edited by YakRunabout on Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By Cityfisher
YakRunabout wrote:Just to whet your appetite for some night-time fishing at the lights or under moonlight - here are some pics from previous outings, 2 from canal lights and one during a full moon at a marsh area a couple of miles from the launch. On the recent outing we saw very few small baitfish. The size of bait fish schools shown here should be only a few months away - this was from mid May.

Wow! Beautiful and cool!
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By Chubs
Pretty cool!

That's pretty late for me heh. Sure I'd be stoked enough on the drive there and while fishing, I'd worry I'd fall asleep on the drive home though.

Though I could see myself getting up super early for a few hours of nighttime.

Winter I'd have figured it's too cold for night fishing, but seems like it was a relatively warm night.

I assume lures are generally black or very dark?

What are the green lights for around the kayak?
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By YakRunabout
You are correct that the night fishing disrupts the sleep cycle. Along those lines my preference is to launch around sunset and fish till midnight or so. On this outing Mike and I tried to get there, but the lack of water movement in the evening vs a dropping tide in the early AM pushed us to the early AM timing. As shoffer mentioned the early AM outing also brings the often productive sunrise bite into play.

When fishing in the lights the lure color does not need to be dark. Often the best color is just the opposite, clear with sparkle, when trying to imitate a glass minnow in the spring. On this outing I caught fish on chartreuse as well as Arkansas Shiner, so one on the light side and one darker.

Kickingback is your reference for the question about green lights on the kayak. I know these are used as a bait fish attractor, but it seems they would also help to illuminate in marsh areas, etc. He can also address the lure color question for nighttime in remote areas.

Temperature - We have been out in cold weather - just prepare for it. One launch it was 32 degrees, though it did warm up through the day. Have been out with highs in the 40's with no problem. Consider the combination of temperature and wind. When the wind picks up the temperature effectively drops quite a bit.

It is a different and interesting experience at night. You should try some time. One challenge for me is knowing where the cast is going, since you cannot watch the lure!
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By Drifting Yak
Good post Ken!

We did have a fun night of fishing and as Ken previously stated, the water was very clear. So much so that it was easy to see the individual light bulb elements in 6' of water (usually there's a haze around each light - a kind of "glow" radiating out several feet from each light - but on this night you could clearly see all the way to the bulbs themselves - strange for our waters). The wind was also light (a gentle breeze early on) so the water surface was flat calm. We were thinking that this was going to be tough so we kept our yaks out and away from the lights. Well the first area didn't pan out so we moved along and in short order we landed several rats reds. And then Ken landed a very nice keeper red. Ken mentioned that he was going to throw a darker plastic bait and that worked for sure. I threw a variety of lures throughout the night but would say that various Gulp swim baits were the ticket (Chartreuse, Black & White - all worked but Chartreuse was best overall). Also and usually for this time of year our baits would have been worked slowly across the bottom. But for this night running the bait in the upper to mid column worked best (2' to 3' range). This was particularly true for the lights but changed back to a normal winter pattern once daylight hit (during the morning hours I'd say most if not all fish were caught working or trolling the bait slowly at or near the bottom).

A couple of other points.

Ken mentioned Mullet School - Well we'd sit there quietly in some areas (basically motionless) and occasional schools of mullet would pass by. There weren't many schools in the water that night but when they'd pass they were interesting and beautiful to watch (wishing that I'd have brought my GoPro!). And every once in a while you could clearly see a lone spec swimming along with them. If you'd cast into the school they would of course instantly scatter. If you'd cast out away from them and then bring your bait in through the school they'd simply swim by it as if nothing was going on. Sometimes a lone trout would turn and investigate your bait but most of the time it did nothing. And of course Ken managed to entice one and caught a very nice spec. Kind of cool.

Then there are Tobin's Trout Support DVD's - I have to say that they are starting to help us catch more quality fish. In particular we've been timing our trips around various winter weather patterns. You have to of course be in the right location, and the DVD's go into great detail on this, but suffice it to say that changing barometric pressure along with corresponding wind changes from the north to the east and then to the south has been working for us. We are still learning so time will tell!

And finally - As for the "catching" - We landed over a dozen reds and a dozen specs and I got lucky enough to land 4 flounder (most fish were released).
So if you do the math you get....One Red + One Spec + One Flounder = My very first SLAM....Something that's also way cool....

Tight Lines Everyone!

First Slam.JPG
Congrats to Mike on his first slam!!

Mike had his first flounder, a keeper, before dawn in the canal lights. He also had a red from the canals.
So after dawn we were fishing a cut outside the canal areas where he was trying to catch a spec to fill out his slam, and I was trying to catch a flounder to make mine! Well, Mike caught a few more flounder and I caught a few more specs! Finally Mike caught his spec for the slam!

We fished a bit longer but I never managed a flounder! I did have what I believe was a small flounder on the line but lost it at the boat. I believe it was a flounder but am not sure - near the boat it was on the surface but was flapping and spinning so much, like a little Tasmanian Devil, that I could not get a good look!

A good outing - congrats again, Mike!
This post just keeps getting better! Maybe everyone can plan a night trip together to have a blast in the lights!!!
I have LED green lights on the outside of my kayak. I use four 30" green strip lights you can buy at Academy. 2 up front on each side and two on back end. Since you cannot navigate or be moving with the side lights on due to boating regulations but once anchored or in the marsh away from boats and people you turn them on and can see at least 200 feet around you clearly in the green glow. This helps me to see bait, water movement (ripples), or obstructions. While anchored the lights will draw in plankton which draws in bait fish which draws in predator fish. If you don't see bait then you may want to move to find it for without bait the fish would be elsewhere.
The color of the lures you use is not dependent on the amount of light that shines on the lure. It's not like fishing in heavily stained water. In fact, as mentioned above, the water in the winter is usually more clearer than the rest of the year so fish can see bait fine depending on the amount of light getting to the lure. At night you want a lure that generates vibrations well or make some noise to get their attention easier. I use paddle tails in the lights and have found I get more bites from these type of lures more than any other I have tried. Believe me when I say I haven't even tried my entire arsenal of lures yet as I have many but when something works well, I will stay with it to catch more fish and have a better night out.
I mostly use Berkley PowerBait Pre-Rigged Swim Shad in Firetiger color. The reason I use this most often is that they are already pre-rigged and I tie 2 of them in tandem on a 36" piece of leader. I rig a few up and have them ready to switch out if either lure is damaged by the sharp teeth. They get chewed up fast in the lights and why I pre rig my tandems for a night out. A friend told me about this color and tandem set up a year ago and I was hooked from all the bites and hook sets. Any color will work in the lights though. Try many lures to see what is comfortable for you. You will see your lure swim through the lights easily and this lets you see and tweak your retrieve and action on the lure. I drag them on the bottom and get flounder. I reel back at 3'-4' down and get the bigger reds and trout. I swim it back at 1' down to get reaction strikes from the smaller trout in lights. The predator fish stalk the lights and bait in them like they do out in open water. In fact it is easy to sit and watch the predator fish swim in lights and feed. The very best light fishing is now with it being so clear you can see the fish turn and attack your lures and it gives you more adrenaline to feel good!
Top water lures work as well. Being that the lure is hit so hard though it scares the other fish away on a bite at times. All lures will work as long as it somewhat matches the bait present. Try it all!
I catch fish in the lights on popping corks with DOA, Gulp or jig easily as well. The popping corks work better with over head lights shining down on water. The predator fish are 1'-4' down feeding on the bait fish drawn to light for plankton and smaller bait. Throw outside of light and drag popping it through the light. I hit the outside edges first so that when I do get a bite it will not spook the majority in the middle of light and you can catch more than one in each light before moving to the next light. If no bites, move to next light. After only 10 minutes the light you just fished might now hold fish that came back or just arrived to feed. It is never ending in the amount of spots you can catch fish at.
I have found it easy to plan a night trip. I did 22 years in the Air Force so I know how to do 48 hour days without sleep if needed. It is only a state of mind to get over what your body is trying to tell you to rest or sleep which are two separate states. I look at the weather first to find the perfect conditions. low winds, no rain, and moon phase. I then look at the tide charts to find what time the water is out or in coming. No tide usually slows the bite to a crawl if any at all. You want water moving. The incoming water brings bait into the canals with lights. The outgoing tide moves the bait out of the canals. However, even with no water moving there may still be bites so do not hesitate to keep throwing. Just like you troll a lure between spots you may get lucky and catch one. Wet hooks catch fish.
If you plan your trip right you can target multiple species in each area. For instance, I regularly fish Tiki Island lights along with fishing the causeway lights. Again, weather is first key. Then I look for an outgoing tide at launch. This makes it easy for me to launch at Fat Boys and use the current to get me to the causeway. The fish start biting there right when the sun goes down and there is no more sun light in the sky. I fish those lights like from 8 pm until 11 or 12 pm. By this time the tide has changed and is now incoming which I use to get me back to Tiki to fish around the entire Island. I can make the sweep through all the canals and lights in 4-5 hours depending on the bite and make it back to the ramp by first light. I find these trips have been my most productive and fun. After fishing an area for so long you know the best spots, best lights, best ambush area, etc. So much fun learning and using the knowledge you learn in other situations.
To help get you ready fro a long night try to "practice" your sleep and rest the night before by staying awake as long as you can before sleeping. Then only sleep a bit and wake up. Then take a long nap later in the day and wake just before you go out on your night trip. For one, you will be excited and that will keep you awake for quite a while as long as you try to stay excited (I do) and two you will be so busy catching fish any sleepiness you may feel nay be overridden by the adrenaline surges.
If you look at the great picture above of the green underwater lights in the canal of homes, each one of those separate green spots hold fish and they swim between the lights all the time. So in that picture there are at least 10 spots that hold fish for sure and after you fish them all in turn you simply turn around and go back to the first light you hit and the fish will probably be back to biting if you caught some earlier.
Also the other picture above shows how "bright" it is with the moon light. As your eyes get used to the dark while out you will be amazed at the things you can see. Sound is one of the best tools you can use at night as well. listen for fish popping the top for bait. Listen for water splashing (bait agitated) or any other sounds that may help locate bait or fish. I fished on night in the marsh and kept hearing bait jump and pop in a channel near by. Went over to see and started catching fish. Use all your senses at night and be amazed!
Sorry this is so long but wanted to add to the thread.
Tight lines ya'll!
Great addition to the post, kickingback! Lots of information there, thanks.

Great idea to get a group outing together some time.
I just want to point out that there is a group outing at the lights already scheduled for August 2 at Lake Como. This is one of the PACK group outings. A recent note in the Saltwater section reviews the upcoming PACK meeting on Feb 20, and includes a listing of the planned group outings through the years. All should check these out - a great way to see some new areas.

Enjoy your next outing!!
What a library of NIGHTTIME FISHING TALK! You guys can out-talk any lawyers on the planet, including The Fishing Attorneys Shoffer & me! Talk, talk, talk! How about some nighttime action? Let's conduct a night fishing tournament to determine who talks & who catches! The team with the most legal nighttime fish wins! Winners get to the write the TKF Fishing Report! Losers have to lamely chime in!
But let's enforce a 2,000-word rule on your verbose fishing report... Ha ha.
Any interest? If so, please get in touch with my junior captain, Shoffer. See you on the water. This could be the fishing tournament that MAKES TKF GREAT AGAIN!
Me, I'm Dandydon, the laughing Kung Fu lawyer of few words and many fish.
Behold, below... Shoffer is up in the dark upper-right corner catching one legal speck after another. Oh my.

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:lol: Sounds like a great and fun challenge! I can't wait to read the winners report!
Unfortunately I am out of commission for 3 months. Had my left shoulder completely replaced last week Monday. Got 3 months of physical therapy to get back on the water. I already feel much better. No constant pain like I had before replacement. My arthritic shoulder was bone on bone for over 2 years now. What a relief!
A grand idea, Double D. Very nice of shoffer to volunteer to organize this event!
Count me in!
My shoulder issues were decades ago and nothing as drastic as a full replacement! A speedy recovery, kickingback!

I expect that there may be some new folks wanting to try this. I remember my first time on the lights, I was mesmerized by the circling of the bait fish in the lights and the clouds of bait fish everywhere. I had to be slapped to get back to fishing.
Anyway - I offer to team up with a first-timer on the lights, to keep them focused on fishing. And together we will write that 1,999 word fishing report!

To the lights!!
You guys sound like my kind of people (hope no politicos chime in & brand me "a racist!")...
Ask Shoffer, I'm 66 going on 30 and hate to lose. Never had a boss or wife. Am not gay. No bad shoulder issues yet. I've learned to curb my violent Kung Fu temper & haven't hospitalized anybody since 3 burly bandido bikers attacked me in a bar last year, ending up in Ben Taub Hospital, all alive because I pulled my deadly punches. Nowadays I'm a peaceful, cuddly Pickle.
Maybe we could attract three or four "teams of two" to compete! Since this was my idea, I write the rules & decide all pesky tournament questions. As tourney prize, the winning team gets treated to some free lunch & receives 5 minutes of free legal advice from the august FISHING ATTORNEYS LLP. Subsequent legal work shall be pricy!
Am waiting for Shoffer to reply because I refuse to night-fish without him. He's adept at picking good weather windows.
Yessir, he's so good I follow him around & catch his legal left-overs. You might say he's my FREE LUNCH!
Looking forward to our NIGHTTIME TOURNEY... Any interest out there?
"Let the night-lures glow & the night-lights shine!" It's your "NIGHTTIME TOURNEY!"

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You're IN, KickingBack! I've been enjoying your fishing reports & tips since I was about 64 years old. Keep it up & I'll kick a little back, my man...
Stay tuned, spread the NIGHTTIME TOURNEY️ word & we'll get back to you w/ more delicious details. Was hoping the irrepressible scoundrel CUERVO JONES would join the fun! We cherish "weird folks."
Onward, men!

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