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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


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By Ron Mc
#2310194
Just got in tonight, we had a Palm Harbor canal house, a crowd, and fished Estes Flats Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 9/24-26.
We've stayed at this house before, and knew what to expect.

We were watching Tropical Storm Beta closely, the storm tide measured in the Aransas Pass water level, and of course the weather and wind prediction.
Tuesday, when Beta came ashore at Indianola, the AP storm tide peaked at 3' (above harmonic). Wednesday when we traveled, it was down to 2'
This was arriving at our Palm Harbor canal Wednesday, and this is 4pm low tide - a dock across the canal is partly swamped, and the water level is only a few inches below our bulkhead.
We staged our boats on the dock, but kept them tied overnight, just in case they floated in the high tide, which they didn't.
(those aren't our boats in the photo, but the two that came with the house)
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Thur 9/24
We had good winds (NNE) predicted for fishing Trout Bayou Thursday and Friday, and back to prevailing wind on Saturday.
All 3 days, high tide was 1-3 am, and low tide 4-5 pm.
We launched every morning about 6:40, when we could make out Talley Island looking from a high point in the back yard.
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Thursday turned out to be a really special day. The storm tide was still 1.5' and the harmonic showed the biggest tide swing of the trip. We launched in 8 kt NNE wind that would peak at 12 kt about 11am. It was Steve, Lou and me, and Thursday joined by our friend Randy from Kerrville.
Rounding Talley Island, and heading upwind to the top of Trout Bayou.
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From first light until about 10:30 this morning, I've never seen so much life on the flats. When we approached the cut to Aransas Bay at the top of Trout Bayou, the bait was thumping our hulls and hitting rudders so hard you could feel it through your feet. After the 3-mile paddle, we normally get out of our boats and cast into the cut.
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I began the morning fishing a Yo-Zuri Wake bait, Gizzard shad, which reflects green and transmits pink.
Fishing into the cut, I caught several undersized trout and a great 20" ladyfish.
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Looking upwind from the cut on Aransas Bay side, saw some massive slashes, so paddled up a bit and drifted back into them. I was expecting a sow trout, but turned out to be a 25" ladyfish. I didn't care, it was a great ride. She flipped, made tailstands shaking her head. She was pulling my boat around, and when she shot across the bow, she sheared my bow a couple of feet to the side. When I finally had her controlled enough to get to the boat, she came unhooked, and that was fine, but a magnificent fish, and I didn't get a photo.

After a few more tourist trout on the second drift from Aransas Bay, we all decided to move back through the cut and begin our drifts down Trout Bayou. My friends all started at the first duck blind, but I began shallower at the mouth of the top Talley slough, throwing a red TSL grasswalker.
First cast downwind got my meat-fish of the day, a solid 23" red. You can see the first duck blind, and my friends beginning their drifts in the deeper water.
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That was enough I made the drift between the slough and the duck blind a couple more times, and with the sun getting taller, to put away the red lure and switch to chicken-on-a-chain. A respectable rat on TSL chicken in the shallower water at the top of Trout Bayou.
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When the normally skinny water turned off, I drifted past the duck blind to join my friends.
The lure that made my whole trip fishing the deeper storm tide flat was the Z-man Texas Eye jighead in 1/8 oz.
I had just a few TTF flats minnow tails, which matched this jighead perfectly. In the deeper water, I went back to red, and it lasted until the lizardfish got it.
Luckily, I had one more red (until the lizardfish got that one, too)
Even compared to the 25" ladyfish, this 18" red was my fish of the day, frenetic, hard to control, and really fast, running wide either side of my boat.
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Until about 10:30, the farther we drifted Trout Bayou, the more fish sign we saw. I added a solid 20" red to my stringer.
Maybe we messed up with this food and beer-thirty break at our favorite Talley "beach" - except on our next-to-the-last drift, Lou would add a fine 25" red.
We normally stop on this great hard pack with shin-deep water and this day, it was over our knees.
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A very nice 14" tourist trout I released on the same lure.
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After a couple of more drifts, back to the barn. Randy did get a good trout, but decided to release it.
Steve ramrodded this trip, wanting to finally get his new Outback wet. He had a day of gear frustration, both his spinning reel and baitcaster. Spool shimming on the former, and side plate opened up mid-cast on the latter - both his reels birds-nested on him.
My chore at the dock, filleting Lou's fish of the day, and my two.
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Since this first day, NNE 8-12 kts is already a long post, I'll come back with separate posts for Fri and Sat...
Also noteworthy on Thursday, the water was turbid for Estes and combined with the 1.5' remaining storm tide, we couldn't see the grass we were drifting.

As for the Z-man 1/8-oz Texas eye jighead, with the right lure body, it fits in the column right between the TSL grasswalker (shallower) and the way i like to rig a cocahoe with a 1/4-oz Stazo flex jighead and double hook for fishing deeper. I would discover both next two days it was very easy to keep this rig just on top of the grass with moderate retrieves in the elevated water levels.
Also like the flex jig, I think fish hang onto it longer, because it feels more natural in their mouth.
And here's a happy and worn out Lou.
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Last edited by Ron Mc on Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:49 am, edited 8 times in total.
User avatar
By Ron Mc
#2310199
Friday 9/25
Thursday night, the storm tide had dropped to 1' and the wind prediction for Friday 8-11-kt NNE really let us down.
We would barely have any wind, little to move us onto fish, and nothing for stealth cover.
Again, high tide was about 2 am, and low tide at 4:30 pm. Still a good tide swing, but a bit less wide than Thursday's harmonic.

We again aimed to the top of Trout Bayou, but didn't find near the life we had on the previous day.
With one great exception, the day was largely a bust, but the glassy calm was beautiful and especially a good dark-morning paddle intro to our friend Tony, who joined us for Fri and Sat. Tony and I go way back fly fishing the hill country, but he's fairly new to kayaking and spinning tackle. He's also good company, and fit right in our old-man group.
We were also joined Thursday by our friend Whitt from San Antonio, and the two Hobies left us behind.
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Got this photo of Steve paddling into the sunrise to fish Aransas bay
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My foray into Aransas Bay landed more tourist trout, and these two nice photos.
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With my last red TTF flats minnow bit in two, I had a yellow flats minnow in reserve, and it caught my keeper 17" trout.
But I was disappointed when I filleted her and found she was a hen.
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As the wind got lighter and surprisingly shifted to the west, Steve and Whitt went in.
Tony made the day his, stopping at our beach to fish.
He bottom-bounced this 19" flounder, the only good thing about Friday.
Tony promised to report the lures he was fishing to me, and I'll update or edit with those.
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Before noon, the rest of us faced the building west wind to get back into Palm Harbor.
OK, we made lemonade on Friday - we made a Roy's run in the afternoon.
I picked up some DOA CAL 3" shad tails, they were a perfect match with the Texas Eye 1/8-oz jigheads, and would make my day Saturday.
We also ate at Steer Burger in Estes, and their Ranch Hand burger was the most artful hamburger I've ever eaten anywhere.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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By Ron Mc
#2310200
9/26, Saturday, tide was a little milder swing, 3 am high, and 5 pm low.
The water level was just under a foot above harmonic, the water was much clearer, and we could see the grass all over Estes flats.
We had a beating SE wind from the go, 12-14 kt all day.
I'm really glad Tony had the calm paddle the day before, because heading into the dark and the teeth of the wind was a bit disorienting.

We headed first to Little Cut, found a strong tide current, but couldn't even turn a tourist trout.
Good photo of Tony fishing the Little Cut sunrise.
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It took us just a few minutes to decide to paddle most of the way to Big Cut and begin drifts back toward Talley Island.
Tony began casting a red TSL grasswalker into the mangroves and pulled out a really nice red.
He measured it 19", but I saw the photo on his measuring board, it was over 19-1/2" with a relaxed tail, and was a legal fish.

Birds were working all around us, and drifting into the halfway duck-blind, I got into both small trout and just under-sized reds.
Here you can see the yellow TTF flats minnow that a lizardfish was shortly going to finish off for me.
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After the lizardfish, I switched to the DOA minnow, chartreuse on top and white on bottom, and it would make my day.
A respectable but just under-size trout caught on the first drift using the DOA minnow with Texas Eye jighead.
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I really liked fishing this lure, and got the hang of the slowest retrieve that would just bring up sporadic grass, putting it right on the zone.
The end of our first drift put us right on our favorite beach on Talley, and you can see how the conditions have improved since Thursday.
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We made the 2-mile paddle back upwind to repeat our drift.
My first cast caught the fish of the day, a 24" red.
My next stringer red was caught about halfway between Little Cut and Talley, 21 inches, and an outrageous fight. Twice around the boat, took everything I had to get in my drift sock, keep it out of my stringer and even out of my dangling feet.
Tony saw the whole thing and though it hilarious. But it was a blast.

A great ride straight downwind to home.
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My stringer for Saturday.
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It can't just be about the fish. You have to love the fishing, the paddling, the place, and the company.
Everyone seemed to have a great time. We all caught something, and everybody learned something new.
I'll never be without the Z-man Texas Eye jigheads and shad tails to fit.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Mon Sep 28, 2020 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By Neumie
#2310207
Thanks for the post Ron. Looks like y'all caught quite a few fish, too bad the keepers weren't being more cooperative. This helps for planning my trip this coming weekend.
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By Ron Mc
#2310209
Thanks Josh - won't hear a complaint from me, but wish my friends had found more fish.
The water turbidity and residual high level after the storm combined to make the fishing tougher to pin down, but the fish were there in force.
Friday with no wind, everything was going against us, including turning to the West to make us work to get home. If we had seen this one coming, would have crossed the ferry to Island Moorings...
But the good thing about W wind, it always moves water from the bays, and that improved Saturday for us.

Saturday, we seemed to out-fish-everybody. We saw guides moving between Little Cut shoal, the mid-flat duck blind, and lined up along Talley shore. Like when you and I fished Estes together last, we caught fish behind the guides.

We're also going to get our fish taco supply fishing Arroyo at Nov new moon - we have the Spencer Bell house for 5 nights.
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By Neumie
#2310211
Ron Mc wrote:Thanks Josh - won't hear a complaint from me, but wish my friends had found more fish.
The water turbidity and residual high level after the storm combined to make the fishing tougher to pin down, but the fish were there in force.
Friday with no wind, everything was going against us, including turning to the West to make us work to get home. If we had seen this one coming, would have crossed the ferry to Island Moorings...
But the good thing about W wind, it always moves water from the bays, and that improved Saturday for us.

Saturday, we seemed to out-fish-everybody. We saw guides moving between Little Cut shoal, the mid-flat duck blind, and lined up along Talley shore. Like when you and I fished Estes together last, we caught fish behind the guides.

We're also going to get our fish taco supply fishing Arroyo at Nov new moon - we have the Spencer Bell house for 5 nights.


I'm not sure what I'd do with really high tides and no wind y'all had on Friday. I know most kayakers always wish for those no wind "ice cream" days, but the truth is fishing typically sucks with no wind. Our wind forecast is looking decent right now, especially the latter part of our trip. Will probably hit up Estes Flats one day.
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By Ron Mc
#2310212
For blind/drift fishing, good wind moves you onto fish quicker, and gives you good stealth.
We were missing both on Friday, and Tony showed us he had the answer.
Without the big water, I would end up wading with a fly rod in the grass at the top of Trout Bayou (even better, East flats lake) - but too much water for that this trip.
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By YakRunabout
#2310215
Great reports, Ron, Thanks Sounds like an excellent weekend!!

One entry in the thread caught my eye -
fishing typically sucks with no wind.
- I agree with that, but also the mosquito clouds tend to suck then as well!!
User avatar
By Ron Mc
#2310220
thanks Ken

Just heard from Tony.
I was right about his redfish on red TSL grasswalker.
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He caught the flounder on the white Down South swimbait lure and weighted swimbait hook - he picked both up at Roy's on his drive in Thursday
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after sorting through the stragglers of 185 frames shot on this trip, learned one other thing:
never hand the camera to Lou
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_______________________________________________________________

ok, one more subject
Those two spec fillets never made it out of the ice water -
- at least not until they became fish tacos
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Last edited by Ron Mc on Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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By TexasJim
#2310353
I fished LHL in my skiff Friday when you guys were at Estes. The water was very clear, especially considering how much water the Hurricane/Storm put in there. I could see mud and shells in 3+ feet of water. I got lots (25+)of short Reds & Trout, but no slots. Using live shrimp & rattling cork.

Good report and pics. My PM inbox was full, so I never got your message attempt. Thanks for trying. Next time.

TexasJim
User avatar
By Ron Mc
#2310366
TexasJim wrote:I fished LHL in my skiff Friday when you guys were at Estes. The water was very clear, especially considering how much water the Hurricane/Storm put in there. I could see mud and shells in 3+ feet of water. I got lots (25+)of short Reds & Trout, but no slots. Using live shrimp & rattling cork.

Good report and pics. My PM inbox was full, so I never got your message attempt. Thanks for trying. Next time.

TexasJim

Hi Jim - thanks - we were blowing and going with all the logistics and especially communications right before this trip.
When you posted Fri 18 on corpusfishing, I sent the pm there - were just starting to watch TS Beta track, and just didn't have time to follow it up.
After we got there, had too many folks to keep up with...
Glad you did well Friday on LHL.
I know people did well in the surf Friday with both the morning calm and afternoon west wind.

For us, the sun built clouds on both Thursday and Saturday, which made it easy for us to stay out.
In contrast, Friday had no clouds, and with no wind to help the fishing, it was an easy call to head in before the sun got brutal. Great to have a canal house for just this reason, and probably wouldn't plan a September trip without one.

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By Ron Mc
#2310522
Took this photo of the Z-man Texas Eye jig for discussion on another forum - thought I'd throw it up here, also
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the Texas Eye hooks are a little tricky to install, both because of the dog-leg and the lure keeper.
You have to twist the lure body while you're pulling the hook with pliers.
But worth the effort - they have incredible action and fish weedless - also anywhere you touch the lure body, it's pliable like there's no hook at all.

For my use on Estes residual storm tide, the 1/8-oz jighead gave me a new spot in the water column, in between TSL grasswalker and cocahoe on 1/4-oz stazo jighead.
It was easy to keep on top of the grass with moderate retrieve in that water level.
By mwatson71
#2310634
Great reports, Ron. I don't know how I missed reading them until today. I started using the Z-Man jig heads recently as well, both the jointed and regular hooks. My preference is the redfish hook over the trout hook for anyone that cares. For some reason, I seem to miss more fish with the trout hook compared to the redfish hook.

I should start putting more pictures in my reports. But is is so hard to get a good picture in the middle of the night which is my M.O. lately. I think I am going to get my son out this week so he can check out his new Hobie and I can at least get a picture of him. He took a pretty bad spill on his bike the other day but we'll see if he's up for it.
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By Ron Mc
#2310643
Thanks Michael - just got back from Neumie's Redfish Roundup - Lou and I only made one day, but two great evenings reveling, smoking cigars and feasting with a great group, including a shrimp boil last night.

Fished East Flats yesterday, drifting from the shallow against Pelone Island to the deepest shelf on the flat - repeat.
We caught a lot of little fish on the shallows, and Z-man 1/8-oz was my go-to there.
And two big trout 23" and 24-1/2" on the deeper shelf, on cocahoes with 1/4 oz Stazo jigheads and double hooks.
I had a rod for each rig and repeated the drill for multiple drifts, swapping to the deeper cocahoe when I could no longer see the grass.
But I'll save my photos and report to follow Josh's.
They were on Estes today.

OK, I'll show my best red on the Z-man, and the beautiful skinny grass against Pelone Is.
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By ben_beyer
#2310667
Not that I need more tackle but about the success both you and Neumie have had on wake baits in the area, I'm going to have to pick a few up.
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By Ron Mc
#2310836
topped this thread to explain to a board interloper what is a fishing report.
Luckily, a lot of really nice fishing reports followed, including Michael's with shoffer, and Josh's reports.
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