In my opinion, being a local and fishing this event really does not mean too much. For me, kayak fishing is all about exploring new areas to test my fishing skills and further my knowledge of areas that hold fish. Some of my searches result in long distance paddling in either my Jackson Kayak “Cuda 14” or the “Big Tuna”. The big challenge for this event is that the competitors will be starting at low tide. I opted for the Big Tuna for this tournament.
My main reason for selecting the Big Tuna over the Cuda is the stability and the blaze orange color of the Big Tuna. This would 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 is mainly to make me visible to the hundreds of boaters 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 is the openness of the deck in from of me when the kayak 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 topwater 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 3’ on my starboard side and a few on the port side about the same distance. We parted ways when I glided into shallower water. I fished around the north end of Drum Island with no luck, so I 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 made 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. I did not find any fish on my way to the cemetery. On the return trip, there was a dolphin searching for a snack heading in the direction 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 that would be my next section to test the Big Tuna.
I entered the creek, lifted the rudder, and let the incoming tide carry me along the winding creek as I stood, searching for some redfish. As I was drifting along, I heard a commotion from behind. Suddenly four dolphins swam past me - even hitting the Big Tuna. I managed to stay standing from this test of stability, but 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 was the feast of redfish those dolphins were enjoying.
I decided to work my way along the west shoreline toward Seabreeze Marina. I paddled across to Drum Island to fish the Charleston side of the island. After fishing along the shoreline of Drum Island and ending up at the area that I fished earlier in the morning, I crossed the Cooper River back to Daniel’s Island.
When I arrived at the rock rip rap of Daniel’s Island, I finally started to get hits on the D.O.A. “CAL Shad” in the Golden Bream color. The hits were small bluefish taking the tail off, so I kept replacing the lure. I had a solid hit that was not the bluefish tap. I set the hook lightly, hoping for a speckled trout. The short battle resulted in several head shakes and then a fat trout appeared. I landed the fish, placed it on the 321 measuring board, and snapped a photo of a 14.75 inch trout before the release. It was 11:30am, so I thought all I needed to do in the next hour or so is to locate some redfish so I would have a chance at bringing in an “IFA Slam” for scoring.
As I worked along the shoreline, I managed to hook up a few more trout that appeared bigger than the speck I had measured and photographed. Unfortunately, they would throw the hook next to the kayak. I decided to cross the Wando River and try some docks along the far side as I made my way back to the landing to load up. I must have fished nearly a dozen dock systems, and arrived to the landing at 2pm with no redfish for the IFA Slam. At least I did not get skunked, and would be on the board someplace.
When all the results were reviewed, the top three places were: Dave Jaskiewicz with an 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”,and Justin Carter landed the biggest speckled trout at 20.5”. The latest changes the IFA made to the tournament -defining the region boundaries - appeared to have leveled the fishing area for all participants. Congratulations to the winners. I managed to place seventeenth in the field.
The final leg of the Atlantic Division will be in Georgetown, SC on August 17, 2014. For more information on the IFA Kayak Tour, check out http://www.ifatours.com/kayak-tour/kayak-schedule/.