Texas Bound, Casting for a Cause E-mail
Written by Tony Hart   
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:14

DSC 0023 - Copy copy I made the trip last year to attend the Annual Casting for a Cause tournament and chronicled it to share the amazing time I’d had with my fellow kayak anglers. It should come as no surprise that I was more than excited to make it this year. The anticipation leading to the date of the journey was akin to being a small child waiting to open his presents on Christmas Day!  I planned a little better than last year and made sure I was able to arrive  early so I could sneak in a day of prefishing and catch up with old friends. The day set for departure was Tuesday, June 25th at 5pm. I wanted to leave earlier, but had some daddy duties that prevented it.

I made sure to get everything packed and ready for the trip ahead of time, and was initially going to take my old, beat up but trusty Ford F-150. My wife suggested throwing my kayak on top of her car and driving it instead of my truck, as it would be a more comfortable ride and more economical with the fuel costs I would endure. So I threw my Feelfree Kayaks Moken 12.5 on top of a Chevy Aveo, and strapped it down as best I could. I have to admit it was reminiscent of a scene from the “Beverly Hillbillies”. I dropped of my kids at their grandparents at 5pm and then was on the road! 

I’d planned on breaking the trip into legs as to not wear myself down from the long trip ahead. My first leg would take me from Jacksonville, FL to Gulf Breeze, FL (Pensacola area) where I’d crash at my friend Barrett’s house. Ultimately, the plan was to hang out for a few, then get a good night’s rest before attacking leg two, which would take me all the way to Texas. It was a nice plan in theory. I arrived in Gulf Breeze where my friend Barrett greeted me with a hug and a nice cold beer. Before we knew it, it was 1:30am. Time surely does fly by when you’re sharing fishing stories over a few cold beers. I hit the rack knowing full well that 5:30am was going to be a tough call. 

DSCF0494 Well rested (yeah I know it sounded good); I jumped back on the road heading west along I-10 towards Texas. The trip was moving along pretty well, and I decided to stop and grab a decent breakfast at a Denny’s in Mississippi. After eating, I checked my yak and made sure it was still strapped down well and jumped back on the interstate. About 15 minutes after being back on the road one of my straps had the excess come loose in front, and I pulled over in hopes that it wouldn’t snag on the tire. Bad luck just had to enter the picture, because it caught, and I swear it scared the living hell out of me!  Of course, I get myself over to the shoulder and my first thought was to ensure my kayak was fine. The dangling strap caught the front tire and yanked the nose of the kayak down hard. Of course being the “serious” kayak angler that I am, I didn’t even think of the damage that may have occurred to my wife’s car, which was merely a month old at this point.

With the strap fixed and kayak okay, I hit the road again heading for Houston, Texas. I was going to pick up one of my pro staff guys for Feelfree Kayaks so he could attend the tournament as well. I made great time and pulled into Houston and his driveway at around 4pm on Wednesday afternoon. Matt graciously offered to drive the rest of the way in his truck and we quickly threw our kayaks on his trailer and loaded our gear into the back of the truck. This was the first opportunity that I had to inspect the roof of the car from the earlier incident. The top looked like it had gone through a crazy hail storm as there were little dings & dents all over the top. I had to come to terms quick with the scolding I was surely going to receive once getting back home.

DSCF0497 We had another member (Jason) of my pro staff and Dustin from the Lone Star Kayak Series attending the tournament as well, so we’d planned to grab a bite before meeting those guys to head south to Corpus Christi. We’d picked a point to meet up along the way so no one would be backtracking, etc. That point was Buc-ee’s in Wharton, TX. For those of you who aren’t in the know, and I was a victim of this as well, Buc-ee’s could very well be a landmark that anyone driving through Texas should witness. It’s basically a truck stop with just about any & everything you could possibly need or imagine needing, think the Wal-Mart of truck stops!

With Jason & Dustin in tow, we headed south towards our destination. To say I was excited to finally be done with traveling was an understatement to say the least. It took us a little longer to get to Corpus than planned, and we’ll simply blame that on Dustin. Suffice it to say, it felt like we were following Miss Daisy!  We finally arrive in Corpus, and we were fortunate to have a local friend of the tournament director, Steven, welcome several of us into his home on Nueces Bay. It was a far cry better than your run of the mill hotel, and we were all very grateful of their hospitality. Scott & his family were the best hosts that anyone could hope for. Inside we had a crew of old friends waiting on us ready to catch up. We hung out and had a few beers while playing catch up and shooting the breeze. We finally hit the rack around 1 or 2am, only to rise at 4:30am to get out on the water Thursday morning for some prefishing.

Our plan was to split up and fish an area to see if it would be worth hitting for the tournament. Robb, Matt, & I would check out one area, while Jason & Dustin would check out the opposite direction. We started off from the launch and had ourselves a nice 1.5mile paddle to get to a portage point, where we had to drag our kayaks over roughly 30 yards of hard packed sand. The wheel in the keel of my Moken 12.5 made that an easy transition. To put back in the water was a story all in itself. This place was aptly dubbed “the mud” for very good reason, and getting back in meant traipsing through thigh deep mud to get back into our yaks & the water. We paddled probably another 2 miles to check out one area, and then paddled another 3.5 miles to check out another area before heading back in.

Redfish were thick and pushing wakes all over the place, and we cast at a few to grins and giggles. I think I had the “dummy” moment of the day when I tossed a lure at a nice lower slot redfish in extremely shallow water. Of course I was standing in my yak, and just when I was about to cast, a nice gust blew up and spun me around a little. I cast and knocked the red dead in the head with my lure!  I think it ticked him off because he took off like a champ and t-boned my yak!  The ribbing was plentiful the rest of the day.

DSCF0501 With our prefishing done for the day, we headed back to the house via a carwash. Yeah, the yaks were that disgusting!  Showered and ready to go, we headed to the captain’s meeting to begin the festivities. There was a low country boil and plenty of Budweiser to go around, along with some great catching up. We hung out at the captain’s meeting for a while, and then headed back to the house to get our gear prepared for the battle that would come the next day. I finally ran out of gas around 1:30am, and melted into one of the many couches in the house. Wake up was at 3:30am, and after quickly getting ready, we were out the door and headed to the kayak launch. We took off, got past the portage point, and then were attacked by the infamous flying mullet. We hit this one area, and the mullet were going crazy with what seemed like a hundred mullet jumping out of the water. It’s an enjoyable experience being thumped by flying mullet just before daybreak!  I believe I had one land in my crate, a couple in my yak, and I took one across the noggin as well. Fresh, slimy mullet is not something you wanna taste all day either!

We fished the better part of the day, and the guys in our party had some decent redfish landed, but nothing to knock your socks off. I had pretty much frustration all day and there’s nothing more aggravating than watching your lure bounce in front of a redfish, only to have him ignore it!   With time running out on us, I started paddling in towards the portage point smelling like skunk and slimy mullet. We arrived at the portage point, only to see the tide moved out even further. There’s some not so G-rated video floating around the internet of my thigh deep encounter with the mud.

We cleaned up and arrived at the awards ceremony and waited in earnest to see who’d won and if any of our guys had been able to somehow place in the tournament. Last year, our group had 3 of the top 5 finishers in the kayak division. This year our group had 3 of the top 6 finishers, so not too shabby. The highlight of the trip for me was that I’d attended the tournament as a representative for Feelfree Kayaks, and we were donating a kayak. What was special about our sponsorship was that our donation would be raffled off to a veteran in the Heroes on the Water program. I’d done the same thing last year with a different company, and a young Marine by the name of Travis Tirado won the kayak. As they called out the winner of the Moken 14, the name sounded so familiar. Wouldn’t you know it, but Travis won the kayak again this year. The smile on his face was priceless. Travis is a young Marine Corps veteran who had given so much of himself, and had gone through so many hardships. It was truly an amazing experience watching Travis’ excitement as he looked over the kayak. Not to be outdone, my good friend, Paul Martinez,  won a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 in the raffle and he quickly donated that kayak prize to one of the other attending veterans in the HOW program

IMG 0864 That’s what kayak fishing is all about in my opinion. Giving back to the community and promoting the sport in a positive light. Casting for a Cause was a blast, and the ride home was very uneventful, yet exhausting. Am I ready to go back again next year?  Oh yeah, and I can’t wait!

 

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