Casting for a Cause is a charity fishing tournament that takes place in Texas each year. Casting for a Cause is put on by the great folks at NuStar Energy and supports The National MS Society, Heroes on the Water, and Haven for Hope. Casting for a Cause also donates to almost 30 other smaller charities. Casting for a Cause is easily one of the best run fishing tournaments in the United States appealing to both boaters and kayak anglers.
In mid June of every year for the past 8 years, Port Aransas, Texas plays host to the Casting for A Cause fishing tournament. Since taking my hobby into an obsession I have heard great things about Casting for a Cause, however, this year was the first year I was able to fish it. It was a memorable experience that will not leave me anytime soon, and also represents my progression into competitive fishing. Having said that, I have a long way to go to be where I want to be with regards to competitive fishing, but at least I know I can hold my own…a little. This year’s Casting for a Cause tournament was held at Roberts Point Park, Port Aransas on Friday June 19th with the captain’s meeting being held Thursday June 18th. So let’s rewind 2 weeks prior to start this story.
It was Sunday June 7th and I was thinking about how much I wasn’t looking forward to going to work the next day. Well one thought led to another
and resulted in my calling a friend of mine, Scott Story (AKA Fish Whisperer), to see if he wanted to fish Casting for a Cause with me as a team. We have fished quite a few times together in the last year or so, and we always have some success to some degree when we do get together. Coupled with the fact that he was the first person I called with my last minute hair-brained idea, this trip was starting to head in some sort of direction. Within a few days we gathered intel on an area of the Texas coast neither of us have fished before, reserved our hotel room, and laid out our plans for Casting for a Cause. Now back to the intel part. One thing I love about kayak fishing is the people involved. I mean, there’s no other sport/organization that I’ve ever run across where the people involved are kind, courteous, and willing to share not only their experience but time and wisdom as well. Between myself and Scott we reached to 1/2 dozen who shared not their “spots”, but areas and things to look for. After some debate amongst ourselves, we settled in on an area that looked familiar to our home waters; a lake off the bay with some marshy areas around it. We googled fish the heck out of the area for the next week or so and by the time we got there on Thursday, it was fairly memorized I’m sure.
I met Scott at his house early Thursday morning and we loaded everything up in his truck and took off. It was about a 4 hour drive which would give us time to talk fishing and catch up on life’s happenings. As luck would have it, the whole area was hit by a recent weather event in Tropical Storm Bill. Not to be discouraged, out hopes were still high as we set out for Port Aransas. We arrived to our launch/pre-fish area at 11:30 a.m. and were welcomed with a wonderful downpour of rain. Here it is, we drove nearly 200 miles without a drop of rain and suddenly, the sky decides to open up! Such is life as a fisherman, so we wait it out in the truck for about 30 minutes until it cleared up and we unloaded. This particular launch required us to carry our yaks about 50 yards from the truck to the water. Scott paddles a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 and I paddle an Ocean Kayak Trident 4.7 Ultra. Those of you reading this that are familiar with both kayaks will agree that carrying my OK 4.7 requires a lot more effort than the 140. I even told Scott to make sure and load his Kayak Cart but he neglected to take my advice (inside joke, it’s my fault it didn’t make the trip). We unloaded everything and hit the water in some unfamiliar territory in search of some sign to warrant our decision to fish the area for the tournament the following day. After about a 20 minute paddle we arrived to our fishing area and began to put in some work. Scott stayed on the South shore while I split and worked over the North side with some barrier islands and bay side shore lines. We saw plenty of bait, fishy water and caught a few. I took home a 24″ 5 1/2 pound redfish and sealed the deal to fish there the following day.
We left there and headed to the Casting for a Cause Captain’s Meeting to be greeted with some familiar faces and great food. Let me repeat…GREAT FOOD! I’m telling you, these folks put out a spread! BBQ, tacos and all the fixings you could imagine were there for the eating and, boy oh boy, did we eat. While we there, we heard rumor that several quality fisherman were out pre-fishing like us and it was apparent that we had more success than the rumor mill. Feeling full of the great food and optimistic signs, we headed back to the hotel. On the 1/2 hour drive back to the hotel we started discussing our plan for the next day. Casting for a Cause tournament rules stated that fishing begins at “safelight” (30 minutes before official sunrise, lines in the water). So after some math, we figured on leaving the hotel at 4:40 a.m. to get all the timing right. This was my first event fishing as a team, but the key to success with any team is identifying strengths and weaknesses and layout a plan accordingly. Scott’s strengths are patience and precision, and me, well I’m still trying to figure that one out, but let’s just say endurance and a popping cork. I committed to covering miles of shore line while Scott was assigned to precision casting in the marshes of the bay barrier islands that we found success in the day prior. I’m happy to report, our plan paid off! Albeit eventually for me anyways, it did pay off.
My day started pretty rough. I had an undersized red that absolutely inhaled my bait and after 10 or so minutes between trying to retrieve the bait and getting him back to life, he swam away strong and healthy. I followed that up with some under sized trout and then a stingray. Great, a freaking stingray inhaled my gulp. The conservation side of me took over and eventually I managed to retrieve the hook and bait safely and watch Mr. Stingray swim away just fine. Five minutes later…BAM! My rod is bent over again and wouldn’t you know…another stingray! Are you kidding me!? I have never caught a stingray on artificial, much less in a kayak and let alone 2 in one day! The conservation side of me didn’t kick in on me for this one and he swam away with a gulp shrimp hanging out of his mouth if you get my drift. Fortunately while I was going through “Stringraypalooza 2015″, my partner strung a nice 25” 5 1/2 pounder to avoid the dreaded blank on tourney day.
For the next 3 1/2 hours I covered miles of shore line with my trusty Cajun Thunder popping cork with not so much as a nibble. Right about 10:30am I did hook up and land a 19.9999″ redfish that I just couldn’t get to grow that last .01 of an inch. Fairly disappointed, I headed back into the lake from the bay and started working an area I hadn’t all day or the day prior. I almost immediately jumped a gar so that gave me a little rush and some perk back into my fishing. A few minutes after that and FISH ON BABY! Ultimately landed a solid 25″ redfish and was happy I finally contributed to the team. I called up Scott and he headed over to me to try to pick up on some belly crawlers but with no luck. We fished awhile longer but with a decent paddle back to the truck, we decided to start heading back. Figuring we had about 11 pounds on the stringer we thought we had a shot to place at least top ten at our first Casting for a Cause tournament.
We arrived to the weigh in just barely in time (freaking stay away from the Port Aransas ferry!). When we weighed in we were 8th in the kayak division
with 11.58 pounds, but before the scales closed, we fell to 10th. Still, 10th out of 200 anglers at Casting for a Cause is pretty darn good in my book and will keep me coming back to defend my 10th place finish at next year’s Casting for a Cause tournament. And the food! Again, the food at Casting for a Cause was great! All in all it was a great time and contributed to an even better cause. A huge thanks goes out to Nustar energy and their tournament staff for putting on a wonderful tournament to benefit some great charities. And a bigger thanks goes out to all that support the tournament for if not for those people, it wouldn’t exist. Also, a shout out and congrats to all the winners of the tournament, both kayak and boat. And to the HOW anglers everywhere, thank you for your service and inspiration. A special shout out to the South East Texas HOW chapter for representing in a big way! Joe Winston really put them on some quality winning fish! Lastly, thank you to my wife Megan and kids for adjusting to my last minute, hair brained idea to fish this tournament. For without their support and encouragement, tournament mornings just wouldn’t be fun. I cant wait for next year’s Casting for a Cause tournament, and if you’re looking for a great tournament to take part in, I highly suggest Casting for a Cause!
Semper Fi USMC 99-03
Jay Martin is an avid saltwater angler that lives in Houston, Texas and fishes the upper Texas coast. Jay’s favorite species to target is redfish and he throws only artificial lures. You can follow Jay on Instagram at rajuncajun_yakfishn.