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The first leg of the Inshore Fishing Association’s (IFA) was in Charleston, SC hosted by the St. John’s Yacht Harbor on John’s Island. Thirty-five kayak anglers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, & Florida tested their skills and maybe some luck in the search for a redfish and speckled trout to win this leg of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour for the Atlantic Division. This event marks my third year in participating in the IFA events.

Being a local and fishing this event really does not mean too much in my opinion. For me kayak fishing is all about exploring new areas to test my fishing skills and further my knowledge of newly discovered areas that hold fish. Some of my searches result in some long distance paddling in either my Jackson Cuda 14 or the Big Tuna. The big challenge for this event is that the competitors will be starting at low tide.

For this event I opted for the Big Tuna. My main reason for selecting the Big Tuna over the Cuda is the stability and the blaze orange color of the Big Tuna. This will be very important because my plan was to fish several areas on the Charleston Harbor, Wando River, the Cooper River, and several small creeks that flow into this area. The color choice mainly is to make me visible to the hundreds of boaters that are cruising the harbor. I have had many boaters inform me that they have no problem seeing that orange colored kayak from the distance. The other reason that I selected the Big Tuna over the Cuda is the openness of the deck in from of me when the Big Tuna is configured in the solo seat positioning.

Launching from Remley’s Point at safe light (6:15AM) I paddled across the Wando River towards Daniel’s Island to see if I could locate some trout or redfish. I started out with a top water lure for the early morning trout bite. Having no luck around the point of Daniel’s Island I paddled across the harbor section where the Wando and Cooper River come together to Drum Island. Across this section of water I had a small pod of dolphins join me. It was like I was part of the pod; I had some of them about three feet on my starboard side and a few on the port side about the same distance. We parted ways when I glided into shallower water. Fished around the north end of Drum Island with no luck so decided to paddle across the Cooper River to a little flat and then check out a couple of small creeks behind the Coal Chutes.

Working my way across the small flat I eventually make it to a small creek that flows to Magnolia Cemetery. In the past this small creek has produced some nice trout and redfish. By this time the tide was starting to come in. Making my way to the cemetery I did not find any fish. On the return trip there was a dolphin searching for a snack heading in the direction where I came from. Exiting the creek I paddled to another small creek that is somewhat dry at low tide but has a few pockets of deep water would be my next section to test the Big Tuna in.

I entered the creek, lifted the rudder, and decided to let the incoming tide carry me along the winding creek as I stood searching for some redfish. As I was drifting along a heard a commotion coming from behind and all of a sudden four dolphins swam passed me even hitting the Big Tuna. I managed to stay upright and standing in the Big Tuna from this test of stability. However I had to sit down right away to get my heart to slow down. At this point I decided it was not worth the trip up that creek into the grass. All I could think about is the feast of redfish those dolphins were enjoying.

I decided to work my way along the west shoreline toward Seabreeze Marina in search of the targeted species of the IFA. Arriving at the marina I paddled across to Drum Island to fish the Charleston side of the island. Fishing along the shoreline of Drum Island and ended up at the area that I fished earlier that morning I decided to cross the Cooper River back to Daniel’s Island.

When I arrive the rock rip rap of Daniel’s Island I started to get hits finally on the D.O.A. CAL Shad in the Golden Bream color. The hits were small bluefish taking off the tail so I kept replacing the plastic lure. Finally I had a hit that was not the bluefish tap instead it was a solid hit. I set the hook lightly holding for a speckled trout the short battle resulted in several head shakes and then to the surface a fat trout appeared. I landed the trout into the Big Tuna, placing the trout the 321 measuring board, snapping a photo of a 14.75 inch trout, and then released the fat trout. It was 11:30 AM so I thought all I need to do in the next hour or so is to locate some redfish so I would have a chance at bringing in a IFA Slam for scoring.

As I worked along the shoreline I managed to hook up a few more trout but appeared bigger than the speck that I measured and photographed. Unfortunately they would throw the hook next to the kayak. At this time I decided to cross the Wando River and try some docks along the far side as I would make my way back to the landing to load up. I must have fished nearly a dozen dock systems and arrived to the landing at 2 PM with no redfish for the IFA Slam. At least I did not get skunked and will be on the board some place.

When all the results were reviewed the top three places were: Dave Jaskiewicz with a aggregate score of 47.44, Justin Carter with 47.25, and Brad Knight with 44.5. Dave Jaskiewics had the biggest redfish at 31.38 inches and Justin Carter landed the biggest speckled trout at 20.5 inches. With the latest changes that the IFA had made to the tournament by defining the region boundaries appeared to me to have leveled the fishing area for all participates. Oh wondering how I fared with my catch of the day? I managed to place 17th in the field.

Congratulations to the winners. If you are interested the final leg of the Atlantic Division will be in Georgetown, SC on 17 August 2014. For more information on the IFA Kayak Tour check them out at