By Randy English
Fishing from a kayak has many advantages over any other means of angling, including the most expensive flats boats. The number one advantage is the stealth factor… kayaks draft less water, push less water and are very quiet with little or no hull slap. In addition you are getting a good workout – after all, you are the motor!
Living here in Titusville, Florida I am close to some of the best intercoastal fishing in the United States: Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Indian and Banana Rivers and my favorite, Mosquito Lagoon. It’s not called Mosquito Lagoon for nothing. At certain times of the year you can be eaten alive. But mosquitoes aren’t the only things biting on the lagoon, which brings me to the species of fish that got me hooked on kayak fishing:redfish.
Best Time To Fish Mosquito Lagoon
Even though I fish Mosquito Lagoon year round the BEST action is during the warmer months, May through November. When the water gets cooler they head for deeper water but can still be found.
During the hot months I like to be on the water and ready to fish at sunrise and I’m usually ready to head back in around noon. When the weather is milder (what I really mean is colder) I like to be on the water no later than an hour after sunrise. One look at a redfish or red drum and you know you are about to get into the fight of your life. With its blunt face and wide shoulders it will make your drag scream and your kayak will be pulled around with ease. Catching bull redfish on light tackle from a kayak is unbelievable and you’ll know it when you have to paddle back to the launch area with sore arms after fighting a few of these monsters. Besides their physical prowess, in my book the redfish is the most beautiful fish in the lagoon with its metallic gold color fading to its bright white belly. Its blue edged tail and famous spots make this fish striking. Huge schools of breeder size redfish, some as large as 45 to 50 pounds, call Mosquito Lagoon their permanent home. They eat, sleep and breed in these waters. It is unforgettable to see these huge fish in big schools tailing on the shallow grass flats when the water is calm. Catching one of these awesome fish from a kayak is a totally different experience. Releasing these fish is a must; only keep what you legally can. I can’t see keeping one of these beasts especially after it has put up a fight I will never forget.
What Soft Baits to Use
After fishing from a kayak a few times you will start developing a “less is more” attitude. You have very little room on your craft so you bring only what you need and what works. I only fish with artificial lures with a preference for soft baits with a natural looking action. There are thousands of soft baits out there but I have not seen or used a lure that works like a 7-inch Hogy Original. It seems the larger the lure and the shallower the water, the bigger the Redfish. It is hard to describe what a 40 plus inch redfish looks like charging after a Hogy; kind of reminds me of a bowling ball going through the water. My preference is a medium size spinning reel with braided line on a medium action rod. With 10-pound test you can cast a 7-inch Original Hogy a great distance. Rigged with a 5/0 Swim bait hook and retrieved with strong jerks you will create an erratic motion that drives large bull redfish crazy. My favorite Hogy colors are (in order of preference): bone, black and black pearl. Call me a fool, but I don’t use leaders and have probably lost many fish (especially snook) due to my bullheadedness. Since I use braided lines in various pound tests 99% of the time I only use the Palomar knot. Simple and trustworthy.
When I retrieve I use both rapid and intermittent jerks, whatever gets a reaction from the reds. If I see them schooling I usually use a faster retrieve. If I’m blind-casting in an area that looks promising I slow it down with intermittent movements.
I first saw Hogy Lures on TV and thought I would give them a try. The only dealer in the area had the huge lures for offshore so I went to the Hogy website and ordered a few different colors and sizes including the Double Wide. Upon their arrival my friend stated, “What the #$@% do you plan on catching with those big lures?” Well a few days later we were fishing an area known as Peacocks Pocket, an extremely shallow cove that we’ve kayak fished frequently with good results. About mid morning we noticed what looked like a small gator near the shoreline. Getting closer we discovered it was a 40-plus pound redfish messing round with what looked like a blue crab. My friend cast a 7-inch Hogy past it and started to retrieve it using a sharp jerking motion. When it was about four feet from the fish the red turned around and made a beeline for the lure. When it struck the Hogy it made a splash like a grenade going off and the battle began. After about 20 minutes my buddy captured the trophy-size redfish, It measured 48 inches.
It was quickly released and I bet my friend will never ever make another comment about how big the Hogy lures are. We also now don’t go out without a camera! At least he had me as a witness. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I use hard bodied top water lures or the famous and deadly gold spoon but working natural looking soft baits from a kayak is my favorite method with results that will keep me continuing to use them. If you have never fished for reds from a kayak you have to give it a try.