Pluggin’ Away with Corkie’s

This time of year is hectic for me. My real-life job is a teacher /wrestling coach. This is the middle of wrestling season and that takes a toll on my fishing time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I still enjoy the sport and watching the kids grow and train. It’s just hard to be competitive on the fishing scene as well as the wrestling mat.

I try hard to get out once a week and fish for a few hours on Sunday evenings. This strategy earned me 2nd place in last month’s 321Fish.com’s TKF Trout Tango Tournament.  I hope to be competitive again this month with my busy-limited schedule.

I find the best startegy for my limited schedule is to get out on the water and land as many trout over 20″ as possible. I do this using Corkies or imitation Tsunami Corkies (which sink a bit faster.) I fish these over a combo of shell and mud near deeper water. I am forced to cover a great deal of water searching for fish.

This strategy has done well for me landing me many trout up to 27″ and mixed in a number of healthy redfish. I caught this guy below chasing a couple of diving birds Sunday 12/14/14)

Todd Hart redfish2 12-14-14

Depending on the water color I use a combination of colors. I like a bait that is similar to what the natural bait of the area appears to be. I like natural colors that are a mix of silver, brown and yellow. When the water is murky I switch to either pink or Morning Glory (purple and chartreuse yellow).

Working the shoreline in approx 3-3.5″ of water I also landed this nice trout on 12/14/14.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes, once I find a few trout holding in an area I’ll switch to a topwater.  I caught this trout last Sunday evening. He wasn’t big but there were a number of trout hitting the surface about and hour before sunset.

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This is one of my favorite times of year to chase big trout. Often I’m forced with a decision. I can either chase a bunch of schooling trout for fast action or I can plug away in a slow and tedious manner looking for the big solitary monsters often found closer to shore in shallow areas along the shoreline once the winter sun warms the water.

Operationfish.com signing out.

Todd Hart

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Corkie Season is Here

Thanksgiving break has arrived and I had an afternoon off. I loaded up my Pro Angler and headed for the coast. I arrived on the water at roughly 2:30 pm. The tide was a bit lower than it has been, the wind was howling out of the Southwest at 15-25 mph and the water was as dirty as chocolate milk.

The goal was to catch some trout for the current TKF Trout Tango tournament hosted on 321fish.com. The conditions were not looking favorable, even the birds were hunkering down in the marsh searching for bait and hiding from the strong winds. I tried to sneak up on a feeding spoonbill.

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I guess my big green kayak was hard to hide so he flew away in a flurry of pink.

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The wind was so rough I chose to stay along the shoreline to avoid the big waves and seek what little refuge I could find. I found an area where the wind had blown a pocket of dirty water along side some pretty clear-greenish water. I decided to speed some time fishing this color change.

This resulted in my first nice trout.

Todd Hart trout1  11-26

It wasn’t huge but a small upgrade.

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I continued working the color change with a slow sinking Corkie. The only other fish I landed here was a 19.5″ rat red. I decided to move on in search of greener pastures.

I then chased a large flock of aggressively feeding birds out in the open water. I was forced to work my way through some pretty rough waters due to the strong winds. As soon as I reached the feeding grounds the birds scattered. I fished the area for a few minutes. I found no action nor did I see any bait actively. I decided to head back to the sanctuary of the shoreline.

I worked the shoreline for about 2 miles and landed a few trout. Most were around the 17-19″ mark.

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The direction of the wind was actually pretty nice. It blew me right down the shoreline allowing me to drift fish my Corkie. I would just cast it out behind me and twitch it as the wind blew me along the shoreline.  This resulted in another nice upgrade.

Todd Hart trout2  11-26

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The sun had started to go down and I was a few miles away from my truck. I now was faced with pedaling back against the wind. Thank goodness for the Micro-pole. Every time I hooked a fish I could stop myself with the simple push of a button so I didn’t lose ground to the strong winds as I unhooked and took my pictures. (I highly recommend this item. There is a link to it on the right side of this screen.)

I continued catching fish all the way back. I ended with double digits numbers and one more upgrade.

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These three fish were enough to slide me back into first place.

321fish place 11-26

There are still a few days left in the month long tournament. I hope I can get out again to upgrade some more.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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TPWD Needs You: Help Report Illegal Fishing Activities

2014 tpwd wanted flyer

Operationfish.com signing out,

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.

Operationfish.com signing out,

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

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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.

Operationfish.com signing,

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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