One of my favorite things about kayaking is that there is almost always a place to launch. No matter where you may be, finding a place to put your kayak in is just as easy as it is to load it up. Through this option alone there is no shortage of places an angler can explore.
Now, I will be the first to say, I do tend to get stuck in that old comfort rut and will typically fish my go-to spots. I guess it’s human nature to rely on the knowledge that you can go to a trusted spot and find fish. However, it is also refreshing and challenging to venture away and try something new.
So, when that itch for adventure needs scratched, I’m all about getting out of my typical routine and changing things up a bit. Doing so will challenge you as an angler by making you go out and find fish, no matter what the area may be. One of the other benefits to this is if you find a few fish, you then have new spot to add to your repertoire!
The first thing that needs to happen when wanting to explore a new area is identifying the general location. Two things to be considered before you take off to the new spot – where will you launch and how might you configure a route to allow fishing in multiple locations along that route. One of the best tools an angler can use for this is Google Maps. This is a must-have and will make finding new areas super easy. The good thing about Google Maps is you can use it on your computer or you can download the app on any smartphone. Make sure you get “Maps" and not "Earth."
When it comes to finding a new launch point, the "street view" option is a really cool aspect that I use often. Street view is almost as good as being there in terms of sizing up parking space available and the general surroundings. I always try to determine how much shoulder is on the side of the road for you to safely park, whether there might be a fence or gate blocking the way, or any other obstruction that may prevent you from launching. These are good things to know before making a long drive to an unknown area and then having to turn around because you are blocked by a gate. It is also a great tool for determining the general safety of the area. Nobody wants their truck or SUV burglarized or vandalized while they’re fishing!
So, once you find your launch location, it’s time to figure out where you want to fish. Everyone has different styles of fishing but I will give my two cents on what I like to look for. I personally like to look for bayous coming off of main lakes or other major channels that lead back into ponds or flats. I also like to look for ponds that have a single entrance; the narrower the better. In my opinion, I believe that these ponds tend to have resident fish in them, meaning they don't swim in and out of them daily. I also like them because they can be overlooked by other anglers, which often means there will be less pressure on them. On top of that, I believe they will retain rain water better than other ponds that have more tidal influence, which will tend to allow aquatic vegetation to grow faster.
Another trick that I have learned throughout the years is looking up information about the area. One of the best places to do this is on the Texas Kayak Fisherman forum. There are years of forum topics about every kayak-related fishing spot in Texas. You can go to the search bar and look into the archives and read about the area before making the trip out there. There is a lot of good information on TKF.
Now that I have an area picked out with a solid game plan, it’s time to execute. I will usually have a good array of lures tied on, mostly because I am not sure what I am going to get into. Typically, I will have a popping cork rig, a gold spoon, and a KWiggler rigged on a 1/4-ounce jighead. A little bit of everything for fishing a bayou, main lake, or shallow flats.
When I arrive to a new spot, there are three things that I look for and I believe they are all "must haves" if the area will hold fish: good tidal flow, structure (reefs, grass, etc.) and a generally healthy habitat. If these three things exist, then I believe it is worth fishing and putting a little time into exploring the potential of the area. Also, what I mean by healthy habitat is that the area has plenty of bait, a number of shorebirds, seagulls, terns, and other wildlife. If it will sustain life above the water, then it will surely sustain life below!
When I fish these areas, I like to hit the points of the bayous and also on the backside of the bend as these places tend to be deeper and can hold some good fish in the right area. I also like to fish guts and potholes that lie within the flats, especially the windblown ones. Other than that, I try to hit as much area as I can until I pick up a few fish and perhaps put a pattern on them. The whole time that I am blind-casting though, I am keeping an eye out further ahead and looking for pushing fish, scattering bait, tailing reds and any sign of life. This can be a productive method when it comes to finding fish in unknown waters.The major challenge found when fishing a new area is the uncertainty of it. It's a gamble, but to me, that’s what draws me to these places. You just never know what you may find. It could be barren water or you just might stumble upon a redfish mecca. Regardless, you get to spend the day on the water fishing something different and if it doesn't pay off, no worries. Just go back to the map, pick another spot, and keep exploring.