Articles for May 2016

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What’s in my Pack: Music Festival Edition

by: Nicki Klein298498_10100350981462225_1754091_nLollapalooza 2013

As I was talking to my parents last night about what stove they should bring to Bonnaroo in a couple weeks (yes, I come from the type of family that goes to Bonnaroo together), I realized that packing for a music festival, especially a camping music festival, is very similar to packing for a backcountry trip. Sure, you may have your car nearby. And you COULD haphazardly throw all your stuff inside and hope to find what you need, when you need it, but if you pack only what you need, and do so in an efficient way, you’ll have more time to kick back and enjoy the festival atmosphere. So, in honor of music festival season, here’s What’s in my Pack-Music Festival Edition:

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A small (30L or less) pack, that has room for a hydration bladder. You want something that you can bring into the festival, that can fit all your stuff, but isn’t so big that you’re bumping into people as you dance and make your way through the crowds.

A hydration bladder. For camping, I love my 3L Platypus, but most festivals have water stations that are crowded, and the faucets can be leaky, and unpredictable (no water, and then boom, fire hydrant pressure). Because of this, I prefer a Camelbak bladder for festivals. The openings are large, and easy to fill. But, if all you have is a narrow-mouthed bladder, bring it. You’re going to need a lot of water, who cares if you hold up the line a couple extra seconds?

A tent. As festivals become more picky about the space they give groups, and as they start charging for parking spaces (in prior years, you brought a bunch of cars becuase parking was free, and you got as much space to camp as your cars took up), you’ll need to make use of the small space you have. That means it’s harder for each person to have their own tent. So, bring a couple big tents that take less room than a bunch of individual ones, and you’ll have more room for your group’s lounge space.

Sleeping pad. Sure, you’re going to be so exhausted you’ll probably fall asleep as soon as you lay down. But, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, a lot of dancing, and not a lot of sleeping. You might as well make the time you are getting some zzzs enjoyable. This is essentially car camping, so bring a cot if you’d like, or just use a sleeping pad. I like the Thermarest NeoAir.

Sleeping bag. Most festivals are during the summer months, and it gets hot in a tent quick. You definitely don’t need a 4 season bag! Something like the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed, or Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy, are nice options because you have the option to use as a blanket (Quilt), or stick your arms and lets out of the bag (Mummy). Some may simply opt for a blanket.

-Pop up canopy tent. A lot of your time will be spent in the center of the festival, but it’s nice to have a home base to return to, whether it’s for a quick meal, to meet back up with friends, or to relax in between shows. Having a canopy for all your friends to sit under lets you momentarily cool off before you head back out to the shows.

-Camp chairs. Set them up under your canopy. You’ll be happy to give your feet a rest. Try out the

-A cooler. You’re probably going to bring some food. And you’re probably going to bring even more alcohol. Keep it all cool for days on end with a Yeti or K2 ice chest.

Jetboil w/ Java Press. There’s food for sale at music festivals, but the lines are long, and the prices can be hefty. Save yourself a little time and money by bringing a camp stove and cooking a couple meals your self. Think instant oats in the morning, or ramen noodles at night. Or bring all the accessories and cook a 4 course meal. Oh, and having coffee first thing in the morning is a lifesaver.

-Plate, cup, spork, flask. Any trash you accumulate, you have to take care of. So don’t accumulate as much. Bring your own dishes and cutlery that can be reused.

-Pack towel. Good for cleaning dishes. Good for cleaning you.

-Camp suds. Good for cleaning dishes. Good for cleaning you.

-Bug spray and sunscreen. You’re going to spend days in the sun. Do yourself a favor and but on sunscreen. I can’t tell you how many people I see the second day of a four day festival and they’re burnt to a crisp because they didn’t apply (and reapply) sunscreen. And then they’re just miserable the rest of the weekend. Also, depending on what festival you go to, there may be bugs, so bring bug spray also. Or go with Sawyer’s combo spray that contains both sunscreen and bug spray, less to keep track of.

Hat. Use in conjunction with sunscreen. Try and get something wide-brimmed, to protect more of you. Plus, if you happen to come across ice, putting that into your hat feels like heaven after being in the dusty, heat for days.

-Sunglasses. Protect those eyes from the sun too.

Headlamp. So when you get into your communal camp site in the wee hours of the morning, you don’t walk through your friend’s tent. It’s nice to see where you’re going instead of guessing.

-Bandanna. Good to dip in cold water and put around your head, or neck. Good to use to cover your face if it’s dusty (think Bonnaroo or Burning Man). Good to use as a washcloth. Or a sweatband/headband. Etc. A bandanna is a very versatile piece of cloth.

Chacos. Your feet are going to go through a lot during a music festival. Mud. Dust. Grass. Rain. Chacos are easy to put on and adjust, and easy to clean. Even better, they’re recommended by podiatrists. They’re actually good for your feet, and you’re going to be on your feet. Your legs and back will thank you for wearing a shoe with support.

-Loose fitting, comfortable clothes. The clothes people wear to a festival vary greatly. You’ll see people in pink fuzzy bear costumes, wearing masks, and glowsticks. People wearing fringe, and feathers. Some people don’t wear much of…anything. I recommend wearing whatever makes you comfortable. I like quick dry and comfortable shorts made by companies such as prAna, Mountain Khaki, Patagonia, and Gramicci. I’ll pair that with a light tank (ExOfficio is one of my favorites), and I’ll carry a long sleeve shirt in my pack (in case it gets colder at night). I also opt for ExOfficio undies, because they’re ultralight and antimicrobial. I love people watching at music festivals, but I myself dress for comfort.

-Rain jacket. A little rain isn’t going to stop a music festival, but spending hours standing in the rain can still but a damper on your mood. I always have my Patagonia rain jacket stashed in my bag. It’s light, and folds into it’s own pocket. The North Face, Merrell, and other companies make similar and reliable products.

-Dry bags. Whatever I put in my pack, I first put in dry bags. Because if it starts raining, you may potentially be miles from your camp. Seriously, there are some big festivals nowadays.

-Solar charger. I’m all about living in the moment, and rarely use my phone during music festivals. With that being said, sometimes you need to get ahold of someone in your group to meet up, or you need to snap a couple pictures. You could always charge your device in your car, but that requires sitting at camp. Bring a solar charger with you and attach it to your bag. That way it’s always charged when you need it.

-Something to keep your phone waterproof. As mentioned above, sometimes you just need your phone. If you don’t already have a waterproof case on it, bring something you can put your phone in to protect it in case it does start raining. There’s nothing worse than having a worthless phone. Well, other than losing your phone and not having one at all (because that can happen too).

GoPro. If the camera on your phone isn’t enough, and you want a waterproof camera that, with the right accessories, can get your whole group in the picture, opt for a GoPro. They’re built to withstand tough environments, the way music festivals sometimes can be.

Of course there are some items on my list that YOU may not need (especially if you’re going to a music festival that doesn’t involve camping), and other items that I didn’t list that you can’t live without. But, in the almost 10 years I’ve spent going to music festivals, this is my go-to list. Pack right, enjoy the music, and as my mom would say, have a “groovy” time.

11538032_10205372613892938_5262398540613878778_nMy family at Bonnaroo 2015

Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

 

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What’s in my Pack- Walter’s trip to Yosemite

My Girlfriend and I decided to take a trip to Yosemite Valley in the off-season. We decided that instead of backpacking we would stay in Hodgdon Meadows campground located right past the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station ( About 45 minutes northwest of Yosemite valley) and set up  a base camp and go off exploring from there.

 

We flew into Oakland International Airport April 26, 2016, picked up our rental car. We had some extra time before our campground reservation so we went to explore the streets of San Francisco.

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-Painted Ladies- San Francisco, CA  

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-Lombard Street- San Francisco, CA

 

We arrived at the park on April 26th and Stayed for 4 nights and 5 Days. The weather was Gorgeous with a high in the low 70’s and low of 22 Degrees.

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Big Oak Flat Road Yosemite Entrance- Yosemite, CA

 

What’s in the Pack?

 

My Pack

I packed a North Face Base Camp Duffel XL ( This was the Bag I checked at the airport)

  • Extremely durable
  • Zipper uses large teeth makes opening and closing easy
  • Easy to carry with built on backpack straps.

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I also carried a Arc’teryx Kea 37 for day hiking.

  • I was able to use this bag as my carry on.

 

My Girlfriend carried a Camelbak DayStar 18

  • Women-specific bag
  • Carries 70oz bladder
  • Multiple pockets, carrying goods easy

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Yosemite Valley- Yosemite, CA

Food and Water

I used these MSR products that are great when making meals out in the wilderness!

  • I cooked on a Windpro 2 stove with an  alpine stowaway 1.1lt. pot and a Quick Skillet. To cook I used a Folding Spoon, Spatula, Ultralight Cutting Board, Salt & Pepper Shaker, Squeeze Bottle.

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Hodgdon Meadows Campground-Yosemite, CA

 

Camelbak UnBottle 100oz water bladder for me and my girlfriend carried a Camelbak Antidote 70oz.

  • We had access to drinkable water at camp so no water filtration was necessary, but we did carry potable aqua iodine in case of an emergency.  

 

Sleep Systems

 

Tent- Big Agnes Rocky Peak 4 MtnGlo

Sleeping Bags- My Girlfriend was in a Big Agnes Encampment 15 and I was in the Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 fill.

  • Mobile mummy was a great sleeping bag.
    • It kept me warm and being a side sleeper having the zipper in the middle of my chest instead of on one of the sides made sleeping on my side a whole lot easier.
    • Other benefits getting to warm in the bag you can stick your arms out to cool you down.
    • Best feature, when you wake up you don’t have to get out of the bag. Just stick your arms and feet out and walk around in the sleeping bag.

Sleeping Pads- My Girlfriend used the Big Agnes Air Core and I used the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Venture VW.

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Hodgdon Meadow Campground, Yosemite, CA

 

Stuff to Sit On

 

Grand Trunk Double Hammock with Trunk Straps

  • If the question ever comes up, “do I bring a hammock?” The answer is always, Yes.
  • Very packable and lightweight  
  • Can put up just about anywhere
  • Great place to relax

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Helinox Chair one

  • Very easy to set up
  • Lightweight and easy to pack
  • Super strong and durable

 

Alite Monarch Chair

  • Weighs less than 2 pounds
  • Great chair for uneven terrain
  • Easy to pack  

 

Boots and Clothes

I hiked all five days in Merrel’s Moab Mids

  • Great comfort right out of the box
  • These boots have Merrel’s M-Select technology which makes the boots waterproof using a built in lining.
    • This allowed for some ventilation and also kept my feet dry through all conditions including snow!

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Somewhere near the Taft Point Trail- Yosemite,CA

North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix Jacket- This jacket is one of the items that let me worry about making my trip great and not have to worry about being uncomfortable.

  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Light weight
  • Great fit
  • Easy to pack

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Upper Falls Trail – Yosemite, CA

Prana Brion Pants– These pants are a part of the Prana Zion family and are cut slimmer than the more popularly known Stretch Zion pants.

  • My favorite pants
  • Comfortable fit
  • Starch guarded
  • Wrinkle free
  • Quick drying
  • Performance ready

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Hodgon Meadow- Yosemite, CA

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-Walter Paolucci has been with the Backpacker for a Year. He is the store manager for the Baton Rouge location. His favorite brands are The North Face, Hobie kayaks, and Prana. He enjoys rock climbing, being out on the water in any way, biking, and hiking. –

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THRIVE Takes On Tickfaw State Park

by: Nicki Klein

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THRIVE Academy,” founded in 2011, “is a free, college preparatory, charter boarding school for grades six through twelve in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, serving at-risk youth from East Baton Rouge Parish. The mission of THRIVE is to empower students from underserved Baton Rouge communities and prepare them academically and personally for success in college and beyond.” According to their mission statement, THRIVE seeks to “meet the physical, emotional and educational needs of [their] students and provide them with the tools that will empower them to advocate for themselves and make a lasting impact on the community.” Everybody Plays Sports (EPS), created in 2007, is a local non-profit with a mission to raise “awareness about youth fitness and [improve] the health and wellness of youth through exercise, nutrition and education.” In 2015, EPS joined with the Outdoor Outreach Team, the brainchild of local resident Erin Sullivan. Outdoor Outreach specializes in “long term mentoring with at-risk youth through hands on outdoor experiences like hiking, paddling, and overnight primitive camping. The Outdoor Outreach Team also focuses on team building, character development, and nature education.” Reading all those mission statements and goals, the take-home point is this: all of these groups and projects have the same overarching goal-to empower young people. That EPS, and their Outdoor Outreach project, would join forces with the THRIVE Academy only made sense, and in 2012, a partnership was created. Since then, EPS personnel have visited THRIVE two afternoons a week throughout the school years, working with (now) 6th-9th graders, and taking them on field trips to explore the local outdoors.  Like most non-profits, EPS receives a lot of support from volunteers and local groups such as: Muddy Water Paddle Company, Varsity Sports, Lululemon, Heroes On the Water, Louisiana State Parks, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, The Louisiana Marathon, and The Backpacker, which is how I found myself introduced and involved in the program. The Backpacker supplies kayaks for various THRIVE/EPS/Outdoor Outreach events, and man power when extra help is needed. After offering to help with one afternoon session, I found myself hooked, and did my best to attend anytime I was available. 

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The hard work that the 6th-7th graders put in throughout this school year was rewarded with a two night, three day trip to Tickfaw State Park. Because of other obligations, I wasn’t able to join the first day/night, but was excited to join for the remainder of the excursion. In true Nicki fashion, I decided to add a fun kick to my trip, by biking the 50 miles to Tickfaw from Baton Rouge…on a mountain bike…with all my gear on my back. That experience is a whole other blog in itself, but I will say the kids thought it was pretty cool. Or maybe just that I was a little weird.

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I arrived during lunch, just in time to get prepared to head out for an afternoon of self-made bamboo-pole fishing, and kayaking through a bayou. A couple fish were caught, and although I had to (constantly) advise that “no, that’s a log, not an alligator,” to a number of disbelieving students, my group had a great time.

bambooMaking bamboo fishing poles

fish2First catch of the day

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Happy kayakers

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After dinner, we night hiked while looking for wildlife (the kids loved hiding behind trees and jumping out at their unsuspecting peers…and the adults!)

spiderA spider found by one of the students

and finished up the night with s’mores around a fire. Although there were cabin style rooms available for the students, a number of them chose to sleep in tents they had pitched the night before!tent 3Setting up tents on the first afternoon

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The next morning we woke up with the sun and after a quick breakfast, Shelly, a fellow Backpacker employee, led a group through a relaxing yoga flow.

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yoga2“Om”

More hiking, a trip to the park’s nature center, and lunch, and the trip was already over!

erin and groupOutdoor Outreach founder Erin Sullivan leading the group

shelly and kidBackpacker supervisor Shelly with one of the THRIVE students

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When I write about it, the trip seems so simple and short. But those 24 hours I spent with the THRIVE students at Tickfaw were anything but. From seeing them work together to make their fishing poles and bait their hooks; watching them paddle their kayaks in tandem; playing in the dirt, picking up bugs, pointing out wildlife; helping each other create the PERFECT s’more; and finally, working together to pick up their campsite; this trip was the culmination of a year of dedication, teamwork, and learning through outdoor awareness. Not just for the students, but for all the adults involved as well. I know I’m not simply speaking for myself. In my short time helping with EPS, the Outdoor Outreach Team, and the THRIVE students, I’ve gained perception, and a new perspective, on just how beneficial the outdoors can be for all of us-not just those already inclined. And kids NEED nature! I look forward to the future with these beneficial programs and projects, and want to again mention that without the support from local volunteers and groups, this trip, and others like it, wouldn’t be possible.

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Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Exploring the Louisiana Bayou on the Hobie Mirage Eclipse

Paddling Bayou Fountain and Bayou Manchac on the Hobie Mirage Eclipse

#TeamBackpacker wanted to see how the new Hobie Mirage Eclipse would fair on the bayous of South Louisiana so we set out on an excursion of Bayou Fountain and Bayou Manchac in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

BREC Highland Road Park Bayou Fountain Access

 

An easy place to start is the BREC Highland Road Park.  You can park on the road and should aim for the far eastern corner of the tree line.

BREC Highland Road Park Bayou Fountain Boat Launch Built By Paddle Baton Rouge

There, you’ll find a convenient floating dock built by Paddle BR.  It really comes in handy, as the water level can fluctuate around 5 feet depending on local rains.  Baton Rouge had received 4 inches of rain just a couple of days earlier, so the bayous were really high for this trip.  This made it really easy to get our kayaks and the Hobie Mirage Eclipse into the water.Paddling Bayou Fountain

Here we go!

Bridge over Bayou Fountain

 

The high water made it easy to launch the Hobie Mirage Eclipse, but it also meant we couldn’t easily float under this bridge.  About 10 minutes into the paddle, we had to portage our kayaks over the bridge.

 

Bayou Fountain Paddle with Hobie Eclipse

However, we were back on the water in no time!

Bayou Fountain Cabin

 

You can Air BnB this cool cabin right on Bayou Fountain!

Bayou Fountain paddle with the Hobie Eclipse

 

With the water so high, the trees became a slalom course for the Hobie Mirage Eclipse.  It was a blast!

 

Bayou Fountain meets Bayou Manchac

 

After about 2 and a half hours, (and lots of fighting our way through downed trees because of the storm) we exited Bayou Fountain and were now on the larger Bayou Manchac.

Birdwatching in Bayou Fountain on Hobie Eclipse

It was smooth cruising from here with lots of chances to birdwatch from the Hobie Mirage Eclipse.

Paddling under I 10 on Bayou Manchac on Hobie Mirage Eclipse

 

Shortly after, we were making our way under the I-10 bridge.  Can you see the small alligator in front of the Hobie Mirage Eclipse?

 

 

Paddling under the railroad tracks on Hobie Eclipse

The Hobie Mirage Eclipse made it easy to maneuver between the pilings of the train tracks around the Santa Maria golf course.

 

Cool camps along Bayou Manchac on Hobie Eclipse

Lots of cool camps dot the bayous.  Be respectful and stay off the private property and don’t leave any trash behind!

Ward Creek meeting Bayou Manchac

 

At around 3 hours, Bayou Manchac meets Ward’s Creek which flows from Mid City Baton Rouge.  Stay to your right on Bayou Manchac and you’ll be at the end soon!

Paddling under Airline Hwy with Hobie Eclipse

 

Just a couple of minutes later, you’ll see the Airline Hwy Bridge.  Almost home!

Cruising Bayou Manchac on Hobie Eclipse

It’s an easy sprint to the finish on the Hobie Mirage Eclipse!

Bayou Manchac take out spot

 

Look for the old (not working) water fountain on the left side of the bank to find the path to the BREC Manchac Park where you should have a vehicle waiting.

BREC Manchac Park take out trail

 

The takeout can be tough whether the water is high or low.  If the water is low, it will be tough making your way up the banks.  Either way, it will be MUDDY!.  Once you get out of the water, you’ll follow this trail out behind the baseball fields.

 

BREC Manchac Park Bayou Fountain Exit

 

You’re finished!  It’s about a 15 minute drive from BREC Highland Road Park to BREC Manchac Park to leave your finish vehicle.  Make sure you bring your keys with you!

Paddling Bayou Manchac and Bayou Fountain is a beautiful experience!  However, because there are no official launches at either end, there tends to be a lot of downed branches to push through, and because high water demands portaging over the bridge, this paddle is not for beginners.  Be sure to give yourself plenty of time (around 3 hours of paddle time), bring someone who has paddled it before, and bring your sense of adventure!

 

How and Why to Fish the Grass

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By: Eric Fey

As the close of Spring creeps up and the hot summer days roll in, they bring with them the thick grass mats and clear water. The bait takes to the grass in attempts to claim sanctuary and escape the predators that relentlessly pursue.  The redfish however, are not discouraged.  In fact, for the first time since the cool weather began to set in nearly 8 months ago, they know exactly where their next meal will be.  These reds nose their way through the submerged fields smashing every mullet, shrimp and crab that they stumble upon.  The water is warm and clean.  The sun rises high up in the high pressure, blue bird sky following the rain in the earlier part of the week.  This day is perfect.  It is perfect for these redfish.  It is perfect for me.

These types of conditions are the most conducive for sight fishing quality redfish. These are the days that fuel my passion for chasing Louisiana reds.  Last Saturday I made my way down to Delacroix, Louisiana.  Delacroix is my favorite summer time fishing area for precisely the aforementioned reasons.  For the last few weeks the grass has been growing thicker and thicker.  The only three guarantees in life are death, taxes, and redfish in the grass mats.  I launched around 7:30 and made my way down to my starting location.  As soon as I started seeing grass, I started seeing fish.  I casted to a few groups of reds with my fly rod hoping to get a topwater hook up on a gurgler fly.  A couple of the fish rose up to the fly but didn’t commit.  After missing a half dozen or so attempts, I picked up the conventional gear and proceeded to fill the fish bag.  I will let the video show just how much fun the day ended up being.  I ended up with around 10-12 reds, some of which were tagged and released.  I also missed about 4 more.

I think I have adequately explained the benefits of fishing the grass, but I know actually doing it can be quite frustrating at times. Here is my attempt to ease that frustration, at least a little bit.

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Lure Selection

Lure selection is by far the most important aspect of fishing grass efficiently. A lot of people will say to fish weedless gold spoons all day every day.  The problem with that plan is that weedless spoons aren’t really weedless, at least not in my experience.  It seems like every other cast I am still reaching down to pull grass off of the hook.  I will say that it is a good idea to keep a 1/8 oz gold spoon tied on to a back-up rod for those stubborn reds that won’t eat anything else.  My primary rod will always have the same set up to start when fishing heavy grass.  I fish 1/4 oz Owner Beast hooks with the retainer spring.  I also swap the small springs out for the larger ones.  It really doesn’t matter what swimbait you put on that hook, usually reds will eat it.  If the water is crystal clear then definitely lean towards more realistic patterns if it makes you feel better.  I can tell you with confidence that if you put a swimbait within a foot of a red’s nose, it won’t matter what the package says.  Make sure that you skin the hook in the back of the swimbait for 100% weedless retrieval.  Yes, there will be a few times that you will pull in a clip of grass.  So maybe it is more like 95% weedless.  Another incredibly fun way to catch reds in the grass is using hollow body frog.  I prefer popping frogs but walking styles work just as well.  The explosive topwater bite on a hollow frog will have you throwing that lure all day long hoping for another.  And that’s it! If you looked inside my Pro Angler right before I launch at Delacroix in the summer you will see three rods rigged with each of those three lures.  Truthfully, I will fish the swimbait 98% of the time unless the early morning frog bite is on fire.

Tackle

Rod

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to tackle. All the test data you could ask for is out there already.  Look to the bass anglers.  I like to fish 7 foot, medium heavy, extra fast action rods.  I want to be able to horse a fish out or pin it to the mat to keep from losing a fish when the line picks up an extra 5 lbs of grass.  I would say that you need a sensitive rod to distinguish bites from bumping the grass, but reds bite so hard and ferociously that it’s not commonly mistaken.  I personally fish a Shimano Cumara and G. Loomis E6X.

Reel

Consider what will happen when you set the hook into the mouth of an upper slot redfish in a pocket in the middle of a grass mat. It will make a run straight to the grass with the force of a freight train.  Odds are you will not be able to stop it before it gets there.  But what you can do is limit the extent of that run.  5 feet into the grass is much better than 50 feet in.  I recommend always fishing baitcasters if you are proficient with them.  Often you will spot a fish in pitching or flipping distance.  Casts with baitcasters also tend to be more controlled and accurate casts.  Go heavy on the drag.  There will be times when you need to pin the fish to the underside of the mat until you can get a net under it or grips in its mouth.  If a bunch of grass is weighting the line, it will sometimes give enough slack at the hook to allow the fish to shake it.  You can see that happen to me early in the video.  My heavy drag reels for the grass are a Lews BB1 Pro with a 14 lb drag and a 13 Fishing Concept C with a 22 lb drag.  I prefer reels that I can pick up line quickly with so I fish the Lews with a ratio of 7.1:1 and the 13 Fishing with a ratio of 8.1:1.  These speeds allow me to pick up the line quickly and re-cast if the fish changes directions or if I see a different fish all together.

Line

Redfish are not shy about line selection. You will need a line that can hang with the tensile forces that you are about to subject it to.  I am a huge fan of braided line.  I love that it has no stretch and is therefore extremely sensitive while still being incredibly strong.  It casts smoothly and is very abrasion resistant.  I personally fish Sufix 832 in 20 or 30 lbs.  FINS also makes some great braids for chasing reds in this heavy grass.  I wouldn’t pay too much attention to line color.  Try to match the water color as best as you can.  Remember to back the braid with some mono of similar diameter to prevent slippage and to fill the reel.  Also pay attention to the knots that you use.  “Fisherman’s knots” tend to slip when using lighter braids.  My fishing buddies and I argue all the time about which is better, the improved uni or palomar knot, but they are both great knots for braid.  I will always use the improved uni with 6 turns for 30 lb braid and 8 turns for the 20 lb.

Benefits of the Kayak

The kayak is the ultimate vessel for fishing deep in the grass mats. I use my Mirage drive on the Hobie Pro Angler 14 to get me out to the mats.  Once I arrive, I take the Mirage drive out or use the cord to lock them in the up position where the fins are flat against the hull.  After I pick up the retractable rudder the kayak will just glide over the grass, even when it is sticking up through the surface.  I normally don’t fish any deeper water than just a couple of feet.  I will use my paddle to propel myself around the mats while in the standing position.  Redfish will nose through the thick grass but pay close attention when the grass opens up into small holes.  These pockets are normally where a see most of the fish that I catch.  The edge of the grass is also a great place to patrol.  Not all of the reds will be way back in the grass.  With amber lens, polarized glasses spotting redfish is easy in the clear water.  They actually stand out against the yellowish-green grass backdrop.  Set the paddle down gently, pick up the rod and cast a few feet beyond and in front of the red.  Time the retrieve to be about a foot in front of the fish when it crosses the lure.  Then just get ready to set and hang on!  Another benefit to the kayak is that it’s a kayak!  Who cares if you get a bunch of grass and mud on it?  Just hose it off when you get home and hang it up wet.  Kayaks are very low maintenance and happen to be perfect for shallow water sight fishing.

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If you do plan on taking your Hobie out in the grass, just know that peddling through the grass puts a good bit of stress on the fins. Don’t be afraid to pick up the fins and paddle.  It is good exercise, but if you do choose to use the Mirage drive in the grass then it is a good idea to keep spare parts in the front hatch just in case you have any issues.  All the kayaks and parts you could ever need are kept in stock at The Backpacker.  Drop in and talk to the team about what would be good to keep on hand.

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I hope that I was able to clear up some of the questions or concerns that you might have about fishing heavy grass for redfish. It truly is my favorite way to fish.  If you have any other questions about grass, redfish, or kayak fishing in general please don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone at The Backpacker.  Our main goal is to promote the sport and share it with everyone who might be interested.  Good luck!

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