Articles for March 2014

“Cold Front Coming and So are the Fish” Kayak Fishing Tips by Hobie Fishing Team Member Tommy Eubanks

Tommy Eubanks has been a member The Backpacker Hobie Fishing Team for 1 year, served as president of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club and has posted multiple 1st place wins at regional fishing tournaments and competed in the Hobie “World’s” tournament in Australia.  Tommy fishes from a Hobie Pro Angler 14.

With the crazy weather we have had in 2014, many fishermen just don’t know when to go fishing.  With the temp’s in the 20’s or 30’s one week and then up as high as the 70’s the next week, it’s easy to get confused. There is an old saying that “the fish really bite right before a cold front.”  My many years of fishing the Louisiana marshes have taught me that this is definitely true.

Such was the case earlier this month when the weatherman said we had a MAJOR cold front headed our way. So, I called my kayak fishing friend, Donny Elliott, and we decided to run down to Golden Meadow, La. to try and catch some specs. With the temps in the 60’s and a nice Southeast wind, I knew there would be plenty of water in the canals around Golden Meadow. The cold front was due to be in Baton Rouge around noon so I knew we should have a good day of fishing.  As we headed out, Donny commented “sure looks like rain,” as as soon as we got 15 miles down the road it did start raining.  We drove on hoping the weather would clear and we could get a few hours of good fishing in before the cold front.  Somewhere around Hwy 90 and Hwy 308 the rain quit and looked to be a good day.

I don’t use live bait often, but something was telling me today would be a good day to have some. After picking up 30 minnows, we headed to the landing to find we were the only ones there. We launched and found the water temps to be 51 degrees.  This is always a good sign, as I find specs tend to be a lot slower bite when the water temp’s get in the 40’s. With the South East wind blowing, we found a protected bank with a nice current flow and started throwing the live minnows. It only took a few casts to get on a fish! We were right on top of a school of small trout in the 11 inch to 13 inch range. Needless to say our minnows did not last long, but we did hook a lot of small reds and small trout.

As the Sun continued to rise, the water temps rose to 54 degrees, and the fish continued to bite on plastics. We fished a small flat with 2.5 to 3 feet of water and continued to land fish. Soon, the sky back to the North started looking really ominous and you could see the front coming in. Having already filled our kayaks with fish, we started watching the weather with concern. In a matter of minutes, it was like a switch flipped and the bigger fish turned on!  We started anding 17, 18, 19 and a few 20 inch specs, with Donny even boating a 22+ inch one. We were having a great time.

But, the black clouds were getting  too close by now and we left the fish biting to head back to the launch. We hurried and loaded up and pulled away  just as the wind flipped from the North and the rain started.  It rained all the way home and that night the temps dropped to the low 30’s.

This trip turned out to be a classic day of fishing out of our kayaks. So, next time you have a cold front headed to your favorite spot, load up your kayak and go try to catch some fish.

Rigging the Wilderness Systems Ride 115x kayak for fishing- Part 1

Article by Reverend Bill Crawford of Team Backpacker and a Wilderness Systems Fishing Team Ambassador.

I’m not the handiest guy around.  Kayaking has pushed me to new limits and I’ve learned to drill holes in a perfectly good boat without sinking it.  I hope this quick install will give you ideas how to get your boat ready for the water quickly (just a little over an hour to complete all these items).

All you really need to start your kayak adventure is a kayak, a paddle, a pfd (personal flotation device), and an adventurous spirit (and some safety measures).

However; in my mind, two things are absolutely essential for rigging a kayak. Rod holders and Anchor Trolleys.

A few other items are extremely handy (in terms of rigging) “pad eyes”  for clipping things to, and items like a fishing net, fish grabbers, and etc.

Here are the basics.  First your Rod holders.  I like to have two up front with me.  When fishing for redfish in particular I like to have my spoon and my soft plastic both ready to go.  So I have two rod holders on the front.  I chose to go with:

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Railblaza rod holder and Harmony Slide Trax mounting plate

You see pictured, the scotty mounts for a scotty rodholder but I did’t go that direction – they do match up very well; however,

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From there I put together my railblaza rod holder and the harmony mounting plate:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou are probably wondering why did I go with “Railblaza”?  Well it’s pattented “star design” is just so much easier to work with than the scotty mount pull and twist.  If you notice the grey buttons they are actually a slide bar that you can just barely see in the picture this allows you to lock in the rod holder without much effort at all.

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From there I attached the rail mounting nuts:

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And those were prepped for install.

Next I gathered my gear and proper equipment.  Rivet gun, drill, hole saw, marine goop, file, and flush mount rod holders by harmony, and my anchor trolley kit by harmony.  Oh yeah- always have a sharpee because you want to mark before you drill – always.

And to work I went:

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With the addition of gear rails to kayaks we no longer have to drill so many holes. The rod holders just slide right in. Thank you Wilderness Systems for the adaptation on the rails that makes mounting so much easier!
slice track improved access
this was a quick rig with a scotty mount just to show how easy it is to access the rail mounts.

That’s the front half of the boat.  I’ll put together the rest of the rigging in another entry soon!  It will include rear rod holders, “milk crate”, and anchor trolleys.  Till next time – tight lines!

 

 

 

 

 

Clark Creek Natural Area / Tunica Hills Day Hike

Looking for a spot within driving distance of both Lafayette and Baton Rouge for a day hike and see waterfalls? You should check out Clark Creek Natural Area (aka Tunica Hills), which is just over the Mississippi-Louisiana border.

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Things to know before you go:

  • – At the trailhead parking lot, there is a small kiosk that has envelopes for you to pay the $3 day-use fee. Also there, you will find public restrooms and water fountains to fill up your Nalgene or Camelbak water bottles.
  • – Shortly down the trail, the trail will split into a few directions. You can choose to take a primitive trail that will cover rugged hills, less populated waterfalls, and bluff overlooks. It is also a popular decision to follow the creek bed, which will take you to other waterfalls. Just be prepared to get wet, if you choose this option.
  • – If you head over on Friday through Sunday, be sure to stop by the Pond General Store. This white, little building is from 1881 and is filled with tons of history and a perfect spot to rest and grab a drink/snack after your hike.

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From the Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, continue on I-10 E and exit on I-110 N. This will take you to Hwy. 61, which will bring you through St. Francisville. Take a left on Hwy 66, which is also Angola Prison Rd. At the intersection of Hwy 66 and Hwy 969, take a right. Follow Hwy 969 for about 13 miles, and then turn left at Hwy 24 (Ft. Adams Pond Rd), While crossing the cattle guard, you will see the Pond Store, and the trailhead is about 200 yards to the left.

*Courtesy of Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
*Courtesy of Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

“Clark Creek Natural Area” was written by The Backpacker Baton Rouge Store Manager, Anthony Arabie.  Anthony has worked for The Backpacker since 2008 with a couple of breaks to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine and other adventures.