Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41; No. 4 - FALL 2017 - Page 31

by Jeff Herman Paddling Out T G OING D EEP ! wo names come up often if you are discussing offshore kayak fishing in Texas: Glen Madden and Tod Johnson. The last few years have seen Glen and Tod hitting the short rigs, trolling and jigging deep structure out of Corpus. They have some amazing catches to show for their efforts: king, cobia, shark, smacks jacks, snapper, and even a stray amberjack, all caught from the decks of their Viking kayaks. We sat down to talk about offshore kayaking around the coastal bend and got their suggestions for both safety and success when chasing big fish. First, an important note on safety. Offshore kayak fishing is not an “entry level” endeavor. Paddling skills, rescue skills, and safety skills all need to be second nature before you attempt an offshore trip. You have to be able to execute a deep water reentry without any real effort. As important, you should know how to assist others in different rescue scenarios. Knowledge of how to clear water from a swamped kayak (T- rescue, hand pumps, etc.) should all be practiced in flat water environments and be an automatic reflex. Handheld VHF radios (and knowledge how to use channel 9 and channel 16), first aid kits, wire cutters, and float plans are all part of the offshore equation. The bottom line; if anything in this paragraph sounds foreign to you, please do some research and get further instruction before trying to fish offshore. Not to be overly dramatic, but a quote from Hunter S. Thompson fits in well as a marker of caution: “Civilization ends at the tide line, after that we all become part of the food chain”. Indeed. Glen Madden knows this well. He was recently on the receiving end of a size 2, 4X treble hook buried in his hand by a king fish that was still a bit too green. Glen noted – “I’m lucky it wasn’t a big cobia. You have a 60 pound cobia attached to you by a hook out there and you could be in serious trouble.” Luckily for Glen, his regular fishing partner, Tod Johnson, was close. Tod paddled over, pushed the barb through, and then used wire cutters to snip off the end so the hook could be retracted. Glen, of course, kept fishing (and catching) afterwards. Launching from Padre Island, they will paddle between two and six miles just to get to reef/structure, or the short rigs they are planning to fish. Keeping a keen eye on wind, waves and tides is Todd Johnson hooked up on a king on a rare calm day offshore. (Photo by Glen Madden) important, too. A full day on the water can easily be 12 to 15 miles of paddling. Both Tod and Glen also rely on fish finders to increase their hook ups. Trolling ribbonfish is a go-to and a reliable way to get bit by multiple species. Ribbons are usually rigged with wire and a weight. Glen noted that a lot of folks ask about the best speed of trolling. “It’s not speed as much as it is the correct depth.” This brings us back to the fish finders. Using the electronic tool to see where the fish are holding is critical, whether you are on structure or around a rig. Tod also relies on his fish finder, especially considering that he has become hooked on vertical jigging. Throwing irons and getting that deep hook up is his favorite way to fish. “I like to paddle to known structure, but I always keep my eye on the screen. If I ping a fish, I’ll drop an iron.” This method payed off big when he sounded a solid fish and hooked up an amberjack just a mile off the beach last summer. A rare catch for sure, but a classic one. This summer season started slow due to weather, but by the end of August, Glen had days where he landed over 20 kings. That’s next level fishing! I asked both what was their next fishing goal. Tod wants to do the opposite of his jigging routine and sky a topwater kingfish. “Seeing a kingfish slam a topwater and jump is an incredible sight. I want to land one on a top.” One of Glen’s favorite things offshore (aside from not hooking himself), is landing big fish on light tackle. “I have caught kings and jacks on small artificials like spinner baits, and it’s a blast”. So much so that he has a smaller Van Steal on order so he can specifically throw light artificials from lighter tackle rods. Tod and Glen are happy to share knowledge and they are easy to find. You can come across them on Facebook or YouTube, or hanging out at Roy’s in Corpus. Above all, they will remind you to be safe if you are going to go offshore. Tod said it best, “Know your limits. And, if Glen didn’t menti