Huge Trout on a Windy Day

Here at ACK we love supporting our Youth Anglers and getting their point of views. With clear eyes and full hearts these youth anglers provide a fresh view on a passion that all of us have had for many years. Madi Lee, a promising young angler, has been kind enough to provide us with one of her fishing experiences out on the Gulf of Mexico with her father. Read more to see how they fared on a windy day earlier this month.

A Huge Trout on a Windy Day

Excitement rushed through me like an athlete sprinting for the finish line! I got dressed, slapped on some sunscreen, and quickly ran out the door, shutting the truck door behind me as I climbed in. No paddles were going to be used today! Sorry kayaks, the Haynie Cat needs a turn too!

redfish pic

We unloaded the boat and headed across the bay as the sun was slowly creeping through the sky. Waves smashed the boat and salt spray soaked us the entire way. It was extremely rough because the wind was blowing hard.

When we reached our fishing spot dad slowed the boat down, turned it off, and put down the Power-Pole. Both of us put on our waders, slipped on our boots, and grabbed everything that we would need when we were out wade fishing. Then, we slid into the water and made our move to find where the fish were going to be located.

I worked my topwater, moving it left and right across the surface of the water to create the walk-the-dog technique. There was very little bait movement that I saw. Casts were going towards grassy points or any place where there might be fish. My stringer continued to stay empty… But not for very long.

I started working my way towards deeper water, casting in different directions to attract a fish to my lure. A few casts later, my topwater got a major blow up! It looked as if somebody had thrown a bomb in that exact spot. My line was singing to me as the fish continued to run like the wind. Could it be a shark? Is it a big red? Thoughts were spinning inside my head as I continued to fight this fierce fish.

After what seemed like 30 minutes of fighting, I finally got it close enough to where my dad saw what it was. “Wow! That’s a huge trout, Madi!” he shouted as I reeled it in and netted the monster.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. In my hands laid a 28 inch trout!

After my dad was finished taking pictures of me with the fish, I put the beauty on my stringer so she could stay alive. This trout was definitely going back home with me! I continued to fish afterwards, hoping to catch another beast like this one.

Even though I didn’t hook up on another giant, I did catch quite a few redfish as we were on our way back to the boat. I threw my cast towards a reef and shortly after, I received a blow up! This redfish may not have been the biggest, being 24 inches, but at least it was a keeper! I put the red on the stringer right next to my trout. Fish were blowing up my topwater frequently, but unfortunately, the reds were too small to keep.

Madi's 28 inch trout
Madi’s 28 inch trout

After trying one more spot and hooking up on a few smaller reds and trout, we decided to call it a day and head back in. Catching my personal best 28 inch trout was an astonishing experience! I wish I could rewind back to that moment and keep it on replay.

I get to experience things in life like this thanks to God. He has given me the blessing of a loving family, friends, and outstanding sponsors such as Banks Lures, Full Stringer Custom Rods,, Rockport Rattlers, Chickenboy Lures, Hook Spit,, Saltwater Arsenals, Lew’s Reels, Stinkypants Fishing, Down Time Services, Borderline Yakn, and South Texas Boat Works. They are the reasons I get to do what I love and why I have come so far as a competitive tournament angler.

I would also like to thank everybody for taking the time to read my blogs, watch my videos, and give kind words on things that I post. Please share with everybody, especially younger people, like me, that might be influenced positively from this blog. You can do anything if you put your mind to it, no matter what your age.

Thanks again,

Madi Lee

Youth Tournament Angler



Team Ocean Kayak Anglers Beat Power Boaters Twice in One Day

Kayak Anglers from Team Ocean Kayak are Showing Power Boaters They Mean Business

As the battle between kayak anglers and motorized boaters rages on, those of us on the kayaking side of things were awarded a recent victory when Clint Barghi and Aaron Stillwagon from Team Ocean Kayak took home not one, but two tournament victories in one day. The kicker? They were the only two kayaks entered into the two different events!

Aaron and Clint with their redfish at the Chorizo weigh-in.
Aaron and Clint with their redfish at the Chorizo weigh-in.

Tearing Up the Coast for Two Simultaneous Events

It must have been luck that the Chorizo Redfish Tournament and Galveston Redfish Series took place on the same day in relatively the same area. Clint and Aaron entered both and got their two redfish early (totaling 14.60 lbs) despite some heavy rain and winds. The pair had to fight these conditions with their paddles for the majority of the afternoon and, despite the great catches, said it rated as one of the 3 worst fishing trips they had ever endured.

Using their live wells, Clint and Aaron were able to keep their redfish alive for both weigh-ins, taking 1st in the Chorizo Redfish Tournament and 3rd in the Galveston Redfish Series. Wow! Again, these two were the ONLY kayaks entered into both tournaments.

Stories like this one shows just how effective kayaks can be when it comes to fishing. You don’t need to drop $1,000’s on a new shiny power boat to get to where the fish are – just get a kayak! We’ll be here waiting with kayak fishing gear when you’re ready. To find out more about what models and gear Aaron and Clint were using, visit Team Ocean Kayak’s Facebook page.


Paddling Long Distances Can Go a Long Way

Grant and his buddy showing off thier catch of the day.

Every once and a while a perfect, or close to perfect day comes along and the opportunity for success shows up knocking on your door, you know you cannot pass it up and you go for it. It’s days like these that make any sport worthwhile. For me it was a day when the wind was low, tides were good and the fishing was going to be perfect — I hoped.

I called a buddy up that I had been wanting to take kayak fishing for a while, I told him we were going to head down to the Texas coast and paddle a long way to catch a lot of fish. Naturally, as any sportsman does, he agreed. We launched as the sun was rising, paddled hard for a few miles to our first destination and we were greeted with a sea of tails. On my first cast I answered the tails with one that resulted in a broken eye on my rod…but I didn’t let it stop me. Soon thereafter we were on the bite, sight casting for fish after fish, throwing back the majority but keeping a few. With the wind in our favor I made the decision to make the journey further east, way east.

By now we were paddling past the motorboats that had passed us in the morning. We were headed to a large mud flat with a little grass that I felt would produce well for us. Once again we were greeted well. There was another kayaker who had taken his kayak out with his boat and was calling it a day when he yelled at me “there are about 50 redfish headed your way” — usually I would be thrilled but he was a few hundred yards away and there was no way for me to see what he was seeing. Not 2 minutes after his warning the water turned slick as glass, allowing us to see what our fellow angler had alerted us to. It was fish on, the top water bite was strong but nothing is more fun to me than sight casting so I stuck with that and came out on top with a solid limit of redfish. With the sun beginning to set and a 6 mile paddle back to complete our 12 mile day we made our way back catching fish along the way.

Arriving back at the boat ramp we proceeded with loading up the truck with our boats and gear, and as we began the task of cleaning the fish, we were applauded by a group of fishermen who had seen us out on the water and were amazed at not only how well we did but also how far we had gone. A great day was won, we had fish to show for it and my friend had made a paddle that a lot of paddlers would have never made even under the same conditions. It is days like these that make this sport well worth effort.

Grant @ACK San Marcos

Gulf Coast Redfish Fever!

An early fall Redfish round up by Kristian Kolflat

It wasn’t my birthday weekend but it might as well have been! The late summer, early fall seasons provide some of the best redfish fishing here on the Texas coast. So good, that before I can even finish making my plans to hit the coast, I usually come down with a serious bout of “redfish fever” — it’s the only thing on my mind. My last trip was fairly eventful but in an effort to enlighten others with the same experience, I brought along two longtime friends with the hopes of catching some big ones and having a whole lot of fun….and that we did.

Kristian proudly showing his catch for the day

During the fall months, redfish begin to group together into schools for feeding, mating and seasonal movement before winter. Over time, anglers have caught on to this annual “run” and they themselves begin to school into the back bays, flats and jetties along the coastline. Not only is the fishing phenomenal but the beaches tend to be free of seaweed, the water warm and crystal clear, and aside from fellow anglers and paddlers, there are far fewer people in the area. I personally consider this to be one of the best times of the year to be there, so off we were.

Before we left, I had to deal with the fact that my midsize SUV could only hold one or maybe two kayaks at a time but by utilizing a Thule Stacker, I was able to load all three Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120’s with room to spare for one more. We (and our kayaks) arrived safely and it was time to wet our lines.

Day One:
We launched into one of the many back bays with live shrimp and fresh dead menhaden as bait and paddled about a mile and half before reaching the cut, leading to a destination that always proves to hold a few fish. My comrades were impatiently excited and begin to fish before we even get out of the channel. Despite the fact that I am trying to shake off this “redfish fever”, I patiently paddle on a little farther and find a shallow point at the intersection of three waterways. I toss a shrimp under a popping cork and within a few seconds, BAM the fever is broken and I have my first keeper on the stringer!

Kristian and his buddy enjoying another successful day

As the day went on, we split up and explored the bay each on our own, all secretly wishing to find the best fishing hole first. I spotted a small school of reds just under the bow of my yak so decided to quietly drop anchor and cast a few lines out. Glad I did because from this point on, every time my friends looked over my way, my rod was doubled over — this was quite possibly one of the best fishing days I have ever experienced in a kayak. I caught my limit in reds released the rest and even landed a few small trout, a bonnethead shark, a large mullet, skipjack, pin-perch and absolutely no hardheads or stingrays. What more could an angler ask for? A few redfish also made it onto my buddy’s kayaks but before we knew it, the south wind picked up and it was time to head back home.

As I was getting beat in a game of horseshoes on the beach, I wondered if the next day would be as good? No way, not possible. Two awesome days of fishing in a row? Never.

Day Two:
After two seconds of discussion a unanimous vote puts us back in the exact same waters as the previous day. However, as noon rolled around nobody caught anything and our hopes were fading fast. We did see some fellow anglers in the distance catching reds all morning long. No luck for us so we decided it was time to stalk the flats on foot. With my kayak anchored down, I began wading in about four feet of water and threw two lines out. Once again BAM! One doubles over, I set the hook but I miss. I reload, shoot again but this time I’m fighting what I believe is a keeper. The sky brightens, the clouds clear and the fear of going home empty-handed on day two begins to subside. The tide turns and so does the fishing. I turn around to scope out the horizon only to be greeted with two reels zipping away — both mine. I grab one and then the other, set both hooks and perform an awkward dance of holding and alternating between two fighting redfish shooting through the water like bullets. Game on! In the background, my two friends and what seemed like everyone else on the flat is cheering me on like it’s the game of the season and the last shot determines the championship. It turns out that one of the two fish was a half-inch too short so I released her. However, within a few minutes my rod doubled over again and once again, I finished off the day with a full stringer. That night, we enjoyed fresh redfish, fried and blackened at Jay’s Seafood and Spaghetti Works in Port Aransas, Texas.

The trip was over far too quickly and instead of curing my “redfish fever” it simply spiked it even more. So much that I’m considering heading right back down for another weekend of phenomenal fall fishing in Texas soon. If you ever get a chance to visit the area during this time of the year, I high recommend it and be sure to bring your kayak or rent one from one of our stores.

Kristian @ACK Austin

P.S. We couldn’t leave without first walking down the jetties to see what others were catching and knowing that it’s a good time of the year for catching bull reds in the surf. Sure enough, we saw a lot of them being caught. I enjoy keeping a few fish for dinner here and there but these larger reds are not good for eating and are in prime spawning age groups. Here is some age/size information to use before you consider eating that 35-year-old bottom feeding fish that just gave you the fight of a lifetime. Take a picture, throw it back!

Redfish Age and Size*
1 year = up to 15″
2-5 year = 15-29″
6-10 year = 29-38″
11-35 year = 38-44″

*These are rough estimates from a variety of resources. Accurately determining age can be difficult due to habitat, gender, health and a variety of other factors.