Fishing out of a kayak rising in popularity

Lyle Johnson
A redfish and spec that Corey Coghlan landed while “schooling” me on how to fish.

I’ve always wanted to pack a small boat in the back of my truck and head down Hwy. 1 to Grand Isle, just chunk the boat in and fish in the marsh. There are lots of places to pull off and fish but the ponds and marsh canals are very good looking spots to fish. They seem to be just out of reach.

This week I got my chance; I became a “Yakker.” That’s right, fishing out of a kayak in the marsh. Hosting the trip was Corey Coghlan of Kajun Custom Kayaks located in Baton Rouge.

I’ve used pirogues for duck hunting and canoes for pleasure paddling, but never taken the opportunity to fish out of a small watercraft. With the rise in popularity for fishing using a kayak, I had to get in on the action. We met in Port Fourchon and headed down to the public launch to put the boats in and start fishing.

The K12 model is 12’ in length and weighs 65 pounds. It’s easy to handle for an individual and because the hull is made of thermoformed ABS plastic, it can handle a little rough stuff without hurting the hull.

In a few minutes we had the seats installed, ice chests, all our tackle and boats in the water, ready to paddle away. The tri-hull design makes the craft very stable, even for a novice to feel right at ease handling this kayak.

We picked a pretty bad day as far as wind conditions were concerned but I had no problem following or keeping up with Corey.

Our first stop was a point that had a little deeper water on it. The tide was coming in and coming around that point at a pretty good clip, so I was hopeful things would be pretty good.

It didn’t take long to find out as on my second cast a scrappy, 14 inch spec hit my plastic and found its way to the ice chest. A few casts later, Corey had another spec about two pounds hit a Gulp shrimp in the new penny color and proceeded to “school” me as far as catching was concerned.

After a couple more specs hit the ice chest in Corey’s kayak, he paddled over and out of sympathy, gave me one of the Gulp baits so I could get in on the action. The result was the same, he continued with all the action.

I watched everything he was doing and tried to repeat his lure speed and rod action to no avail. I finally asked what size jig head he was using and he replied, “I’m using a 1/8 ounce because when we sight fish for reds, it doesn’t make a big splash.” It made sense, his lure was flowing slowly with the current and mine went to the bottom, thus passing through the “sweet” spot. Once out of pity, Coghlan made another trip over to give me some of the smaller jig heads.

He still schooled me for a couple more fish and they finally stopped biting, so we headed out for greener pastures. We paddled a couple of miles, stopping to anchor while fishing points, ponds and some oyster reefs because the wind was so bad. (This also dirtied the water) Coghlan’s favorite way to fish this area is to sight fish for redfish, but the conditions wouldn’t allow for that.

We ended up our trip at the same point we started on and fished the last 45 minutes of the incoming tide. Corey hooked the first spec and lost it at the boat, while I hooked a really nice one and put it in the ice chest. Yes, I caught a fish! This go around, I seemed to be holding my mouth just right and landed most of the fish.

We ended up around noon with twelve specs, four redfish and one flounder; a pretty respectable catch for the weather conditions. The keys of the day was using a light jig head (1/8th ounce) with a Gulp shrimp (new penny color) drifting it slowly with the current, bouncing it just enough to entice the strike.

In 2010, four LSU graduates cast some vision to create the business of building their own custom kayaks, right here in Baton Rouge. Gaines Garrett, Corey Coghlan, Andrew Chidlow, and Adam Lillich (the engineer) used their expertise along with consultation from others with experience to launch Kustom Cajun Kayaks and the boats went on sale in November, last year.

The stability is awesome; I even stood up in the craft and fished (They’re designed for this) without any problems, even in the wind. The recessed deck areas make life easier as far as storage and landing fish. I used three rods, had an ice chest, life jacket, net, paddle and spear anchor with room to spare.

After my experience on the water in this craft especially designed for fishing, one of the kayaks is now on my shopping list. I can think of at least a hundred places to launch these stealth machines and do some fishing and photo taking.

Oh yeah, I couldn’t drive all the way down there without fishing from the bank. A stop at a couple of the bridges added two flounder to our days catch. Remember keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you.