Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Best Laid Plans......

.....are just that.....plans.

When you get on the water, your primary plan can change in a hurry.  With the recent storms rolling through the region, often times outings on the water are either cut short or not even attempted.  So far, my quest for a citation this year has come up empty with only one real potential fish hooked that came unbuttoned back in the spring - that being a speckled trout.

When Friday rolled around for my scheduled day off, naturally I reached out to a few trout addicts and put a bug in their ear to join me, but I was only able to ensnare one person, my good buddy Joe.  Joe and I share a passion for fishing so much so that benign days often tempt us into taking a day off from work.  We both fish out of Hobie Revolution 13's, so getting to our spots quickly is not a problem, plus if the weather takes a turn for the worse, I know we can both get off the water fairly quickly and safely.

We both looked over the forecast for the area and agreed that the conditions looked favorable: high 70's with overcast skies, a light easterly blowing wind, and no rain forecast until after lunch.  Perfect conditions we thought for a potential top water bite or at least some active feeding fish.  Combine that with an incoming current and you had the potential recipe for an exciting morning of fishing.

We started off working some top water lures in and around the shallow flats along the grass lined shores and some deeper holes looking for some willing takers.  Nary a bite to be found.  Lots of finger mullet busting the surface, but no action for either of us.  As the sun rose above the cloudy horizon, the morning took on a muted glow and the sounds of the crabber's flat bottomed boats slamming against the incoming waves crests were the first indicators that the waves and wind were yet again not going to be our friend today.

As we approached the primary target area, the winds picked up in earnest and the wave chop got a tad more rougher than we would have liked.  I positioned myself to drift along a channel edge and oyster bar, while Joe worked a parallel channel.  I stayed true to my top water plan for about an hour, until I lost confidence in the plan.  I switched it up to my favorite jig and plastic combo (Marsh Works Bull Red Jig Head & Bayou Thumper) and immediately started getting some action.  Nothing of any significance but at least some nibbles here and there with a couple obligatory tell-tale swipes at the lure.

After a couple minutes, I learned what the action was - a 24" Ribbon fish or cutlass fish as commonly referred to.  Nasty teeth, but they do fight nicely.  Was able to get him to me in time to grab the leader just as he thrashed about and cut the line.  Not a good scenario - holding a thrashing fish with pronounced teeth in my lap.  Needless to say, I passed on the photo op and escorted the ribbon fish out of the kayak to live and fight another day while protecting my "fortitude" so to say.  The down side to this scenario was having to re-tie my leader to my primary line - flouro to braid, in windy conditions.  Not an easy task, especially when I prefer to tie an Alberto knot.

After a few minutes of struggling with it, I managed to re-tie the leader and went back to fishing.  On the next drift along the bar, I landed a fiesty little redfish that obviously had big expectations in life.  He was 8" at most and slammed the 4" bait offering.  Nothing photo worthy, so back to the water he went.  The winds were not too strong, so each drift lasted a good 5 minutes before I would turn the kayak into the wind and slowly troll back to the top of the bar.  On the third troll back, I landed my one and only speckled trout for the day - a 14" spike.  Not much of a fight but still a trout was on the board.

A few more drifts and I added two more new species to my list of caught fish this year - an over zealous pinfish and a sea robin.  Having never seen one prior to Rob Choi's photo of the one he caught a few weeks ago, I didn't even know they existed.  Pretty cool looking creature and yet kind of scary looking for the first time I had ever seen one that up close and personal.

As the sun crept higher in the sky, the crabbers were out in force, so I made a call to Joe over the radio to see how he was doing and discovered he had the same thought I did - find a place that provided a little more of a wind break and away from the noisy activity associated with crabbing.  Joe positioned himself near the inlet just behind the rock wall and worked the eddy line there, and I took up a position on his left to work the outer edge of the jetty wall.  Joe landed a couple fish in that pocket - a small trout and a small redfish.  I had one good hit, but no takers.  After a few minutes of this, I even tried the mouth of the inlet where I lost that 30"+ striper the previous weekend but no luck.

We decided to bail on the inlet and seek refuge from the wind in an adjacent creek.  We worked a few of the grass islands and located some potential spots for the future during a falling tide.  When we made our way back into the creek, the winds calmed and the creek came alive with all sorts of activity.  Finger mullet were busting all over, surface strikes increased in frequency, egrets were out in force, the ospreys were calling out decreeing their catch for all to hear and fiddler crabs sought out the safety of the earthen homes in the exposed mud banks.....

We both drifted along at a snail's pace working the banks for any willing takers.  For the next hour, we took turns it seems catching small redfish.  Joe would hook up and land his red then release it.  Not a minute later, I would have one on and the cycle would repeat.  Nothing of any great size mind you, but still catching fish is simply that, catching fish.  As the creek meandered back further into the serene and peaceful landscape, the creek began to split and created several ambush points for any potential predator.  We worked the ambush points and landed a few more before finally reaching a point where we decided to turn and make our way back.

As we approached the mouth of the creek, we could see the sky beginning to darken a little, so we began our trek back to the launch before ultimately calling it a day.  While we didn't find the top water bite we had hoped for, we still landed fish and explored a new creek.  A successful day in one aspect, but the search for that first saltwater citation continues......

A summary of the day in viedo form......

Until next time, tight lines and be safe!!

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