Kayak Fishing Ultimate Resource

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Tuesday, 07 May 2013 16:14

Just Fish

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Well before even a hint of sunrise, I met up with Bill Howard and Greg Becker to get another lesson in my flats fishing class. We readied our gear, and Greg handed me a VHF radio to communicate with the group. I put it in the bag on the back of my seat and we launched into the bay. As we paddled out, I had one goal in mind: to find my first ever snook.

While covering the distance to the first hole, I was soaking up bits of wisdom as Bill and Greg recalled fish from previous trips in the area. I had high hopes as the first cast hit the water, and braced myself for the pending carnage. We fished for a bit without any excitement. I have to admit my mind started to wander.

Tampa Bay Spoon Bill

There were a ton of birds roosting on a small nearby island, and as a bird nut I was trying to identify the different species. I was still working my topwater plug while watching the birds when a fish crushed it just off my bow. After a short but intense fight, I brought a nice redfish to the boat.

chris funk tampa bay redfish

We decided to split up to check out some nervous bait activity, and Bill paddled up the bay as Greg headed toward the mouth. I split the difference and started the paddle toward the mangroves. Greg had just rounded the bend when I heard the radio crackle, asking Bill if he needed pictures from the trip. After a short pause, Bill came back with an answer: “Just fish.”

I had to chuckle when I heard that response. We are three guys who are always running cameras and working on articles, and our directive was to just fish. I was more than happy to oblige, and focused on heading toward the next fishy-looking area.

greg becker kayak fishing

I paddled up behind Bill as he was working a topwater just in time to see the water erupt around it. This strike was so savage it deserved its own theme song! I still don’t see how the fish missed that bait. When our nerves settled we fan casted the area, but never convinced it to hit again.

We met back up with Greg, and the two of them kept pointing me toward likely snook hiding spots. It seemed that I might not find the elusive critter before my trip was over, but I refused to quit. Greg and I broke off toward an oyster bar that had a good current rip and more mullet than I have ever seen before.

kayak casthing on the Tampa Bay flats

As I drifted through the rip, I flipped a jig into the slack water and began working it back. A quick thump led to a hookup, and a dark fish streaked past my kayak. I thought it was a trout at first just by shape alone, but the next pass revealed a dark brown lateral line. I hollered out to Greg that I had a snook on the line and tried my best not to lose it.

A few jumps later and I was holding the fish that I had hoped to catch for quite a while. It wasn’t a big one, but I told the guys that even a snooklet would have counted for my first. I admired it as I paddled over for a picture, then gently released it to fight again one day.

small Tampa Bay snook caught on a Jackson Cuda

Before the day ended, Greg got an inshore slam and Bill fought a stingray that was as big as a truck hood.

Fighting a fish in Malibu Kayak

I am thankful for friends who took the time to guide a flats rookie to chase a bucket list fish. There will never be another first snook for me and the memory of this one will last a lifetime. It was a great trip in a beautiful area, and I can’t wait to go again.

As much time as I usually spend behind a camera, I have to admit it was nice to “Just fish.”

Read 5031 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 10:09
Chris Funk

Chris Funk is an avid outdoorsman and rabid photographer. He tells folks his life revolves around 6 "F"s, his Faith,Family,Fur,Fins,Feathers and Fotography. He paddles all over the Southeast with his bride Angie and son Ethan. They fish for any critter that will tighten a line and it doesn't matter if it is with conventional gear, fly gear or bowfishing gear. He and his son are on the Jackson kayak fishing team and the whole family helps with an awesome group called Paddle4Tomorrow that gets people with special needs out for a day of paddling.