TPWD Needs You: Help Report Illegal Fishing Activities

2014 tpwd wanted flyer

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Todd Hart

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Slow Fishing and Rough Week for Sea Turtles

This year has been a strange one. The temperatures have dropped much earlier than usual. We have had several days where the temperatures have come close to freezing and it’s only Mid-November. These cold north winds seem to send the fish into hiding and worse yet causes Sea Turtles to suffer from a phenomenon known as cold-stranding, a condition caused by sudden drops in temperature. The turtles appear to be paralyzed or even dead.

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I stopped and took some pictures of a turtle. I felt bad for him but didn’t know what to do so I moved on to fish. I tried my normal spots with no action what-so-ever.  I switched to a Paul Brown’s Original Corkie and still did not seem to have any luck.  My friend, Don (Saltykat) was fairing better then me. He actually landed a couple of 16-19″ trout.

It was then, he explained he was using an imitation brand of a corkie distributed by Tsunami. They are slightly heavier and sink a bit faster which can allow for a bit more action in the water. He handed me one and on my second cast I landed a nice flounder. I may have to purchase some of this baits. (They are even much cheaper than Paul Brown’s Original Corkies.)

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Shortly after, we ran across the same floating/suspended turtle. We were afraid he was going to drown. He couldn’t even lift his head out of the water to breathe. Don and I both felt bad for the cold little fella so we decided to try to rescue the turtle. I know years past there was an effort to save turtles when the sudden temperature changes occurred.  But we couldn’t figure out who to contact in that area. We decided to take matters into our own hands. We figured the water would be warmer in the ocean then in the shallow bays.

We simply picked up the turtle and put him in the back of the kayak. He was so cold and weak he didn’t seem to mind.  We then made a long paddle/pedal back to the a deeper channel that supplied warmer water and a path to the warmer open ocean if he so chose.

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Once we put him in the warmer water he seemed to get a new burst of energy and quickly swam a way. I felt a little saddened he didn’t pop up and at least wave good bye. He simply swam away without so much as a thank you.

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Todd Hart

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3rd Round – Time to Vote!

We did it!! We made it to the final round!

Operationfish round 3

This contest is put on by Yakangler.com.  We have made it to the final round due to the loyalty of our many readers and followers.

If you enjoy our blog please take a second to log in at  Yakangler.com Choice Awards  and vote for Todd Hart and Operationfish.com. Every vote helps.

Thanks for your continued support.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Fall Weather Brings Flocks of Birds

This past weekend I met up with a bunch of top notch fishing buddies to compete in our first month of the TKF Trout Tango tournament hosted at 321fish.com. We found our selves on the water around day break on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I hit my normal spots over some shallow water oyster reefs. This resulted in only a couple of small trout measuring 16′ to 17″. The other kayakers headed out a great distance after some diving birds. I choose to be patient and stay behind in my past proven places. After a while some birds started working the deeper water close to where I was fishing. The allure was too great and my resolve caved. It wasn’t long before I was chasing flocks of birds myself.

Pelicans and seagulls fly over a shimp boat working along the coast of Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico near Mobile. The Nature Conservancy has been part of the Gulf Coast community for more than 35 years and we live and work in every Gulf state, from Florid

(This picture was borrowed from www.nature.org.)

The birds were aggressively working pods of skittish shrimp. As I got closer I found the jumping shrimp being hit from birds above and hungry trout from the depths below. I threw a combination of top-water lures (my favorite pink Rapala Skitterwalk) and a H2O Mojo Shrimp.

The action was hot and steady.

Todd Hart trout 11-8-14

Todd Hart  2 trout 11-8-14

The trout weren’t huge as often found with schooling fish. They ranged from about 15″ to 22″.

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A few of the fish caught in the schools turned out to be redfish.

Todd Hart red 11-8-14

This time of year the redfish seem to turn a bright gold almost orange color.

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As the day went on the birds seemed to slow down. The flocks became smaller, fewer and far between. When afternoon came along we were forced to work a bit harder. The clues were challenging to spot. We were forced to scan the horizon looking for skittish bait or attacking fish.

Around 1:30 pm we decided to call it a day.  We all lost count but I would guess we each caught well over 30 trout and we all had a number of reds mixed in the batch. This is the reason we all love fishing during the fall; cooler weather, diving birds and frantic action.

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Todd Hart

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We Made it to Round Two

We made it to round #2.   Help us advance to round #3.  Thanks for your support and voting efforts so far.

Operationfish.com Round 2

 

Kayak Anglers Choice Awards (KACA) is a joint venture between YakAngler.com and KayakFishingRadio.com. Each year kayak anglers from across the globe nominate and vote for their favorites in various categories like Kayak Angler of the year, Kayak of the year, and more. The KACA are the only kayak fishing specific awards driven solely by kayak anglers.

Votes for the Kayak Anglers Choice Awards will be taken for 3 weeks/rounds. Round 1 the top 50% of vote-getters in each category will advance to the next round, with the exception of the “Angler” category, the top fifty will advance to Round 2. The top 5 in each category will advance into the final round, Round 3. KACA polls will only be active during the voting and nominations phases.

Click here to vote.

round 2 vote now

Thanks,

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Vudu vs Mojo : Imitation Shrimp Baits

Let’s compare some of my favorite  imitation shrimp baits.  Most everyone in the fishing world is familiar with Gulp shrimp, but there are a couple of fairly newer baits on the market that are giving Berkley a run for its money.

Let’s face it, with names such as Vudu and Mojo (both similar names referring to the black arts and magic) they have a large claim to live up to.

operationfish.com compares vudu and mojo shrimp

Vudu,  was the first of the two baits to come along. In their early days people flocked to Vudu because of it’s realistic shrimp appearance. In those days Vudu Shrimp got a bad rap for having weak hooks that would often bend when consumed by a worthy adversary. Those days have come to pass as Vudu, (Egretbaits.com),  took those complaints to heart upgrading their hooks to mustad black nickel hooks.

The baits cost on average $6.99 for a pair.  They are quite sturdy, far more than you would think by their appearance.  Their packaging even states the following: “Tough as Hell, Built with nylon weave”.  I can attest to that as I have used the same Vudu shrimp for numerous trips landing numerous fish.

vudu shrimp combo art

The package claims they are best fished under a popping cork. (I would suggest adding an after market scent or flavor. The shape and contour of the bait makes it easy to apply and utilize with assorted aftermarket scents.

vudu shrimp colors

I enjoy fishing the bait without the a popping cork. It is a little light for casting great distances, but a resourceful fisherman can find ways around that challenge.  Fishing out of a Hobie kayak I can easily pull one behind me as I move from location to location. The actual weight and the shape of the pre-rigged jig head makes it a great bait for trolling.

The packaging comes with the following disclaimer.

Caution: do not mix product with stand soft plastics.

This has not poised a problem for me as of yet. (With this brand anyway.) Operationfish.com gives Vudu Shrimp and Egret Baits a thumbs up for this product. Every fisherman should have at least one in his box.

Now let’s move on to discuss the H2O  Xpress Mojo Shrimp. This is an affliate company of Academy. I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to being frugal.  I love to save money. let’s face it, you can spend a lot fishing, as my wife often reminds me.

The Mojo Shrimp probably started as a knock off of the acclaimed Vudu Shrimp. At first it was not built with the same quality. Although, it to has gone through some changes. It looks more and more like the Vudu Shrimp every time I see it. Almost everything about it is the same.

mojo shrimp pair

The one beef I have with Mojo Shrimp is how it reacts when stored. I try to keep it separated from other plastics as the packaging warns, but I have found that they melt when stored in my tackle box. After I tie on one from the package I do probably what  most fisherman do. I put the second shrimp in my box in case I need it later. But later never comes as they always seem to melt.

Other than the melting, they seem to preform with the same results as Vudu shrimp.

On a positive note, Mojo Shrimp are slightly cheaper then the competitors only costing on an average $5.99 a pair.

There is yet a third imitation shrimp product that seems awful similar to the two mentioned above. They are called the TPE Manic Shrimp distributed by http://www.savagegear-usa.com/

manic shrimp

I have not yet tried this product but I can’t wait to get my hands them.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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2015-2016 IFA Kayak Fishing Tour (Schedule Released)

Next season’s kayak schedule has been released. Mark your calendars!!

2015 IFA schedule

2015-IFA-Kayak-Schedule Click here for the PDF

They are very well run events with national exposure.  Prizes are great.  The camaraderie of fellow fisherman is awesome.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Yak Angler Choice Awards

Help us advance through round #1.

Angler choice

Below are the categories for which you can vote.

1) Angler 

2) Kayak 

3) Paddle 

4) Forum 

5) Magazines 

6) New Product 

7) Retailer 

8) Location 

9) Video 

10) Blog 

In each of the first two rounds, the top 50% of vote-getters in each category will advance to the next round, with the exception of the “Anglers” category. Of the 160 anglers nominated, the top fifty will advance to Round 2, and the top ten of those will advance to the final round of voting.

There will be three rounds of voting:

Round 1: 12am EST Monday Oct. 27 – 8pm EST Sunday Nov 2

Round 2: 12am EST Monday Nov 3 – 8pm EST Sunday Nov 9

Round 3: 12am EST Monday Nov 10 – 8pm EST Sunday Nov 16

Results will be announced on November 24. At this point, it’s all up to you! Please review the categories and cast your votes in each round as we progress through the process.

Visit: www.yakangler.com/choice to vote!

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Slight Change Required

 

Saturday, 10-25-14, I met up with some friends to do some inshore fishing in East Matagorda Bay. The inventor/owner of The Line Cutterz Ring was bringing with him a long time friend from Florida. He is a advent fisherman but this would be his first kayak fishing adventure as well as his first Texas marsh fishing trip. I loaned him a Hobie Outback and after a short tutorial he was on the water ready to pursue some Texas sized aquatic game.

We got a late start to the day but by 9AM we were skirting the grass line searching for evidence of hungry redfish. The red fish we hiding so were moved out to some shell and Vance (Owner & inventor of The Line Cutterz Ring) soon hooked up on a nice trout.
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Vance soon after landed a hefty a flounder.  It seemed as if everyone could catch fish but me.  (This is probably why I failed to take many pictures this day. I may have been a bit cranky.)

We continued working a shoreline.  And I decided to try a cove that has continuously produced reds for me in the past. I worked my way in and noticed a big ripple of water being pushed along the grass.  I quickly casted my pink Rapala Skitterewalk a few feet ahead of the ripple and waited. As it got closer I began my retrieve. The ripple disappeared and I thought I had spooked the fish when I heard a gulping sound and my topwater disappeared, no tug, it just disappeared. I quickly reeled in the slack and the fish that was heading straight toward turned and the fight began with a ripping of drag from the reel. After a few circles around my Hobie Pro Angler I landed this nice redfish.

red 10-25-14

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Eventually we worked our way back towards the launched. We were ready to find some lunch and try a new location. On the way back we visited some other friends of mine that were fishing the area. This is when I had an enlightening realization. I had recently switched from using bait casters to now strictly spinning reels. I really like the low profile bait caster reels, especially on my topwater rod, but they just don’t seem to hold up in the saltwater as well as a simple spinning reel. I fish hard and often and am constantly replacing bait caster reels. This gets to be expensive. (And lets face it, casting a bait caster into a strong head wind gets to be a pain, one rat’s nest after another.)

My last two trips out, I have left my bait casters behind and fished exclusively spinning reels.  I throw topwaters most of the time. And while fishing next to my friend he was awarded blow-up after blow-up while my exact same lure was left untouched. Our baits could be feet from each other but the result was the same.

At this point, I noticed my retrieve was slightly different holding the spinning reel as compared to what it was using a the bait caster. My “walk the dog” motion was slower and more erratic with a spinning reel. Basically, the back and forth (side to side) motion was greater then before resulting in a slightly slower retrieve. This must come from the downward bend in my wrist caused from the “under the rod” reel position. The low profile bait caster keeps my wrist straight which results in shorter quicker flicks of my wrist. This change in wrist position results in a slower retrieve than in the past. My friend suggested I move to a stiffer rod with a slower tip reaction. (I’ll keep you posted when this change occurs.)

As I was evaluating my topwater retrieve my other friends were on fish. It was trout after trout for the next 30 minutes to an hour. They were destroying the trout (some in the measuring in the middle 20’s range) using an unfamiliar brand of  a Sand Eel in black and chartreuse.  The brand came from Florida and closely resembled a Hackle Berry Hussler.

As abruptly as the bite had started it shut-off, just like that. We tried to grind out a few more fish, but they would no longer play along.

We called it a day and got some dinner. It was a fun day. I probably caught the least number of fish. I seem to be a slump. It might be time for a new lucky rabbit’s foot or something. Any suggestions?

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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The Line Cutterz Ring (Available Now)

Check out my buddy’s new invention. The product launched today.

A quick, convenient way for fishermen to cut fishing line. No more fumbling around for knives and clippers or cutting with your teeth.

HOW IT WORKS

The Line Cutterz Ring has an adjustable strap which will allow it to fit virtually any sized finger. After placing the ring on your chosen finger, mark the strap and cut off any excess material for a comfortable fit. When cutting line make a loop and pull it through one of the two slots. For cutting off taglines hold the lure and line in one hand then slide the eyelet of the lure close to the recessed cutting blades, which will leave just the right amount of line to ensure the knot will not pull out.

The product is new. Help him grow his business by purchasing a great product that will come in handy for any fisherman.

Visit his site and purchase your Line Cutterz Products now.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/487194613/the-line-cutterz-ring-a-ring-that-cuts-fishing-lin

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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