[u]Executive Details[/b] 43-47 degrees, winds 4-20 (estimate gusts to 25), water temps - not sure upper 50's, rain, cloudy, sunny - the gamut, 1 snook, 5-6 reds, 3 trout - personal best of lower to mid 70's slam. Managed to leave the camera behind...so I threw in a summer image of Wonderboy and his favorite pasttime.
[u]Details[/b] I tried to round up Wonderboy but he's figured out the gig. He now asks about temps and winds before volunteering to go. "Well...it looks like low 40's and winds to 20. Tides look so -so." He looked at me like I was an idiot, but he is well acquainted with wrath of actually saying it. Funny how he's wised up over time. "When you leaving?" His way of setting up the "well I really haven't been getting much sleep lately." Anyway...he took a knee.
I didn't bother setting the alarm, but found myself at 5am doing some work and hit the water at 7am. Just enough time to beat low tide. A quick paddle out showed that over the horizon were sea gulls squawking and being a general nuisance.
With little winds things looked somewhat up, but no fish were to be found early on. The topwater resulted in a whole lotta nuttin'. I'm always the bridesmaid on this type of lure.
I figured with the cold weather the fish had moved deeper so I decided to find that water. As I kayaked out I saw a rainbow over the horizon and thought to myself that I should have checked the radar before leaving - especially seeing that I came without a rain jacket. Regardless I hit a couple deeper holes and using a greenback mirrodine I picked up a couple dink trout. I was hoping to find a lone snook somewhere in the hole, but it wasn't meant to be. Figuring it was time to move out I looked over the horizon to see where the storms where. A second rainbow appeared over the horizon to the north.
Scanning the horizon for fish I realized also that I was the only one on the water; normally I would see a couple boats/kayakers, but with the weather being somewhat raw I wasn't terribly surprised. The company that did show up - a lone dolphin hitting the deeper holes - had me moving on. I watched him do his thing, but he didn't appear to be terribly successful either. His initial blow scared the heck out of me - it was then I realized how still the environment had become. The water had stopped moving, no wind, no birds, no boats, no planes...just an eerie quiet that frankly had me a bit creeped out. Just then rain started to fall about 100 yards from me.
Having enough time to hoist out my redneck rain jacket - an extra large Hefty garbage bag; I made quick work of adding the arm and head holes. Satisfied with my extra layer of warmth and dryness I moved into a cut where I hoped I would a) get out of the wind, b) find something of size. It had the additional benefit of hiding my redneck stylish ass.
Using the same Houdini pattern Zmann paddle tail from last week, I worked the area pretty hard. It was more of a jigging up/down technique. I was sporting a nice goose egg in the area when a fellow kayaker came around the corner. We exchanged pleasantries, and I felt obligated to explain my Vogue look. I told him I saw some fish farther down but didn't have much luck. Just as we were splitting up I managed to get on a good snook. It put up a decent fight (better than expected for cold weather) and twice I almost lost it in the mangroves. With an audience about 15 yards away I played the fish out and fortunately I got the fish in - call it mid 20's possibly a touch more - and I released her.
Satisfied with that effort I realized I only needed a red to close out a small slam. Into the lower teen headwind blown waters I pushed. With low tides and a strong N/NW winds finding 2' of water was a bit challenging, but using a greenback mirrodine I closed out the slam with a lower teens red. The small ones seem to like the action of the mirrodine, but I've yet to catch anything big on it.
By now it was 10 am and the sun and clouds had come and gone multiple times. When the sun was out it was reasonably pleasant, but when it was gone it was pretty raw. The wind chill had to be in the lower 40's maybe upper 30's. The rain had stopped and I took off the Hefty, but kept it near by. By now I had seen 2 more rainbows. No way was I ditching the wind breaker.
Figuring I would try and biggiesize the slam I swapped back to the Zmann paddletail. The winds were really starting to pick up. I pushed way upwind and prepped the windsock. I tried to find a less windprone area, but on a day like this you really had to hug the treeline. The winds kept coming and going and I alternated between sitting and standing up. The boat was really rockin', but I was pretty comfortable standing up and eventually found myself in deep (2') of water and throwing monster wind supported casts. At the end of one of these casts I hooked into a big fish and between the winds and strong fish I was really moving out. I threw out anchor and watched the line continue to go out. 3-4 solid runs later I managed to get the fish in - a chunky mid to upper 20's red. I thought to myself, that this slam is shaping up pretty nicely. Just need to get a decent trout (my nemesis) for a personal best.
I watched the size of the whitecaps getting bigger and could really feel the winds now. The weather man had it right, and confirming with another kayaker I asked what he thought the winds were. "20 with gusts to 25." At least the sun was out now, but both of us were wringing out our hands and trying to warm them up. He was sporting a wool ski cap. I told him I was in search for a decent trout, and he confided that he landed a gator early in the day on a chartreuse plastic.
Recalling an article I read from Cooknfish from while ago, I swapped to a chartreuse mirrodine. I had a feeling I knew where the trout were, but it was going to be a bear.
Using the ol' sailor's adage I kept an eye on my 6 o'clock. Even in 2' of water the winds had the potential to push a big wave over the stern. Windsock deployed and my butt firmly seated I was casting waaaaaay down wind - huge casts. I was pushed off the "deeper" water, but kept fishing. The area ahead was spotted with grass and sand - and decent waves to boot. I was about 3 casts from turning the boat back into the wind when I felt a good tug. The lure was close enough and at the end of the line I saw a really nice trout - heading away at a good clip at that. He came up several times, but seeing both sets of treble hooks embedded I was pretty confident in being able to land him. The winds kept pushing me towards land and I opted to drop anchor. The unfortunate side effect was that now if a big wave wanted to swamp me there was little for me to do. It was only 12-18" deep - so there was no need to get terribly excited.
Couple few runs later I had the fish boatside; I didn't boat the fish but opted to measured it using my rod. 22" or so... I was pretty excited about the entire event as I stink at catching gator trout. I am however quite adept at spooking them.
Wrapping up the day I was home around 1pm or so; Wonderboy popped out and asked about the day. I doubt he would have "fun" in the raw weather, but I did let him know about the day. He regretted not coming, and informed me that wake up time was 11am. Hopefully he'll be at the next tourney. Overall not a bad day - seems I'm having better luck on these raw days, and I don't seem to mind the wind that much.
I rounded out the weekend hitting church on Sunday morning and working the SSA booth at the Tampa Fishing Show with the Hoffman Klan. Things are shaping up really nicely for the longest trout tourney next week.