Fish are on the move and it’s a great time to stalk ‘em in a kayak
Spring is officially here, as is daylight savings time. As the days heat up, so does the kayak fishing action. The water temps continue to rise, and the fish are more active. However, this also spreads them out a bit, and you might not find them piled into one spot as in the fall or winter. Luckily, kayaks offer access into a wide range of marsh area and surely you can find some spots holding fish.
The entire marsh is in a transition time. Speckled trout are preparing to move more towards the open bays and coast, seeking saltier water for the beginning of the spawning months. The ever-present redfish are prowling the shorelines feeding on almost anything they can catch. Bait is scattered and somewhat scarce during this transition time. While some bait shops may have live shrimp, the supply is inconsistent and the shrimp generally small. Live cocahoes are more readily available and hard and soft lures are very productive during this time. The fish are hungry and their food options are limited, so give them a natural bait or a good imitation and you’ll be hooked up.
The weather is mild and makes for comfortable days chasing fish in your kayak. Although March is generally windier, April still sees its fair share of days where it is blowing a little too much for comfort.
On these days, concentrate on pockets, coves and lee shorelines protected from the wind. You may have to sacrifice a bit of catching in order to be more comfortable. If fishing is slow, stick your nose out a bit and fish some of the unprotected areas. Wind-blown shorelines are generally highly productive as the bait is blown towards the shore and trout and reds know where the dinner table is.
These areas can be difficult to fish as even the slightest breeze affects how the kayak faces. One or even better, two stake-out poles can peg the kayak in position to best face the area where you are casting. These poles are quiet to set out and easy to pick up. A stake-out pole comes in handy for holding you in the right spot without having to deal with an anchor. And that helps you catch more fish.
Any spot of water may hold fish. The fish are constantly moving around during this time and may be found almost anywhere.
Clean water is always a key factor, but may be difficult to find on windy days. Use the kayak to your advantage and check out places where the boats cannot go. Oftentimes, secluded marsh ponds or deep small passes hold clear water compared to the surrounding open areas. Don’t overlook these areas.
Search for grass beds that are starting to emerge and rebuild from winter’s die-off. The grass makes a great water filter as well as providing hiding areas for all sorts of creatures and the fish that eat them.
Trout and reds begin to feed more aggressively as the water warms. Try plastics or live minnows under a popping cork for some great April action. Casting in all directions around the kayak is a great way to search for where the fish are holding.
The type and style of lures used is really endless during this time. Get something that looks like food, put it in front of a hungry fish and a strike is almost inevitable.
Use a variety of lures to fish fast or slow and higher or lower in the water column and various combinations thereof. This helps establish the pattern the fish are using on that particular day. Tight-lined plastics and spinnerbaits work great and can be worked at various speeds and depths as needed.
Don’t overlook using topwater lures this month. While a little difficult to work on high wind days, they are deadly during this time when the fish are looking for a big, easy meal. Work the lure slow, with plenty of pauses. If you experience short strikes or plenty of misses, have a suspending bait teed up and ready to go on another rod. Quickly cast in the same area and those missed fish may likely connect with the new offering.
If the wind is moderately blowing, another great tactic to use in the kayak is drifting. Take advantage of the free propulsion and drift across large areas while dragging a couple of different lures. A double-rigged soft plastic/jighead off one side and a suspending hard lure off the other is often a killer combination.
Let the soft plastics out far enough so they bounce along just skimming the bottom. Drift speed and water depth determines how much line you need to let out to get the perfect action. Put this rod in a rod holder and hold the other with the suspending bait. As you drift along, slowly sweep the rod forward a few feet and then let the lure fall back until the line tightens again. Repeat. Strikes often come just as you let off from the forward sweep.
If your drift is successful, paddle over a few yards and head back upwind for another drift back across the same general area.
Spring is a great time to chase specks and reds in the Louisiana marsh. While the weather conditions can vary widely, for the most part, there are many days and locations that can be fished safely and comfortably in the kayak.
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