Fernandina Fishing Rodeo

The Fernandina Fishing Rodeo is a boat tournament that added a Kayak Division allowing anglers to launch anytime with a 6:30AM fishing start time.  I set out in my Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 kayak into the St. Johns River about 6AM. I went to my trout spot and fished for about 15 minutes before several boats showed up and proceeded to fish all around me.  I was not getting any action and saw all the boat fishermen were catching sand trout so I moved off and fished down the shoreline.  By now it was 8:20am and I was starting to think a skunk was a possibility.   With no bites, I switched from soft plastics to a Rapala Skitterwalk chartreuse topwater lure on a whim and noticed that the lure was attracting swirls about 10 feet off the bank.  After repositioning my yak parallel to the shoreline so my lure would stay at that 10 foot distance during the entire retrieve, more fish seemed interested and within 5 minutes had a hit so violent I thought it was a redfish. When it got close to the yak I saw it was a beautiful large speckled trout.   I had a nice 5 minute fight before playing the net game with it for a heart stopping minute, but finally got it boated and measured it out at exactly 24”.  Since I had only hoped to catch a trout in the 20” range I felt a surge of confidence and felt I had a chance to do well in the standings.