It’s that time: fronts from the north and fish from the south. As fronts become more frequent, speckled trout continue to fill the marshes and are easily reachable by kayak anglers.
All things considered, this the best time of the year to be a coastal kayak angler.
Kayaking fishing — whether pedaling or paddling — is a physical sport. The heat of the summer is brutal, and trying to stay warm and dry in the winter is challenging.
However, the fall is cool and comfortable, and the fish are active and hungry.
Kayakers catch their fair share of trout during the summer months, but many prime trout-fishing areas are near the outer edges of the marsh and just too far for kayakers to reach. However, the fall changes that, as the trout fill the inner marsh.
The fish are concentrated, and easy to reach.
Although live shrimp are available until they leave the marsh in early winter and cocahoes can be had nearly year-round, there really is no need to fool with live bait this time of year.
You don’t have to carry a tackle store with you, either.
So pare down to a selection of confidence baits. Popping corks, soft-plastic tails, jigheads and hard baits with different actions are enough to get the job done.
There are also several brands of scented plastic baits like Gulp that give a little extra edge between artificial lures and live bait: A little smell can go a long way in attracting fall trout.
Locate a school or two and you’re on your way to non-stop action.
Until big temperature drops come later in winter, hungry speckled trout can be found in shallow ponds and bays throughout the marsh.
Hungry is an understatement: Get virtually any bait in front of a trout in the fall and getting hit is a near certainty.
Use a stake-out pole to set up quietly on a good bite without spooking the fish by using a noisy anchor.
Locate moving water to find the trout. Be it a cut, a drain or where a bayou opens into a larger lake or bay, trout will school and wait on the tide to draw bait by their ambush points.
Popping corks with single or double rigs are great for searching and locating trout.
Before giving up on a spot, fan cast 360 degrees. Some areas seem devoid of fish, but they might be holding where you least expect them.
Unless you are familiar with an area and have some perennial hotspots, start fishing close to the launch. Oftentimes, you’ll find fish without having to make a long paddle.
Cast at everything until you figure out where they are and what they want. Don’t ignore any signs of life: Although trout aren’t sight-fished, visual cues such as a shrimp jumping are sure signs predators are in the area.
But also look to the sky. Birds aren’t just for summer, and diving birds are a great way to locate schools of fall trout. If you see or hear bird activity, try to get the kayak upwind quickly and quietly. Kayaks are less likely to spook the birds or the fish, and you can drift in the middle of the action, working your lure in all directions.
Of course, the fall is not just for trout. All coastal species are hungry and can readily be taken in the same areas with the same baits.
Redfish and specks are commonly caught together, but flounder and white trout are always a welcomed addition to the cooler.
Flounder are heading the opposite direction of the trout, working their way offshore to spawn. However, if you run into them, they can offer fantastic action. Tight-line a light jighead and plastic tail across a point or drain to catch flounder.
If you fish near brackish water, bass are also a common bycatch.