The Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) Kayak Fishing Tour is a premier catch-photo-release kayak tournament series that spans from South Carolina to Texas. The five divisions (Atlantic, Florida East, Florida West, Louisiana and Texas) attract some of the best inshore kayak anglers from across the country. Louisiana’s fantastic fishing has seen the state hold the tournament’s championship more often than any other location. And 2017 was no different, with the two-day finals based out of Venice with anglers allowed to fish all public waters in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.
This year’s winner was Louisiana’s own Capt. Ty Hibbs. When he’s not on his skiff putting clients on fish — primarily with a fly rod — he’s chasing them in his Hobie kayak. Hibbs is a regular in both the boat and kayak divisions of the IFA, and this was his year to come out on top.
“I was sitting in fifth place after Day 1 and I decided to stick with my plan and general location for Day 2,” Hibbs said. He used a Matrix Mullet topwater to get his trout, and a popping cork and plastics for the reds.
“Both days’ conditions started off OK, but went downhill as the mornings wore on. On Day 2 it was blowing 25-30 by 11 a.m., and I’m so glad I had a trout and red before then,” Hibbs said.
He stuck with his topwater game for the trout and had a 20.5-incher on Day 1and 17.5-incher on Day 2. He concentrated working his lure over oyster beds, or near the few scattered shell piles along the bank. His Day 1 red was 33.25 inches. With the conditions deteriorating on Day 2, Hibbs knew that his best chance to gain inches was with a bull red.
He told a couple of his competitor friends what his game plan was for the reds, but they chose to ignore his technique. “Louisiana anglers are structure driven, and almost always fish the banks rather than open water. Almost any month of the year, I can find fish out in open water fishing the tide lines,” he said. So Hibbs set up 3- to 400 yards off the bank and concentrated on a strong tide line that had formed. “I was determined to drift this line all the way to the Gulf if need be, because I know it’s a strategy that works,” he said.
Fishing on the west side of Highway 23 near Port Sulphur, Hibbs is well aware of the large amount of land erosion in the area. “Many people don’t realize that the land point they’re fishing may have extended hundreds of feet out into that open water that I’m fishing. There are still remnants under the water that attract and hold the fish,” he said.
Hibbs stuck to the tide line and worked it over with a popping cork and a Gulp or Matrix Shad. “I’d switch between the two whenever one was too torn up to use. I caught several big fish, with the longest being 40.75 inches,” he said.
The strategy paid off.
When Day 2 results were totaled, Hibbs’ 112 inches put him on top. He claimed a new 2017 Hobie Pro Angler kayak and cash for Big Red and the Angler’s Advantage cash calcutta, with winnings valued at almost $4,800.
Tide lines, anyone?