For a lot of kayak anglers in South Louisiana, tournament fishing is a big deal. We’re a competitive bunch. Maybe some not quite as much as others, but we like putting ourselves to the test. When I was first getting started with kayak fishing, tournaments were something I wanted to do, but I was a little intimidated and didn’t want to fail miserably. Now I know. It is competitive to a degree, but it’s also about camaraderie and learning.
Eddie and Lisa Mullen, owners of PAC Kayak Rentals and Oak Point RV Campground in Pointe Aux Chene have started a pretty cool tournament that’s very laid back, and easy for new guys to get involved with and not feel intimidated. This is the PAC Redfish Series.
The series lasts a full year starting in February, and ending at their tournament, The Polar Challenge, the following January. Each month, competitors are given one of five designated days to fish the tournament. If you cannot fish any of those five days, every competitor is given five “hardship” days for the year.
In February, I missed a chance to fish the tournament during the designated days so I had to use a hardship day. I paddled out a little ways and as I was getting to my spot, a thunder storm started rolling in and after a few minutes and checking the weather, I decided it best to get back in before conditions got real nasty. Unfortunately, I ended my day with a big fat ZERO on the leaderboard. All of the Pack & Paddle crew were scattered in spots 2-15, and I was bringing in the rear near last place. I’ve had a crummy start to tournaments this year. That’s the end of Part 1 of this entry.
This month I didn’t have to use a hardship day. I fished this past Monday. when I got to the launch, Eddie and Lisa informed me that my coworker, Max, was also fishing and had headed out early that morning. I set off and felt a little bit more serious than I normally do about tournaments. I had a game plan and planned to stick to it (I’m bad about deviating from my fishing plans).
I headed south from Eddie’s, hitting the oyster beds and the shelf that borders the main canal. I picked up a smallish (2.5 lb) red along the canal as he was coming around a point. I saw shrimp popping, then a subtle wake. I pitched a spoon and a few moments later, he was in the bag.
I made my way further down the canal and into some marshy areas. The water was low in the morning and I put a few new oyster scars in the bottom of my kayak. As I was pushing myself through the mud in this broken marsh, I see a red with it’s back out the water coming towards me. I pitch my favorite redfish lure to him, a Buggs Curl-tail Jig. He inhaled it and as you can see in the title image, it was down his throat a little ways. Into the bag he went. This one was a little bit bigger, around 25 inches and 4.5lbs. I needed three fish and I was hoping for two more studs.
I picked up anchor and moved around another corner where I found another two reds working a shoreline. Neither one looked too big, but were an easy target. Again, I put the Bugg to work and again, another fish was bagged. This one was about the same size as the first. I now had the three fish but could still catch another two, so I’d start focusing on size.
I took a quick second to get acquainted with where I was in the marsh, trying to read Google Maps through the glare on my iPhone screen. I started making my way back to the main canal where I found birds diving. I headed towards them and picked up and released a quick dink trout and then moved on.. after all, I’m looking for redfish.
I paddled about another mile to an area I know has a few grass beds. The main bed I wanted to fish was blown out by the wind, but there were a few beds protected within some marsh islands. Immediately, I started seeing some action from some nicer sized fish. I thought, “I should’ve come straight here.” I started sight fishing, slightly fighting the wind in the process. I just got a new rod specifically for pitching Buggs to reds and I got another opportunity to use it. It worked out nicely. Another decent red weighing around 4.5 lbs. Definitely not the preferred size, but I’d take it.
By now, it’s mid day. I’m not seeing quite as many reds but did pick up another red near the same size. I let it go hoping to catch a bigger one or at least another around a similar size. I already had my tournament fish but was hoping for one more stud to finish my limit and give me a good weight to weigh-in. While I did see a few more nice reds, I couldn’t get any to bite. They were either spooked or about to spook when I’d notice them. After about another hour, I headed back, picking up small reds along the way.
I don’t remember my exact weight. I think it was somewhere around 13.64 lbs. If nothing else, it did give me something on the board and put me right in the middle of the pack as it currently sits. We still have 10 months to go, and a lot can change in that span. Until next month, PAC Redfish Series!