Saturday night we decided to launch from Lazaretto Landing on the Lazaretto Creek on Tybee Island. From there we would head left from the landing; I would try some topwater action using the Live Target “Mullet” surface plug, drifting to the area where the South Channel and the Savannah River meet.I did not get any action, so I paddled across the South Channel and drifted towards the Cockspur Island Lighthouse.
According to the National Park Service, in the late 1830s New York architect John Norris had been put under contract to oversee the construction of Cockspur Island Lighthouse. A hurricane destroyed the lighthouse in the mid-1850s, and it was reconstructed on the same foundation. When the Civil War started, the soldiers at Fort Pulaski extinguished that light. In the spring of 1862, Union forces started a thirty-hour bombardment of Fort Pulaski. The lighthouse was in the middle between the Union Army (along the shores of Tybee Island) and the Confederate Army (at Fort Pulaski). Soon after the war, the lighthouse was painted white and put back to use . Due to freighter ships getting larger, the lighthouse was decommissioned early June, 1901 when the Savannah Port Authority started routing the ships through the North Channel.
In this area we met up with five other kayak anglers participating in the IFA event. They were catching some nice speckled trout in the 15” – 17” range. I tried casting into the fast outgoing current, but was not getting any hits. I had to figure a way to anchor long enough to be able to keep my lure in the strike zone for the trout. The area was already crowded, so it was not possible unless one wanted to infringe on the others. As an angler this would not be a respectful or ethical thing to do in a tournament - or even when just fishing. I decided to move on to look for some monster redfish or a stray speckled trout elsewhere.
I paddled towards the area of Fort Pulaski known as the Point. Ideally you want to fish this area with an incoming tide, working your way to the oyster reefs south of the rock jetties for redfish and flounder. I worked my way along the Spartina grass shoreline of the Cockspur Island, casting towards the tall grass. I got to one section and noticed some of the Spartina moving like something was swimming through the grass. The next thing I see is a huge head raise out of the water; a manatee was feeding in the area. I left the huge sea cow alone and moved on past. As I worked the grass line, I found a huge copper color swirl in the chocolate milk that I was fishing in. I set the hook and had a short fight with what looked like to me a 30”redfish. This could have been the biggest redfish for the tournament. I had to re-hook the white / chartreuse tail D.O.A “C.A.L. Airhead”. While re-rigging another Airhead, I head something roaring behind me. In this shallow water I had a series of walls of water that were white-capped waves about 2’ tall getting ready to push me into the grassy shoreline. I managed to keep the kayak under control from the waves created by a freighter ship heading out to sea from the north channel.
As I got close to the oyster reef, I got a hit from a nice flounder on a gold D.O.A. “C.A.L. Shad”. While I got the Ego net into the water to bring the flounder onto the Big Tuna, he threw the hook and slowly swam back to the bottom. I tried this area a little longer, but did not get any more hits so I decided to move on.
I started hitting the various little oyster mounds, hoping for a redfish or a trout. There was one section that I kept hearing and seeing something that gave the impression that there was a redfish in the area. Lewis also was in this area, and got hung up on some oyster shells. He pedaled up to the snag and got his Z-Man® lure free. When he was drifting backwards, he noticed several redfish but did not spook them off. He cast towards one of them, twitched the lure, and hooked up. This fish provided Lewis with somewhat of a sleigh ride while he was standing to fight the fish. Unlike my red, this spot tail managed to get netted and measured.
Lewis had a nice 27”redfish. Then he asked me a silly question - he was wondering if he should try to catch a bigger redfish. I explained to him that he would be better off looking for a speckled trout that is at least 13”. The IFA Kayak Tour is a fishing tournament that requires the angler to catch one redfish and one spotted trout - both have to be in the slot limit or bigger, and it’s a Catch, Photo, and Release (CPR) event. So, Lewis went off in search of the trout. For me, I continued to search out any spot tail or sea trout. Eventually, I made my way back to the Lazaretto Launch. Lewis was close to the ramp area still searching, but he had no luck.
We decided to load up and head in for the photo check-in back at Hogan’s Marina. We got back at 2pm, and had to wait till 3pm for the check in to close and the winners to be announced.
The top three winners were:
- Roger Bump with a total length of a redfish and speckled trout of 58.5”
- Elizabeth Saylor, 51”
- John Chapman, 45.25”.
Top Junior Angler went to Austin Leggett who caught a 28”redfish.
Roger Bump submitted the largest redfish at 38”. He reported fishing the shipping channel using a heavy jig head with a 6” Gulp! curly tail jigging in 45’of water.
Nathan Raycroft had the largest trout at 25.75”.
My fishing buddy Lewis Brownlee came in ninth place with his 27”redfish.
Congrats to the fifteen kayak anglers (of 28 participating) who managed to do some type of catching.