Happens to the Best

Happens to the Best
In the world of a fisherman, there are no absolutes or guaranties when you hit the water. Having fished in every possible condition Mother Nature can throw at you; one can get comfortable in his or her own ways and throw caution to the wind. Your everyday routine fishing trip becomes just another fun-filled day on the water. After all, you are an expert; so what could possibly go wrong?

I have been kayaking just shy of eight years now and for the first time I flipped out of my kayak. The inevitable finally happened and I was not prepared at all. The only thing that went my way that day was that I was wearing my lifejacket and the water was only three feet deep.

The previous day I got a call from Nathan at Fishing Tackle Unlimited saying my new Jackson Cuda 14' was rigged and ready to be picked up. As soon as I got off work I was eagerly headed to Houston to get her. The crew at Fishing Tackle Unlimited did a great job of rigging and they have always been dependable when it comes to customer service. I got it loaded and on my ride home I had a hard time deciding whether I wanted to chase trout or redfish the following morning. After some thought I decided to hit the marsh since I have caught very few reds this year.

When I arrived at my launch point it was a little windier than I expected but nothing that I could not handle. I made my way into the marsh and started my typical fishing pattern; topwater along the edge of the marsh grass and then fan casting across the flat. I do this to see if the redfish are feeding on the shoreline or scattered across the flat, then adjust accordingly. After the sun rose and temperatures picked up I moved deeper into the marsh and switched to a Gulp under a popping cork. After no luck and only seeing few signs of redfish, I then decide to just explore deeper and enjoy my day on the water.

I pulled up Google maps on my iPhone and found an alternate route out of the marsh that would tack on another 2 miles or so to my paddle back. No big deal, I just purchased a waterproof radio so I had tunes and no reason to get in a rush. Maybe 10 minutes into my long paddle back I saw a redfish swirl at about my 4 o'clock. I pick up my rod and when I turned back to cast is when I started to lose my balance. I fought it for a split second and before I knew it I was knee-deep in mud and chest-deep in water.

There were bags of lures and other items floating past me while I tried to gather my thoughts. My first reaction was to flip my kayak back over. I did so and then reached down to pick up my rods and get them situated back in my kayak. At this point is when I realized my phone was in my pocket. I threw it in my hatch and then continue to gather small items.

After 5 minutes of trying to pull my shoes out of the mud I got a peculiar feeling that I was forgetting something. This is when it registered that my Nikon D3200 was in my dry hatch, that was not latched. I fished around for it on the muddy bottom, picked it up and I knew right away it was ruined. Regardless, every bit of this was preventable. I have made that same exact cast flawlessly dozens of times! This one time though, I was not prepared and I paid for it. I just want everyone to be aware that it can happen quickly and a simple mistake can easily be avoidable.

Anyways, enough of the bad, let's talk about fishing. Lately I have had trouble finding redfish holding in our marsh due to the fresh water on our side of Texas. I have had to stay as far south as I can to find any salt water, which has not been much. Although, with all of the fresh water we have had, the southern ecosystem is thriving. Some of the back marshes are covered in widgeon grass and are infested with crabs. This is a great sign for sea life and fishing in the near future.

On the other hand, trout fishing has been lights out for me and other anglers lately. I believe the fresh water has kept them south and heavily congregated along with all of the shad. Recently most of my trips have been in the afternoon and wade fishing in the surf. I have been pulling out limits of trout and all coming off topwaters. The Skitter Walk and She Dog have been producing more fish than any other lures. Color has not seemed to make any difference but I believe the pitch or sound of these plugs has been the key to catching them.

The conditions of the surf have varied; some days have been calmer than others. I have even fished a few days that it was too choppy to launch my kayak. Despite the circumstances, the trout were in large schools and wanted a topwater! They were not planning on missing a meal when it came to hitting my She Dog, which made for an exciting hook-set.

Also noteworthy, my brother and I had all of these fish to ourselves, everyone fishing around us left with plenty of time remaining in the day. I never understood why anyone would fish all afternoon and then leave at the best hour of the day. A majority, if not all, came within the last 45 minutes of the day. If you make an afternoon trip, stay till dark. It will pay off.

Over the past few trips I have learned a lot about the sport that we all love. Not just fishing, but kayaking as well. It is important to be prepared for the unexpected. Accidents do happen and are always preventable but in the line of work we do, they are hard to avoid at times. It is easy to deviate from your normal safe practice due to being comfortable in your set ways.

It is easy to take precautions when on the water; wear a PFD, have a paddle and rod leash, strap down your dry hatch. Some people may have not had an incident yet while others, like me, had to learn the hard way. Just remember, it happens to the best.