Many of those who know me well, know that I’m happiest when I’m out on the yak or SUP chasing redfish. That being said, a multitude of factors had given me less and less opportunities to do what I love. It’s pretty bad when you can count the number of times you’ve been fishing over the past couple months on one hand, and still have room. To be quite honest, this dry spell had me wondering if I’d actually lost my redfish mojo.
I was almost beginning to think I’d angered the “Fish Gods” for the lack of opportunity to get out on the water. If it wasn’t the rain coming down hard every afternoon, it was the winds blowing ridiculously. I simply wanted to load up my fishing gear, and feel the adrenaline rush of a thick redfish peeling line off my reel. That opportunity finally came to fruition on a Sunday afternoon in late June. The tides were perfect, the winds were fairly light, and the rain looked to be nonexistent, or so I thought. I loaded up my Old Town Predator MX into the back of my old trusty F-150, and off to the bait shop I headed. After loading up with a dozen mud minnows, I headed to the kayak launch. As I’m unloading my yak and fishing gear, I look to the west, and all I see is some of the nastiest looking clouds heading this way. The thought quickly jumped into my head, “great, just my luck!”. Well, needless to say, my stubbornness took hold, and I simply said, “I’m here so I’m going anyway!”
I get my gear ready, and I push off heading to a fairly new area where I’d been having decent luck catching fish on the low tide. It’s roughly a 2 mile paddle to the area, and paddling into a 15-20mph headwind made it that much more enjoyable. My only consolation was I’d have the wind to my back on the paddle back in. Once I arrived at my first stop, I dropped the Power Pole Micro down, and started gearing up my rods. This first area that I was fishing is a nice little bend, with a small channel, and the one side is lined with oyster beds, perfect for targeting redfish, trout, and flounder. I put a mud minnow on a jighead on my Okuma Helios rod, and pitched it just between a couple of oyster mounds. A few moments later, and I feel the familiar tug on my line. I set the hook, and reel in my first fish of the day, a nice little flounder. Guess you can say fishing is like riding a bike, even when a little rusty you can still find your mojo. I loaded up another mud minnow, and pitched right back into the same area. A few moments later, I had another fish on, but this time, I knew it was a redfish. Finally, I’d found my redfish mojo again. After finally landing the redfish, I get a phone call from my wife telling me that it’s storming at home. I live a mere 5 miles from where I predominantly fish, and I quickly looked up to check the skies. That nasty looking cloud formation had quickly turned a purplish color, and I could see the rain and lightening from where I sat. I’m sure I’m not the only kayak angler who’s been in this situation and thought, a few more casts and I’ll still have time to beat the storm. My conundrum was keep fishing and get pounded by the storm, or simply cut my losses and head back in. I immediately went into meteorologist mode, and started gauging the winds and the direction of the storm. I kept telling myself that the winds would push the storm south of me and I’d be alright, even though the storm kept inching my way. Luckily for me, the fish gods were smiling down on me, and the storm did stay south of me. I don’t have any issues with fishing in the rain. The fish are already wet anyway, right? Lightening though is a completely different story, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly when out on the water. Luckily I avoided the rain and storm, and continued on fishing.
Once the storm passed the bite completely died in that spot. My initial plan was to stop at that area first, then slowly work my way further back into the creek, pitching towards oyster mounds the whole way back. The retracted the Micro spike, and slowly started drifting back deeper into the creek. Just around a small bend was a couple more small oyster mounds, and I could hear a redfish crashing bait before I reached the bend. Once around, I dropped the Spike, and immediately pitched a mud minnow on a jighead next to the oyster mound. As soon as it hit the water, this redfish nailed it, and burned out, taking line with her. I could tell by the way she was running and fighting that this was definitely an upper slot redfish. I fought her for a few minutes to tire her out. As I’m retrieving her to the kayak, I grabbed my Fish Grip Jr. ready to snag her. I’d thought she was tired out, but I was very wrong. She took off on another run, and popped the hook. Frustration was abundant as I’d had her within 2 feet of the kayak, and lost her.
Frustrated at losing such a nice fish, I picked up and kept working my way back. I’d almost forgotten how much I love the late afternoon fishing trips during the summer here in NE Florida on low tide. The fish are extremely active, cruising up and down the banks busting bait left and right. As I worked my way back to my next fishing spot, I noticed a nice wake in a small cove, so I pitched another mud minnow on a popping cork into the cove. I gave it one quick pop, and Boom!, it was fish on again. Another quality redfish on the line. I landed her, and she quickly went on the measuring board, coming in at a nice 24.5″ long, and thick across the shoulders. After a quick pic, she went into my fish bag. I fished only a little while longer due to it getting close to dusk, and headed back to the launch. It was a great afternoon on the water, and my final tally for the day was 5 redfish and a flounder. I also got back my redfish mojo, which was the best feeling.