Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Dirty Paddler

So you are probably wondering about the title of this journey ‘The Dirty Paddler’ no this is not about a lowcountry kayak angler that falls out of the kayak into the pluff mud but it is actually a journey about a new yak angling fishing tournament hosted by ‘Higher Ground Outfitters’ in Beaufort, South Carolina. The boundary for the tournament will be any public launch between Port Royal Sound and St. Helena Sound. All paddle/peddle craft are welcome. There are no bait restrictions. The event will be a two fish tournament. The two species will be redfish and sea trout. The host will be awarding first, second, and third place for the combined length of the two species. There will also be prizes for the longest redfish and longest trout. As in most kayak fishing tournaments this event will be catch, photo, and release (CPR).

Since the tournament will be on Sunday, I convinced my fishing buddy Lewis to travel with me on Saturday to check out some areas with me as either of us has really fished the Beaufort area except once when we fished with Chris Kirby of Blacksheep Fishing Charters when we launch from Parris Island. As Parris Island is a military installation this would not count as a public launch site. So I had to cross the Parris Island launch off of the list.
We checked out a few areas to fish but the wind was really bad so I decided that we should check out Hunting Island State Park. Hunting Island comprises of five miles of pristine South Carolina beaches, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon and ocean inlet. So my thought was for us to check out the lagoon for the tournament and possibility for a future LKA Meet & Fish.
The saltwater lagoon is fed by the Fripp Inlet. This time of year the inlet has a great bull red run going on. It was a shame that the winds were blowing. I would have loved to paddle over to the far bank where the rock wall is. This would have been a great stop for maybe a bull over 40 inches. I understand that some anglers will anchor up between the bridge to Fripp Island and the fishing pier on Hunting Island also is another great stop. My thought is that there might be some large redfish and trout in the lagoon.
Saturday revealed some lower slot size trout, small reds, and reports of sheepshead. I say reports because we visited with some of the locals fishing the lagoon and they claimed that everyone targets sheepshead near the deadfall of trees and palmetto trees. Since sheepshead was not on the list for the tournament I was not planning on targeting for them.
The lagoon is very shallow so the Jackson Big Rig and the Power Pole Micro-Anchor was proving to be a great team. I managed to catch a few trout early and push some redfish. I was not successful at catching any reds but knowing that they were in the lagoon helped re-enforce the choice for the tournament. I managed to make it to the inlet and found some deep holes near the outlet of the lagoon.
I work my way back into the lagoon; Lewis was anchored under a foot bridge. He has having a great time catching sheepshead. I decided that I would give it a try so paddled the Big Rig over to him to get some fiddler crabs. I then paddled across the lagoon to the far end of the bridge to concentrate on those pilings.  In a little bit of time I was losing bait to those convicts. I managed to land a few sheepshead with the biggest measuring just over 15 inches. I finally ran out of fidders and decided to go on to see if I could manage to hook up on a redfish.
At the Captains Meeting the pre-fishing reports were not sounding great. Of course this could be lies or truths after all we are all anglers. At any rate I felt confident in my fishing location. If I could catch slot size fish I will be at least on the board.
Sunday I made the drive back to Hunting Island and the lagoon from Charleston. This time I was going to be alone. I managed to get on the water about 7:30 AM and proceeded to fish the same path that I fished on Saturday. The same spot that I had a trout at on Saturday I managed to land a trout in the Big Rig. Drifting along the far shoreline after releasing the trout, I had another hook up. This time it was a puppy drum. A puppy drum is a redfish that is below the lower slot limit. So I know that this fish would not work for me for the tournament. Then another trout and redfish were landed. I even had a small croaker as well.
I decided to head in to the weigh-in. I did manage to catch a few fish but only caught one trout that was slightly over 15 inches to be scored for the tournament. The redfish were just short of 15 inches so they would not be counted. 

I would like to congratulate the winners. The top anglers were:
  • 1st Place-Troy Alcott 24 1/4" Redfish 14" Trout Total-28 1/4"
  • 2nd Place-Jay Elder 23" Redfish 14" Trout Total-37"
  • 3rd Place-Brad Osborn 23" Redfish 14" Trout Total-37"
  • Big Red-Hayden Furman-37 1/4"
  • Big Trout-Bryan Green-19 1/2"
I would like to thank Higher Ground Outfitters in Beaufort for a great job on hosting their first kayak fishing tournament. They did a great job. Thanks again.

1 comment:

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