Planning a PINS Trip and Wearing a Skunk

Planning a PINS Trip and Wearing a Skunk
A reader emailed recently seeking tips and advice for planning a kayak fishing trip to the Padre Island National Seashore. We had a good discussion and I decided that I would share some of it in my column this month. Also, a friend invited me to join him and his wife for some trout fishing. It was a picture perfect day on the water and we had an excellent outing but, and you have no idea how much I hate to say this, I got skunked. That is not to say that my fishing partners did not do well, though.

Let's begin with the Padre Island National Seashore discussion. In my opinion this isn't your average weekend fishing trip. As with any adventure, there is planning and preparation but, a PINS weekend requires several levels of pre-trip work above the norm. You will need to study the weather and tide forecasts carefully before you go; the beach is not a good place to travel when tides are running unusually high or large waves are crashing on the sand. Reschedule the trip if a front is predicted.

Keep in mind now, PINS is miles and miles of isolated and uninhabited barrier island. There is no cell service to speak of, no electricity, no drinking water, possibly no other humans for miles. My first suggestion would be do not go without a buddy. At the very least make sure someone knows approximately where you plan to camp and when you plan to return. Bring plenty of ice and water and healthy snacks; fruit, protein bars, etc. You should also plan to keep cooking to a minimum, maybe just some grilling or heating up. This helps keep your equipment and supplies list short. I tried a survival trip on Padre Island once... not fun.

Four-wheel drive is a must. I wouldn't even think of driving onto the beach without FWD. Fill up in town and take a spare 5-gallon can of gasoline and several cans of Fix-A-Flat. A short-handled shovel and several six foot pieces of 2x10 are handy if you get stuck. A 20-foot tow strap is also a good thing to have along–to pull another vehicle, or possibly your own. Like FWD, do not go down the beach without a waterproof handheld VHF radio and, carry it in the kayak if you plan to paddle beyond the breakers. Wear your PFD at all times when paddling the surf.

I am trying to hit the major must-haves here, so I won't go into all the minuscule items you should pack for a beach trip, however, one of the most important items is baby powder. If you intend to camp, baby powder will save your life. Ok, maybe not save your life, but it will make you much more comfortable in your tent after getting sticky in saltwater and covered with sand. It's almost like taking a fresh shower.

As far as fishing PINS, you are essentially going to be surf fishing or paddling beyond the breakers to the close rigs, so gear up accordingly there. Your basic trout and redfish tackle will be fine throwing lures in the surf; you'll want heavier gear if you venture any distance offshore.

Being prepared for the hazards of beach travel are the main thing. Drive carefully and stay in the ruts, they may be deep at times but there's less chance of getting stuck. Padre Island is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Just prepare properly and have a great time.

On short notice a couple weeks ago, I was invited to jump in on a trout trip along the coast. The day before I went this guy had found some good trout over shell and mud mix. Conditions were to be similar the next day so he asked me to join him and his wife. This was a wade effort and we took his boat to get to the spot. I loved the spot, awesome conditions.

As the morning played out however I could not land a fish for the life of me. I battled a nice redfish for several minutes only to lose it when it got close. A little while later I hooked up on a fish that I was pretty sure wasn't a red and was hopeful for it to be a big trout. Fought it all the way to me, it rolled on the surface and I got a clear look. I'm honestly saying it was a solid 28. And then...gone, it got off in the same way the red did. I was heartbroken, it would have easily been my biggest speck. The day went on to leave me wearing the skunk. My buddy and his wife however landed a number of solid trout and a nice red. A nice day on the water all in all.

The pictures this month include a nice red caught by TSFM reader down in the Lower Laguna Madre, and another red caught by my buddy's wife, Tammy, on our trip. My favorite is the photo of Cliff's son, Connor, holding an awesome red he caught while yak fishing the shallows with his dad. Way to go Connor! He will be out-fishing his dad in no time.

Until next month, tight lines. And don't forget to send me your kayak questions and catch photos. Tell me your latest kayak fishing story.