4th Annual CCA Texas/ Castaway Cup

castaway rod tournament 2

castaway rod tournament sponsorsjpg

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Afternoon Trip to Chinquapin

I had a free afternoon, however  the wind was forecast to blow strong from the north. I looked over the map and decided to try out Chinquapin. It’s an area I seldom fish. As a matter of fact, not many kayak anglers visit this area due to the long rough dirt road.

chinquapin road map

It is located on the north east corner of East Matagorda Bay making it fairly protected from a north and a east wind.

chinquapin North road map

The road entering the area can be a difficult to find.

chinquapin road mapOnce you do find it, you have a long rough and bumpy road to travel. It is secluded, often times muddy and infested with hungry mosquitoes.  Doesn’t it just sound like a great place?

Once arriving I quickly unloaded my gear and pedaled across the inter-coastal canal and through the cut at Live Oak Bayou.

When I first arrived, I thought it was going to be a great night. On my first few casts there were numerous blow-ups, however the fish were a bit on the small side.


One of my many tiny trout.

Then, shortly after I arrived, the bite just seemed to stop. I spent a couple of hours throwing my trusty pink Rapala Skitterwalk, I tried it in numerous areas. I tried deep, I tried shallow, I tried over shell and I tried near the grassy shoreline. The fish just seemed to stop biting.

I stuck it out and eventually landed a couple more.


Here was my largest trout of the evening.

They weren’t to big, but at least I got to get out on the water and explore an area I rarely fish.


The area was pretty well protected from the strong wind.


Nice sun set.

Just as the sun set, the wind seemed to stop. the mosquitoes came out in force and I high -tailed it to shore, seeking the safety of my truck.

This may be a place I frequent more often as those pesky windy winter Northerns blow in.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Operationfish.com for the “Yakangler Choice Awards” Best Fishing Blog

We were nominated and made it through round 1 of voting for this year’s Yakangler.com/choice awards.

Help us advance to the final rounds.

Vote for operationfish.com for best fishing blog of the year.



Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Tragedy on Yegua Creek (Lake Sommerville)

I have been doing a bit of fishing on the Yegua Creek below the dam on Lake Sommerville. All my recent trips have been very successful. However, I was stunned when I showed up this particular weekend (9/27/15). I had just been there one week prior and the water level was at a normal level and the fish were plentiful. That is no longer the case.

nasty stream 1

The water level was super low as the dam was restricting the normal flow.

nasty stream 2

There were numerous dead fish and countless others struggling as they gasped for air.


As I made my way up stream, the view got much worse.

fish struggling to breathe

There were thousands of fish sitting below the surface trying desperately to survive.

fish struggling to breathe 2

There were entire pods of  with their backs sticking out of the water nearly to weak to move.


Buffalo with their backs exposed as they tailed through the now shallow water.

nasty stream 3

The further up stream we ventured the worse it looked.

nasty stream 4

The smell was horrible.

nasty stream 6

nasty stream 7

On a positive note, at least the vultures were feasting.

nasty stream 5

Finally, disgusted and disturbed we decided to turn around and search for a new place to fish.

We saw dead buffalo, carp, crappie, catfish, sunfish, large mouth bass and even a few hefty hybrids.  The only species that seemed to be surviving were the gar. I hope the area returns to it normal state in the near future.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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White Bass Below the Livingston Dam

When you think white bass, you generally think spring. However, they can be found in large quantities below the Lake Livingston even this time time of year.

Todd Hart White Bass

Saturday, 9/19/15, I made an afternoon trip to the dam. It is only an hour NE of Houston.

small scale Livingston dam

If you plan on launching here you must first stop Bowder’s marina to purchase a pass for their launch/park.

large scale Livingston dam

This time of year the dam is releasing much less water than spring.


Lake Livingston Dam

The white bass were numerous. And ranged in size from 10-16″.


Texas Sized White Bass

Some were caught using tiny silver spoons, like the Pet spoon.pet spoon

I was using a small spoon similar to this one.

plain silver spoon

Sometimes I like these heavier spoons if the current is ripping.

heavy silver spoon

Most fish however were caught using small spec rigs.

tandem spec rigs

If I don’t have spec rigs handy. I make due with small roadrunner jigs.

road runner jig white

A simple spec rig can land you many fish. Sometimes two at a time. And let me tell you, two nice white bass can really put a bend in your rod. These little guys can fight and be very aggressive.

I really love catching them on small topwater plugs like the Zara Spook Puppy. Sometimes the white bass will chase schools of shad around the basin boiling the water as they chase them to the surface.  You can even follow the birds like you would if you were chasing schools of hungry trout in the bay.

Zara Spook puppy

On this particular evening I probably landed roughly 40 to 50 white bass myself.  I had so much fun I just kept catching and releasing.

When you are fishing in the rivers you just never know what you will catch.  Such as the average sunfish.


Colorful Sunfish

Crappie can be caught using the same spec rigs.



Sometimes you end up with catfish.


Catfish also caught on a spec rig

And who knows, sometimes you end up with even cooler fish.

Todd Hart Striped Bass

This striped bass wasn’t huge but measuring in at 21″ it was a pleasant surprise when you plan on catching white bass.

load up your gear and get out there. You won’t be disappointed.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Switching It Up And Going Fresh

Sometimes life gives you lemons or in this case windy weather.  Mom always said, “make lemonade”. I took that advice and applied it to the windy conditions of last weekend and found a place protected from the wind. Of course, that meant I had to chase some different species than I usually target. It made for a fun couple of days.

Todd Hart Crappie2

We looked for a low laying area surrounded by tall trees that wasn’t to terribly far from our Katy homes.  We chose Lake Sommerville and fished down stream from the dam.

Lake Sommerville below the dam

The launch is fairly easy and well protected.

Sommerville river launch

Before even launching we found tons of fish in the narrow body of water.

Grant Justus tiny bass

The small large mouth bass were plentiful as were the buffalo.



There were gar everywhere in the river.  I hooked a few but had a hard time actually getting them into the boat. Grant was having much better luck as he was using some heavier hooks on the jigs he was using.


Gar I landed on a crank bait


They have such tiny and bony mouths

The crappie were plentiful although most were around the 10″ mark.  We had to grind through a large number before finding a few larger ones.


One of my larger crappie of the weekend

Todd Hart Crappie

Here is another 12″ plus crappie

Throwing crank baits also landed a number of freshwater drum.


Largest freshwater drum of the weekend

The most common fish we landed were catfish, both channel cats and blue cats. They loved my crank baits.

Todd Hart Blue catfish

Blue catfish

Todd Hart Blue catfish2

Channel catfish

Todd Hart Blue catfish3

Another nice blue cat

I was surprised to not find any white bass or hybrid bass. I was hoping to find some in the area.

It was nice to get out and hide from the wind. I found that the chasing freshwater species was fun I an different way. I may have to get back to my rots and do it more often. I even made a new friend out on the water.


This dove hung out on the back of my kayak for quite sometime

I think this poor dove might have been using me as a shield. Dove season is upon us and I think he was seeking safety perched on my Micro (Power) Pole.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Bull Reds and Sharks

On Labor Day I made a second trip “beyond the breakers” in search of bull reds.  I found a few mixed with a handful of sharks. The red fish seemed to be in a bit shallower water on this particular day compared to a couple of days earlier.

Whenever I was in the deeper, cleaner water I would land sharks.

shark2 9-7-15

I was only fishing in about 11-12′ of water.

shark3 9-7-15

This particular shark was over 5′.  He was one of six.

shark4 9-7-15

Here is another shark I landed shortly after.

shark6 9-7-15

All sharks were safely released.


One of the smaller sharks landed on Labor day.


I thought about bringing one of the smaller sharks home for dinner. They lucked out as I was not prepared and failed to bring ice.


Another shark approximately 5′.


Check out those teeth. A bite would be painful.

Once I moved shallower into the dirtier water I found some nice reds. (Approximately 9′)

Todd Hart 3 fighting a Bull red9-7-15

For a while we were soaked in a down pour.

landing a Bull red9-7-15

“Fish Grips” come in handy.

Todd Hart Bull red9-7-15

The reds were plentiful in the dirty water.

Todd Hart 5 Bull red9-7-15

These brutes have some power and I find them a thrill to pursue.  It’s one of my favorite things to do in the fall months, providing the weather cooperates.

Todd Hart CPR a Bull red9-7-15

If you are fast with hook removal and taking of pictures each fish can be safely released.

Todd Hart releaing a Bull red9-7-15

All fish were caught on cut mullet using a a size 10 eagle Claw circle hook. (I like their wider gap compared to some other brands.)  I suggest using large pieces of bait to avoid catching gaft-tops.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Early Bull Red Spawning run

On Friday (9/5/15) I met up with some friendly Texas kayak fisherman near High Island, Texas (Upper Texas Coast). Kayakers have been posting on internet forums all week that weather conditions would be favorable for a calm BTB (off shore) trip. I stopped by my favorite bait & tackle shop (The Sea Pony Bait and Tackle) and picked up some supplies. I needed a few more leaders, hooks and a few pounds of the largest mullet they had in stock.

After a short visit, I pointed my truck towards the beach. It wasn’t long before I was pedaling out through some 2′ surf. It wasn’t quite as calm as predicted, but one of the better days to say the least. I ventured out without the aid of a fish finder and decided to pedal until seeing a bunch of nervous bait. This put me in what I would find out later to be 11-12′.

I baited my hooks and went to work.


Cut your mullet into large pieces to reduce catching unwanted gaft-top.

It wasn’t long before I began landing fish.

Todd Bull red


The fish were fat and ready to spawn

The action was pretty steady most of the day. I was forced to deal with a few unwanted gaft-tops and a few pesky sharks. One shark even bit clean through my hook.


Shark bit through the “Sz 10” Eagle Claw  hook

On one of my casts I retrieved a small croaker. He was smaller than the bait I originally threw out.


Somehow I caught this tiny Croaker

I decided to throw the croaker out as bait. It wasn’t long before I had a drag screaming run. Unfortunately, I failed to land what I assumed to be a large shark.

I went back to throwing mullet and landed a few more nice sized red fish.

bull red 9-5-15

Todd Hart Bull red

Bull reds put up one heck of a fight. These fish have some massive shoulders and can really put a bend in your rod. My Shakespeare Ugly Stick Tiger rods preformed well pulling in quite a few fish. These were armed with Okuma Classics Bait casting reels with 30lb Trilene Big Game Mono.

Todd Hart Bull red sunrise

One of the trickiest obstacles to overcome is fitting the entire fish in the camera lens. However, if you work quickly, you can safely unhook the fish, snap a picture or two  and release them back into the wild.

Todd Hart releasing a Bull red

Fall is the best time to get into some real steady bull red action. The next two months should be great. gear up and get out there.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Spur of the Moment Offshore PINS Trip

Sometimes the conditions are just right and you are almost forced to make a trip to the coast. That’s exactly what happened last weekend. The weathermen called for little to no wind and the surf predictions were 0-1′ seas. How could I pass that up?


I contacted two friends and we departed the greater Houston area around 2:30 AM and made the long journey south to Padre Island National Seashore. We found ourselves at the Corpus Christie causeway before sunrise and began our search for ribbon fish. This was the bait we planned on trolling as we searched for kingfish. It took us three stops before finally finding what we needed. We walked out with 5 dozen frozen ribbon fish and a couple bags of ice.

We drove down the beach until reaching our destination and quickly readied our gear.


The clouds were a bit concerning as they hovered over the coast. The rain seemed to stop as the sun rose.


We made our way out to the lonely rig. I trolled a silver spoon and a ribbon fish. To my surprise there were no hits on either bait all the way out. All around the rig birds were diving and spanish mackerel were jumping. We spent a while chasing birds and hungry schools of SMACKS (spanish mackerel).

The spanish mackerel were not interested in anything we threw. I left my ribbon fish behind me the entire time and nothing even touched it. I did manged to trick one small spanish mackerel to bite.


Spanish Mackerel (Smack)

I decided to go back to trolling for king mackerel. I spent a couple of hours trolling circles around the rig. Nothing even touched the ribbon fish.

After a while, I noticed my friend Thomas had switched to jigging a butterfly jig and began catching blue fish and lady fish.  I was getting disgruntled and bored so I switched to jigging as well. I didn’t have much luck with the butterfly jig except for a couple of lady fish so we switched to using pieces of our ribbon fish.


Juvenile Red Snapper

This resulted in a bunch of small snapper for myself. Thomas did mange to land a few legal ones.  I continued grinding away only to catch small fish after small fish.


Lane snapper

At this point, we decided to troll out to a lone stand pipe about another mile out.  This resulted in a small shark.


3′ shark

This would be the only thing interested in my ribbon fish all day. We jigged a bit by the stand pipe and found fish slightly larger but still way smaller then one would hope for.


Lane snapper

This would be my biggest snapper of the day. Some days, it seems, the fish just won’t cooperate.

packing upWe packed up and made the long journey home.

Operatiofish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Reflections & Results: Port Aransas IFA Tournament

Days two and three of my marathon tournament weekend put me in Port Aransas (City Marina) for the tournament check-in and captain’s meeting for the August 2015 IFA stop in Texas.  The tournament entry fee is only $50 with an optional extra $50 for the “Angler Advantage” pot (which has 100% payout back to participating anglers).

This is a well run CPR (Catch, Photo, & Release) tournament with a hefty payout for the top three anglers; with a few other methods of payment going out to participates in the “Angler Advantage” pool and other side pots.

1st place = $1500

2nd place = $1000

3d place = $500

Dinner was catered and provided at the captains meeting.

I found two things disappointing. First and foremost was the unexpected change to the tournament weigh-in. It was moved 45 minutes south to a location located in an entirely different town (Corpus Christi).  This caused many anglers to scramble for new plans at the last minute. The second issue with the tournament is the traffic associated with the ferry crossing onto and off of the island. It took me nearly two hours to board the ferry.

Tournament launch was not permitted until 6:45 AM. In order to keep all anglers honest your first picture of the day must be dated, time stamped and include your kayak, ruler and custom token.


Required Pre-tournament photo

I’m not too familiar with the area and was not afforded the opportunity to pre-fish. I decided to gamble and launch at the Fin and Feather Marina. This would grant me the opportunity to fish the proximity of Hog Island and also allow me to explore an area known as “The Trenches”.

Aransas Pass

Aransas Pass satelite view

I hit a couple of spots in search of trout but was unable to find any. Along the way to “The Trenches” I did find a rat red measuring a mere 17″. I continued until I arrived at “The Trenches”. As soon as I arrived I saw some birds working. I made a few casts with my trusted Rapala Pink Skitterwalk and found it was a large school of lady fish. They proved to be fun to catch but worthless for the tournament. I continued working the area and finally landed a 17″ trout. Unfortunately, he was fouled hooked with both sets of treble hooks lodged in his back. The tournament rules disqualify fish that are fouled hooked so I was forced to release him with no picture. He would not count.

I drifted the area standing on my Hobie Pro Angler in search of schooling fish and finally drifted over a school of about 15-20 slot redfish. I quickly made a cast and somehow pulled out a small 12″ trout and the school scattered. I was perplexed.

I worked the area over thoroughly.  I talked to a few boaters that mentioned the topwater bite was awesome early in the morning (before I arrived. Just my luck.) After a while with no further action, I made my way back towards Hog Island.


I worked the shoreline and was becoming worried I might have made the wrong choice in locations.  I was daydreaming and checking out nature when suddenly on one of my many blind casts an explosion erupted. A giant fish sprang clear out the water totally inhaling my topwater plug. The drag ripped and I became excited thinking I had hooked a monster trout.  After an exhilarating fight I saw the fish up close and realized he was only a redfish, but a BIG redfish. I landed him and quickly took his photo.

Todd Hart IFA Redfish 8-16


Nearly 30″ redfish

Todd Hart redfish2

In most redfish tournaments a fish this large would not count. However, in a CPR type tournament such as this an oversized redfish counts and is greatly desired.

Now the stress was on. I had a really nice redfish but no trout to complete my two fish aggregate  of one speckled trout and one redfish. I hit a few more spots fishing hard during my last hour or two. I was forced to go in a bit earlier than I had expected due to the move in weigh-in locations.

I finally called it a day with only half of the species required.  I pedaled back to my truck loaded up and made the 45 minute drive to the weigh-in in hopes of possibly winning the “Big Redfish Division”.

2015 IFA

Texas IFA 2015 results

As you can see from the results above (the top 25) many anglers had far better results than myself. I was forced to depart the weigh-in with no prize money. I didn’t even win a door prize from the drawing. All I left with were a stomach full of hot dogs, chips and sodas.

There is always next time. This just means I have to fish more. I have to inform my wife I need more practice; more time on the water, and more time fishing.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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