The New Haynie 20LF Boat – A One Year Review

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Fishing | 0 comments

Last year I decided to sell my 18′ Shallow Sport boat after owning it for 12 years.  It was a fantastic vessel and she led us on hundreds of unforgettable fishing adventures.  It was a true flats boat, capable of operating on extremely shallow flats to pursue the game fish that reside in the skinny waters along the Texas coast.  The drawback of owning a flats boat is the versatility, or lack of.  The Shallow Sport was born for the flats…that’s about it.  In order to pursue species in deeper water, along the beachfront or jetties for example, the conditions must be flat and perfectly calm.  Operating the boat in 2′ or greater waves and chop is simply not pleasant, nor safe. After owning two flats boats, I decided I wanted something more versatile; a boat that is suited for bigger waters, yet capable of running on shallow flats too.  The decision was primarily fueled from my desire to the hunt the elusive Texas tarpon, along with the fact that and my two boys are now old enough to join me on fishing trips and I don’t want to limit our opportunities together on the water.  The ideal solution is a hybrid-style hull with a sharp ‘V’ in the bow that transitions to a flatter stern with a large tunnel.  I began researching boats, specifically local Texas boat builders.  Ideally the boat would be 19-23′ long, lightweight, and powered by 150 HP or less. While researching boats I stumbled across a brand new hull design from Haynie Custom Bay Boats in Seadrift, Texas.  They call it the “Little Foot”.  Haynie has been manufacturing a hull called the “Big Foot” for many years.  It has become somewhat of a time-tested legend on the Texas coast.  The Big Foot is a 23′ V-hull with a large tunnel and minimal deadrise at the stern.  According to Haynie, it earned its name because it’s big and will float in a foot of water.  The Little Foot is the younger brother of the Big Foot.  In a nutshell, Haynie took a bigfoot mold and cut three feet out of the middle.  The result is a 2o’ version that is much lighter and drafts less. When I learned about the new Little Foot (Haynie now calls it the 20 LF) they had only produced a few and were essentially still testing outboard and prop combinations.  They had just completed the 5th one and invited me for a test ride.  I jumped on the opportunity and drove to Aransas Pass, Texas to check it out.  I was immediately impressed with the new design.  It seemed to have all the characteristics of the perfect “hybrid” flats/bay boat.  After a thorough test ride and many questions I placed an order for a new custom-built 20LF.  It was scheduled to be the 6th LF produced by Haynie.  Now I just had to wait 5 months. I’ve owned the boat for one year and so far I don’t have any complaints.  I opted for the new Yamaha 115 SHO outboard.  I’m very happy with the performance of both the engine and the boat itself.  I did change props almost immediately though.  In my opinion the prop that the Haynie dealer supplied did not compliment the boat and motor combination very well.  The dealer did admit that they were still testing props on the LF and kindly offered to supply a new prop of my choice.  I consulted with Power Tech...

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Back to Back to Back Trophy Trout

Back to Back to Back Trophy Trout

Posted by on Jul 16, 2016 in Fishing | 0 comments

Last summer I posted a story about my good friend Jess who caught back-to-back trophy trout exactly one year apart.  Both fish were caught on the same lure and on the same grass flat, within 100 yards of each other.  Ironically both of the fish measured 29.5″ long.  This time it was my turn.  It was like ground hog day…in July.  We departed Port Mansfield early Friday morning and returned to my favorite shallow flat to look for tailing redfish.  We arrived at the flat and were greeted by nervous baitfish and the sound of feeding trout.  I have learned that this particular flat often attracts redfish into the very shallow waters near the adjacent sandy shoreline, and just a few yards away is a deeper grass flat that often attracts trout.  Its definitely one of my favorite places to fish and it rarely disappoints. We began our typical wade and methodically spread out to work the shoreline from north to south.  I saw two redfish that were cruising the shoreline with their backs out of the water.  They were about 300 feet away and I knew that the water between myself and them was prime due to the amount of skipping baitfish and the occasional blow-up of a hungry trout or redfish.  I very slowly headed in the direction of the cruising redfish while looking for signs of feeding fish and occasional blind casting to swirls and wakes. Eventually I arrived near the shoreline where I had seen the redfish.  They appeared to be in hunting mode as they slowly cruised up and down the shoreline and occasionally disappearing into deeper water.  After positioning myself within casting range I made several casts with a small topwater lure.  Unfortunately they didn’t seem too excited about my offering.  One the redfish turned to investigate my lure and followed it a few feet but didn’t commit.  The second fish wanted nothing to do with it.  After several well-placed casts I eventually spooked the fish and it rocketed into deeper water. I scanned the area for about 10 minutes looking for more cruising redfish and decided instead to head back towards deeper water.  I took about ten steps when I saw a large wake snaking through the grass from my right to left.  The water was about 12-14″ deep and the wake was about 30 feet away.  I casted my small white topwater about 5 feet in front and beyond the wake and waited, hoping the fish would not change direction.  It was a textbook sight-casting scenario.  As the fish approached I started to walk the lure to intercept the cruising fish.  Timing was everything.  I assumed it was a redfish, but I was wrong.  Without hesitation the fish aggressively took the lure and I lifted my rod tip.  Redfish have a very distinctive method of approaching and striking a topwater lure, and I immediately knew this wasn’t a redfish.  A second later the fish performed an impressive tail-walk and that’s when I realized I was battling a very large trout.  My heart was racing as she stripped line and thrashed in the shallow water.  After a few impressive head-shakes and tail-walks I began to wear her down.  I typically don’t wadefish with a net so the next few moments were tense as she finally slid into my hands.  I grasped her firmly at the...

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Texas River Rainbows

Texas River Rainbows

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Fishing | 0 comments

I’ve been fortunate enough to fly fish for rainbow trout throughout the Rocky Mountains, California, and even Alaska.  One of my most memorable trout fishing trips was a college road trip with five of my close friends.  We departed College Station and headed west with high aspirations to find rivers full of rainbow trout.  Within one week we fished several rivers in New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah.  We never discovered that hidden river teaming with trout, but more importantly we learned a lot and had the time of our lives. I could fill the next three pages with material describing the awe of rainbow trout fishing southern Alaska.  Thanks to my good friend Rus Schwausch I was able to experience a mind-blowing fishing trip at his outpost camp in the summer of 2009.  Rus owns and operates Epic Angling and Adventure (www.epicanglingadventure.com), a top-notch wild Alaskan trout and salmon angling experience.  Rus’ outpost camp is far away from any paved roads, accessible only by helicopter and bush plane.  It’s a no-frills, rustic camp where trophy sized rainbow trout are the norm.  These monstrous rainbows are typically landed on 7 weight fly rods and mouse patterns to entice a violent strike like that you have to see to believe. Most folks here in Texas don’t associate the “Lone Star State” with rainbow trout fishing, but if you live near central Texas and your eager to fly fish for healthy rainbow trout….well your in luck.  The Guadalupe River is dear to the hearts of native Texans.  Its spring-fed headwaters are located in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas in Kerr County.  Below Canyon Lake it meanders through arguably some of the most scenic areas of Texas before winding its way to the coast.  Tubers and rafters are abundant during the warmer months, but during the winter, its all about the trout fishing.  The Guadalupe River is the only stream in the state with water conditions that will support trout year-round.  The drunken tubers are replaced by anglers in drift boats, kayaks, and canoes. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been stocking the river with rainbow trout for many years in order to support the popularity of the fishery and boost the local economy.  I’ve read articles stating that that rainbows were informally released into the river during the 1960’s.  The Guadalupe River trout fishery has spawned the largest Trout Unlimited chapter in the nation (GRTU) with more than 5,000 members.  The river was listed as one of America’s top 100 trout streams in 2013 and continues to flourish.  My long-time friend and avid angler, Jess, frequently fishes the river every winter.  He’s gained much knowledge of the fishery and each year he extends an invitation to join him.  Its been several years since I’ve visited the Guadalupe River so I jumped at the chance to spend an afternoon on the cold, tranquil waters. The weather forecast was promising with full sun, warming temperatures, and light wind.  I blew the dust off my 5-weight fly rod, loaded up my kayak and departed Round Rock early that morning.  While travelling south on Interstate 35 towards New Braunfels it was obvious that we were going to be greeted with banner conditions.  We parked my truck at the take-out location and hauled the kayaks a few miles upriver to the put-in using Jess’ truck.  By...

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Back-to-Back Trophy Trout

Back-to-Back Trophy Trout

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in Fishing | 0 comments

Many anglers fish for decades trying to catch a trophy speckled trout.  My good friend Jess has caught two within two years.  Ironically they were both caught on the same weekend, at the same location!  Last year we were fishing together on the weekend of July 12th.  We were casting to tailing reds on one of my favorite shallow shorelines in the Lower Laguna Madre.  Its a “textbook” protected shoreline with access to deeper water, grass, and a mixture of sand and mud.  A perfect combination for locating feeding redfish…and apparently big trout too.  Here’s a picture of Jess’ trout that was caught in 2014: This year we were fishing together again on the same weekend (the weekend after July 4th).  We made our first stop at the same flat and were greeted by plenty of nervous baitfish and a few tailing redfish so we committed to a wade.  We had both landed a few average size redfish and it appeared the scattered reds had begun to move into deeper water, away from the shoreline as the morning progressed.  This is very common during the summer with minimal tidal movement.  Jess and myself were wading close to each other and slowly moving toward the deeper water when she slammed his small white topwater lure.  She put on a good show with several tail-walks and violent headshakes.  We both knew it was another trophy trout.  Ironically they both measured 29.5″ long.  Here’s a picture of his 2015 fish: Congrats...

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Painting a Synthetic Rifle Stock

Painting a Synthetic Rifle Stock

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Fishing, Hunting and Shooting | 0 comments

I don’t fish much during the cold winter months.  Although I don’t mind occasionally sliding on my waders, I much prefer flip flops or wading shoes.  Is that the definition of a fair-weather fisherman?  If so I’m guilty.  Like many Texans, I trade my fishing rods for rifles and shotguns for some deer, duck, and dove hunting during the cooler months.  A couple of months ago I somehow found myself in a conversation about painting guns with the sales person at the gun counter of Gander Mountain. Adding custom paint to jobs to rifles with synthetic stocks and forearms has been popular for quite some time, especially with the AR-15 crowds.  I decided to give it try myself.  I began by searching the internet gun forums for tips and ideas.  I found everything from meticulous snake skin designs to bright pink camouflage.  I decided on something little more subtle. This being my first attempt at painting a gun I was hesitant to experiment on any of my own, and painting my beloved AR-15 is definitely out of the question.  I resorted to Ebay and purchased a stock from a Ruger American Rifle.  If the results of my paint job are unsuccessful…well, I suppose I’ll be the owner of an ugly gun stock. After browsing more pictures online I decided to try a texturized paint.  I began by removing the recoil pad and sling attachment points.  Step two was masking off the magazine well and areas where the action and barrel attach to the stock.  This was not the fun part.  After thoroughly cleaning the stock with alcohol I applied the first coat of paint.  I used Krylon Camo spray paint in khaki color. After two more coats of khaki it was time for the contrasting texturized paint.  For this I used Kylon “Make it Stone” spray paint in obsidian color.  I wanted to achieve a slightly-textured effect so I simply “dusted” over the khaki with the obsidian.  I practiced on a piece of cardboard first.  If you try this yourself I highly recommend practicing first, as the textured paint builds-up extremely fast. I was very satisfied with the results of the textured paint.  It added a nice contrast to the khaki paint and provides just enough coarseness.  It gives the gun excellent traction without being too abrasive.  I used very fine sand paper to reduce the texture on the top of the stock where my cheek makes contact with the gun.  The final step was adding two coats of satin clear Krylon paint to seal the texture from wet weather. It was a fun little winter project while waiting for Spring to warm the water on the Texas flats.  Warmer weather is just around the corner so I expect to be hunting redfish in the shallows rather than painting guns, but it definitely gave me to the confidence to paint one of my own next...

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Sight Casting 101

Sight Casting 101

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Fishing | 0 comments

There has been an influx of ultra shallow running boats on the Texas coast over the last several years.  Kayaks have been trending for years and now technical poling skiffs more popular than ever.  These highly specialized crafts have allowed anglers to access and explore vast tidal flats, lakes and lagoons that were historically considered off limits to most fisherman.  Accessing these ultra “skinny” waters has allowed many anglers to experience the excitement of sight casting to redfish and other popular species. I almost exclusively target redfish by sight casting, and I often receive questions about the challenge.  I also frequent a popular saltwater fishing forum and there is often questions posted about sight casting.  There is no doubt it has become a more popular style of fishing and there are many anglers who are still trying to land their first redfish by using this technique.  With that being said I decided to offer a few elementary tips on the subject. First and foremost, I typically wade when I’m fishing…but that is my preference and these strategies don’t change much if your in a boat or kayak.  I personally feel that the success rate increases with wading, but that is a debatable subject and I realize not everyone wants to leave the boat.  It is my opinion that a boat is a pretty intrusive object on a quiet, shallow flat. Stalking redfish is a mixture of both hunting and angling.  To be successful you must be knowledgeable of the area, quiet, calm, accurate, and aware.  The most important factor is awareness.  You should utilize all your senses when hunting redfish.  I target areas that I know redfish will frequent.  These areas include access to deeper water, a soft and/or grassy bottom, and water current.  Current is an essential ingredient, whether influenced by tidal movement or wind-driven current.  Perfect examples are shallow shorelines adjacent to deeper water and also spoil islands.  I carry binoculars and use them to scan flats and shorelines for bait activity, tailing fish, working birds, or swirls.  If I see any of these signs I commit to wade. Many anglers pass up perfect opportunities to sight cast to redfish by simply sweeping through an area too fast and failing to observe what is happening around them.  I generally stand in one place, sometimes 15 minutes or more, simply observing my surroundings while looking and listening for signs of feeding fish.  The same can be done by stopping the boat or anchoring your kayak.  You’d be surprised what many fisherman miss.  Sometimes all you have to do is wait for the opportunity to come to you.  Patience often prevails.  Never hesitate to cast to a subtle swirl or that v-shaped wake moving across a flat.  Be on the lookout for stingrays, crabs, and of course baitfish; The redfish will often be there too.  I also watch the wading birds as well.  If you see wading birds (such as herons) hunting in the same area you should probably stick around.  They will often move to deeper water as the morning progresses or the tide begins to fall, and you should do the same. Most sight casting is performed by targeting tailing redfish.  The tailing redfish is a sight casting dream come true.  Redfish tail in several different ways.  Sometimes they wallow around like pigs and other times you may only see a glimpse of a tail.  During this past summer I casted to what I thought...

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