Monday, May 27, 2013

It's On

Remember that post I made a month ago about how the redfishing was going to turn on any day?  Well that day has passed us. It's on.

Aaron and I took off after work last week for a little redfishing in the vast Pascagoula River Marsh. We weren't sure what to expect as it is an area we had only explored briefly before. Almost within sight of the launch I cast at the first fishy looking disturbance. Immediately a redfish blew up on the fly, managing to avoid getting hooked. After that, we knew it was going to be a good day.

Over the course of the first hour as we poled through a deep channel with shallow edges. The fish were there, but they kept popping up out of the channel only to disappear again when we approached. It was tough, but things would get better.

We moved on to a spot that looked extremely promising on satellite images. It was awesome. There were redfish in every direction. It was literally a matter of picking which one to go after.

In total we had 6 or 7 eats, with 5 hooked and 3 landed. With the number of fish targeted, we didn't have a great success rate, but I think we are still figuring out the differences between fishing from a flats boat vs. from a kayak. For one, with the high profile, the fish spook much more easily, so you have to stay further away and make longer casts from the boat. We spooked a lot of fish by getting too close. But overall it was an awesome, action packed day, no matter how many fish were landed.

If you live on the Gulf Coast, its time to get out there!


...and looking for the next one!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kayaking to Round Island

This weekend a friend and I kayaked to an island in the middle of the Mississippi Sound called Round Island. This was a practice trip for our ultimate goal of kayaking to Horn Island, and as such, I loaded up the kayak with water and camping supplies to get used the added weight.

Extra paddle, bilge pump, paddle float, trail mix, approaching our destination
Round Island is about 4 miles south of Pascagoula, halfway to the barrier islands of Horn and Petit Bois. A trip from Pascagoula to Round and back is essentially the equivalent of a one way trip to Horn, making it an ideal warm up.

Royal Terns?

The island is very beautiful with plenty of vegetation: orange and white flowers in bloom, numerous palmettos, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Most of the trees, however, are dead or dying, probably due to continual erosion - many of the dead trees are sticking out of the water just a few feet from the shoreline.

The island is notable for the lighthouse that once operated there. The keeper's house was destroyed in Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Katrina finished off the lighthouse itself in 2005.

We fought the wind and the waves on the way out, but relaxed and even put up my sprayskirt as a sail on the way back. We did roughly 10.5 miles on the day and are now ready for the real thing!

Sprayskirt not necessary today... as a sprayskirt that is

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Islands

I had forgotten how wonderful the Mississippi barrier islands can be. My parents visited two weekends ago and we managed a trip on the ferry out to West Ship Island. We toured the fort and brought a picnic lunch. And of course I did some fishing. The island has a rich history and rich marine life. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

The only needlefish I've ever managed to hook
Non-stop speckled trout action with a croaker, needlefish, and hardhead making for a slam of sorts. We also watched big redfish chasing mullet around like they were dolphins, which was very exciting. I actually had a really good chance to cast to them at one point but of course had some very curious bystanders right in the way of my back cast.

My dad was fishing too (and took a lot of the pictures) but I was a horrible guide and failed to get him onto any fish. His fly casting was a little rusty, probably because he fly fishes on a yearly basis - that is, whenever I force him into it.

The barrier islands used to be my be all end all when it came to fishing. Lately I've been focusing on the marsh. This trip has me rethinking my focus. It was a lot of fun.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Walter the Cat

I attempted to tie some flies while watching the Red Wings game the other night.   Our new kitten was very interested.

"No you will not be tying any flies tonight," says Walter the cat.

 I see a new kind of "craft" fur in my future...

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Connection

Aaron and I got out on the boat after this work last week and finally christened it with its first fish. I've owned the boat since March, but in my defense, I would say this was just its second serious fishing outing. And to end another poor streak, I caught my first redfish since December! Yikes...

It felt great to hook up with a redfish again.  Its pure magic when you first feel the line go taut upon strip setting. For that moment when the rod is pointed straight and the fish is trying to figure out what is going on, you are literally playing tug of war, the line in your left hand. In this moment when the fish first feels the tug, the whole scene changes. I have an image in my mind of a back and tail breaching the water and showing the first signs of alarm, writhing for just a second before taking off on a run. This is the image that is seared into my mind. Not the cast, or the eat, or the fight, or the grab of the tail - although those are all good moments. The first connection is what really sticks.

Enough waxing poetically, here's the fishing report. Aaron and I poled around seeing limited signs of fish for about an hour before we finally saw an obvious crawler with Aaron on the poling platform and me on the bow.  It took me two or three fairly long casts to get it within the strike zone.

No visibility...
We switched up regularly and after moving to a nearby bayou, Aaron hooked up casting after a swirl in the channel.


We switched again and I had another really great chance at a crawler.  My first cast was about four feet to his left, and he ignored it.  Coming straight toward me at some speed, I struggled to strip in enough line and make an accurate shorter cast, and he escaped to deeper water. I am realizing that it is much more difficult to catch a fish coming straight toward you versus one that is swimming across your view.

Just a few moments later I hooked up with another red by blind casting into a channel, but he got off after a brief battle.

It was a beautiful evening on the bayou with plenty of action to keep us entertained. Looking forward to many more like this.