Wednesday, October 22, 2014

These Four Fish...

For the past seven and a half months our Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club has had a catch-photo-release tournament going on. The tournament opened March 1st to all club members with a simple format. Catch a redfish, trout, flounder, or bass, take a photo on a measuring board with tournament token and release the fish back into the water. Once the tournament was announced I was very excited because this format suits my lifestyle much better than one day events. Fish when you like, from a public place, catch some fish, take some photos and have a chance at winning a kayak among other prizes.

My start to the tournament was slow, catching a lot of slot fish. I figured the redfish needed to win would be over 40". My redfish came from a regular ol' day at Point Aux Chene in a pond i'd never fished before. I'd seen a big push in the water in front of me. The fish had spooked and ran around behind my kayak. I tossed my weedless rig over my right shoulder for fun and surprisingly the fish inhaled it on a reaction bite. The size of the fish surprised me when he came boat side and was put on the board. I stuck him with a TAG and was back in the water quickly. I'd planned to upgrade this fish but never caught anything bigger for the rest of the year.
My speckled trout was the fish I'd worked hardest for. Many mornings of sleep were sacrificed in the pursuit of big trout. I never considered myself much of a trout angler. The one spot I knew big trout hung out was worked on many occasions but only some 19-20" trout were photo'd as summer was in full swing. One morning, a buddy of mine's dad and I went fishing in West Cove in pursuit of some speckled trout. The morning was slow but weather was beautiful. There was a sheltered cove that had just produced six chunky redfish in rapid succession on my She Dog. In the amount of time it takes to call my partner over i'd had another fish on and assumed it was another redfish.

She ran around my kayak in a large arch and my rod did the work of turning her head and horsing her back to the boat. It felt like a mid slot redfish mainly because I wasn't paying attention. The second she came to surface and showed her silver back, I freaked out. My mind immediately ran through every scenario of how I was going to lose this fish. This had happened a few times before on some big trout and I was sure it was going to happen again as she dove under my net. To my surprise, a few seconds later she was flopping on the deck of my boat.
My flounder catching skill was something I worked on a lot this year. Learning where, when and how was a journey in trial and error and lost jigheads. This fish was upgraded many times starting with my 10.5" entry in the spring as a starting platform. As the contest was drawing to a close, I knew I needed to upgrade my flounder for points. anything over my 18" entry would deliver big points. This flatty came on a Gulp! shrimp bounced off bottom in an area of West Cove that i've seen quite a few pulled out of. I never felt the bite, but set the hook hard after feeling weight on the line. As usual I freaked out a little bit upon seeing what was on the end of the line near the boat. Netted her and breathed a sigh of relief as soon as a few clear pictures were snapped and saved.
I am not a bass fishermen. I can count on my hands and feet the times i've been bass fishing. My summer plans were to spend more than a few evenings around lily pads and laydowns throwing frogs and worms. Work got in the way of that and left me scrambling near the 11th hour to catch one. Many backlashes later the only bass I caught on my black buzzbait came in and was released back to the swamp. This turned out to be my dropped fish score, but a valuable one if I am able to upgrade my skill and length for next year.  
In the end my SLAM entry was good enough for second place. One point behind my buddy Scott for a Native Slayer 14.5'. Pack & Paddle was gracious enough to award me with a $150 gift card and a wooden paddle trophy. As a bonus, everyone who entered all four fish were put into a separate drawing for a Lews American Hero bait cast setup, and my luck kept up and I took that home as well!
HUGE, huge thanks to Mr. John Williams and Pack and Paddle for sponsoring this eight month contest and putting up the prizes for the winners. I can account for more than a few more interested people in the club and contest on account of this tournament. My hopes are that the LKFC keeps it going and expands it next year. Fly fishing division? Sheepshead? All would be fun and expand the potential entries and fun. Congratulations to Mr. Scott Bienvenu on his new kayak, and all the other winners. Everyone else in the top five had a "Big Fish" award from Cajun Paddle tools

I am already looking forward to next years contest and will be recruiting heavily to get more people involved with the club and the fantastic series we put on. I mean if I can win, ANYONE CAN!

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