The first specks of sunrise were starting to lighten the night sky as Justin Carter, a member of Hobie Kayaks’ pro staff, and I slipped our plastic boats into the ICW. It was an early June morning, the kind of day when sand gnats had to hurry to get their bites in before the summer winds and heat kicked in.
Our ultimate destination was somewhere in the vast expanse of Bulls Bay, but the immediate plan was to fish boat docks around Garris Landing, so I had come prepared, with a Super Spook Jr. in speckled trout colors already tied on to one of my rods.
Carter headed for the front end of the docks, spouting some fishing pattern he had discovered where the first two poles were holding slot redfish… blah, blah, blah. That’s Carter. His mind never stops thinking about what the fish might be or could be doing, which is why he is one of the best kayak anglers in the Southeast.
My heart wanted a good topwater bite, and my eyes caught the grass line along the bank where the walkways bridged the dock to hard ground. Trying to fish the grass is a pain around boat docks, especially if you like to store your rods vertically on the yak, because you often have to squeeze between pilings and under catwalks, but the heart wanted what the heart wanted.
Carter saw what I was doing and laughed, calling to me, “Are you bass fishing this morning?”
I didn’t care. The heart wanted what the heart wanted.
After squeezing through several docks and chunking and winding the Spook in blip, blip, blip, dog-walk fashion. I came to an open area where the straight grass line was broken by the smallest of drainages, where a lone piling, severed a foot or so above the water, stood guard.
I sailed my Spook past the piling and started the walk, pausing a foot or so to the right of the post. Outdoor writers wax poetic about topwater bites. This one was reminiscent of a beaver’s response when he’s startled by duck hunters walking in to the blind before daylight.
The whip-crack splash was immediately followed by the rod bowing over and the reel screaming drag. As the fish had hooked itself, all I could do was hold on and not lose my grip.
In short order, the world righted itself, and an over-slot redfish, not the largest ever but certainly spirited, presented its closing arguments and eventually came to the boat to be unhooked and released.
The heart was happy.