[u]Executive Summary[/b] - Winds 8-12 from the W (really?? what happened to 5); water temps lower 80's (estimate), 85 degrees, partly cloudy. 4 reds, couple/few snooklets
With my tarpon partner in crime taking a knee for a BBQ contest I considered going solo pooning in yea ol' stink pot, but the winds looked a bit sketchy and I wasn't up to all that work. My wife has stopped asking if I'm fishing on Sat and has now submitted to when when I'll be back. I told her I was in the kayak so earlier than normal.
Perhaps I'm moving slower in the morning or perhaps I'm getting distracted by shiny things, but it seems I'm waking up on time, but I'm late to the water. Today was the second time in two weeks where day break was past me and I had not accounted for my paddle to get to my usual haunts. However, after a solid beat down in the winds and tides last week I heeded our fearless moderators advice of paddling into the wind. Seeing that the wind was blowing from the West (again) I changed locations and slowly worked my way towards my usual haunts. The Westward wind and tides had the water levels really high this morning so I pushed into the groves first - a couple/few snooklets cooperated early on and one posed for a photo. The 3' rootbeer Riptide Paddle tail was money for these guys, and it seemed I was to break my rule of keep the fish in the water this morning.
The lighting and storm clouds made for a good background. At least these clouds would be pushing inland; I did watch over the horizon at some pretty serious alto cumulus clouds. Fortunately they didn't amount to anything as I kept paddling Westward. That said I like to watch my 6, you just never know.
Looking out over the flats was just too much wind and I figured bait and fish would stick near the mangroves until the tide switched. I pretty much abandoned plans of fishing for snooklets and looked for high tide oyster beds and reds. It took a bit of extra paddling but eventually I got on a solid fish. Oysters everywhere I really applied some heat, and managed to dropped anchor in some grass. However this was going to be close proximity fight. Drag was peeling out at a decent clip. I feathered the spool a bit more and the kayak swung into the wind; just as things looked like they were somewhat under control the line went limp. I'm scratching it up to a large flounder, ray, or foul hooked mullet - there wasn't much of a head shake and no action on the top water. Or perhaps I just stunk it up and didn't set the hook good enough.
Regardless something was here. I pushed down a bit more where there were some really big oyster beds.
Seeing a bunch of fry under the kayak now I swapped to a white riptide and tossed towards the beds again. On again I set the hook harder this time and after a few good runs I managed a upper teens/lower 20's red. I left him in the water for shots...I would like to say I know how my rod in the background was going one way in the photo and fish another, but frankly I'm not sure.
Examining my hook I saw that the fight was a good one - cheap hooks + a solid fight = bent hook. Not quite danger close to pulling, but I got the hint that I need to back off on the heat/fight.
Sticking with the theme of oysters I kept hitting the smaller islands and quickly landed two reds. With the winds to my back I was getting off some nice casts and was probably a bit stealthier than normal. The Riptide Mullets tend to land pretty softly too. Regardless I liked this shot - seems this little guy had a bit of Hollywood in him with the glint coming off his back.
With continuing and building Westward winds I stuck with the oyster beds and moved from one set to another; occasionally I would circle back to the same area. It had that "target rich environment" look. Apparently two other people thought the same thing and two power boats came motoring in - one on full throttle. The other if he could have motored faster I believe he would have. Seeing that we were well inside the slow area had the FWC been around it was two tickets for sure. Both boats convened in the same area and it was pretty clear that they both intended to fish the same area. I thought it was a bit aggressive for the one boater to over take the other to get to the spot and I figured that there would be an altercation for sure. After exchanging some somewhat nice words they agreed that they would both take one side of the cut and fish it. Crisis averted...until the music was cranked up - WAY up...granted it was some good country music but it was blaring 150 yards away where I was. I figured they deserved each other and continued my fishing.
Still using the rootbeer paddletail, soon enough I was on and it appeared to be a decent fish. Unfortunately it was danger close to the oysters again. While enjoying the Zack Brown I opted to stand and do whatever it took to keep the fish's head from getting near the oysters. By now the kayak was moving at a decent clip. Looking down in the 6-10 inches of water and seeing nothing but oysters I considered sitting down, but figured a bit of show boating for my new fishing partners was in order - music and full throttling into the spot didn't exactly have me on my best behavior. Not wanting to straighten the hook and while still standing in the kayak I let the fish do all the talking for me with plenty of thrashing water, solid runs, and a couple doughnuts. Eventually I managed to get the fish subdued and he cooperated with a couple photos. He fought bigger than he was - call it mid 20's (maybe) - but so had his younger counterparts.
This shot gives a decent feel for the water depth, clarity and if you look hard enough you'll see the oysters. Suffice to say it's a huge oyster bed.
Show boating done and with the hour approaching 11, I pretty much threw in the towel. Using the Westward wind I put the seat back and tried to glide into home base, but of course the tide had switched and I was going nowhere. It was a reasonable paddle in and called the wife to see if she wanted to have lunch at Fishhawk pizza. Seems I was solo.
I settled in for Iran versus Argentina and found myself pulling for Iran. Not so much because I like Iranian soccer but more because I'm against Argentina.
Being a British subject in the 80's that whole Falkland War thing still hadn't settled well, plus we lived in Chile...but I digress. Pitcher of beer secured, 12 wings, and some onion rings I sent the below to the wife - "You're missing out." I used an app called Paper Artist on the phone for the shot.
Editorial : does anyone find it interesting the the coach of Iran (Carlos Queiroz) is from Portugal; last I checked Portuguese people are't exactly the most fundamental Islamic folks out there. Seems even World Cup Soccer transcends the Ayatollahs reach.
I managed to keep my rants to a minimum until Messi scored and Argentina won. At least it was an honest win and wasn't "La Mano de Dios" this time around. It was a good game and I head home to clean up.