Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fish, Eat, Sleep...Repeat!

I just got back this Sunday afternoon from spending almost three days in Corpus Christi for a few days fishing with my cousin. It's good to be back home.

I arrived in Corpus on Thursday afternoon. As soon as my cousin got home from work and we had dinner we prepared for some fishing that evening at a new spot my cousin indicated reds could be caught on the fly in abundance. No kayaks though since he said they could be caught from shore. I was determined to catch a redfish on my new XP 8wt on this trip.

First we stopped at the new Packery Channel. We noticed that there were lots of pinfish and perch dead onshore as if from a fishkill. We also found three reds in about a foot of water. I didn't have my fly rod then so I went back to the truck to get my rod and when I got back there was a woman in the water and she spooked two of the reds! My cousin had fortuntely caught the third one but it was an undersized red and was released. The fishkill made us think this wasn't a good place to be so we left so my cousin could show me a couple of spots for when I went solo fishing in the kayak the next morning. BTW, my cousin later reported the fish kill to the proper authorities.

We drove down the road to an entrance to a place called Deadman's Hole. We drove down the road trying to figure out a path close to the water and my cousin didn't switch his truck into 4wd mode and we got stuck in some clay mud. It was no use, we were stuck pretty bad. We ended up calling my cousin's wife to bring her jeep before sunset to tow us out which she did. In the process of trying to get us out, I accidently broke the tip off my cousin's spinning rod so no fishing that night and we went back to rest so I could head out early the next morning to Wilson's Cut and head to the back lakes of Shamrock Cove while my cousin was at work.

The next morning I left the house at 5am and with my handheld GPS, found the entrance to Wilson's Cut and in the darkness got everything ready by 6am to put in with kayak and fly rod and make the paddle out to Shamrock Cove. The wind this morning was picking up between 15 to 20 mph from the South to Southeast. I expected an easy paddle out but it was going to be a bear paddling back into the wind later in the morning.

I found someone fishing one of the lake entrances in a power boat and so I kept going and found a sandbar and tidal pool that looked to contain some tails. Large tails though they looked grey not red without a dot so I thought sharks or maybe big black drum but something didn't look right. Regardless, I beached on the sandbar and spent about 15 minutes casting to these tails until I hooked into whatever it was and it shot out like a bat out of hell! It put a serious bend in my 8wt and took my reel well into the backing. Eventually it tired and I was able to bring it closer and I could see splashing and realized it was a big stingray!

I went ahead and beached the ray and then purposely broke the leader since I wasn't getting anywhere near with it trashing it's tail around. I estimated the ray was around four feet wide.

I eventually left this spot and paddled into a nice shallow lake with a few tiny islands and mangroves. The water in there was clear and I could see open sand potholes amongst the grass that were ideal to cast into. I decided to switch to a gurgler topwater fly. I eventually found two tailing redfish amongst mere inches of grass and water and cast to them but my fly got blown behind them though one turned and started going after it and then it saw me and they spooked! Man!

I eventually went back to the first lake where the power boat had been and headed to a large mangrove area that had lots of baitfish in it. I cast to a spot between the shore and the grassline and got a monster hit from a redfish and took off directly along the shoreline and buried itself in grass and I eventually got it to my legs. It was about a 23" redfish! Success! I didn't have my net so when I started removing the grass from all around it's head so I could get a good grip on it it threw the hook and left. No matter, I had intentions of releasing it but didn't get a photo. Still, I was feeling really excited now.

I found another kayaker in the lake and spoke to him for a bit. He had caught one keeper trout and redfish on topwaters. It was almost 11am and so I started back through the lake trying to find an entrance back into the cut for the paddle back. I found a small grassy island with an oyster bed in front of it and stayed there for a bit. The sun was high so I could see fish much better and got a cast at a decent redfish that was at least 26". I saw the copper color of it strike my gurgler and miss. It's head came right out of the water! Cool! It charged my fly once more and then saw me and spooked. This was exciting and frustrating all at the same time. Sightfishing is a really exciting way to fish and it reminded me a lot of flyfishing for carp.

I then headed out around 12pm and it was a long tough paddle into the wind but I needed to rest for fishing that evening.

That evening we went out to Bird Island Basin on Padre Island for sail line fishing. It was a slow night and we had only one bite at midnight though it was 28" redfish. By 2am, we had one more 22" redfish and then we let the line stay out while we slept in the truck. At 5am on Saturday morning we checked the line and had a 29" redfish on it which we tagged. The fish was a striking red as opposed to copper color. By 6am we were packing up to head home. We ate breakfast, cleaned up and went to take another 2 hour nap and then got up around 11:30am to prepare for fishing the Shamrock Cove back lakes again.

My cousin hadn't been on his kayak or at Shamrock for a while though he has fished it a hundred times. The wind was still going a 18mph - 25mph. We fished it for about four hours and only caught two undersized reds and trout. The water was no more than a foot in most places. I did beach the kayak at a mangrove island that was a duck blind and found about four small reds on the opposite side in the tall grass that I inadvertently spooked.

We paddled back out and left and considered our options on the way home. We could try fishing the lights under one of the causeway bridges but the wind seemed to keep getting stronger and we were both pretty beat so we decided to take his wife out for dinner instead and clean the fish we had along with all our gear and so we did.

As always, my trip was an adventure (they always are). I learned several things and had a couple of first time events for me that I will always try and remember.

Here is a photo of the 29" redfish and also a photo of all three we caught that one night. As you can see, my fishing shirt is all puffed up. That's from the strong winds behind me. If you only knew how sore I was that first day of paddling several miles in the wind. I actually feel better today. Thank goodness for ibuprofen! :)

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