From very early on, it was evident our expectations would not be met. It turned out to be a tough day for both kayaking and fishing. The sun was hidden by dark clouds. The water level was unusually high from fresh water drainage, which greatly affected salinity. To top it off, we had to fight a strong current and wind that made paddling difficult and the water dirty.
The tournament was held in a place that is for the most part unknown to me. I have fished the area on a few occasions, but am not very familiar with the territory. I had a plan and stuck to it - initially. After a while, I realized it was not going to be an easy day. I fished locations where I thought the fish would be, but they weren’t there. In fact, there were no signs of anything, not even baitfish. I decided the only way to have a shot at finding a monster fish was to keep moving and to look hard for it. This is where I would like to share a constant lesson I am reminded of: the three Ps. “Patience and perseverance pays off.”
After my hopes of pulling in fish after fish were dashed, I went to work hard. I worked the area fast as I could because, as you know, in a tournament there are time constraints. Needless to say, I moved constantly and put some miles on the kayak. As time ticked away, so did my chances of finding the big one.
When it was almost time to start heading back to the launch, my eyes found a beautiful sight in the distance… a tailing red in a shallow flat. I was overcome with excitement and my heart started pounding; this was my chance! I quietly eased within casting distance of the monster. I stood up and grabbed my rod without making a sound. I knew I needed that perfect cast, which was going to be difficult due to the wind and the fact he was tailing right up against structure. I made the cast just over the top and to the left of the tailing red - perfect. I then pulled my chartreuse -colored swimming mullet and laid it down in front of its nose. The lure had not even come to a complete rest on the bottom before the fish inhaled it. My line started screaming and it was time for a “Cajun sleigh ride”. This red was not going to come willingly. I fought and fought. Just when I thought he was tired and brought him near my kayak, he would make another run.
After a nice battle, I was able to get him in my net. I had landed a 25.5” redfish, and he was a fat one. I took some photos and in the soft side cooler he went. As my adrenaline settled, I looked up to see three more tailing bulls in the same shallow flat. I looked at my watch - it was eleven o’clock. I had to be back at the launch by twelve, and I knew I had at least a forty-five-minute paddle back to the launch. I decided to make another cast, and hooked up on a black drum. I released him, and again looked at my watch. I had to go back. It was hard to leave that place, as I watched those tailing reds. I had found the big fish, but I found them late. As I paddled away, I was comforted in knowing that I at least had one in the kayak.
After check in, my 25.5” redfish was enough to land me in the winner’s circle and with the prize money. I narrowly beat Jaime Bryant, who checked in a very nice 23” red. There were a few others who were able to bring in some nice hauls for the dinner table, but just not of any size. In the end, we all had a great time on the water fishing together, with the added fun of friendly competition. More importantly, I was reminded of that age-old lesson: Patience and perseverance pays off!