My good friend Danny Cabo (who lived in Jacksonville at the time) and I met half way with Dee at the No Motor Zone on a calm and beautiful morning. We couldn’t ask for more peaceful water, and at times found ourselves just watching the sun come up from the kayaks instead of fishing. The goal of the day was to search for the elusive school of tailing redfish, which would be one of my first experiences for such a rare sight.
As we made our way along the shore looking for holes and areas that would hold fish, one of my first few casts resulted in a trout outburst with a top-water Zarra Spook, the day looked promising. Plugging along we didn’t get too many hits, a hit here and a hit there, but really not what we were expecting so far. Switching to jigs and alternate retrieving speeds, I was finally able to land a sizeable trout, roughly 22-23”, and we paused for a bit to take a quick photo and gain some confidence back that there were indeed trout in these waters, and willing to bite. Refocusing, we kept heading north in hopes of again running into the reds we were looking for.
Manatees had made their presence known, turning and tumbling with each other, pushing their moon shaped tails out of the water in a statue-esk sort of way – but not the tails we were looking for. Off in a distance ahead of us, it looked like dolphins had found some bait and were starting a buffet, splashing away and making a ruckus – but something didn’t look quite right for dolphins. As my excitement grew because of the enthusiasm of these feeding fish, I started to paddle a little faster to see what the big commotion was all about, and as I got closer the dream of seeing the elusive school of big redfish I’ve always read about and seen on tv became a reality.
After I knew what was before us, I slowed down and turned my approach into stealth mode, waiting for Danny and Dee to catch up to get in on the breathtaking sight. I have ran this situation in my head several times prior, on what I would throw, how I would cast, where I would cast, the presentation I would show, etc. – but just as my heart jumps in my throat when I see a whitetail buck coming down the woods towards my stand, the same thrill and excitement hit me when reaching for my fishing rod. Where do I cast?! There’s so many tails…and they’re all huge!
Now I had thrown the lure already a few hundred times that day with no problems, and what do you think happens when I go to softly toss the bait out one more time? Knot city comes out of my reel!!! Are you kidding me?!!! I could do nothing but laugh and switch to an alternate rod that I had rigged up. For some reason or other, these big gals weren’t willing to take our limited number of throws, as we kept half of our attention to a major front that was about to push right over us.
Dee made the right choice by starting to head in to shore for some cover followed by Danny, but I just had to get one more cast in to this school of bronze beauties. After a failed attempt to entice them to eat, I heard a wall of water quickly moving at me from behind and knew I had to high tail it in and get the rain jacket out. I have never been so close to striking lighting as this day, where you could feel the vibration of the strike in your core – a little too close for comfort!
Waiting around for fifteen or so minutes, the front finally passed, but left us a beautiful array of blues, greens, yellows and the like, arching over the water. Sadly the school of reds didn’t want to stick around to look at the rainbow and we couldn’t find them again. Continuing on with the day we ran into some more trout, but the real prize of the day was seeing those elusive tails peak out from the water. What a sight!
The following day, well, was epic to say the least. I’ll let the video describe it for you… Enjoy!
To book a trip with Dee Kaminski, you can find her on Facebook or visit www.reelkayakfishing.com