For days we have anticipated redfish fishing on the Gulf. That day had come. It was 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning, May 23, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. With a slight breeze over the water we could smell the salt in the air. The excitement was growing as we anticipated what the day would bring. As the sun was just breaking through the clouds on the horizon, everything had the makings of a beautiful day of redfish fishing on the Texas Gulf coast.
During the pre-dawn hours the wind was blowing quite hard. We were concerned it might be a No-Go on kayak fishing, but the wind died down by the time the sun peaked above the horizon. The only other concern was the higher than normal water level. 8" to 18" of water on the edge of the sea grass is optimal, but the water was actually 18" to 36" in prime fishing areas during high tide.
Our kayak fishing guide, Ryan Ford, from Rockport Texas, was at the launch site when we arrived, standing ready with kayaks in the water and ready to go. In each kayak was a PDF, a fishing rod, Railblaza Rod Holder, drinking water, fish grips and more.
Ryan, with his long beard braided neatly into a single rope and sporting his trademark hat, proved to be a very likable and colorful guy with a broad knowledge of kayaking and kayak fishing. Ryan has spent much of his life in Rockport, Texas and he knows the marsh well. His fleet of Viking Reload kayaks was the perfect choice for navigating the marsh.
Viking Kayaks are made in New Zealand and are well-designed to handle big water. The 14.5' Viking "Reload" kayaks are perfect for the conditions on the Gulf. They are long, sleek and fast, yet stable, and are equipped with a foot controlled rudder for easy turning. These are the same kayaks we use and sell at Hammerhead Kayak Supply, so I can attest to how well they work, their stability and maneuverability.
My custom made rod and Penn Battle Spinning Reel provided by Ryan was loaded with braid and mono leader with a Heddon Super Spook Jr lure. My wife's rod had an custom made inline spinner bait. We were each provided a top quality, bent shaft carbon paddle.
Ryan made the decision to put in at a launch site at the Italian Bend of Copano Bay.
. It would require about a half mile paddle to the fishing grounds lined with salt grass and submerged growth with canals that wove throughout. Since redfish hunt in shallow water this was the perfect hunting grounds.
Redfish comb the edges of the grass looking for shrimp and crabs as well as bait fish. We were looking for the signs of redfish activity in the shallow water - disruption of surface water often associated with redfish tail fins breaking the surface. When this is happening, redfish are actively feeding.
Our guide was very professional and made sure we were in the best positions for catching Redfish. His sole objective is to his clients making sure they are having fun and to get them on top of fish. Ryan was telling me that in shallow water, especially with new fishermen or people new to kayaking, he is ready in an instant to get into the water and run to help a client with any problem that arises. He certainly is one of the best guides we have ever had.
As far as secondary gear goes, the Yak-Gear 6.ft "Yak-Stick" proved indispensable. The Yak-Stick is a six foot long solid core aluminum pole used to quickly anchor the kayak in mud or sand bottoms and keep you on the fish longer. Wind and currents can quickly move you out of the zone but that is not a problem with the Yak-Stick.
After getting into position, in just a few seconds you can anchor the kayak and start fishing. Since there is often a window of only seconds to minutes before the fish move on, the yak Stick is a quick and easy way of anchoring. The white Yak-Stick can be seen in the photo attached to the side of the kayak. (click on any photo for a larger view)
We had been fishing the open water and the edges of the salt grass for a few hours. Fish were following the lure back to the kayak and were getting a few bumps on the lure, but no fish yet.
Around 9 a.m. I paddled my kayak and nestled the bow into a small arm of salt grass to secure the kayak. I casted about 30 ft and was working the the edges of the grass that led into a larger pool. Working the Heddon Super Spook Jr in a "walk the dog" side to side pattern, a hungry Red slammed the lure. The fight was on! Instantly the fish swam toward the center of the pool stripping line off several feet of line.
Then suddenly he changed direction and started swimming quickly toward the canal where I was sitting. I reeled in the slack. As he passed by the kayak the fight was on again. With one more burst of speed he quickly stripped off a few more feet of line before finally tiring out.
I brought the fish to the side of the kayak and grabbed his lip with the lip grippers. The redfish measured 22" long. From the time I hooked the fish Ryan was never more than a few feet away should he be needed.
That evening we went to eat at Paradise Dockside Bar and grill. If you are ever in the Rockport area, you need to eat here. The food was fantastic. We were seated next to a window overlooking the bay. However, if you wish, you can sit outside over the water.
If you bring your freshly caught filleted fish with you to the restaurant, Paradise Dockside Bar and Grill will cook it for you any way you request. I had blackened redfish that evening and it was delicious.
If you are interested in redfish fishing the Texas Gulf coast and are looking for a qualified redfish fishing guide, I highly recommend Ryan Ford. You can reach Ryan at Rockport Kayak Fishing
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