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Cat Island Kayak Trip of a Lifetime

Just getting in from a once in a lifetime trip at our Cat Island house. Almost a year in the making, but we pulled it off. Doug Olander, editor of Sport Fishing Magazine wanted to do a kayak fishing story while staying at the island house. Olander compiled a group of "heavy hitters" in the fishing world to try out new products, catch some fish, and have a little fun.
Former NFL Pro, Jackie Smith with Hobie, came with 6 pedal kayaks. We got to try out the Mirage sport and the big boy, the Mirage Pro Angler. The new Mirage pedal drive on these bad boys are the absolute coolest things I have ever seen. These guys could fish from sun up to sun down without any fatigue problems. The speed these pedal drives can generate, you just have to see it to believe it.
Matt Gray and the good people of Eagle Claw supplied every style of hook you could imagine. The new Trokar line are some of sharpest neatest hooks any of us had ever fished with.
John Bretza, Okuma's Director of Product Development came with well over twenty of the newest, latest greatest, rods and reels. Capt Matt and I got to use the new Cedros and Trio spinning reels and they are the "reel deal". John brought some of the new prototype(spinning and bait casting) and all I can say is, WOW! From the casting, to the drags, to the shear power, they were incredible rods and reels. I am used to driving a work truck, not a Ferrari, the reels and rods are awesome.
George Large, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Yo-zuri brought the baits(big time). Of course he brought all the classics, but the new 3-D shrimp looks to a must for any tackle box. I can tell you personally, new Excite-A-Bite soft plastic line of shrimp and curly tails, work very well on trout, reds, and flounder.
Having to keep all of this stuff organized and dry, Jesse Simpkins with PLANO sent enough dry boxes for everyone. I dropped several of the trays in the water loading an unloading kayaks. Not a drop of water could get in with the triple hinges. They were a huge help keeping everyone organized while on such a unique fishing trip.
Former Pro-Surfer turned Pro-Photographer, Jason Arnold was there to capture this event with his camera(s). Spent most of my days with Jason and got to see him work. This guy was a machine, he would go anywhere or do anything to get "the shot". When he sends us the pictures, you will not believe how amazing they are.
On With the Fishing Report...
Capt Matt, myself, Chef Louie and Dr Don Gaddy brought over three boat loads of food, tackle, rods, reels, supplies, and kayaks on Friday to the Island house. Took all day but we got it done. Chef Louie stayed on Cat island with the World Famous Walter Gaudin(the only resident of Cat Island) to get things ready for the group on Saturday.
Early Saturday morning we met up at Long Beach Harbor, loaded even more gear and headed across. As usual, everyone was blown away with Dr Don Gaddy's house. Walter and Chef Louie had everything clean and ready. The boys went straight to work putting everything together. John Bretza(okuma) and George Large(Yo-Zuri) were in charge of getting all the rods, reels, and tackle ready. Mike Nussman(President/CEO of American Sportfishing Association) along with Clint Jones(West Coast Sales Manager Sport Fishing Magazine) were helping organize the mountain of supplies. Jackie Smith(Hobie), Capt Matt, and Dr Don got all 6 Mirage Drive Kayaks ready to fish.
Finally, loaded they yaks, anglers, tackle, and gear into mine and Matt's boat around lunch time. Headed to South Bayou and drifted the entire thing. The guys covered miles of water with ease, catching specks, whites, reds and flounder. Pretty sure Dr Don caught most of the fish, but he did have the home field advantage.
Made it back to the lodge an Chef Louie knocked everyone socks off with supper. Gumbo, seafood casserole, along with all the fixins and home made pie was almost too much for some of the boys. Dr Don, myself and Jason put three of the Hobie Mirage Pro Anglers in the water and went after the flounder. These kayaks were so stable, quiet and easy to maneuver we got on the flounder in no time. Stuck a few flounder, never got wet and were in bed for 10PM!
Sunday morning Chef Louie awoke us all with a killer breakfast. We took all the yaks and the boys to the LA Marsh. They were able to get into ditches, ponds and lagoons that would be impossible to reach in a bay boat. Big flounder, and slot reds were caught even with the very low water and windy weather. Sounded like the Escite-A-Bite lures did the majority of the damage. We had to get Jackie in to catch an early flight and were all sad to the Hobie Man leave. We lost Jackie, but were able to pick up Matt Gray from Eagle Claw. As we neared the island we could see Capt Matts boat and the whole gang on the NE tip of the island. Since the yaks had VHF radios we could here that they were battling bull reds and bull sharks! Picked up Nussman and joined the party. Pretty funny watching them troll small mullet behind the yaks then get drug all over when during the fight.
Chef Louie amazed everyone again with fried soft shell crab and seafood pasta. Most of the boys spent of the evening downloading pictures videos of the fishing adventure. All the while, listened in as they all began telling "fish stories". These guys have literally fished all over the world, so the stories they had were mind blowing.
Monday morning we took the boys back to the LA Marsh and man did we cover some ground. Again, these kayaks put the anglers in water most people will never get to fish. We could hear over the radio that they the reds were right next to the kayaks. Most of the morning was slot reds but two bulls were caught.
The guys had too much fun shark fishing the day before, and they spent the entire afternoon back on island. Never would have believed it, had I not seen it with my own eyes. John Bretza(okuma) was dragged a good mile into open water by a feisty bull shark. We were right there with him in the big boat to assist, photograph and cheer him on. He got the fish, we brought it back to the protected water of the island where it was photographed and released. Matt Gray(Eagle Claw) caught a big red right off the beach, he was all smiles. As the sun was setting and we began loading the anglers back in the big boats. John began screaming as a large shark was jumping 50 feet off the bow of his yak. Everyone got to watch him chase down the big fish pedaling as fast as he could. Only adding to the enjoyment I was singing "Maniac from the Flash Dance Soundtrack" at the top of my lungs. It was getting dark so he leadered, photographed and quick released the big fish. What a way to end the day!
Chef Louie did it again for supper that night. Fresh fried flounder and shrimp with seafood stuffing that was out of this world. We all were watching the weather and made the call to head in early with the approaching wind(cold front). Capt Matt, myself, and Walter loaded up the boats early and headed back to the Long Beach Harbor. Beat the wind, but missed a day an a half of fishing. Truly one of the coolest fishing trips we have ever been a part of. Many thanks to Mike Jones with the Mississippi Development and Tourism Authority for all of the help with the trip of Lifetime.
****SHORE THING Fishing Charters****
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With four boats available, small and large groups are welcome. Anglers under the age of 13 fish for free! We supply rods reels, tackle, snacks, drinks, ice, fuel, bait and fun. No charge for fish cleaning and bagging.
Be sure and ask about our all inclusive overnight fishing packages to the Cat Island House!!! For your next fishing trip, give us a call or check us out on line. www.shorethingcharters.com or 228-342-2206

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