I've had the great pleasure and honor of providing you guys with kayak articles for the past eight years. In that time I've written more than a hundred, mostly devoted to kayak fishing in some form or another. Along the way I have met many readers of this magazine and have become friends with quite a few. I can't fully express how rewarding it is when someone comes up to me to say how much they enjoy reading my musings. It has been a fun ride being immersed in the kayak fishing world.
The pathways of life are interesting to reflect upon. While running my boat along the ICW on my first trip to Port Mansfield nearly 25 years ago my engine sucked in some grass and overheated. While waiting for it to cool my wife pointed towards the spoil bank noting a school of tailing reds. I had of course heard of tailing reds, but had never seen them. This encounter led to several years of hardcore wading followed by the purchase of a Shallow Sport enabling me to drift across the flats looking for reds. The urge to get into even skinnier water put me in a kayak. Standing up to pole that kayak got the attention of this magazine's owner and produced the subject of my first article. Poling that first kayak also led me to my first poling skiff. When this all started I was a Homicide detective, now I pole a skiff for a living. Twenty-five years ago I never dreamed things would go this way, but I wouldn't change a thing.
Recently the head honcho of this great magazine and I had a conversation about a possible change in direction for my little corner of this place. Change is sometimes hard, but in this case I'm really looking forward to trying something new and I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I know I will.
Anyone who has read these articles for any length of time will certainly know of my obsession with sight-fishing. It doesn't matter if it's wading, kayaking or poling my skiff and I don't care whether it's with a fly rod or conventional light-tackle gear; I'm always looking for a target. Most often that target is a redfish, but it really doesn't matter. Sheepshead, black drum, trout, tarpon and pretty much anything else that swims within view is fair game. There was even a full day of casting to gar last summer. As a youngster I recall my grandmother remarking, "That boy would fish in the toilet if he thought there was a chance a fish might be in there." She would sure get a kick out of seeing some of the places I toss a line these days.
I suppose sight-fishing captured me because it combines elements from two of my passions, hunting and fishing. Stalking through the shallows, spotting the target and then making the perfect shot can easily be compared with spot and stalk bow hunting. You often only get one shot so you better make it count. Even after watching hundreds of fish react to the cast and pounce on their fake meal it never gets old. These days I spend most of my time on a poling platform helping customers experience this same thrill. Directing the action from my perch is just as much fun as catching them myself.
The drill often goes something like this, "Redfish at 2 o'clock and thirty feet, moving left to right. You see him? Good, lead him a foot or so. Now let it sit, give it a twitch, now another. He ate it!" Love it.
As EJ and I talked about the new direction for this page my mind began to wander to the possibilities for future articles. Texas has much to offer the sight-fishing angler and I hope to inspire others to join in on the fun. While most folks associate sight-fishing with shallow water, it doesn't always have to be. Tossing flies into a herd of raging jacks, throwing a lure at schooling kings or trying to connect with rolling tarpon all fit my definition of the sport. Thankfully EJ didn't really set too many boundaries. You can expect to see articles involving wading, poling and of course some kayaking while employing both fly and light-tackle to chase a variety of species. At this moment the possibilities seem endless.
In fact, I've already got next month's article lined up. It won't exactly involve Texas saltwater, but it will be all about what I hope will be some fantastic sight-fishing. As soon as I can wrap up this article the packing will begin for a trip to Turneffe Flats Lodge in Belize. The flies are tied, the reels are oiled and a full arsenal of fly rods from 6 to 12 wt has been gathered. Hopefully upon my return I will have stories of bones, permit and tarpon inhaling my offerings. This is something I have wanted to do for years, the perfect vacation for a hopelessly addicted sight-fisher.So to all my loyal kayak fishing readers, I really appreciate you guys and hope you'll stick around for the ride. On to the next adventure.