Obey the Bay

BY JAY POTTER

Weather in South Louisiana can be tough on kayak fisherman. High winds, changing water levels and inconsistent temperatures can make fish hard to find. Still, there’s a great way to keep your kayak fishing fever at bay: get to a bay.

A lot of the kayak fishing done by the Kajun Custom team takes place in somewhat protected water. Sight fishing shallow ponds, anchoring near points or casting down banks of canals.

However, starting in the winter time, we often take a different approach. Louisiana’s coastline is littered with small bays and in the Port Fourchon/Grand Isle area, and several provide exactly what we need to find fish in the cool winter months, the windy spring months, and even early summer, as fish settle into summer patterns.

When the weather is particularly difficult, it may be time to outfit a K12 with a trolling motor to help cut the wind. Our production staff has done a great job with internal wiring and aqua plugs for battery cords, so a motor becomes much more a benefit than a burden.

KC Pro Staffer TJ Harris almost always fishes (except in tournaments) with his internally wired K12 and a trolling motor. A fiend with a popping cork, he has also been known to terrorize trout populations in these aforementioned bays.

The water we are discussing here is roughly two to six feet in places (it’s nice to have it vary so you can try different depths). Most of the bottom is covered by mud, but along the edges and throughout the interior are located small oyster reefs. The larger reefs are marked with white PVC poles, but there are numerous other pockets that will hold fish.

What can make these bays so special, though, is the clear water. When it cools off and the sediment settles, the water is clear six feet straight to the bottom, making these oysters, and sometimes fish, easy to spot. In warmer weather, water might still be clear if the tides and fresh water levels are right.

One last facet of an ideal bay setup is some sort of deeper trench that serves as fish a highway through this water. Since TJ and I have different aims and different styles out there, I think it makes sense to discuss both. In both cases, using the wind is important. Pick what area you want to concentrate on fishing and determine where you must paddle to let the wind drift you over that area.

Depending on the wind and the tide, your drift may need more or less adjustment. It’s useful to work in some kind of pattern. I like to think of it as a grid, so you can remember the areas so you can systematically cover the un-fished area. TJ prefers to work the length of the trench with his popping cork, then back down the edges and off into deeper water. He will drift and make several casts, then back up and over to work the area next to where he just fished.

With Matrix Shad Green Hornet, Tiger Bait, and other colors, TJ provides a suspended fish-like bait. His methods work, as he has been seen catching limits of trout in less-than-ideal conditions.

Since I am mostly going for reds in the bay, and since I don’t have a motor, I fish a little differently. First, I seek out the oyster reefs I know are there. I’ll circle around the spot to not stir it up and get the wind at my back. I angle casts across the area in a fan shape, and spend a few minutes with a couple different baits. If nothing bites, I move on to the next spot and repeat.

Sometimes the reds are stacked up, and you may get lucky and guess right early. If not, I’ll pick a spot to drift and stand and cast while I drift and look. The K12 makes this easy.

Two things happen from here, either I get a bite on a blind cast, hang a fish and throw my anchor down; or, I see some oysters, then a red or two, throw my anchor down and try to find where they are holding. Should those fish be part of a nice school, get ready for action.

A couple times this winter, we had three people on one school catching fish nearly every cast for a good 20 minutes. Many of these will be throwbacks, but the excitement is still there. One day I sat without moving very much, caught reds until my shoulder hurt and left them biting. Another day I caught 20 or 30 fish over the same oysters.

Then there is trout fishing. It seems good sized trout will travel a bay, and even hunker down, sometimes in three or so feet of water.

After setting that ever-important drift, the way I get to the trout is to put a fish-style plastic with nice action on a 1/8 or 1/4 oz jighead (depending on the wind and tide etc.) and reel slowly but steadily with my rod tip pointed down at the water. A couple twitches here and there don’t hurt, but I want my bait staying down in the water if possible. Sometimes a trout will hit with their trademark violent strike, but particularly in the winter, you may feel only weight on the end of your line.

Like a bass, the fish may take your bait then run straight at you, so speed on the reel and a quick raise of the rodtip will help keep the fish hooked. Keeping a grid in mind, I will work the bay in long straight drifts, and paddle back up and go down again. The trout seem to come when and where they come, so its important to get as many casts out as possible and always be ready.

Stray the course.

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