Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gator Central

Look closely
Saturday morning I got up early for a trip to Cat Island (a barrier island south of Gulfport, MS) only to find out that the trip had been cancelled due to weather.  I was all ready to go fishing, so I decided to make the most of the situation and do some kayak fishing in my favorite bayou for redfish.

I've been to this bayou several times before, and, as my friend Matt would say, its pretty much 'redfish central'.  Well, as it turns out, its also 'gator central'.  I'd only seen two or three alligators in Mississippi before this weekend, and on Saturday alone I saw at least eight alligators.  Eight alligators!  I don't know why I've never seen them there before; I guess they are just much more active now that the weather is warm.  If I'm honest, seeing a good sized alligator from the kayak gave this yankee the heebie jeebies.  But that didn't stop me from being interested.  Most of the alligators were sunning on the bank, and some would absolutely freak out when they saw me, diving into the water with a huge splash.  Completely distracted from fishing, I went about attempting to capture one of these monsters on my camera.  It was tough since they usually went under as soon as they saw me, but I eventually found one that was willing to pose for a little while, and the picture above is my best result.  My camera doesn't have very powerful zoom...

After I got my fill of alligators, I decided to paddle over to a section of the bayou I've been eyeing via google satellite images.  I could see on my computer that there was a large mud flat that might be covered at high tide and would encourage redfish to go shallow chasing crabs and other bait.  It looked like an ideal place for sightfishing.  It looked like 'redfish central'.

Redfish Central
Sure enough, almost immediately upon entering the area, I spotted a large, red shape in the water - they really do look quite red sometimes.  On my second cast, my fly landed right on top of his nose, and he ate it.  He then proceeded to take off on a run which quickly snapped my line.  It would've been my biggest redfish to date.  I was livid.  I never even got it on the reel!  It was pure operator error - I was holding the line like I had 20 lb test when I only had 12!  I quickly tied on another fly and continued to patrol the bayou.  Wouldn't you know, I only saw one more fish over the course of about 4 hours (and I didn't catch him).  So frustrating.  Eventually, I admitted defeat and decided to head home empty handed.  On the way back, I found some more alligators.  Hmmmm, first skunk at the bayou, first time seeing alligators...  Greedy alligators must've eaten all my fish!

Mating horseshoe crabs?

Friday, April 27, 2012


Consider this the first installment of what might become a weekly post on whatever I feel like every Friday (Flyday) a la "Monday Morning Coffee" over at Fontinalis Rising.  (I'm not hiding anything - I model much of my site after my favorite blogs.) 

So here's what's on my mind this week:

I recently discovered the Itinerant Angler Podcast (what took me so long, right?) and it is fantastic.  I don't even know what I like so much about it; its just very satisfying, and I've ended up listening to a couple of the 30 minute podcasts each day this week since I found them.

Also, if you're ever bored, go to This River is Wild, and just start reading.  Go to the archives and start from the beginning in 2008.  I started a few weeks ago and am still in 2009.  It is my absolute favorite blog, and those guys have hundreds of quality posts filled with fish.  One day fishing with them is like one year fishing with me.  Then again, I just don't fish like they do.  Its dawn to dusk fishing, followed by sleeping in a truck in a Walmart parking lot, followed by dawn to dusk fishing the next day.  I think I like reading about it more than I'd like doing it.

Well, I've got to go tie some flies and some leaders (its rough not having a fly shop in the area) in preparation for fishing this weekend.  In fact I think I'll do it while listening to another Itinerant Angler Podcast!  A typical wild and crazy Friday night for me...  Cheers.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blown Out

Note:  This is the trip report I wrote up for last weekend (I'm a little behind on my blogging). 
Try fly fishing in this...
Well, the weekend didn't exactly go as planned.  As the wind picked up at Pensacola Beach this weekend, so did the waves.  Large waves on Saturday and Sunday made fly fishing the Gulf side of Santa Rosa Island impossible.  Hanging out on the beach and playing in the waves were still options, but as far as fishing goes, we were relegated to the Sound side.  In previous trips, the Gulf side has been kinder to me, producing various kinds of fish with some regularity.  The Sound side has been much less generous.  This trend continued as I spent Saturday evening and Sunday wading the Sound side flats with very little luck.  The flats look very inviting - crystal clear water with a white sand bottom and numerous patches of grass.  This inviting water yielded a total of... wait for it... one fish.  One stinkin' speckled trout.  Actually it was a pretty nice speckled trout, and we made the most of our one stinkin' fish, cooking it in tin foil over a campfire.  It was delicious.

This used to be a 16" speckled trout
The most exciting moment of the weekend came while wading the flats.  I was casting into a patch of sand surrounded by grass and caught some motion out of the corner of my eye.  A 25 inch red was just cruising along the edge of a grass bed about 20 ft from me and closing.  I attempted to flip my fly in the fish's general direction moving only the very tip of my rod, knowing that any significant motion would ruin what little chance I had left of the fish eating the fly before it saw me.  Miraculously, the fly landed in front of the red, and with one strip, the fish turned to follow the fly only to see me and spook at the last second.  I think I threw a temper tantrum at that point.

Anyways, it was a beautiful weekend to be on the water with friends, and Pensacola hasn't seen the last of me by any means.  But next time, things will be different...

I'll be back.

Friday, April 13, 2012

P'cola Here I Come

As evidenced by the lack of recent posts, I haven't been fishing much lately.  That's about to change as some friends and I are heading over to Pensacola for the weekend.  The weather forecast looks... well, windy.  This is not great news...  But Pensacola has never disappointed me before (fingers crossed), so here's hoping for a great weekend with friends and just maybe a few fish involved.