Friday, July 25, 2014

Freshwater Forays

Freshwater has been my recent pursuit - getting on some bass, bream, and catfish.  My favorite place as of late has been Wee Tee State Forest, and it's oxbow lakes.

These spots are perfect for a kayak - the boats that go in Wee Tee and Ferry Lakes are no supposed to use their gas motors - electric or human-powered only, so the atmosphere is nice and quiet.


There are a lot of gar and bowfin lurking about the waters of Wee Tee.  Some of the gar are big boys - around four feet or better.  I had a couple of gar hit my texas-rigged worms, while bass fishing - a pleasant surprise - especially when they go airborne and race quickly through the water.

The bass fishing isn't tremendous, but there are plenty of little footballs around to keep you busy.  I did lose a couple of nice fish during recent trips - one would have been five pounds easily.


In addition to the bass, there are numerous panfish - including bream like Warmouth, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and crappie.  Remember to bring some beetle-spins!

Wee Tee is worth checking out!  Visit the Wee Tee Forest website for more information...


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kayak Fishing - Santee Cooper Catfish

Made a afternoon trip to the Diversion Canal, between the Santee Cooper Lakes, to do a little bottom-bumping for catfish...here's the big one of the trip!




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MKFC Catfish Tournament

This past weekend was another roadtrip to fish - but this time we stayed in-state, participating in the Midlands Kayak Fishing Club's catfish tournament on Lake Monticello.

The catfish is another "heritage" species of mine.  Over the years I spent many fishing trips going after catfish, and they remain one of my favorite species to catch, and eat!  This tournament fit in perfectly with my recent string of freshwater adventures.

Also, it was a chance to go up the road and hang out with, and support, one of our fellow state kayak fishing clubs.

Darrell and I hit the road around 0900 - the tournament wasn't until the late afternoon, so we would have a few hours to fish prior to meeting for the tournament.  When we got up there, we stopped by the landing where the tournament was to be held.  There was a smaller impoundment nearby that looked fishy - so we decided to go there and try our luck.


This was the first thing I noticed when we got to the impoundment...no gasoline motors!  It was a nice 300-acre lake.  The water had about 3' of visibility, and plenty of grass edges and some brushy spots that looked like it would hold bass.


One of my favorite "search baits" is a beetlespin.  Bass, crappie, and bream will hit them.  I threw this around, to no avail.  I got hits - but they all felt like little "stump-knockers" (small bream or bass).


We messed around for a couple hours, with no fish caught.  I saw one decent bass, who followed a texas-rigged worm back up to shallow water, but wouldn't commit as he casually turned around and swam back into the dark, deep water.

Finally, the time was drawing near and we packed up and went across the road to the tournament launch on Lake Monticello.  We got out of our vehicles and went over to the MKFC tent, saying our hellos to the folks gathered there.  There were Midlands club members, of course - but also Upstate Kayak Fishing Club guys too.  Darrell and I were happy to represent the Lowcountry Kayak Anglers.  All three state clubs had members present!

As the time ticked down to the 6pm start of the tournament, we had a thunderstorm roll through and Darrell discovered he had a flat tire in the parking lot.  We went ahead and changed it out - then got the kayaks rigged and ready to roll.  The tournament fees were paid, and identifiers given out...let's hit the water!


My catfishing strategy was pretty simple - I brought a pack of mullet to make some cut bait, as well as a couple containers of raw bait shrimp.  Shrimp has worked consistently for me over the years - why change now?  I had carolina-rigs on two rods, with 1-ounce egg sinkers for weight, to drop down to bottom fish.  I would look for interesting areas or fish echos on my fishfinder, then drop bait down to bump along the bottom.

It didn't take too long to get that first catfish in the kayak - it was a small blue cat, the first of about twenty fish I caught that evening.  Those initial first cats were just over 12" - but as the evening progressed, I would hook up with some bigger fish.  The biggest for me that evening was 18".  I lost a few during some hookups that felt much bigger.  I was using J-hooks, with the shrimp threaded on.  When I dropped the rig down, I'd reel up a couple turns off the bottom.  I'd sit and wait for a fish to hit, then quickly set the hook...

Darrell was fishing nearby.  Around dark he called me on the VHF: "Come here - I have a photo-op".  I knew by the sound of his voice he was in possession of a nice catfish.  Sure enough, I got there and he was prepping a nice channel catfish for the measuring board.  I believe it was the biggest caught that night.


The tournament ran from 6pm til midnight, and as the time drew near for the cutoff, the anglers were heading in to the launch to turn in their pics.  The winners would be determined by the total inches of each angler's five best fish caught that evening.  The winner, John Shimburski, had a total stringer of 92.75".  My five totaled up to 74.5", which earned a second place finish.  Second place got me a new reel!


So, we're at the landing at 12:45 in the morning, snapping pics.  I was dog-tired, but happy to be there.  It was great to meet the members of the other clubs, and also to catch some fish!  We 'camped' in our vehicles at the landing, and got a few hours of sleep before heading home on Sunday morning.