Kayak Fishing: Falln’Tide 2008 Tournament Report — Buras, Louisiana E-mail
Monday, 19 October 2009 18:33

Friday October 3rd, 2008: It was a long night. I had just attended a good friend's wedding in lieu of pre-fishing (Mind you, this was the kind of friend that has a 32' Sportfisher). In just a few hours one of the biggest kayak fishing tournaments in the state, Falln'Tide 3, was about to start.  I packed my gear into my pickup and hit the road at 11:50 pm. It’s a skeeter’s-wing shy of a three hour drive from my home in Baton Rouge down to the Mississippi River delta. With an early-morning anxiousness akin to a child's Christmas morning, I drove on down the river.

Tournament shot

Sunrise on Chawee Bay in Venice, Louisiana

I arrived at Empire, LA around 2:40 in the morning. It was still too early to wake up my newly acquainted teammate, Frank, from his long trip from Jacksonville, FL. With nothing to do, I decided to drive down to the lighted docks at the marina to see if there was any activity on the water. At the waters edge I saw huge 10-count shrimp fleeing for their lives every few feet. The immense falling tide brought them right under the lights... and right over hungry specked trout. Filled with hope, things certainly looked promising.  

Brendan with a slot redfish.

4:30am:
After I picked up my wingman for the day, we set out and launched at the marina and anchored right outside the trout bite I had witnessed earlier. The trout were still popping and slurping under the lights. We chatted a bit till my cell phone showed 5:00 a.m., time for “lines in.” On my first cast, a keeper-sized speckled trout shook at the side of my Revolution – a D.O.A. Shrimp barely hanging out his mouth. The non-stop ferocity lasted for a few minutes and it was time for some others launching at the location to muscle on in for some of the action. It didn’t matter as we were off for bigger things. 

We paddled out a ways to clump of marsh islands and settled in as the darkness began to retreat. Our Skitterwalks danced on the water just as if they had been taking notes from those ill-fated shrimp back at the dock. Topwater fishing might not be the most productive way to catch fish when your trying to cull down a winning stringer during a tournament, but man, it’s such a blast! By the time the sun finally crested the horizon, I’d landed a couple of slot reds from a little cut through marsh grass. My partner was starting a nice collection of his own but his victims were mainly of the yellow-mouthed variety. After the topwater bite died down, changes were made to the ends of our lines and the rods were still bending steady. Gulp swim-mullets tight lined on jig heads did the trick. We picked up a few more fish between the cuts in the island of marsh grass as water was pulled through by the falling tide and pushed by the wind. After a thorough rainbow casting of the area, we trolled a bit and meandered along the long bank of the southern shore and steadily picked up more reds. We both blanketed the points and drains as we drifted along. I picked up a nice 26" tournament-sized red. Almost immediately afterwards, I picked up a flounder and my spirits were even higher. The bite was not letting up even though the tide was just about to change. I heard a loud "WAA-HOO!"  Frank hooked a fat red that “made his trip.”

As the day went on we traded fishing stories of our respective home waters and even though we had just met it was like fishing with a good buddy. This served to reaffirm for me that being fisherman, especially kayak fishermen, truly share a special bond. Common ground is easily found on the waters. We continued our trek and ventured further away from our starting point. We were still steadily picking up a fish here and there about every 15 minutes. Finally, we completed our large semi-circle of the bay, but were still a couple of miles from the launch. The sun had reached its apex, and the tournament hours were slipping away. I was determined to hit one more spot a little further out, so we split up. Frank fished his way back to the launch, and then took a much-earned pre-weigh-in siesta. I peddled on. There were plenty more early “Christmas presents” swimming around, and I was intent catching a few more.

 

Vlad Moldoveanu with a couple of Chawee Bay redfish.

Later, Frank and I met back up at the weigh-in station were there was already a long line of ice chests. There were lots of other fisherman enjoying seats in the shade with satisfied grins on their faces. They were all ready for the “eat” portion of “catch-and-eat” style event we do for all our club tournaments down here. This is where all the fish weighed-in make it back to you either battered and fried or deliciously grilled on a half shell. On the fishing front everyone did well and everyone caught redfish. Speckled trout were also plentiful, but the larger ones were a little harder to find than in previous years. Only about one-in-three teams were able to snag an elusive flounder. When they finally settled up with the weights; Frank’s big trout took home the prize for fourth heaviest of the day, and I had a slot redfish that also took home a fourth place prize. Paul Upshaw and David Baze had the most successful day and took home the cash in Cajun Slam Division with a weight of 12.63 lbs for one redfish <27”, one trout >12” and one flounder >14”. They managed to set a new tournament record! Well done! Eric Griffin, a visiting angler from Mobile, took home a brand new Hobie Revolution Kayak courtesy of Hobie Fishing with his amazing 26-spot leopard-redfish. The Bayou Coast Kayak Club awarded 3 cash prizes to teams finishing in the top 3 of the Cajun Slam division. They also dished out a bevy of prizes for 1st thru 7th places on Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and spotted Redfish. A big thanks goes out to the generous sponsors who made this event possible most notably, Hobie Fishing, The Backpacker, Precision Pak, Skwoosh, Academy and Hook1 among others.

winning fishEric Griffin with his winning 26-spot redfish

All in all, we had close to 70 anglers from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida participate in the event. Based on what I saw everyone was excited about a return trip. For more information about Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s Falln’Tide tournament and other events in Louisiana visit their website at bckfc.org  There’s a good reason Louisiana is known as the Sportsman’s Paradise. The fishing here is hard to match!

 

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