Select Page

I joined a few members of the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club to enjoy what was to become a beautiful day on the water, and a fishing tournament with a great purpose. The club decided to kick off 2012 with a non-series tournament that’s different than anything they’ve put together thus far. This was their first attempt at a team structured, tag and release event. I must say that it was a great success!

We met at Choupique Bayou’s kayak launch, a dedicated kayak launch that the members of the club helped to construct, at 6:30am. The temperature was a chilly 34* upon arrival, and may have been the reason for many of the club’s members to sit this one out.

There was a cash prize for the team with the longest 5 Redfish stringer, and prizes donated by one of the club’s sponsors (Scotty) for the individual who caught the first fish, the individual who caught the longest fish, and the team who caught the most fish. A second club sponsor (Pack and Paddle) allowed the club to use a powerboat as a tagging station.

Around 7:00am we huddled in a circle and drew numbers, the two anglers holding the same number were on a team. There were 12 anglers present that made up 6 two man teams, and two members who volunteered to work the tagging boat. The majority of the teams paired a more experienced angler with another of less experience, just what the organizers of the event intended to accomplish!

Every team was encouraged to catch as many Redfish as possible by using artificial lures. A maximum of five Redfish were allowed on the anglers stringer, with only one of the five over 27” (LDWF regulations). Once the angler approached the five fish maximum, a call would be made to the tagging boat. The tagging team would then drive to the angler’s location and document the fish’s length and location, tag the fish, and release it back into the water. The angler could resume fishing once their fish were tagged and released.

With the three previous nights’ temperature dipping down into the 30’s, my teammate (Morris Houck) and I figured that the fish would be deeper than normal. There was a weak tide range forcast, and it showed. When the water would move a little we would catch a fish or two, when it slowed the bite was nonexistent. The key was using electronics to find fish holding structure, backing away from it, anchoring down, and pounding the structure during the short bursts of good tide movement.

During the tournament I landed a 19” Redfish that was part of the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program. At first I thought it was a recapture of a fish that was caught and released during our event, but upon closer inspection I noticed that the tag was covered with a hard mud like substance. There was a 1-800 number, a tag number, and the word “Reward” on the tag. I called the number and reported where it was caught, the measurement of the fish, the tag number, and an estimate of the weight. I also released the fish back into the water to live another day.

There were 23 fish tagged, 22 Redfish and a 20 ¾” Speckled Trout caught by Morris. Two of the top three teams caught 5 fish stringers measuring in at 121 ½”, 112 ¼”. The third place team caught a 4 fish stringer measuring 85 ½”. Morris and I won first place, we also received a prize for the most fish caught (9).

I had a great time on the water, and appreciate the 12 guys who allowed their catch to be tagged and released.