A s of the deadline for the August issue, the Upper Laguna Madre/Corpus Christi Bay area and Aransas Pass has given up two CCA Star Tournament-tagged redfish. One angler, Joey Mendoza, is deciding whether to sell his current 2015 truck or the new 2017 Ford F-150 he will receive in October. Both vehicles would pull the new boat package he will also receive.
Isaiah Cruz caught his tagged redfish from the Aransas Pass area, but unfortunately he hadn’t entered the S.T.A.R. tournament.
Mendoza, a kayak angler, fishes regularly in the Upper Laguna Madre-Corpus Christi Bay area, but it was his first time fishing the spot, the Canals in Corpus Christi, where he caught the tagged redfish.
“My buddy has a kayak as well, and he wanted to go out,” said Mendoza. “I told him to pick the spot. He had a drum hole that he goes to that was about a hundred-yard pedal from the launch.”
He describes the day as a lot of firsts. “Where I bought the bait fish, I had never stopped there before, first time buying dead shrimp from that bait shop. It was the first time fishing with my buddy. We’re both new to kayaking; it was the first time fishing in that spot.”
Mendoza was bottom fishing, about six to seven feet deep, fishing for drum with dead shrimp, using a Carolina rig set-up.
He had been fishing for about an hour and a half in the early morning hours, and nothing was nibbling on his dead shrimp offering.
“I told my buddy I knew a different drum hole and asked him if he wanted to move. He said ‘no.’”
It was a good thing they didn’t pull up anchor and move. In about 30 minutes, Mendoza’s line got tight, “kind of pulled,” as he put it. He set the hook and started reeling the fish in. About 30 seconds into the retrieve, the fish decided to go the other direction.
“Oh shoot, this is a red!” exclaimed Mendoza. The fight lasted about four to five minutes.
“At that point I was basically wade fishing,” he said. “I put my kayak up against the bank, and I’m in the water, reeling the redfish in. I asked my buddy if he had a net.”
He didn’t have one.
“I can see it’s a decent size fish,” Mendoza said, “and I just kind of swung it into my kayak, which was right next to me.
“We were both pumped because it was a redfish, and a keeper size. I remember tossing the fish on its side where the tag was. We didn’t see the tag. I put it on my stringer, tied it to my kayak, threw it into the water, and kept on fishing.”
About 10 minutes later, Mendoza checked his stringer to see how the fish was doing. Then he saw the tag. “A tagged redfish; I had never seen one in my life.” This was his second year in the CCA tournament.
“My buddy who is a little more experienced in the fishing area than I am, examined the tag and saw it was a 2017 CCA tag. We just went nuts!
“About 30 minutes later I made some phone calls to get some information about what to do. We took it to Roy’s to be checked in.”
Now he’s just waiting for October to pick up his new truck and boat package, “sitting back anxious and excited for that ceremony, to pick up the keys.”
There are other redfish in the Upper Laguna Madre to be caught, maybe not all tagged, but you never know.
Besides the dead shrimp, a favorite redfish treat is alive or dead crab. Capt. Cliff Webb says in August, the crabs are molting. A chunk of crab on a hook, or what Webb prefers, a gold spoon, will entice a bite. “The baby crab will hatch out, and we will have a big run of redfish hitting on gold spoons which usually lasts from about the middle of August to the middle of September.”
The gold spoon retrieve: Lower the rod tip, straight retrieve over the potholes, in shallow water. “I keep them up on top about a foot under the water,” Webb said. “It’s a pretty quick retrieve, the reason being we have really clear water. In dingy water you get by with a slower retrieve because the fish don’t make out what it is, as easy.
“In clear water if you don’t move it real good, it’s too easy for them to see and they won’t hit it. In the clear water I’m getting more of a reaction hit.”
The CCA STAR Tournament continues until Labor Day. There’s still time to catch a tagged fish, but don’t forget to enter the contest.
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]