We all remember our first kayak fishing trip, right? Catching that first fish, or connecting on a species we’ve never caught before? Well, this is exactly what happened on what happened to be my first trip of the new year. I’d always tried to fish the first day of the year. Call it following an old tale of what you do on the first of the year is what you’ll be doing the whole year, or simply call that an excuse to get out on the water. My first trip of 2016 came on the 2nd, and what a day it was… a first for many things in the yak.
My uncle was home for the holidays, and we finally got a chance to get out on the water together. We’d talked about this for quite some time, but his job keeps him out of town a lot. Saturday morning, January 2nd would be our first time fishing together. This trip would be my uncle’s first time in the kayak. Obviously my goal was to get him on some fish. I’d hate for his first trip to be a skunk, so the wheels were turning on exactly where I should take him. On top of that, he’d never caught a redfish before, so I truly wanted to make that happen for him as well. To add insult to injury, a cold front pushed through, and we went from enjoying 80 degree weather to it being a bit nippily out with the high temps only reaching into the low 60’s. As if I didn’t already have enough pressure on me as it was, it seemed like it was all adding up to a possible perfect day for a skunk. I’d fished a few days earlier with an old friend, and we saw a ton of redfish on the water, but many simply weren’t chewing. I’d certainly hoped that this wouldn’t be the case for us on our trip that brisk Saturday morning.
I loaded up all the gear on that Friday evening. Oh did I forget to mention that it practically rained all day Friday, adding more fuel to the fears of a skunk that I had? Well, I got everything loaded up in the rain while wearing my Bimini Bay rain jacket. I’d got all the rods respooled with some FINS Braid, made sure all the Okuma Fishing rods and reels were in great working order, and loaded up the yaks. I’d decided I’d be fishing out of my Wilderness Systems ATAK 140, and I’d have my uncle fishing out of the Wilderness Systems Thresher 140 kayak. My thinking is the Thresher is a pretty quick kayak, a tad narrower than the ATAK, so a lot easier to paddle for a first time yakker. My uncle would be meeting me at the house around 630ish, then we’d head to my local bait & tackle shop so we could grab some mud minnows before heading to the launch.
We headed to the launch, and while unloading everything, it seemed a bit more breezy than what I’d been expecting. Just my luck, had I angered the Fish Gods somehow recently??? Of course the added wind made it feel a heck of a lot colder out, and I started seriously questioning why I hadn’t brought my waders with me! I get the Thresher all set up, get the MTI Adventurewear Helios PFD properly fitted on my uncle, and give him a quick tutorial on kayak fishing along with an overview of the anatomy of the Thresher yak. Once ready, we set off in search of some fish.
I’d decided we’d fish the same area that I’d taken my buddy just a few days prior. We’d seen a ton of fish, so hopefully my uncle and I would be able to get on ’em. We took the same route to the area we’d be fishing. In a cut through, I’d seen some reds cruising this shallow flat, so I’d hoped we’d get him on his first red right off the bat. We enter this cut and flat, and there’s absolutely nothing to be seen. No wakes, nothing busting bait, heck, not even anything being spooked out! Great, I thought to myself, let’s let the doubts creep further in on us.
We get to the area I wanted to fish, a nice little bend that is lined with oyster mounds next to a nice little channel. A perfect place to nail some reds, trout, and flounder, sheepshead, black drum, etc. We set up, and the bite just seemed nonexistent. Not only was I going to not get my uncle on some fish his first time out, but I was going to miss the opportunity to get him on his first redfish. Then all of a sudden something hit his line, and he reeled in his first redfish. Although it was a small red, the smile on his face was undeniable. Finally is exactly what went through my mind. We both caught a few more small reds, including a keeper trout by my uncle, then the bite died off completely. After checking the tide table on my smartphone, I noticed we were sitting on slack tide, so I said we’d wait it out for the tide to turn. I knew once the tide turned and started working its way back in, that the bite would turn on great for us.
We passed the time by sharing stories and talking about family, then the bite got ridiculous. My uncle was wearing out the small redfish, one after another. We picked up and moved about 20 yards down the creek so we could work some more oyster mounds and a little oyster bulkhead. I casted out, and within seconds, I had a stud on the other end of my line, a nice 24.5″ redfish. I reeled her in and after a quick measurement, she went into the cooler to give the trout some company. We started working that oyster mound catching redfish after redfish. I noticed something moving in this nice little cove next to where we were staked out, and tossed a mud minnow under a Bass Assassin popping cork in that direction. I don’t think the cork had fully landed in the water when I started racing across that little cove. I reeled her in and she was sitting at a nice 21.5″ so she joined her mates in the Engel cooler. We worked that area a little more and landed a few more small redfish, and another trout to go into the cooler. My uncle had caught a ton of small redfish and a decent speckled trout. All he needed was a flounder to add another first to his already growing list of kayak fishing firsts. As luck would have it, he casted his cork with a mud minnow into that cove, and sure enough, we both sat there and watched something bump it and slowly start dragging it away. After a quick hook-set, my uncle had completed his first slam on his first kayak fishing trip with a barely legal flounder.
We fished for a little bit longer and worked a couple more flats looking for more redfish, but by this time, the tide had come in fully and the bite died down. We packed it up and headed back to the launch so we could load up and go grab a burger before heading home to fillet some fish. All in all, I hadn’t had a better time on the water in quite some time. I got to share my passion with kayak fishing with my uncle, catch a ton of fish, and have one heck of a time out on the water. Our first trip of the new year turned out to be a great success, and we’re both already looking forward to our next trip together.