Fishing the Banana River in morning has been amazing lately. I have spent the last couple of days paddling through canals and little areas that only kayaks can pass through and it has paid off.
Yesterday was spent tossing at dead trees and skirting small spoil islands for reds and small tarpon. There have been more trout on the flats than I can count smashing schools of finger mullet as well. My first cast of the day was at a tree I simply call “Red Tree,” and as usual it put out. I had my trusty DOA Cal that I can count on to catch me my first fish and eliminate the chance of being skunked. A decent fight followed and I was relieved to have a red under my belt for the day. A little more paddling around and I came across a dead tree on a corner between open water and backwater I call “Tarpon Tree.” The first couple tosses were met but quick, hard strikes I’m positive were tarpon, but no hookups. I suppose I got a bite from all the tarpon because every cast after that ended up with a small trout at the end of the line. From there, I cruised over to the islands. There were many more boats but most of them were stationary using live bait, so I continued on with my “shoot and move” tactics. I noticed off to the side of one island there was a school of mullet being ambushed and I quickly paddled my yak to it and casted off to the side. Next thing I knew I had a large ladyfish jumping all over. I’m lucky to have come out of this fight without a trip to the hospital because in mid jump my jig head popped out of its mouth and made a straight line for my head. I leaned over and it zoomed past by, barely missing me. Some people in a boat witnessed the entire thing and we just looked at each other. When I arrived back at the boat launch, my Jeep wouldn’t start and the terminals were corroded more than usual. A crappy way to end a good day.
This morning went much better. I don’t usually hit the same area up twice in a row but with my Jeep staying overnight I didn’t have much of a choice. With an hour late start, I quickly paddled to the area and hit up “Red Tree” and caught a small redfish. Time was short so I quickly hit up all of my named trees. “Tarpon Tree” provided more trout which disappointed me. Then I debated whether traveling the islands or hitting up the backwaters in an area I had never explored. I chose the backwaters and boy, was that a great decision. The water was shallow and clearer than it had been in a while making sight fishing possible, my specialty. As I rounded a corner I noticed a large dust cloud under the water, hinting that there may be some large fish in the area. Sure enough, I spotted a large red under the mangroves and tossed on it with a Charlie’s 3” Twin Tail Shrimp. Boom, it struck hard and the fight was on. Here I am standing up on my little 11′ kayak basically surfing this thing’s wake. After about 7 minutes of solid fighting, I scooped it up in my net and got a good look at it. Definitely was bigger than I thought it was. I carefully revived the fish and it swam off without a hitch. From then on, I traveled the back canals and tossed on any tree or fish I saw, picking off a few small reds along the way. I realized I was lost but in the best way, eventually finding my way back out to open waters.
The lesson here: Get lost!