Kayaking for Sharks

The last two days have been fairly calm. The winds have been soft and the breakers in the surf have been small. This gave me a chance to head out “Beyond the Breakers” (BTB) to target both Sharks and Bull Reds.  The beaches along the north Texas coast are loaded with both.

7 foot bull shark 4

Many people think you need a bunch of heavy duty expensive equipment for these monsters of the sea, but that’s not necessarily true. You can have an adequate set up for a very reasonable price.

Below is a list of items for the frugal fisherman.

1. Seven foot Shakespeare Sturdy Stick ($15-20)

2. Okuma Classic Pro fishing reel ($40-$45)

3. Fishing line 30-50lbs (100-200 yards)

4. Leaders (The longer the better for sharks) wire, 100 lb mono or cable. ($2-to how ever much you want to spend)

5. Circle Hooks. (I prefer size #10 Eagle Claw) ($4-6 per pack of three)

6. Party balloons for the days there is little to no current. ($1 per pack)

7. Wire cutters/ pliers

8. Bait (Cow Nose stingray, Mullet, bonita, basically any fish)

This list will set you up for both bull reds and sharks. (Although I would stick with cut mullet for the bait when targeting bull reds.)

Todd Hart 7-6

I usually target both species together. I equip one rod with a piece of cut mullet free lined off the bow. This requires a very simple set up; line, leader, hook,  3″-4″ piece of cut mullet. Using the head of the mullet is probably my favorite bait for bull reds. I simply hook it through the lips and chuck it out there and wait for the clicker to scream on the Okuma Classic reel.

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When fishing for sharks I sometimes use the same set-up. This works best if there is a current and the bait stays off the bottom. If there is no current I use nearly the same set up. The only thing different is I blow-up and tie a small party balloon directly on the line above the leader.  This acts as a float and holds the bait up higher.

Once hooking a shark I usually unhook from my anchor line and allow the shark to pull the kayak (A Texas Kayak Sleigh Ride). This eases some of the pressure on your line and your reel.  Once the shark tires out I usually pull him close to the kayak for a few modeling pictures.

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At this point, you’ll need those wire cutters or pliers I listed earlier. Cut the leader as close to the shark as you safely can. The shark will expel the hook with time. Watch out for the “tail whips”. They can really sting.

Red fish are a bit easier to deal with. You simply pull them to the boat, use some fish grips and pull them into your lap.  You can almost always safely remove the hooks from a red fish.  Even if its embedded way, deep in throat. Their teeth are usually small (sometimes sharp). Beware they have another set of teeth deep in their throat for crunching crab shells.

hook removal

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Now (July) is a prime time to target sharks. There seems to be a number of larger sharks not far off the beach. In the last two days I have caught bull sharks up to 7′ (Maybe larger) as seen in the picture at the top of this article.

Late summer through the fall is the prime time  to target bull reds. Although they can be found off the beach year round. Just today I landed four measuring up to 40″.

As soon as I get a chance I’ll be back on the water trying to land some more monsters.

Until next Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart
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Texas Kayak Sleigh Rides

Friday, July 11th, I decided to make a solo run past the white caps of the surf, venturing “beyond the breakers”. I was hoping to catch some bull reds but only found sharks, plenty of quality toothy critters.

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I stopped at, the Sea Pony Bait & Tackle shop to purchase some bait. Rick, the owner tried to talk me into purchasing a bonita for bait but I decided against it since I was targeting reds. Therefore, I only purchased about five  14-16″ mullet. After a short visit I loaded up and continued my journey to McFaddin Beach.

I pulled onto the beach and found it lonely. It was to early for most beach goers and no other fisherman decided to fish on this lovely day.  I readied my gear and pedaled out to 12′ of water.

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I cut my mullet into thirds and threw out two lines.  On one line was a mullet head hooked through the lips by a size 10 Eagle Claw circle hook tied to 150 lb mono. This line was just free lined and allowed to sink or float depending on the current, which was not to terribly strong this particular day.

The other line was the tail portion of the mullet on nearly the same rig set-up except this one had a small balloon tied just above the leader. The goal of this is to keep the bait up near the surface. (This method is used mainly for sharks. (I should have purchased that Bonita. I would kick myself later.)

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Once both lines were in play, I relaxed, but only for a few moments. The bait suspended under the balloon kept getting small runs leaving the mullet with small bites taken off. This must have been from small “puppy sharks.” The only fish to be taken under the balloon was a gaft-top catfish.However, the  free lined bait kept getting big runs which resulted in 6 sharks, a few missed runs, and two break-offs over the next four hours.

close up and personal

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With each big run I would unhook from my anchor line, allowing the shark to pull me and my kayak around for 15-20 minutes.  This is what we commonly call a “Texas Sleigh Ride” or a “Kayak Sleigh Ride”.  This takes away some of the pressure on your rod, wheel and line. The kayak sort of acts as a “drag”.  This allows a kayak fisherman to land fish nearly the size of their kayak. Well, CPR (Catch-photo-release), not really land. I wouldn’t put something that big and toothy in my kayak with me. (I made that mistake once and only once!!!!!)

The anchor is attached to a boat bumper or float on one end of the rope. This way, once unhooked from the anchor you can easily paddle back and reattach to your anchor line.  I like to use a “Nite-Ize S-biner” (S-shaped carbiner) for an easy quick release.

nite-ize

Most sharks on this day were black tips and spinners ranging roughly around 5′ in length. They tend to put on a great fight with some exciting aerial displays. Each fish would consume roughly 30 minutes by time you fought the fish, took a few pictures and pedaled back to the anchor.

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Once you get a shark to the kayak, beware. They usually have a couple of good bursts left within them.  This usually happens as soon as they bump your kayak.  You have to watch out for that tail. It can be painful. Once they feel that kayak they will quickly make a dive whipping that tail in the air.

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I have been left with a couple of bruises over the years from these sort of tail whips. You will be really surprised at the power of a shark.  Just try holding a small shark and you can feel they are made up of nothing but muscle and flexible cartilage ,which means they can flip/turn all the way around and get those deadly razor sharp teeth into areas that you might think were safe. Even handle the small ones with care.

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Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart
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Bull Reds Beyond the Breakers

This has been a strange year with abnormally strong winds. However, those winds are slowing allowing for adventurous trips past the surf, beyond the breakers (BTB). Usually the strong winds diminish in late spring, but this year they tend to be holding on into the summer.

The last two weeks have provided windows in the weather that have afforded opportunities to chase the bigger prey fish found in the deeper waters of the blue sea.

Todd Hart 7-6

Two weekends in a row now I have been able to make trips off the Texas coast to target Bull Reds. The weird weather patterns may be the reason that the reds have been skittish this summer. The number of Bull Reds I have landed this season is much less than years past.

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One of my favorite sites to target this species is found off the north Texas coast. The strip of beach between Rollover pass and Sabine lake tends to hold large numbers of reds and sharks alike. The bottom tends to be clay and the water along the beach tends to be a dirty brown color which provides the reds with cover.

McFaddin Beach map

The best bait shop in the area (The sea Pony) is actually located in Winnie. Stop in and say “Hello”. The owner, Rick is a great guy and a wealth of knowledge. He has all the bait and tackle you will need for the day’s excursion. I recommend you purchase approximately five pounds of fresh dead mullet. Try to get 5 or 6 mullet measuring 12-16″ in length.

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If you drive far enough down the beach to actually park in the area of McFaddin Beach you do not need a beach pass. If you fish on Bolivar Peninsula you should purchase a beach pass to avoid a ticket.

Items you will need:

1. An anchor with 50′ of rope.

2. two strong rod and reel combos equipped with 20-30 lb line.

3. large circle hooks and leaders (bring extras in case of sharks)

4. pliers

5. bait knife

6. Sun screen and a hat.

Once launching, I usually travel out 1/4 – 1/2 mile until I reach 12′ of water.  I drop anchor and bait my hooks.  I usually cut the mullet into 3″-4″ chunks, apply it to the large circle hooks, throw it out and wait. (No weight is needed, although I usually use leaders to avoid getting my line cut by sharks.)

On my last trip I only landed four redfish in the couple hours I was there. It was a little slow that day, but they ranged from 37-41″ in length.  These fish provide a good fight full of excitement.

3 Todd Hart 7-6

4 Todd Hart 7-6

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If you don’t find fish in 12′, pull anchor and go out a bit further.  My usual strategy starts with stopping at 12′.  If that doesn’t work I go out to 14′ and then 16′.  If all that fails I go back in to 10′ and work my way back to about 8′.  The reds tend to be in the dirtier water where as the sharks tend to be in the deeper cleaner water.

If possible, I like to fish right on a “color change”. This line tends top move in and out with the tide.

Redfish have small teeth, sometimes sharp, however, you should be able to retrieve your hook.

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You can reach right down into their mouth and rotate the hook free. Beware they do have a set of “crunchers” deep down their throat. They hurt too, but I can almost always retrieve my hook without killing the fish. (My fingers and hand usually needs a day to two to heal from all the scratches and small cuts, but I think it’s worth it to release the fish unharmed.)

It’s always a good idea to fish with other people when you venture out into the ocean.  A good marine radio is advised for someone in your party. Be sure to wear a suitable PFD and take along a healthy dose of common sense. Weathermen don’t always get the forecast correct, play it safe.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart
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Galveston Fish Score. Thanks Micro Anchor

The weekend is here. Work is done for a few days, now it’s time to fish. The weather conditions were not to brag about today. The fair weather fisherman stayed home, however two members of Anglers Elite braved the windy weather and rough waters to bring in some fish.

Todd Hart aided with a Micro Anchor

I met my fellow team member about sun up. He had launched approximately 30 minutes before to fish some lights. I arrived as the sun was peaking over the horizon only to be  greeted with winds above 20 mph and waves to match.
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The Micro Anchor by Power-Pole worked like a charm, with the push of a button I was able to quickly stop and secure myself to one location, even with the strong wind, large waves and an extremely hard sandy bottom. I’m becoming more and more impressed by this unit each time I use it.

MIcro Anchor holds in rough water.

I worked a top water lure along some structure and soon hooked up with a  silvery torpedo that exploded out of the water launching himself and my pink Rapala Skitterwalk a surprising distance into the air . The trout continued to jump showing off some true acrobatic skills. After a short fight he posed for this picture.

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After that the action slowed a while (a long while).  I managed to land a few smaller trout using a “Big Bites” curly tail grub in pumpkin and chartreuse. (Sorry they didn’t make it through the audition for any pictures.)

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Later, after exploring some new areas, I found myself back at the structure that produced the larger trout pictured above and I soon landed another decent trout. He too bit on the “Big Bites” curly tail grub.

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The action was slow and water was rough so we decided to call it a day. Along the way back we each landed a few small trout. Then I finally I hooked up with what I thought was a monster. It turned out to be a very stubborn and steadfast upper slot redfish.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite the hard work, I was able to walk away with a few trout for dinner and a few scoring fish for “Kayakwars.com”. You can’t complain about that.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart
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A Long Trip to the Oil Platform Off Surfside Jetties

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Saturday (6/21/14) I met up with a few other kayakers to make a trip to the buoys located off the Surfside jetties. We launched at the beach next to the Jetties.

launch

Three of us launched there and paddled/pedaled out to the first buoy. We then met up with another kayaker that had launched near the coast guard station. We went out past the second buoy and realized the water was not getting any clearer. Since the wind and waves were blowing from Southeast we decided to head that direction in search of clearer water.

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After a long paddle, we finally hit a weed line and clear water. At this point we were half way to the nearest oil platform (Black Pool 307).

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It is approximately 4.3 nautical miles from the jetty. (A nautical mile is about 1.2 standard miles.) It was quite a trip. I trolled ribbon fish along the way and took my time. (About 3 1/2 hours of my sweet time.)

My first run was a large blacktip. It put on an aerial display before breaking me off. A little while later I hooked up again with a small  Atlantic Sharp nose.

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After releasing him back into the water I began trolling once again. It wasn’t long before I hooked up on another black tip. He was roughly 4-5′ long. During one of his multiple jumps he spit the hook and the wire leader wrapped around his tail. This made for an interesting fight.

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I tried to unwrap the little guy but he wasn’t cooperating. He kept turning around trying to get a piece of my arm/hand. Eventually I had to just cut the leader and let him swim away.

I finally caught up to the other guys at the rig. I decided to drop anchor and relax a bit. I threw out a ribbon fish on one line and dropped down a piece of cut bait from a ribbon fish on another.

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The ribbon fish landed me a gaft-top. I unhooked him and threw on a new piece of bait and proceeded to dose off and a take short nap. I awoke to no bait on either line. I quickly threw on more bait and caught another a gaft-top on the bottom rig and missed a couple of runs on the ribbon fish. At this point, I looked to shore and saw some sketchy clouds moving in and the shore was becoming hard to see. I suggested to the others we make the long  paddle back incase the weather got bad.

As we were reeling in one of the other guys (Micah) hooked up and landed a nice kingfish. (I didn’t get a picture until we got back to shore.)

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It took us about two hours to pedal back with the help of the wind and the current. It was a long paddle, but a fun time. I wish we would have gotten into more kingfish, but at least Micah landed one.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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West Bay Trout (6/12/14)

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I woke up early and picked up my fishing buddy by 3:30 AM to made the long journey to Galveston’s West Bay.  We stopped along the way and purchased some live croaker. To our dismay the bait shops in Galveston did not open until 5:00 AM. We were forced to stall for a few minutes until the bait shops opened.

After getting our croaker we made the trip to our destination. We were unloaded and pedaling out to our target location by 5:45AM. Just after the sun came up we found our selves fishing the structure we were looking for.

I staked out using the “push button” ease of the Micro Anchor (by Power-Pole). I threw live croaker out on one rod while working a pink Rapala Skitterwalk over some shell on my other rod. In one of my first casts I missed a trout that rocketed out of the water missing my lure completely. However, just a few casts later I had landed my first nice trout.

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Just moments after releasing my first trout, I had a run on my croaker. It was another decent trout. (This would prove to be my one and only bite on the live croaker.) All other fish would bite the top action “walk the dog” action of the pink Rapala Skitterwalk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy buddy stopped nearby seeing that I was landing fish. He staked out rather close, but then all the fish seemed to leave. After around 30 minutes of no action, my buddy pulled his stake-out stick and headed to other waters. I elected to grind it out and shortly after my buddy departed, taking his “Bad Mojo” with him, I landed two more fish.

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The next would prove to be the largest of the day.

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My buddy came back and the trout once again stopped biting. I’m not sure why, but where he went the the trout seemed to flee. After a while he left and I caught my last of the day.

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As the morning went on the trout bite stopped. there would be no further “blow-ups” on the top water plug and no other runs on the live croaker. the pattern at this location proved to be consistent, a good early morning trout bite and then the action would just cease.

We decided to call it a day. I had landed 5 “Kayakwars Scoring” trout and my buddy, a fellow “Angler’s Elite”, team member ended the day with one scoring tout.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Beyond the Breakers (6/11/14)


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I finally got a chance to hit the surf. The wind was forecasted to be light and from the Northwest. This usually causes calm water. That was almost the case for Wednesday, 6/11/14.

We purchased our bait at Seapony Bait and Tackle in Winnie, Texas. After a short visit with the owner, Rick, we pointed my truck towards the ocean and made the last 20 miles of our journey. When we arrived at the beach we were greeted with a waves a bit larger than expected and a beach that was a bit washed away from all the rough waters we have had lately.

We soon found our selves anchored in about 11′ of water. Grant caught 7 small sharks before I even had a solid run. I was getting a bit disgruntled but finally I landed a few fish of my own.

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There were many small sharks and a good number around the 4′ range.

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Most of the sharks we landed were Atlantic Sharp Nose, but there were a small number of black tips mixed in.

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We were out there to target red fish (bull reds), but the small sharks were everywhere. We each landed sharks in the double digits. However, many were quite small.

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I never realized what pretty eyes they have.

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The largest of the day was about a 5′ black tip.

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I did manage to land a couple of other fish.  There was a nice black drum, affectionately referred to as a “Big Ugly”.

Todd Hart black drum

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I also landed one bull red.

Todd Hart red fish

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The trip back in was rather eventful.

tip over 1

tip over 2

tip over 4

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I have come back in many times in rougher water and didn’t have any issues. That was not the case this time.

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I think the picture above gives a good hint as to what happened next. I think so much water splashed over into the kayak and rushed to one side that the shear weight of the water pulled me over.

Oh well. All was good. Everything was lashed down and/or put away safely. There were two causalities. First, my fish finder died. The good thing is I pay for the Gear Guard Protection Program through Bass Pro Shop and the fish finder has since then been replaced at a low cost. Second, my twelve volt battery died due to exposure to the salt water (to be expected).

I can’t wait for the weather to allow for another trip.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart
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Photo Recap of the LSKS Redfish Tournament (6/7/14)


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Saturday, (6/7/14), my wife, Kristen, and I decided to participate in this season’s second Lone Star Kayak Series Event (LSKS). We decided to fish together along with a good pal Karl.

My wife readies her kayaks and gear before the official 6:00AM launch time.

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As you can see she was feeling a bit spunky despite our early 3:30 am departure time. (Waking up at 2:30 AM is always rough.) She was a trooper and as always a good sport.

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We worked a shoreline. I first landed a small 15″ red. Kristen landed a tiny croaker. After a while and many casts with my favorite pink Rapala Skitterwalk I finally landed a 22″ red.

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We continued exploring the vast marsh.

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The marsh went on forever and ever. There was tons of water to explore.

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In one of the deep canals we ran into Karl.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKristen got a hold of my camera and when I finally got it back I was surprised to find tons of entertaining pictures.

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The day ended with no other fish. We loaded up and made the long journey to check-in.

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All I had to weigh-in was my ONE small 22″ redfish. (He was alive at weigh-in so he scored me a 1/2 lb bonus.)

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Unfortunately, size matters, despite what my wife always tells me! My small, single redfish was not heavy enough to place me in the money.

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As always the tournament was well run, with tons of prizes for place winners, drawings and even within the captain’s bag.

The weigh-in was hosted Louis Bait Camp and Restaurant. The food was tasty as always.

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I gave it a thumbs up!

Operationfish.com signing out.

Todd Hart


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The Micro Anchor by Power-Pole

This weekend I was able to try out the Micro Pole for the first time.

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Wow, the unit is great and easy to operate.

micro anchor boat

As you can see from the picture above the micro anchor  was developed by the same individuals that have been outfitting boats in all the major tournament series. They have scaled down a unit to be fitted on smaller craft,which even includes kayaks.

micro anchor

I installed the unit in a matter of minutes on the back of my Hobie Pro Angler.  I did use an additional Hobie Mounting bracket to displace the pressure as I often fish in windy and wavy conditions.

micro anchor on PA

You can actually purchase an entire installation kit from Hobie which also includes the power pack.

micro anchor hobie kit

The unit is great for the Hobie Pro Angler Series.

micro anchor hobie infoIt is so nice being able to drop an anchor (or pole in this case) at the push of a button.

micro anchor controller

I did not use the Hobie Power kit.  I purchased a 12 volt battery, one commonly used for deer feeders. They only run about $20. I didn’t have time to install the unit as I would have liked.  With my time constraints, I just placed the battery and the extra length of power cord inside a dry bag. It seemed to work great.

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The unit comes with a remote controller on a lanyard. I wore this around my neck. As I traversed the marshy grass-line I was able to  just press the bottom and the unit would quickly and quietly stop me instantly. This was great for sneaking up on fish.

I have also had a chance to the unit in the open bay. It worked wonders while chasing bait slicks. I could work my way close to the slick, press the button, stop, make a few casts and repeat as needed.

The unit makes the Hobie even more “Hands free” than it already is.

Stay tuned as I share more stories and about the Micro Anchor in the days to come.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Galveston West Bay Trout 6/1/14

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My supportive wife decided to spend the morning fishing with me. I took advantage of this by waking her up at 2:00AM. I quickly showered and made my way to the garage to load up the equipment for the day.

Shortly after 4:30AM we found our shelves on the water. We fished a few lights on the way out to our target location but the trout weren’t eager to bite. I was in a hurry to get to my spot so I didn’t really put forth much effort.

Once I reached the bay I began throwing my favorite pink Rapala Skitterwak. The customary “walk the dog” method proved to be successful as I landed my first trout.

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I thought it was going to be a great day, but the trout just weren’t to interested in my top-water action. My wife and I worked the area for another couple of hours.

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Finally, I found another trout over a small pocket of shell.

Todd Hart Trout 6-1-14

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Another long window went by with no action on the topwater skitterwalk.  I switched to a couple of different color plastics and managed to land an undersized red.

A friend of mine and fellow Kayakwar’s team member, Jenson,  was having some luck soaking croaker.  Every time I worked past him he seemed to be measuring a trout.

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He ended the day with around 10 trout between 17-24″.

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The action was slow for me and my wife. I missed one other blow-up and my wife landed one small sand trout so we decided to call it a day. She was a trooper, fishing all day with no live bait.

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We were then faced with the long, hot pedal back to the truck. We were off the water by 10AM.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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