Kayak Fishing

By: Eric Henson

Well, I’m finally able to get back out on the water as my wrist is almost fully healed! It’s been a decently cold and wet winter this year, but March will soon bring in a new season. The fish that have been hiding in the backwaters will be inching their way out onto the flats and after the chilly winter they will be hungrily searching for their next meal! Some species will start to spawn, and some species will start their journey towards their spawning grounds. Nonetheless, this all makes for a great time of year to get your lines wet!

Trout will begin spawning now and in general, will be the last time to catch a trophy Southwest Florida “Gator Trout” until next fall. You will find them in the shallows trying to warm up in the early mornings looking for an easy meal ticket. They are generally loaded with eggs getting ready to release for the trout’s future generations. Their mouths easily tear and have one or two dagger-like fangs on the top with lots of sheathed little teeth throughout the rest of it. One of the safest ways to handle them is by wetting your hand before picking them up so that it helps prevent removing their slime coat off, that keeps them protected from many things. Then if you would like a picture, snap a quick pic and get them back into the water as fast as possible.

This is also a great time of year to catch trophy size snook as they make their way towards the gulf to spawn in the summer. These fish are very strong and a little bit hardier, they should also be held with extreme care. Snook can be easily held by their mouths, lipped like a bass but you must make sure to not hold (especially the big ones) just by their mouths and ensure you support their second half as well. If you hold a larger fish without any additional support to their body, you will break their spine and release a toxin into their bloodstream which will slowly kill them within a few days. These fish are also cold sensitive so a quick and gentle release goes a long way.

Redfish will be all over the flats mostly in singles and doubles eating as much as possible before they group up for their great spawn. They are probably one of the strongest and hardiest fish out of the three gamefish but not invincible to miss-handling. I generally release all these species by holding them by the tail upright in the water, slowly moving them side to side until they give a kick to let you know they are ready to go.