Lake Fayette Bass

The last two weeks have proven to be great for bass fishing, at least on Lake Fayette.  I have made numerous trips over that time period  and some of those trips have yielded 30 plus bass.

Todd Hart and Kozmo Bass 2

The fishing has been great. I have been locating fish in depths between 7 and 8 feet.

Todd Hart Bass

All bass have been caught using Cotton Cordell® Super Spot® 1/2 oz Lipless Crankbaits. The two colors I have been using are pictured below.

Cotton Cordelle Super spot lipless crankbaits

The bite has been best early in the morning and right before sunset. Some bass have been caught within the first hour after sunset.

Most bass have ranged between 14-18″. They are fun to catch, but not quite the trophy size I’m seeking.

Todd Hart Bass 2

 

The largest bass measured a hefty 21″. As you can tell from the picture below he bite after dark on the way back to the truck.

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I have found bass in numerous places throughout the lake.  But often times I have to spend a bit of time searching. They tend to be schooled up in various areas, however those areas seem to change daily.  The only consistency has been the depth.

Todd Hart Bass 3

The highlight of my recent bass trips has been the introduction of my dog, Kozmo, to kayak fishing. He really seems to enjoy it and I really enjoy his company.

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I learned real quick he needs to wear a lift jacket.

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After retrieving him from the water, I suited him up with the doggy PFD I brought along. It is made by Outward Hound and works nicely. The handle on the back of the jacket comes in handy.

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He seems to get excited whenever I hooked a fish and he always wanted to be part of the action.

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I think I’ll have to fasten a platform to the front of the Pro Angler. He really likes to stand up front. I guess that will be my next project. As soon as the winds die down I’ll be back out on the water seeking that trophy fish.

Until next time, tight lines and bent rods.

Operationfish.com siging out,

Todd Hart

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Early May Sharkfest

Sharks arrive off the Texas coast every summer as the waters begin to warm.  This summer the sharks seemed to arrive early, storming the beaches in force. I planned on catching some bull reds during the first weekend of May, but instead was greeted with shark after hungry shark.

The first fish I landed was indeed a red fish as I hoped to catch. He measured a healthy 41-42″.

Todd Hart bull red2 5-1-15

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I quickly and safely snapped a few pictures and released him to the calm ocean waters. I baited my size 10/0 Eagle Claw Circle Sea hook with a 4″ chunk of cut mullet and threw my line back out in hopes of catching another. It wasn’t long before I had another run. I was a bit grieved to find a small shark at the end of the line.

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He was quickly unhooked and released so I could try again. A few minutes alter I had yet another run. After a few quick drag pulling run I was once again let down by small black tip shark.

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He measured roughly 48′ and was also released safely.

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The baits were put back into the water with hopes of another red fish and within minutes I had another screaming run. What was  on the end of my pole was much bigger and stronger than the last couple. I quickly unhooked from my anchor line and went on a 20-30 minute “Kayak Sleigh Ride” through the cloudy greenish blue waters of the north Texas coast.

I almost had him to the boat when he encountered my rubber fins on Hobie Mirage drive. This would be the first time I have ever had a shark take bite out of my fins. (Nothing some duck tape couldn’t repair.) Then he dove and spent the next 10 minutes slowly swimming across the bottom. He finally got tired and my Trilene 30lb Big Game Mono line pulled him up. He would prove to be a nice 6′ plus bull shark.

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Once again he was released and I tried yet again for a red fish. I was fishing in shallower, much dirtier waters than the other kayakers in the ggroup. This should have landed me more redfish ,but that would not be the case as I soon hooked up on another black tip shark. This one put on a nice aerial display.

jumping shark

He came out of the water twisting and turning a number times. He finally ended up spitting the hook only to have it lodge in his pectoral fin which made it even harder to reel in.

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It turned out I would end up catching approximately 8 sharks all ranging from 30″ to about 78″ There were black tips, spinners, atlantic sharp nose and even bull sharks.

Todd Hart holding a small shark 5-1-15

The smaller ones were easy to handle. The larger sharks posed slightly greater problems.

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Some seemed to ask nicely for you to remove the hooks. They almost gave an inviting smile as they patiently await for you to remove the hook.

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Check out those some nice pearly whites. I’m assuming with all those teeth they must have some hefty dental bills.

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Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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2015 “Fishing Tackle Unlimited” Spring Kayak Demo Days

2015 FTU spring Demo Days

Come by the Hobie Kayak area and give them a try. I’ll be there all day to answer any questions you might have.

Todd Hart

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A Frugal Beginner’s Guide to BTB (Beyond the Breakers)

May 1st would be my first trip “Beyond the Breakers” in 2015. The forecast called for little to no wind and what limited breeze there would be came from the north affording an almost flat surf.  These would be prime conditions for an enjoyable day on the surf.

Todd Hart bull red3 5-1-15

Before you can venture out into the surf and past the breakers, you have to be prepared. First and foremost, pick the correct day with the right conditions.  Always check the weather and pay close attention to the wind. Winds in the single digits make for the most comfortable day. The direction of the wind is also helpful.

I  use a couple of trusty websites /phone apps. And then I apply some common sense.   Sites like “magicseaweed.com” and phone applications like “windfinder“are great for giving you wind speed but tend to  underestimate the surf and water conditions.  For example, if you are fishing the upper Texas coast and desire flat conditions you want a Northern or Western wind.  Look at the wind forecast and compare it to your local map.

Below is a screen shot using “MagicSeaweed.com”.

Picture from magicseaweed

You can gain a lot of information from sites like these, but always use caution.  It is best to fish with other people and always wear your PFD (Personal Flotation Device/ life vest).  I recommend having a water proof VHF. They float and can hold a charge for many hours. They can communicate with your fishing partners, check the weather conditions and if really needed contact the coast guard or nearby vessels.

Other items to take include.

  1. Sun screen
  2. Hat
  3. Fluids (water, Gatorade, etc) / snacks
  4. Medicine to avoid motion sickness (for some fishermen)
  5. Bait knife
  6. Anchor w/ float or a way to tie off to a rig (depending on your target and/or destination)
  7. Pliers with a good wire cutter
  8. Camera
  9. Fishing rod and reels
  10. Leaders and hooks.. Lots of leaders and hooks
  11. VHF radio (or phone)
  12. Fish grips

Todd Hart landing a bull red 5-1-15

Let’s talk gear. The more time you spend on the water the better idea you’ll get for what you actually desire. But let’s start with something simple and inexpensive for even the most frugal of fisherman.

Let’s begin with a fishing rod.  You need sometime a bit beefier than what you would use in the bay or a local pond.

  • Many beginning fisherman use the Shakespeare Sturdy stik. It ranges from $12 -$25. This is good entry level rod and I have used it to land many bull reds, sharks and kingfish.
  • A nice upgrade would be Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger rod. It ranges from $45- $65. It is a great rod, very strong but with some flex to it.

shakespeare tiger stik

Let’s move onto reels.  You could spend untold amounts on a good fishing reel.  But let’s start inexpensive.  Trust me you will eventually find the reel you want. And if you are anything like me you’ll drool over it while fishing with the reels I’ll mention below.

  • I often fish with reels as inexpensive as the Quatum Optix 60. It ranges in price from $20-30. Armed with 30 lb mono and a good leader it can handle most any fish you’ll hook up to.  When the salt water starts to wear at it, You won’t feel bad deposing of it and purchasing another.
  • A nice upgrade would be the Okuma Classic. This reel features a level wind and ranges at a very affordable price between $35- $60.  You can’t beat this little reel. I have landed countless sharks up to 9′ on this very rig.  For the same price or less as getting an “upper end” reel cleaned and serviced you could just depose of this reel and purchase a new one.

okuma classic

I basically arm all my “BTB” rods with 30lb mono. I tried braid which is what I use on all my smaller action rods and reels, but I came back to mono for the big stuff.  I prefer Trilene Big Game it’s rather affordable.

trilene 30lb

 

Leaders and hooks vary depending upon your target species. I would dare to say this is where I spend most of my money.  This determines if fish are hooked and landed.

  • Bull Reds (Oversized red fish). Leaders aren’t so important for these. But a good sized hook is. I prefer to use the Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Circle Sea 10/0. This is an easy hook to remove. The gap is slightly wider than many circle hooks ensuring more hook ups. My bait of choice cut mullet.  I prefer 4″ pieces.  Smaller sizes means more undesirable fish.
  • Sharks. A long leader is a must. I prefer to use approximately 4′ of cable with a swivel on one end and a Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Circle sea 10/0 (or larger) on the other. Sometimes with Sharks I float my bait under a balloon. Just a standard party balloon tied onto your fishing line. For bait I tend to use mullet, ray, or bonita. Heck, I have even thrown out gaftop.
  • Kingfish. This requires a steel leader as their speedy bullet like attacks mixed with their sharp teeth cut through most any line.  You can purchase kingfish leaders at most any coastal bait shop. If you plan on trolling baits like commonly used ribbon fish, I would recommend a leader with 2 to 3 hooks (I like treble hooks, but many people like a simple “J” hook as it is sometimes safer in a kayak with a lively fish jumping around next to your legs. (Trust me I learned the hard way.)

kingfish pro rigs

  • Red snapper. 12″ – 18″ mono leader armed with a Cirlce hook and a slide weight when using live bait. Just hook it through the lip and drop it down. Or try jigging with a butterfly jig on a leader.

shimano butterfly jig

  • Small bait fish.  Sabiki Rigs. These little rigs are set up with multiple tiny hooks and can be use to jig for bait.

sibiki rig

This guide is by no means a tell all to BTB (Beyond the Breakers) kayak fishing, but it should help you get started with just a modest budget. I am by far one of the most frugal fisherman around and these items I have listed have passed my rugged test of value per-cost.

I hope you find this article helpful. Until next time happy fishing.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Fish in the Storm

Last weekend we managed to get some fishing in despite the nasty weather. We launched in what appeared to be pleasant conditions. We worked our way out into the bay right before sun up and found some underwater structure to fish.  I began throwing my favorite topwater lure, a pink Rapala skitterwalk, it wasn’t long before I landed my first, nice trout.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I received a number of blow-ups right after, but it seemed like the fish had some horrible aim and kept missing the lure all together.

Not long after sunrise, we began hearing the scary noise of thunder off in the distance.  We watched as a storm missed us by passing just off to the north. We proceeded to fish as trout continued missing my topwater lure time and time again. (It was becoming discouraging.)

A second storm loomed in the distance and it seemed to change directions  heading right towards us.   The tip of my fishing rod began to hum an eerie vibration and we became concerned and decided to high tail it back to the boat launch.

Todd Lightening bolt 1

Todd Lightening bolt 3

Before we cleared the open bay, the winds picked up to an unnerving strength. We picked up our pace and before long we found ourselves fighting strong winds and rough waters.

I felt a sense of relief when we hit the beach-house lined canals that supplied a refuge from the horrifying conditions of the open water.  There we were hit by winds approaching 60 mph which spun both our kayaks around in 360 degrees and almost turtling us both.

stormy conditions

The rain came down in sheets and the wind howled in extreme gusts. We finally made it back to the truck and loaded up in the mist of the storm. We were thankful to be safe inside the warm, dry truck.

The next day we came back to the same location and tried again. The conditions were much more pleasant, but the fish were scarce. There were a number of blow-ups again, missing my topwater plug completely. I did manage to land another nice trout.

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My trout seemed to have been attacked by a predator at some point in his early life, as he had a missing portion of his dorsal fin and upper back.

I persistently worked the submerged structure and continued to miss many “blow-ups”. The fish seemed to be missing by up to 12″ on occasion. It was a strange morning once again with fish seeming to have a major issue with depth perception.

I finally saw some nervous bait and made a cast over the disturbance.  Soon I witnessed a wake chasing my bait. After a short pursuit, I was hooked up to a small slot red.

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The red was barley legal so I released him.  My wife was only granted one fish for dinner on this day. To our luck, the thunder in the distance ran us off the water once again.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Ty Southerland w/ 30milesOut Does it Again

Ty Southerland’s videos found on 30milesOut.com have always been some of my favorite. He has done a great job over the years helping kayak fishing grow to the sport it is today. His latest video series keeps his legend alive.

Video #2 of the series

 

Video #3 of the series

 

Video #4 of the series

 

Video #5 of the series

 

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

 

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Big Ones Last Week, Not So Big This Week

Last Saturday, my fishing partner and I decided to pre-fish for the LSKS Kayak redfish tournament. We hit one of our trusty spots and did quite well. We pretty much spent the day throwing topwater plugs. We both commonly throw a Pink Rapala Skitterwalk. As usual in this this particular location Grant out fished me. However, I did manage to land a couple of quality fish.

My day was going slow compared to Grant. Then I saw a ruckus in the water. The fish was huge so I decided to try my hand at catching him. He seemed to disappear. As I continued my search I noticed some other fish thrashing in the water chasing some bait. I hurled my pink Skitterwalk up past the commotion and began my retrieve. It was only moments before my reel was screaming as the drag struggled to keep it’s line on the spool. After a worthy fight and a number of missed attempts at netting the redfish I finally had him in the boat.  He was healthy 28″. It would make a prefect fish on tournament day.

Todd Hart redfish 4-11-15

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After a few quick pictures and a measurement he was released.

Todd Hart redfish release 4-11-15

Our fishing got cut short when a storm blew in. It came in a bit faster than we expected and the conditions got real scary. The wind began howling at 40 plus mph, the rain came down in sheets, and the thunder and lightening boomed all around us. We thought it best to pull up on a tiny island. We were so nervous we actually laid down on a low spot upon the oysters hoping to avoid a lightening strike. After about an hour of terror the rain cleared taking the lightening with it.

We fished for about another hour and I’m glad we did as I landed this trout.

Todd Hart 28 inch trout  4-11-15

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After a few moments of pictures and measurements he too was released to rough waters to be caught another day.

Todd Hart 28 inch trout release 4-11-15

Todd Hart 28 inch trout revive 4-11-15

I didn’t catch tons of fish that day but I did manage a few quality fish.

Unfortunately, on tournament day we returned to same location and didn’t have the same luck. I tried the the same strategy and only landed one small red.

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He wasn’t very big, only measuring 21″, but had a total of 6 spots.  He would be my only legal red of the day. Grant ended the day also with a small red so when the day ended we swallowed our pride and went home to our families, tails tucked between our legs.  I guess there is always the next tournament.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Lone Star Kayak Series

Here is my plug for one of the best kayak tournament series around.

lsks home

This is a well run event and a great time. I give it a thumbs up and plan on attending.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd

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White Bass and Hybrid Bass

Easter morning my wife gave me a pass for a morning trip. The family gathering was not scheduled until afternoon. I loaded up and headed for Lake Sommerville. I heard that white bass and hybrids were there and hungry.

I drove around a bit and found a nice place to launch and headed began searching for fish. I’ve never really fished for hybrids before and didn’t know what to expect.   I hooked a few large alligator gar using my small tandem trout rigs but was unable to land the prehistoric looking monsters. I had two next to the boat before my tiny hooks slipped out of their bony tooth mangled mouths. After a few choice words I began my search for hybrids.

Finally, I landed one and boy was I surprised at the fight they possessed. I had no idea these little guys had such heart.

Todd Hart Hybrid Bass

I only caught two that morning but was pleased none the less.

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Both fish were caught using small tandem white trout rigs.

tandem spec rigs

I also tried using a small  blue chrome Rapala Rattle trap and it scored me a couple large white bass, my largest ever (16″ are considered trophy size).

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I did manage to finish off the day with a “kayakwars.com” three species slam when I landed this nice channel cat.

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All and all it was a fun day of exploring a new place and landing a new species. I think I enjoy catching hybrid bass and may make a few more trips targeting these feisty fighters. They can really give your line a tug and put a bend on a pole.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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East Texas Spring = White Bass

Spring is a fun time of year. The aggressive fast hitting white bass make their spawning run up stream.  You can pretty much hit any tributary pouring into a Texas lake and find these fun little fish.  I enjoy fishing the tributaries that empty into Lake Livingston (East Texas).

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This year I got a late start due to my many other commitments. Other fisherman had some really successful trips in February. I wasn’t able to make my first trip until mid March.  The beginning of March was tormented with strong rains causing the action to slow but I was still able to find a few.

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There are a number of baits to chose from. I often times make my own dual rigs. I take an approximate 3′ mono leader and and fold it over making two ends, one about 2′ and the other about 1′. I then tie a loop knot at that point. The loop can then be tied onto my fishing line. This leaves two ends, one slightly shorter than the other for which to tie my lures.

I like using small road runner jigs with varied colors of soft plastic jig/grubs.

road runner jig

 

Sometimes you have to experiment with colors to find what seems to be desired that day.

road runner jig white

 

Below is a picture of my son, Chris, pulling in a double. The action is fun when you time the spawning run just right.

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There are many other options for lure choices. Sometimes I like to use small crank baits or the ever so popular pet spoon.

pet spoon

I suggest you hurry and and target some white bass before they make their way back to the deeper water of the big lakes.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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