The Lone Star Kayak Series started in 2011 in Texas by Dustin Koreba. What started out as a small kayak tournament series has quickly turned into one of the premiere kayak tournament series in the United States. Jay Martin shares his experience fishing the Lone Star Kayak Series in what turned out to be a record breaking day.
Saturday April 18th, 2015 marked the star of the 4th season of the Lone Star Kayak Series tournament. The Lone Star Kayak Series is a redfish tournament based out of Galveston, TX that has become THE kayak fishing tournament to participate in if you’re a kayak angler in Texas. The reasons for its success are fairly easy to identify if you’re familiar with the event, but here are some reasons why:
– 2 heaviest slot redfish (20″-28″)
– low entry fee ($65)
– Convenient registration (can be done online via PayPal)
– Boundaries are very liberal. From the East side of Matagorda bay to the Texas side of the Sabine.
– 1/2 pound bonus for weighing in one live fish.
– Artificial bates only
And last, but certainly not least, “Payout as many places as much money is possible”. That is a direct quote from the Lone Star Kayak Series website, lonestarkayakseries.com and who, in the world, can argue with that philosophy!?
I am, as is the other 99.99% kayak anglers reading this, an amateur. I don’t get paid to fish, nor do I have any sponsors or endorsements or guide, pro-staff, rep, or any other term associated with “making” money from kayak fishing. I am, as they say, a weekend warrior. And that is what makes the Lone Star Kayak Series so great! With paying out 75% of the registration to the top 25% of the filed, it makes the “little guy” feel he has the chance to at least place and get paid.
For this particular tournament, an Lone Star Kayak Series record of registered anglers was set. A whopping 176 anglers for the tournament shattering the old record of 91. I can only assume the elevated participation is because of the above mentioned reasons as well as an exceptional Tournament Staff. Kudos goes out to the entire Lone Star Kayak Series tournament staff and its sponsors for an outstanding start to the 2015 season. While I can’t say I’m a veteran to the degree that most anglers that fish the Lone Star Kayak Series, I will say it has pushed me to be a better angler. I fished my first Lone Star Kayak Series last October 4th and well, let’s just say, at least I weighed a fish. I was very new to kayak fishing, artificial lure only fishing…heck, fishing Texas was all new to me. I ultimately weighed an under impressive 21″ 3.64 lb redfish and left with the sour taste of defeat in my mouth.
For the last 6 months I worked my tail off in preparation for this Lone Star Kayak Series season. I’ve googled fish for more hours than I can count. I’ve read, researched, and hit the water as much as I possibly could. I’ve landed nothing short of 500 redfish in this time frame and developed a list of 15 areas I would feel confident fishing and winning a redfish tournament, always taking note of tidal conditions, structure and so on. The weather leading up to the tournament was horrible at best. For the 2 weeks prior we received roughly 24 inches of rain, coupled with a predicted southeast wind meant tides were going to be at least a foot above normal on tourney day. With all that said, my list of 15 areas shrunk to 5. The reasons for eliminating the aforementioned 10 areas is a mixture of my experience fishing those areas with little to no success during a high tide, southerly wind and being in close proximity to high run off areas. It’s no secret; saltwater fish like salty water and if an area located in or around a river that feeds into a bay system or a back lake is bombed with 2 feet of rain in 14 days, more often than not, the redfish that are in the area pack up shop and head elsewhere. I further narrowed down my list of spots to 3 based off my perception that 2 of those 5 areas would have more kayak traffic than I would typically see. I mean, with 176 people fishing the tournament, you’re bound to run across another angler in your area, but I was just trying to limit that part of the process. So there I was, Friday night before the tournament with my list of three spots. I decided to have a little fun and involve my family in choosing where I should fish. I wrote the names of the three spots on separate pieces of paper, folded them and then enlisted one of my daughters for assistance. My 12 year old, Charley, was kind enough to assist by picking one of the pieces of paper from the pile and I’m happy to report that she has now earned being my spot picker for the rest of the season.
I didn’t sleep well at all that night and in fact, didn’t set my alarm. My wife woke me up at about 5 a.m. which is 30 minutes later than I wanted to leave the house. Rules of the tournament are that you can launch no earlier than 6 a.m. so my plans had me leaving home around 4:30 in the morning to give me plenty of time to travel, stop and grab a bite to eat for breakfast, grab some stuff for me to eat while out on the water, get to the launch and fill my livewell and get everything unloaded just in time to launch off into the water stress and rushed free. Well, yeah, that plan went to heck real quick Saturday morning! I didn’t even get to the launch until 6:45 a.m.! Already frustrated, I quickly unloaded everything and half filled my livewell with water. I also noticed that 5 kayakers had launched into this area. What the heck!? Late to the launch only to discover an area I’ve fished more than 2 dozen times and never seen a kayak is suddenly occupied by half the tournament field (not really but you get my point). Also, I typically throw my popping cork with an 8″-10″ 40 lb mono tied to an 1/8 oz jig head. However, once I got on the water, I realized the water was higher than I expected. While paddling over to my exact spot, I change out my leader and tied up a 10″-12″ leader. I rushed through tying all the knots and it ended up costing me.
After my 4th cast I ended up hooking into what felt like a good fish for about 5 seconds and then my line goes slack. I reel everything in and disappointment and failure was waiting for me at the end of my leader; my knot failed and the jighead was gone. Beyond frustrated now, I settle myself down to regroup. I tie everything back up, cast out…pop…pop..BOOM! I fight this fish for 15 minutes only to discover it’s 30 inches therefore putting me 2 inches over the slot rule, so back to the water he went. Next cast…pop…pop…BOOM! Another good fish but as I’m fighting I realize it’s another too good of a fish. I ultimately land a 29 inch red and like his predecessor, back into the water he went. Another cast…pop…pop…BOOM! Now as I’m fighting this fish I realize it’s a good one, not too good like the other ones. After I get it in the net, I do a quick measure to make sure it’s not over 28 inches, pull out my stringer and do the old I got an 8 pound redfish on my stringer dance.
After my nerves settled down from the excitement, and I get all my gear back in line, I cast out…pop…pop…BOOM! This time the feeling of this
fish felt completely different and after a few head shakes I knew it was a decent speckled trout. A nice 22’er but seeing as that wasn’t what I am
looking for at the time, back into the water she went to fight another day. I thought that by tossing the trout back into the water it would’ve yielded me some good graces with the fish gods but it did not. For the next 4 hours I paddled miles of shoreline, hit multiple marsh drains and even made a decent paddle to the Intercoastal Waterway. All the while throwing plastics, top waters and my trusty popping cork. It was close to 1 p.m. and I decided to head back to the truck, slightly defeated but fairly happy with my marsh donkey on the stringer to go weigh in.
My wife and kids pre-planned to meet me at the weigh in so I was pretty stoked to meet up with them and enjoy an afternoon sitting on a deck and
introducing them to folks they hear me talk about or fish with. I rushed getting my livewell running an all my gear loaded up so I could basically pull up the same time as my family. With all my gear loaded up and a marsh donkey swimming live and well, I made my journey to the weigh in. It’s about an hour drive from where I fished to the weigh in so it gave me plenty of time to think about my morning. Some thoughts of regret started to sink in about not grinding it out for another couple of hours to get that second fish but at the end of the day, I’m glad I didn’t because I was able to send the afternoon with my family and give them a glimpse into my hobby…I mean obsession.
Upon arriving to the weigh in I learn some MONSTER weights had already been weighed in at the Lone Star Kayak Series. I register, collect my captains bag with some goodies and head over to the weigh master. I officially entered in a 27.5″ 8.58, and I received a 1/2 pound bonus for bringing my redfish in alive. My donkey got me 9.08 pounds! She went way bigger than I thought so I was thrilled with that. As we sat on the deck eating and chatting I was keeping a close eye on places and positions. After the scale closed and all was tallied I discovered I was in the money! My fish was good enough for 35th place with the payout going to 45th place. I was rewarded with $60 cash and about $30 in sponsor prizes plus a little boost to my ego.
Some fun facts from the Lone Star Kayak Series tournament that will make me sleep better at night. There were 176 registered anglers of which 62 anglers weighed fish.
Those 62 anglers weighed 97 fish in total and of those 97 fish…mine was the 4th heaviest. Not exactly how I wanted to perform but better than last
October. I’ve already starting preparing for the next Lone Star Kayak Series event (June 6th) and hope to make a stronger showing. As I finish out typing this I went fishing this morning and landed about 40 redfish but that’s a whole ‘nother story folks.
Check out the full results of the Lone Star Kayak Series event: http://lonestarkayakseries.com/index.php/2015-results