This tournament is one of those “only-in-Louisiana” type experiences – sponsored by the Bourbon St Cabaret Ricks, and featuring plenty of the Ricks entertainers. It was pretty incredibly hot that day, which might explain the almost complete lack of clothing the Ricks girls chose to utilize. They’re the smart ones – the rest of us were suffering in our stupid clothes. I came into this one with high hopes, having won the inaugural year with a 3-man kayak team. You can read the report from last year here, if interested. This year, the format was slightly different; instead of two days of fishing, there was just one day of fishing. Format was a team weight of 3 slot redfish, in Louisiana that means 16″-26.99″. This year’s winning weight was 24.05lbs, which I believe was slightly higher than our total weight last year. I knew that the boaters would be out for blood, after losing to a team of kayakers last year. This year I fished with Sean Rastanis and Tyler Caldwell, two fellow Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club volunteer officers.
We got a good start on the day, and were in good position to start fishing right at 6am, when the tournament fishing opened. I had been on a pretty good redfish bite, so I more or less took over the navigation duties, and headed towards some favorite spots. Conditions were gorgeous, with an interesting cloud formation that popped up right at sunrise (first pic here), and very low wind. It wasn’t long before the first redfish came overboard – 6:19am according to my photo. As we rounded a curve in the bayou to reach the flat I wanted to fish, we were rewarded with the first sight of what would be many wagging redfish tails throughout the day, and before 7am, we had 3 fish in the bags, and could start trying to upgrade them. We tried to work in tandem, anchoring our kayaks so that we didn’t get pulled into the pods of fish if we hooked up. As we eventually drifted onto the grass flat I really wanted to target, we were practically speechless. There were tails everywhere. It was enough to really get the blood pumping and even a little nervous adrenaline going. Gotta love the little bit of rubbery legs it’ll give you. We worked that flat with limited success however, as the fish proved fairly skittish – something I had experienced in that exact place in the past. Getting a lure to a fish in the thick hydrilla vegetation can be a frustrating challenge – they like to feel like they’re ambushing the prey, and do not at all like a lure to just suddenly appear in front of them. It’s a challenge getting the lure in front of them without fouling, or having the lure or line bump them. I did catch a couple there before we moved on.
From there, we made a couple more moves, eventually settling on a bit of a winding channel that cut through some shallower areas. Fish were moving up and down the channel on the bank, and we were able to pick off a couple of nice ones, including an 8.24lb beauty that I caught. We toughed it out there for several hours, but just couldn’t seem to find another true monster that would put us over the top. By this point, it was well past noon, and with weigh in at 3pm, we needed to get going before long. We fished our way out, but couldn’t quite come up with the perfect fish. We still had a respectable stringer, with the 8.24lb fish, and two at or close to 7lbs, and we wanted to make sure to make weigh in, just in case other folks had a tough time finding the perfect fish.
Weigh in at Sweetwater was quite the scene, with some tasty beverages, the aforementioned Rick’s ladies, and lots of anglers weighing fish. Despite making the leaderboard briefly, we were knocked off before too long by fellow Jackson Kayak team member Chuck Bahan, who was fishing in his boat. In the end, we placed 5th, and just out of the money. A respectable finish for any tournament, not to mention a team of kayakers competing with boats, many of which are shallow drafting and equipped with casting towers. I was proud of our effort. Chuck finished 4th, also just out of the money, but pretty dang good for a guy fishing on his own. I had to work that evening, so after a beer and some lucky raffle ticket scores (spinning rod and reel combo, bottle of Jameson Whiskey, and a golf bag for Tyler), I jumped in the car and headed home. Looking forward to next year!!! Here’s a few photos from weigh in, all safe for work…