Longtime friend and fellow kayak angler, Barrett Fine, shares his experiences and thoughts while he attended the 7th Annual Casting for a Cause tournament held in June in Texas.
Living in Florida, I’d heard nothing but good things about the Casting for a Cause tournament held annually in Port Aransas, so when I moved back to Texas I had to add this tournament to my schedule. This year’s beneficiaries for the tournament were The National MS society, Haven for Hope, Heroes on the Water, and over 20 other charitable organizations. Opening a new ACK store in San Antonio has kept me busy, so this would be my first trip to the coast. I managed to find a laid back and experienced partner for the tournament, thank you Fred, fishing with you and the girls was awesome!!!
My tournament preparation was pretty chaotic, and not everything went as smoothly as planned. I didn’t double check my electronics after the kayak had sat unused for 8 months, so of course my GPS/FF acted up. We were planning on fishing skinny water and I was only planning to look for depth changes where fish might be stacked up, so not a big deal running without it. One huge bright spot was my brand new Bull Bay Rods and Quantum Smoke spinning reel. I definitely underestimated how much the new setup would change my time on the water. The sensitivity of the rod was out of this world. I set the hook repeatedly every time my lure had bumped even the smallest piece of grass while working the weed lines around the sandy pockets in the bay. Being able to feel your lure hit grass, you can image what it felt like when a fish hit the lure.
Pre-fishing the day prior was a bust, not one bump, nada, nothing, zero, zilch. The wind was blowing pretty steady and the water was a little murky, but there was bait everywhere. Not finding fish through the day forced us to change our game day plan. We decided to try Bird Island, having only one morning of fishing experience in Port Aransas, I was game for anything. We launched at dawn and settled into working a drop off about 100 yards away from shore. We could see baitfish all around us, so things looked good. Very early on I got a hook up with a trout using a topwater lure, but just as fast as he hit, he unbuttoned from my lure. I don’t like missing fish any day, but on tournament days it’s worse.
When the sun started climbing I unsnapped my lure from my Tactical Anglers Power Clip and slipped on a popping cork over top of a 3/0 Daiichi hook, which almost immediately produced an under slot red. We were on fish, but unfortunately after my small red, the bite completely shut down for the morning. We decided to travel to look for signs of fish, but things were very quiet. After about an hour I noticed a couple mullet jumping in different directions so I cast my popping cork in the middle of the commotion. Once the popping cork settled and a few twitches to work it, I had a fight on my hands. I boated a chunky 23″, 4.7lb red, which for me was a great catch. This fish wasn’t a threat in the tournament but it was getting close to noon, so it was nice to have a fish for the weigh in. I drifted a new bait through that same area a couple more times with no luck. I decided it was time to catch up with my partner to see what he was into. A habit I picked up my first day of kayak fishing was to troll a lure whenever I was moving just to have a chance at a blind strike, and sure enough 50 yards into my trip my paddletail spinnerbait got hit. I landed a small 15 1/2″ trout, but this fish meant we were weighing in a pair, so I was pretty excited. We tried a couple different things to close out the day but unfortunately nothing worked. There were some impressive two fish stringers brought in for the kayak division and our total weight was only 5.75lbs, but it was good enough for 15th place out of 78 teams. Not bad for an offshore guy from Florida fishing my first time inshore on the Texas coast.
We were happy about our team’s finish, but the big winner at Casting for a Cause was our community. The charitable organizations that benefitted from this tournament helped some fantastic people do great work for our community and I’m proud to work for an organization that supports events like this. The tournament rose over $200,000. Congratulations to Steven Schmidt and all the folks at NuStar Energy for a job well done. We had an amazing time at Casting for a Cause, and can’t wait for next year’s tournament.
A relative newcomer to kayak fishing, starting in 2010, it’s been a wild ride. Starting off like most in the bays chasing redfish and trout, I quickly ended up heading offshore fishing for kings and snapper. My time on the water is often spent introducing friends and family to the excitement of kayak fishing.