Friday, January 4, 2013


Happy New Year to all my followers!  I hope your holidays were fantastic and you spent it with family, friends, and loved ones.  I've been off of work since the 21st of December and while the weather has been quite chilly around the MS Gulf Coast, I have managed to get out on the water twice in between visiting with friends and family, watching the ball drop, christmas shopping, and general busyness that comes with this time of the year.

The change in weather (highs in the mid 50's, lows below freezing) have caused the fish activity levels to literally die.   The redfish no longer seem to bruze (as I've come to describe their violent attacks of bait) in the shallows and the flounder and speckled trout have gone into their winter holding patterns.  Evidence of this came observing other fisherman who undoubtedly were targeting specks.  They would troll or anchor up and let their cork drift until they found biting fish.  They would then hammer that spot, likely a deep hole, until it didn't produce anymore.

I was deeply concerned for the redfish tactics that were so successful during the fall after my first trip to the bayou two days after Christmas. The tide was extremely low which is a common occurrence during the winter months around here.  The tides are in general low and if you couple that with a north wind which will blow the water back out to sea, the mud flats we've had so much luck catching redfish on drain completely of water. Because of this, we typically have to find other places to fish.  Well this day, I was completely unable to pinpoint the location of the fish.  I had no luck and froze my keister off in the cold. It was good to be on the water though as I got to test out my Christmas present, a Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition Camera.   This thing is pretty impressive and I'm still trying to figure out how best to use it.  None of the pictures I took from that day were really anything monumental. So my first day to the bayou, pretty demoralizing.

The weather and tides were a little more cooperative on New Years Eve so I decided to launch in the morning and see what luck I could have. The definition of insanity is repeating an action multiple times with the expectation of different results. Well my first insane act of this day was to leave in the morning when the tide was nearly as low as the time before, with temperatures slightly warmer but still brisk for South Mississippi.  (The Price is Right sad horn) I got out to the bayou and it was just dead.  The birds weren't even active.   I paddled around, not even seeing any bait.  After about three hours of abysmal fishing from what seemed like all fisherman on the water, I decided to paddle to the mouth of the bayou I was in to the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a long paddle, but I had all day and had never done it before.   So after taking my time and exploring each and every nook and cranny of Graveline Bayou to the mouth, I decided to rest my arms and try drift fishing.

As the wind blew me back up the bayou toward the launch the sun came out. The heat was a welcome addition to the afternoon. I may have been born in Michigan, but I've completely acclimated to the weather here on the coast and now I freeze in anything lower than 40 degrees (pathetic I know). As I drifted, I blind casted at the shore, emulating the tactic that appeared to be used by the other fisherman in the bayou. They were anchoring and letting the wind blow their cork up the bayou in hopes that their bait would drift by some hungry fish.  They had a cork, I had a kayak. I had one cast in particular where I lost control of my fly line.  I was drifting and the line slowly went off my kayak as I scrambled to get control of the line.  The rate that the line stripped off my kayak changed as I drifted, picking up speed and when I finally gained control of the line, I had a small rat red on the other end. As I reeled him in people around me looked on, I'm assuming in jealousy.

It's a Rat!


I continued to let the wind blow me back up the bayou, drifting by fisherman and asking them how there luck was.  The stories seemed to be changing as I drifted.  "We got a speck about this big (shows hands)" said one fisherman out with two other men, assuming a son and a brother in law or something.  Another fisherman, "Yeah it's picked up a bit."  This was news to me. So far, one rat red.

As I paddled back to the launch, I figured what hurt could it cause to hit the spot I hit earlier that morning.  If the tide was right this place would hold fish, so I made my way up into the cut. As I paddled giant swirls appeared in front of my kayak, signs of fleeing fish.  In the past these have revealed redfish, or schools of mullet.  Because there was no surface action, I assumed it had to be mullet.  I decided to blind cast and after a few strips of the line, BAM.  FISH ON!  It was no giant, but my fortunes had appeared to change.  I landed him after a short fight, newly renewed in spirit.  After 6 hours of dead fishing, I was ready to spend another 6 hours trying to catch fish.

Barely Hooked!

 With the renewed energy I paddled up to an area that produced a fish in a previous trip.  Blindly lobbing my offering up near the shore, I began the retrieve.  My rod then bent over. The surface at shore thrashed and quickly I strip set. The fish was on the reel in about 5 seconds and then he ran out to deeper water.  From the fight, I could tell this was a big fish.  Possibly the biggest fish of the season. The fish towed my kayak around for nearly 20 minutes before I landed him .  The tug of war was astonishing and I was pumped.  I thought to myself as the realization that I was going to have to pull off the water shortly due to the pending New Years Eve festivities that my last fish of the year would also be my biggest of the year.

Inhaled the fly.  Fantastic!

Still novice with the Go Pro.
I hammered one final spot and managed to pick off another rat before calling it a day (ruined my earlier claim of the biggest fish also being the last fish).  I did, after all, have a New Year to ring in. Its days like these that really make people better fisherman I believe. You have to endure an entire day of lousy fishing only to be rewarded at the very end of the day. It's also days like today that have made me a little more insane than the normal fisherman, unwilling to give up. (ask my girlfriend or fishing buddies)

The blue in their tails when they are aggressively feeding is amazing.

2012 was an incredible year of fishing for me and my buddies here on the gulf coast as you can see if you go back in time reading some of my other posts. One things for certain, fly fishing is insanity.  It's easy to go out with live bait, anchor up, and catch big ones here in Mississippi.  Anybody can do it and I recommend it.  Get on the water and enjoy what we've been blessed with.  However, fly fisherman knowingly go out and put themselves at a handicap (tell me a fly is better than a live shrimp and I'd smack you).  We make our own lures vs. going out and buying them and when we catch a single fish, we are content.  We truly do it the hard way, and people shake their heads when we tell them hey dude, we caught that on a fly rod.  It's beautiful; beautiful insanity and I look forward to a 2013 full of pictures (and video if I can russel up the cash to buy a computer quick enough to handle the editing) on my blog postings.  Already, I have a trip to Pensacola in the works to hunt for Winter Bonita planned with Michissippi the first weekend after we get back to work.  I cannot wait to see how this year unfolds and I cannot wait to tell everybody about my adventures on the gulf coast this coming year. Tight lines everybody!