Saturday, May 05, 2007

McNab Lake

This time of year redfish along the coastal bays move up into the marsh to feed on shrimp, crabs and minnows. They can handle the lower salinity and sometimes muddy water of the sloughs and inland lakes that feed estuaries and bays.

In our scouting trip last week in Matagorda, I was told of a place that met all the criteria for a perfect kayak fishing spot:

1) Easy access
2) Connected to the Intercoastal Waterway (saltwater)
3) Affected by tidal action
4) Shallow enough to prevent power boats
5) Difficult to wade

The trick was to have some decent weather and time to fish. The weather was cooperating and I had a dental appointment on Friday morning so after working in the yard and garden until 2PM I was ready to find out if indeed McNab Lake is really as good as it sounds.

I had a willing accomplice as Paul Huskins was also taking off on Friday. He was itching to get his new Hobie kayak in the water and was contemplating chasing some local bass until I suggested going salty.

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Paul At The Launch

We arrived at the launch to find the tide high and rising which was good for paddling. We also had a good breeze coming off the Gulf which would be at our backs for the paddle in and hopefully would lay down by the time we turned around and headed out.

The maps aren't very clear but we were expecting about a mile paddle up a meandering slough to an inland lake. My source had informed me that a local crabber used this area for his trap line so we should watch out for his buoys and markers.

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Paddling Through the Maze.

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Redwing Blackbird

We tossed a few topwaters and soft plastics on the way in but had no strikes. We could see a lot of mullet moving out of our way and I'm pretty convinced I saw a red or two bust from the shallows. They were either redfish or huge mullet!

When we got to the lake it was as described big and shallow with crab trap buoys scattered across it. The shoreline was marsh grass and had openings into marshy backwater areas barely deep enough to float a potato chip. We split up and fished the south shoreline as the wind began to pick up.

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Paddling the Hobie in Lake McNab

Paul has the Mirage Drive on his boat and I was very impressed with his ability to fish continuously while peddling and making rudder adjustments with the hand control.

I would paddle, drift, paddle, drift, and was thinking about seeking shelter from the wind along the shore line when I came across an opening into the marsh and decided to try my luck there. I poked my boat through the marsh grass and found myself in a small pond-like area ringed with marsh grass and complete with a couple of tiny islands. I let old "Spot" come to rest against a hump of grass and began casting a TTF Weedless Flats Minnow.

Next thing I knew, I felt a hard whack and my line was running straight away from me! Whatever it was was big enough to rip the line from my drag at will. I decided in a flash to set the hook and pumped once without even slowing down the progress of the fish and then again only to feel the line part and I watched what would have been my first fish of the day plow through he shallow water and disappear around the next corner.

As I contemplated this event I came to one of three conclusions:

1) A bad knot? I was trying a new setup on this trip which is supposed to be helpful but now I'm not so sure. I had tied a tiny (#10) barrel swivel to my running line which is 10lb Berkley Fireline. This superbraid has the diameter of 2lb mono and zero stretch so to the swivel I tied 24" of 20lb mono as a shock leader. This provides additional abrasion protection from teeth, barnacles, and oyster reefs. I tied the mono leader to the swivel with an improved clinch knot and used a palomar to tie the braid to the swivel as recommended by all those in the braid community. Since I lost the entire leader and swivel it is possible that I tied a bad knot when attaching the running line to the swivel.

2) Worn out line? I have been using this spool of line for some time and am getting close to replacing it. (maybe closer now than before!) I always pull off a few feet before tying on new terminal tackle and look it over for frayed or worn spots. Unfortunately, this line is so thin it's hard to pick up small imperfections and it doesn't take much to compromise it. When it is whole, it's great but if it is worn...

3) Oyster shell nick? Near the launch location is an oyster reef. I tried a few casts before we launched and was surprised how shallow the reef was. I was using a TTF Weedless Flats Minnow and was immediately down in the shells using my normal retrieve. It could have been that I nicked the line and not known it.

Whatever the cause it was time to resume fishing. I continued to work deeper into the marsh and when Paul joined me a few minutes later he threw a New Penny Gulp shrimp into the same area and hooked his first redfish!

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Paul's First Redfish

We continued to work the marsh and Paul scored again.

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Redfish #2 and a Happy Fisherman

I was getting pretty antsy by now and was ready to take part in some of the action. We started back paddling against the wind and Paul hooked another fish while trolling.

I went to the "New Penny" and finally pulled my very own redfish from the channel.

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Redfish Closeup

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The Money Shot - Boat, Marsh & Fish

This little guy had lots of spots and put up a good fight.

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Huskins may have caught more fish but I think if you count the spots we were tied.

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Only One Spot?

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Another Single Spot

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Paddling Against the Wind

We made it back to the launch before dark without any major mishaps as long as you don't count shallow oyster reefs and deep-sucking-shoe-stealing mud.

Without giving away too much I think Paul may be trying out for the Soggy Bottom Boys award.

It was a great trip and I think this will be one of my go-to spots from now on.


Bawana said...

Wow what a great trip! Sounds like that broken knot has been good for some pillow punching? I have had that happen and it leaves you wondering what might have been. I have to say Paul is looking different these days!

Paul Batchelder said...

Nice looking spot...will the real Paul please catch some fish! Maybe then I can get back to posting on my own blog..................