Tournament fishing is still relatively new to me. In fact this is only the 3rd tournament I have ever fished. The first tournament being the 3rd event of the LSKS in which i finished 6th. The second tournament being the Saltwater Survival Series which proved to be a difficult format for me. Now I find myself ready to embark on the final LSKS event of the year.
My alarm sounds at 3:30 AM and I quickly jump out of bed to get ready and head out for a day of fishing. 3:30 AM is a bit early but my launch point was 1 & 1/2 hours away and as you may recall from my last event I like to get a head start over everyone else. On my way to the launch I am driving down a dark farm road and nearly hit a 200 lb. hog. Thats right, I swerved off the road going 60 mph to avoid this beast. I did avoid him however only to find my heart racing! If there was any bit of restlessness left in me it was gone. I was awake! With that behind me I finally made it to my destination and as before I staged my kayak by the launch point. I met up with my fishing buddy Travis and we diligently awaited the clock to strike 6.
And we are off! The LSKS rules states we cannot launch until 6 AM. Sunrise is at 7:20 AM which allowed for a very early pre-dawn start. In fact it was so early that as I arrived at my first fishing location I found myself waiting for the sun to rise before I could start casting. I began the day by drifting a marsh lake and throwing topwater. As I worked a She Dog with a steady cadence over scattered shell I felt tension and immediately set the hook. In most topwater hook-up scenarios the strike is a visual presentation with an explosion on the water. However in this instance I didn't know I had a fish until it pulled the lure underwater. After a healthy battle with the fish he was in the boat. This was my very first drift over shell and I now have a nice 24" redfish. This wasn't going to win the tournament for me but needless to say it was a great start to my day!
After only fishing for 15 minutes I am pumped as I already have 1 redfish on the stringer. I decided to work my way back and begin another drift. However before I could start the second drift I peered over my shoulder to find a group of birds hovering close together over the water. Sure enough there was a school of redfish feeding underneath. The topwater rod went back in the rod holder and I quickly reached for my go to soft plastic, Z-Man's MinnowZ in pearl white. One toss into the school and fish on! As I reel this guy in I can tell he is going to be a lower slot, in fact he may fall short of the slot. Sure enough he came in at only 18 inches.
Typically this would be discouraging however looking over the lake I find not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4, yes thats right 4 more schools of reds scattered along the lake. Birds were hovering everywhere!!! As the sun rose over the horizon the redfish began to filter out of the marsh grass directly into the lake. This could not be a better scenario and on a tournament day at that! Again another toss of the MinnowZ and WHAM, as quickly as the lure hit the water, fish on! Now this time I can tell this was a slot, not an upper slot but a solid fish. Fin's 30 lb. braid allowed me to muscle this guy in quickly. A quick measure on the ruler and like the first fish this guy came in at 24". It was a spitting image of his brother that made his way onto my stringer earlier.
Not wasting any more time I move onto the next school. Fish on! I battled this guy for about 20 seconds before he comes unbuttoned. The fish then dispersed. The next school of fish is a little further out so I paddled on over to it. I arrived at the school and like before a quick toss directly into the feeding reds and again, fish on. I battle him for a couple of minutes before pulling him into the boat. This guy measures in at 20" and goes back into the drink. This goes on and on for quite a while. I found myself coming up with a lot of great fish but nothing larger than 24". I know there were some "pigs" in these schools however my casts only landed sub 24" reds. After the fast and furious fishingaction the schools finally disappeared. However I had 2 solid fish on the stringer.
It was mid morning and I decided to move on to a cut that had moving water and abundance of shrimp and bait fish present. It was time to make a change. My MinnowZ rod went back in the rod holder and out came the popping cork. This popping cork was rigged with an 1/8 oz jig head and a Z-Man Scented ShrimpZ. First cast, 3 pops of the cork and it goes under. This fish felt different and I knew immediately it wasn't a redfish. Flounder on! I didn't measure him because it was a tournament day and he wasn't going on my stringer. I expect he came in at 15 to 16 inches in length.
I continued to fish when all of a sudden the winds started picking up. It was getting uncomfortable. I met back up with Travis and let him know I was calling it a day. I know I wasn't going to win but I felt I could still have a solid showing. I decided I was going to get back and get my 2 fish into the live well to ensure I took advantage of the 1/2 bonus for live redfish.
My wife had planned to meet me at the weigh-in which happened to be at the Lazy Lizard once again. My fish weighed in at 10.43 lb. with the 1/2 lb bonus. After the weigh-in my wife and I decided to have lunch. As the crowd began to arrive I met up with some people I knew and as well as other avid anglers. The good thing about these events is you learn so much from others. The kayak community is very close and there are a lot of great people willing to share their stories and what made them successful on that particular day.
It was 4:30 PM. and all fished had been weighed. This was a good day as a lot of healthy upper slot redfish were brought back. Dustin the event director calls my name at 16th. I was in the money once again and very happy with my showing. 16th out of 94 anglers is where I finished on this day.
Lastly Dustin made an announcement that he would be stepping down from directing the Lone Star Kayak Series. However the series would continue on. The reins were handed over to Cameron the Director of the Saltwater Survival Series.
Another great event in the books. I am definitely looking forward to fishing the series again next year!