An Epic Topwater Night

Tuesday 3/17/15, I preformed my civic duty by honoring my jury summons. I was also lucky and released at and early time. So I did what every red blooded American should do and loaded up my kayak and hit the bay. I mean what choice did I have? The weather was close to 80 degrees and the water temperature would be in the 70’s for the first time all winter.

I found myself pedaling my Hobie Pro Angler along some shorelines chunking my favorite top-water, a pink Rapala Skitterwalk. I spent my first hour or two scouring a couple miles of shoreline with nothing to show for it. I was beginning to feel a bit of disgust as I had a plethora of work I tabled for this trip (I’m pretty good at procrastinating).

I switched to the wind blown side of the bay and continued fishing close to the grass.  Eventually, I heard the patented gulp of my plug being sucked under. After a stressful fight, where I almost lost the trophy trout. (I brought a small net and my Skitterwalk hook was stuck in the net while the fish was not.) I thought for sure I would watch this fish swim away but I reached for the fish by hand numerous times until I got grip of the slimy beast and drug both him and my net into the boat.

Todd Hart 28.5 trout3

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It took awhile to revive her but she soon swam away with an abduction story of her own to share with her other aquatic friends.

Todd Hart releasing 28.5 trout

I worked the same area and soon landed a small red measuring 22.3″. I then moved along the shoreline with nothing to show for awhile, until  I came across a spot  in the marsh that formed a point, but this one was unique, as it had a drain on each side. I hung out here for the next couple of hours and had an epic evening.

I landed multiple trout and reds. All trout were between 20″ and just over 26″.

Todd Hart 26 trout

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I missed far more trout than I landed but the excitement was great. It was none stop action with a few beefy reds mixed in.

Todd Hart 30 red

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All fish were caught in water ranging from 1.5′ to 3.5′. I would pedal out and let the wind force my drift back to shore and repeat. Fish were caught on all drifts. The action was so intense I forgot to leave (or refused to rather) until dark.

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I finally decided I had to head back. I had a couple of miles to make it back to my truck. I thought for sure I could easily find it, but soon realized it was a darker night than usual. At one point I found myself in a completely different cove than I thought I was in. I was worried for a while I was going to have to spend the night in my kayak until the light of morning. Thank goodness for Google Maps or that might have been the case.

Until next time tight lines.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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It’s All About that Bass

The busy wrestling season has come to a close and I finally have some time to pursue some fish. My return flight from the  NAIA Wrestling National Championships landed in Houston  at 10:45 AM. I quickly made my way home, loaded my fishing gear and headed straight for the lake.

I was on the water by mid-afternoon battling hard rains and mild winds. I chose Lake Fayette as it offered a bit of protection from the nasty elements. My plan was to work some worms in the deeper water but as soon as I launched my kayak I hooking up on bass and would remain busy the entire evening.

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The first couple bass of the trip were a bit small for my requirements, but within a a short span I quickly upgraded.

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My baits of choice were the Cotton Cordelle versions of a “rattle trap”. I used two colors.

gold cotton cordelle

I like to throw this gold color in the deeper water, as it is slightly heavier and tends to dive a bit deeper.

cotton cordell

however, my favorite color is Chrome and silver. It is a bit lighter and dives a bit shallower.

The water temperature was still in the high 50’s. The bass hadn’t seemed to have moved up into the shallows yet. This is most likely due to the numerous northerly cold fronts that have been blowing in weekly. The bass should move up to spawn as soon as it warms up a bit. I’m crossing my fingers and waiting for nicer weather.

Todd Hart large mouth large bass 3-9-15

Despite the cold wet weather it turned out to be a great day to bass fish.  In the couple hours I fished, I landed 17 bass. Seven of those bass were over the required 16″ needed for the Kayakwars.com kayak fishing tournament.

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Anytime you can get out on the water and land a number of quality bass its a great day. Forget the cold temperatures and wet skies. Load that gear and catch some bass. Lake Fayette is full of bass to provide a tug needed to end those winter blues.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Saying Goodbye to My 2014 Hobie Pro Angler 14′

It’s time to say goodbye to my 2014 Hobie Pro Angler.  Now it’s time for me to try out the 2015 model.  That’s means last year’s model must go to make room in garage.

I’m asking $2300.

I have included plenty of pictures for your inspection. This is used. I fish often (more so than the average person) so it does have wear and tear as to be expected. It has a few stains I was not able to wash off and a bit of oyster rash.

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The netting is ripped on one side as shown in the picture above.

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Mirage drive turbo fins (Pedals), paddle and t-bar handle included.

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The stains inside the hatch would not wash out.

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Included are two brand new water proof tackle boxes and one mounted RailBlaza Star port.

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You are welcome to call me at 281 – 216 – 33 73

Or email me at legocrusader @ yahoo. com

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd

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Hooked a New One

Introducing people to kayak fishing is always a fun time. On Sunday (2/1/15)  I took a friend out for his first saltwater trip and his first kayak trip combined. He was a quick study and a fast learner.

Once we launched there was a quick tutorial on how the mirage system (pedal system) operates on Hobie kayaks.  He quickly masted the Hobie Outback once we got everything adjusted.  We made a short 1/2 mile paddle out of of the marsh and into the open bay when things suddenly went wrong.  He was using a spare Outback that doesn’t get much use and one of the cables broke on the mirage system. This was due to rusting over a two year period. This normally would be an easy fix except I didn’t have a spare cable with me.

I simply tied a rope to the front of his outback and pulled him the approximate 2 miles to our destination. We both got to troll along the way. Unfortunately, no fish were interested in our Corkies this day.

Once we arrived we began throwing topwater baits. The action was slow at first but eventually we found a few fish. Andrew had the first bite and and I soon after hooked up and was broke off. I lost a brand new pink Rapala Skitteralk. I shared a few choicee words with the entire bay system. I think this entertained Andrew and his vocabulary increased greatly as I introduced him to numerous four letter words.

We kept plugging away and finally I landed a 19″ trout and then shortly after Andrew landed a nice 28″ plus redfish. He was thrilled to have hooked something beefy and fiesty. He fought it for a while and I managed a number of pictures of his epic fight.

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I had set Andrew up with a Strike Pro Hunchback wake bait since he was new to fishing and it seemed to do the trick. This topwater is easy for any novice to master. I tied on my last pink Rapal Skitterwalk and returned to work. I then landed some more smaller trout before finally landing a nice 23″ fish.

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Andrew then landed his last trout on the wake bait. It measured around 22″.

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I think he is hooked, as he said he looks forward to his second trip. It was a success, yet another future Hobie Angler hooked and landed.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Lot’s Of Fish But None For Dinner.

Monday (1/19/15) fellow “Angler’s Elite” teammate Grant and myself made a short trip to explore a new location. It was less than an hour from the town in which we live so it seemed like a worth while experiment. When we first arrived we were greeted by some scary signage, strong winds and dirty water.

Warning fish consumption sign

We were at first nervous about our choice of locations however, Grant had done some research and found us a bay with fairly deep water in the 6′- 8′ range.  Our plan was not to bring home dinner but search for some larger winter trout. Grant started by throwing some plastics and I chose to stick with my trusty Tsunami “Corkie” imitation baits.

The action was slow at first as we explored some uncharted waters.  (Since the beginning was fish-less I took some pictures of the scenery.)

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After a while, Grant started having success with some split tail plastics. The fish weren’t real large so I decided to stick it out with the slow sinking suspension bait.

I managed to grind out three this way and they were all just as small as Grant’s, ranging from 14″ to 18″. After watching Grant reel in trout after trout I decided to switch lures to a Voodoo Shrimp in a natural new penny color. This attempt proved to be  fail as it scored zero action.

I then switched to a Big Bites Saltwater Series 3″ Shrimp in a Morning Glory color. I thought maybe this would be a good fit for the dirty water.  Again I was shut out with no fish.

I reached in to my hatch and pulled out a Gulp Swimming Mullet in chartreuse. This proved to be the ticket. I quickly landed 10 or so trout.

Gulp swimming mullet

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The fish were much smaller then we hoped to find.  We decided to make the best of the trip and grind out a few more in hopes of finding at least one larger fish.

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It started to get late and the wind picked up. The fish all seemed small so we decided to pedal back past the launch and let the wind push us back as we made one last drift. Grant began catching fish again, but my Gulp Swimming Mullet stopped producing strikes.

I watched as Grant’s bait again out fished me.  I decided to switch baits once again. This time I put on a Down South Lures “Skinny Water Fishing” plastic in Watermelon Red

Down South Lures

with a chartreuse tail. This seemed to work and I quickly was back in action.

I was forced to switch baits multiple times, however Grant threw the same straight split tail mullet in a Morning Glory color all evening and out produced me. In retrospect, I later found out he was throwing a 1/4 oz jig head where as I was using a 1/8 oz.  You never know with trout. They can sometimes be finicky and desire a certain color, pattern or action.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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First Trip of 2015

My work schedule has me booked for the next couple of weeks and my only free day to earn points for the “TexasKayakFisherman.com” Trout Tango III Tournament (found on 321fish.com) was Jan 1st.

I had to run a wrestling practice in the morning and left for the coast when the last athletes left the building. Around 3:10 pm I made my first cast. I was greeted with hundreds of feeding birds and it would turn out to be a great day.

Todd Hart 2 29.25 trout

(The trout above was the largest measuring just over 29″.)

All trout were caught using a Tsunami (imitation Corkie) slow sinking twitch bait. The first trout I landed measured a nice 23.5″.

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I continued fishing an area of shell in roughly 4-5′ of water close to a deeper hole. I went on to land a number of trout. I think over the next 2 1/2  to  3 hours I landed somewhere between 10 and 15 trout.

There were a number of good sized trout for the frying pan ranging  in the upper teens.

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Five of the trout I caught measured over 20″.

Todd Hart 4 trout

Todd Hart 5 trout

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After each trout I landed with the twitch bait. I would switch to a top-water plug for a few casts.   I was unable to entice any fish with the top-water baits.  It gets kind of boring working a slow sinking twitch bait. You really have to force yourself to fish it slow, but it finally paid off with my personal best trout.

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Todd Hart 1 29.25 trout

This was nice fish with a great deal of girth. Why is it I just can’t seem to catch these kind of fish during the “CCA Star Tournament”?

Around 5pm the wind and the rain picked up. It was already cold but with those added elements it was a bit uncomfortable. I stuck it out and lost another giant fish.  After a small fit of rage and once I calmed down I continued to fish but the bite had really slowed and I only caught a few smaller trout.

I called it a day and went home happy with a new personal best trout. I guess I have to keep plugging away until I finally get one over the coveted 30″ goal.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Last Chance to Upgrade in December

It seems I have been in a slump when it comes to catching nice trout. One of my favorite places seemed to have shut down for me on my last three trips. The water temperature had fallen about 10 degrees and with it the large trout seemed to have moved on.

I decided to hit another one of my favorite locations I just don’t hit very often. It turns out it was a good choice. I landed a number of decent trout, three of which served as upgrades and helped me to finish the December TKF Trout Tango tournament in 3rd place.

Most trout were caught using a Tsunami imitation Corkie, a slow sinking twitch bait. The fish were caught in 3.5′ – 4.5′ of water over shell. The area is close to a deeper hole that provides a place for fish to retreat to when it’s cold.

Todd Hart 1 trout 12-30-14

Todd Hart 2 trout 12-30-14

The trout were quite hefty. This guy weighed over 6 lbs.

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It took me a while to find the fish. I spent the first hour or so searching.  Around 3:30 pm I found some fish scatted in an area. I was able to grind out a handful.

After landing the first few with the imitation corkie I noticed some fish hitting the surface. I picked up my top water rod and then landed a few more. The pink Rapala Skitterwalk strikes again.

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Todd Hart yellow mouth 12-30-14

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It became dark and cold. The wind picked up so I called it a day or should I say night and pedaled back to the truck.

Operationfish.com signing out.

Todd Hart

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2015 Houston Boat Show

2015 houston boat show

Come visit the 2015 Houston Boat show.  Look for me at the Fishing Tackle Unlimited space. I should be there to answer any questions you might have on both Sunday, Jan 4th, and again the following Sunday Jan. 11th.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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Redfish, Apparently a Christmas Color

Dec 27th, two days after Christmas,  we ventured to the bay in search of trout for the TKF Trout Tangle II tournament. The forecast called for a south wind blowing in the upper teens and gusting to the low 20’s. The temperature was forecast to be a comfortable 65-70 degrees. The water temperature was in the mid 60’s. A northern front was scheduled to blow in sometime during the afternoon.  All signs looked good for a successful day on the water, a bit breezy but manageable.

I was armed with my favorite pink Skitterwalk and a box loaded up with an assortment of Corkies and imitation Corkies.  We started the first drift in shallow waters approx 2.5′ deep. I threw the pink Skitterwalk and soon landed a low end slot red. He wasn’t huge but at least he gave me a pleasant tug and served as something to slim my ruler.

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Shortly after, I drifted close to the shoreline and on one of my casts next to the grass I hooked my first trout of the day. He was much smaller then what I needed to place in the tournament.

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I moved along the shore and switched to a Corkie.  I covered a great distance and tried a couple of colors only to have no luck.

I switched to back to my Skitterwalk and soon landed another red.

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I continued working the shoreline, only to land yet another redfish.

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After landing three slot reds I decided to move out to some deeper water in search of the trout I so desperately desired. I switched back to Corkie and tried some deeper water over shell. This resulted in nothing.

We decided to try throwing the Skitterwalk over some shallow shell reefs. I spent about 30-40 minutes and caught one other small trout. This trout was way to small for the tournament.

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We decided to make a couple of other drifts over some different bottom types. No fish were to be found. My wife had given me strict orders to be home early due to some dinner plans, so we called it a day and headed for the truck.  Shortly after loading up the temperature dropped a good 15-20 degrees and a strong north wind brought bunches of chilly rain. I guess we called it a day just in time.

Operationfish.com signing out,

Todd Hart

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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)

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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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