I woke up at 3 A.M. well before my fishing alarm was set to go off but I decided to get up anyway and start my day. It was a fishing day as well as the day of my first Lone Star Kayak Series tournament. Even though I couldn't launch my kayak until 6 A.M. I wanted to get a head start over everyone else and decided to get loaded up and quickly head for the launch.
As I approached my launch point at 4:15 A.M. I was pleased to see an empty parking area. My buddy Mike (who was also in the tournament) called me and said he would be there in about 15 minutes. The day was already off to a great start as we were both able to unload and stage our kayaks at our preferred launch point. We were now just awaiting the 6 o'clock whistle. Moments later the herd arrived. At this point I knew I made the right decision as I watched people looking for parking and jockeying for positions to stage their kayaks.
And we were off! I quickly paddled to my destination as if I were in a race. I arrived to the lake to see the tide was high and the water and winds were calm. My first target area was open water with scattered shell over mud. I began to work the area with a pink Skitterwalk. About 4 casts in I landed a nice 18" trout. Normally this guy would be dinner but it was a tournament day and I didn't want to add any extra pressure to potential reds I may be stringing up later. The weigh master gives an extra 1/2 lb to your stringer weight for live redfish. It was this trouts lucky day as he was released. I didn't want to waste anytime and began casting again.
Not long after I was able to entice another fish with the Skitterwalk. This time he blew it up on the pause. I could tell this guy was a red but knew he was going to fall short of the slot as I was able to muscle him in quickly. Another fish released and I continued on. I made several more drifts with no success. The bite had all of a sudden turned off. I had a bad feeling that I had wasted too much time working these shell pads and had nothing to show for it. It was time to put the reels in the rod holders and paddle on to my next location.
I left the open water behind me and paddled back into the marsh. I had pre-fished this spot in the weeks prior to the tournament so I headed straight for some areas that had been holding some shallow water fish. Not more than 10 yards into the marsh I noticed a large swirl to the right side of my boat. I picked up the rod with a white Z Man ElaZtech paddle tail and tossed it in front of him. He inhaled it! The reel began to sing my favorite song while he peeled drag. My heart was pounding because I knew this was a slot. Actually I was a bit concerned that he may be too large! The battle was over and he was boatside. I fumbled with my net. I began to convince myself I was going to lose him after 3 failures at netting him. Fourth time was a charm and he was in the boat. He measured at 26.75" and he quickly went on the stringer. Remember live redfish bring in 1/2 lb bonus weight.
At this point I felt like I had a chance to be in the top 25 and earn prize money and prizes. I continued on through the marsh polling through the shallows. I heard some commotion over to my left and paddled over to investigate. My ears served me well as I found broad shoulders of a red moving slowly through 8 inches of water. Once again I picked up the Z Man paddle tail and tossed it right past him. I slowly worked the lure back into his path timing it right and BAM, the fight was on! This guy was also an upper slot. Like before, my drag was peeling. However before I could get a crank of the reel the paddle tail came flying back at me. No!!! The fish was gone and all I could think was my opportunity to place in the tournament was over. I kept replaying the events over and over in my mind thinking what could have I done differently. The morning was soon coming to a close so I had to move quickly if I wanted to salvage the trip and pick up one more.
I ran into another tournament angler I met at the launch point and received a report from him that he hasn't caught a fish yet. This was disappointing as I was heading in the direction he was coming from. Regardless I continued on and man was I sure glad I did. I scanned the grass line to find what I like to call a "wolfpack" of reds bulldozing shrimp parallel with the marsh. You could not see the reds but you could see the wake they were making as they were feeding aggressively. The shrimp scattered as reds pushed through. I repositioned myself as to not come from behind them but to cut them off. When the reds are in a pack like this feeding this aggressively there is no need to cast past them. I casted right into the pack and the fight was on. This guy was a slot for sure but not the upper slot I was hoping for. Nonetheless I was excited because I felt I had a good chance to place in the top 25.
It was noon and I decided to head back to the launch so that I could load up and place my fish in the live well cooler I rigged up for transport back to the weigh in. The paddle back was a bit more difficult as the drag of the feisty redfish began to wear on me. I made it back, loaded up the truck and made my way to the weigh in at the Lazy Lizard in San Leon.
I arrived at the weigh in about an hour early. There were a couple other anglers there also standing by ready to weigh in. I wasn't too worried as my live well was working great. I have to say this event was 1st class all the way. I was greeted by the event Director Dustin Koreba and was given a run down on how the weigh in works and what follows afterwards. 2:30 hit and I was all weighed in with my 1/2 lb. bonus. My total weight came in at 12.15 lbs.
My wife joined me shortly after and we decided to eat lunch while we waited for the rest of the anglers to arrive with their final weigh ins. After the weigh ins were complete the numbers were tabulated and as we waited Dustin began the raffle give-aways. A bag of lures and a raffle ticket was given to everyone who entered the tournament. There were plenty of great prizes given away.
The final numbers where in and Dustin began counting down the winners from 25 on down. I knew I was in the top 25 based on the weights already called out. 20 passed, 15 passed and I began to think it would be great to be in the top 10! My name was called at number 6! I won $180, a wade belt and a paddle leash.
This truly is a great event with great people. I want to congratulate all the winners as well as thank all of the people who work hard to put these events together.
See you all again in October!