Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 40 - No. 4 FALL 2016 - Page 31

Paddling Out by Jeff Herman GOING BTB (BEYOND THE BREAKERS) W e discussed surf launching techniques in the Summer issue. This time, let’s take a look at the actual fishing, both nearshore and offshore, once you have launched. I do a fair amount of nearshore or BTB (Beyond the Breakers) fishing and we will review some upper coast techniques, but I also wanted to wrangle a kayak fisherman who has been going big this year, Tod Johnson. Tod will share some of the basics for offshore kayak fishing on the lower Texas coast. Again, anytime we are talking about fishing in the Gulf, or any open water, we are not discussing something that should be done by novice kayakers. Going offshore, even just BTB, is for intermediate kayakers with the correct safety gear, skillset, and knowledge base. Considering that, let’s first look at some basic BTB methods. My usual set-up for upper coast BTB fishing is cracked crab or big mullet. The crab and fresh dead mullet can be free lined or bottom fished. Some folks will also use balloons to get a good presentation of the bait fish. Big bull reds and big black drum have a hard time resisting the crab. You can set up anywhere from out past the third bar to a quarter mile from the beach. Anchors are important. I suggest using a quick release and large float to help hold position. Using the quick release allows you to untether easily when you get a big fish on. The anchor float will help you find your gear after the brawl. If using mullet, you will get sharks and silly stuff, like gaftops, so be prepared. I use wire if I am trying to wrangle sharks, otherwise, I always use 50# flouro and circle hooks. There is a ton of differing opinions on what is the best and most effective hook size. I firmly come down on smaller is better using a 3/0 up to a 5/0 max. That is all personal preference, keeping in mind I am not trying to land a six foot bullshark from my kayak. The other method you can use nearshore is simple trolling. I have caught smacks, sharks, reds, jacks, and an errant king with nearshore trolling. Always use a swivel with this set up and then decide between bait or lures. My favorites lures are diving minnows by Yozuri, or broken-back offerings from Sebile, both of which have caught my personal best smack and jacks. Now, let’s look at offshore. For lower coast folks doing the short rigs and reefs, there is no better person to pick the brain of than Tod Johnson, Tod moved from San Antonio to Corpus so he could chase the big ones more often in his Viking Reload. He was rewarded with what is probably the biggest kayak caught amberjack in Texas. Tod’s favorite set-up includes a jigging rod with irons like the Sumo C2. Tod says of jigging, “This west coast technique has been very effective and has brought in the majority of the large pelagics I caught this year.” He uses 60# Flouro and about 18 inches of nickletitanium wire leader. For his casting/topwater action, Tod has been using a chrome Spook XT plug or live bait on a 7/0 circle hook. On switching between bait and lures, he says, “I use Tactical Angler clips when switching out plugs to a circle hook if I see cobia cruising up top.” Tod has had some amazing catches in 2016. I asked him what his favorite has been so far. He couldn’t really decide and offered this, “It is split between the large gag grouper