By the time mid-February comes around on the Gulf coast, signs of spring are usually in the air and have not gone unnoticed by fish and fishermen alike. Now that water temperatures have begun their climb to more accommodating levels, game fish will soon become more accommodating, too, as the sun warms the shallow flats and baitfish gather on the shorelines.
There is probably no better time of year than between February and May to catch a trophy speckled trout - for the wall, or a once in a lifetime photo, then quick release. This is particularly true if you are fishing the lower Texas coast. If it has survived in good health since its catch and release in May 2002, when it bottomed out a 15 lb. scale, there’s at least one speckled trout cruising the Laguna Madre that could easily best the current 17 lb. 7 oz. world record caught at Fort Pierce, Florida.
One of the easiest and most stealthy ways to prowl the flats in search of heavy trout this time of year, as well as any other season for that matter, is by way of a paddle powered kayak or ‘yak for short. They are easy to handle both in and out of the water and large numbers of fishermen have already flocked to the sport. Special havens and trails have even been created in coastal areas exclusively for the use of un-motorized craft.
Kayaks are in demand, especially used ones if they can be located. Reasonably priced to begin with, used ‘yaks are highly sought after. (A friend who recently advertised his for sale, received over 40 calls.) Used ‘yaks are often equipped with some extras that the owner has assembled over time and tosses in to make a full package and ready-to-fish deal for often half the price of new. The previous owner can also be a valuable source of knowledge for tips and tricks on use of the craft and places to try. In addition, they may have a wish list for gear or options to consider that will help jumpstart your kayaking experience.
Kayak fishing is clearly the way to go if you want to combine fun, fishing and exercise.
Gary Ralston is publisher of Gulf Coast Fisherman magazine.
For more information on fishing the Gulf Coast visit http://gulffishing.com