Last month, an invitation to film the new JK Cuda HD down in Southeast Louisiana was extended to the JK team. No chance I was going to miss out. I cleared my, let’s call it less than full, schedule and set the dates aside for some kayak fly fishing.
I’ve never been to PAC and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew it held loads of willing redfish. I’ve followed fellow JK team member and blogger Eli Braud from Bayou Yakin for about 2 years. He regularly fishes the area with great success and was going to be there the next morning to show us around.
I arrived at PAC kayak rentals at 6pm. Eddie and his wife Mrs. Lisa, the owners showed me around and helped me find the beach where I would be tent camping for the next 4 days. Well, that was the plan I had been told. Eddie informed me of a new plan. The houseboat was going to be free after the first night and we could have it. That’s the kind of news I like to get. During the last JK Mediahouse trip, my wife informed me about a new river running through our home due to the 100-year storm that was happening while I was fishing in the FL Keys. This trip was looking up!
The weather was perfect for sightfishing. We enjoyed lots of sun and low winds while we were in PAC. As you can imagine with such great conditions, the fishing was crazy good. However, it wasn’t easy. The water is known for being really clean, which means you see reds easily but they also see you. It took an hour to get that first eat.
I came out of a cut and saw a redfish belly crawling over a shallow mud flat. I stopped the kayak and swung it around so that I could intercept its path before it found deeper water. The trick in these situations is presenting a bug delicately. Any disturbance in the area will send the redfish into “stranger danger” panic mode. My fly of choice was a lightly weighted craftfur minnow with small BB chain eyes. It lands soft and sinks slowly. I try to put it about 10 ft away and bring it to the fish in a way that looks like bait fleeing a red and not like bait trying to get dead. This technique worked well for me. The video shows a few of the many reds caught over those 4 days (at the end of this post).
We fished the same area for two days and I don’t feel like I saw half of what was available. The third day we drove west to Cocodrie, LA. I’ll admit, after the two days of fly fishing I experienced in PAC, I was slightly bummed to fish a new area. Turned out I had nothing to be concerned about. The only real change, the fishing was red hot for about 3 hours then dead. I caught as many in those three hours as I did all of the first day. We packed up early and stopped for dinner on the way back to PAC.
Day four started tough. I paddled to the area I had fished the first two days but never made it. A guy in a duck boat stopped me and informed me I was trespassing on a duck lease. Louisiana property laws are different than Arkansas, the property owner owns the land and the water covering the land and they don’t have to post it. It’s up to me (you) to know where you can fish legally. Although I don’t like it, I can see the argument. The marsh is changing and eroding, it’s not out of the question that a piece of land that was once above water is now covered. If I were a LA property owner I would not want to hear I lost my property because it’s now underwater. I can also see the other side. I’m only accessing the water, not the property. Colorado has similar laws. You can use the water but do not walk, wade, or anchor on private land. I got yelled at in CO also. Anyway, I apologized and made my way out of that area. He was very polite about it and gave me some directions to a public area.
It took a few hours to find fish. Eventually I paddled about 2 miles out to a section of marsh islands that were loaded with reds. I only wished I had done it earlier. I ended the day with 11 reds, I only had 3 at noon. After 3:30 pm sightfishing was done and so was my trip. The weather changed quickly. The last night we had to tent camp on the beach. The forecast was for winds in the 20-30 mph range. I’m confident they reached that range because I was awake listening to the dog from the next camp over running circles around my tent all night. Then the winds blew my tent down. That wasn’t the story of the day…a guy lost his truck in the water. Yep, guess he forgot to unstrap it. He backed it down, went to unstrap it and the boat pulled the truck into the water. My day wasn’t so bad.
A little about the Cuda HD. As a kayak fly fisherman, I need the ability to stand confidently and comfortably. I was able to stand for hours in the Cuda HD. More importantly, it was a stand and forget platform for me. From the beginning, I was able to turn almost completely around and cast to redfish as needed. Then fight them in the marsh as the went ballistic. But it gets better. The Cuda HD paddles well. It has a good blend of speed and maneuverability. Each morning we had to paddle a hundred yards or so against an outgoing tide that was probably flowing 2-3 mph. It was a workout but it was possible. Over all I was very impressed at what the Cuda HD offered as an in-shore kayak. It has great stability without sacrificing paddle performance….it isn’t a beast to paddle! Check out this short video to see it in action: