From Bass to Redfish Riches

From Bass to Redfish Riches

By: Robert Alan Granado

I’ve always had a little fishing experience in me. Even in my younger days pop taught me traditional fishing, but it wasn’t till July of 2017 when I really got into fishing.  Living here in San Antonio, Texas freshwater fishing was my only option; occasionally taking a trip to the coast. I was beginning to really enjoy the sport, and my number of trips begin to increase.


July through October of 2017 the sport grew on me. My eyes were glued to YouTube trying to figure out how to catch bigger and better Bass. While cycling through content, I found a YouTube channel called ‘Next Level Fishing TV’.  I noticed they were from Corpus Christi, so I subscribed and watched a few videos.  I must say I was extremely hooked, but there was a big problem; I was very over weight.  I was 360 lbs. and it was so hard to find a kayak that was suitable for me. I finally came across and purchased the NuCanoe frontier 12; a kayak where I would begin learning the basics.  Meanwhile I’m on a Mission to drop weight, and when the time was right, I would begin looking for a faster kayak to cover more ground. I discovered Vibe Kayaks.


I purchased my first Vibe Kayak in 2017, and it was on.  Immediately I begin entering bass tournament, and even freshwater red fish tournaments! I was serious, although not nearly as good as the more experienced.  The fishing community was a big help, a lot of people gave me so much advice, and by then I was talking to Chris Castro, Reuben Pena, and Ram Garcia.  I was really wanting to hang out with them, and I knew they were taking fans out.  With a Rockport tournament coming up and in needed a partner, I crossed my fingers and asked one of the NLF guys if they would be my partner! Chris Castro originally said yes, but he had an offshore kayak fishing seminar to teach, so he recommended getting in contact with his partner, Reuben Pena. I recall a mixture of nerves and excitement as I absolutely knew nothing about saltwater fishing.


One week before the tournament I join Chris and Reuben to get familiar with the fishing boundaries.  While fishing for redfish and trout, here I am holding my excitement.  They don’t know it, but in my eyes, I’m fishing with industry celebrities.  These are the guys who bring folks into the sport the right way, and safety is always a priority.  I must say, they are the same on camera as in person! The look on their face when I told them I never caught a trout or redfish before! I knew I was in for a ride when they said, “look we are going to get you on something today since this is your first time out here on a kayak”. Soon after I caught my first trout around 18 inches. It fought nicely, but not as hard as a bass would.  We had a good time on the water even though we weren’t quite ready for competition.  Looking forward, the wind conditions didn’t look good, and I knew I needed to get prepared!

Tournament Day

Rules are simple. Bring your 3 heaviest slot reds, 5 heaviest trout, 5 heaviest flounders, and lures only. Heaviest stringer takes home the big check. Side pot was largest slot red fish.  I was locked, loaded, and excited about the boundaries of this road runner tournament.  Reuben and I discussed the game plan; launch at 6:15 am with our first cast at 6:30 am. As soon as we turned on our lights, Texas size mosquitoes are waiting in the buffet line.  It was a bit overwhelmed, but there was no turning back, and the sun would come up soon.  We started off throwing topwater lures, Reuben was about 20 yards from me doing the same. On my second cast I hear the biggest blow up in my life, and my reel started screaming back at me! The next thing I heard is, “KEEP YOUR ROD TIP UP!”.  This redfish couldn’t pick a side, she was all over the place.  Reuben told me to stay calm, let her run, and she will exhaust.  The second thing I did wrong was not letting her run, I was fighting her like a bass! 15 minutes of a heart racing tug, I couldn’t believe how big this redfish was.  My first redfish was a GIANT! We knew we were in the money when it measured just below 28 inches, but soon after we had worse issues to face. The winds where cooling and we all knew a cold front was on the way.  It’s 10:00 am and we are sitting in the middle of the water.  Out of nowhere a 30mph gust hits like a truck, and Rueben takes me to a nearby spool island for protection.

Weigh In

By 1:30 pm Reuben and I are cold and soaking. A good buddy of ours Tracy from the Fin Factory team also came in, and I must say he had a good size stringer. It’s as big as mine, and there was a little rule in the book that said, “Biggest redfish goes to the winner that checks in first”.  Reuben and I rushed to load up, and Reuben gave me this look that said, lets burn.  Official weight in was at 3:00 pm and apparently a few teams called it early due to conditions, which makes me feel good about this redfish.  After a few back and forth measurements, the verdict was in. I won my first BIG RED, in my first saltwater tournament with my first redfish!  Words can’t explain how happy I was, and to think it all started from a YouTube video.  After this tournament I met a lot of great folks, and new friends.  We all shared the same passion and that’s kayak fishing!  I’m definitely going to be a cross fisherman, learning both fresh and saltwater fishing.  My next bucket list in the kayak fishing world now is to build up toward the offshore experience, and I’m already making moves to help me begin that process.  





Growing up, I remember fishing with my grandpa, and my uncle Ken. These men were instrumental in my life and guided my passion for fishing. Some of my most treasured memories and lessons occurred during these moments. Pure, and unspoiled by the rest of the world, I was a boy with a fishing pole. I remember trips to the lakes around San Antonio, Austin, and Laguna Madre. Those were the days of wild goose chasing redfish, black drum, and at times specs as long as my arm!

I often reminisce back to the past before the stresses of adult life. Memories can get us through hard days, so I’ve instilled these traditions into my own family. To de-stress after the holidays, I recommend kayak fishing. I actually seem to recommend this to everyone I meet these days. It is proven to be both relaxing, and healing.

Saltwater enthusiasts know, winter time can produce some of the years best fishing. Even the novice, just a guy who wants to take his family fishing for fun, can look up public fishing areas that TPWD offers. Although wading and shore fishing is fun, there’s more relaxation in a kayak if you ask me. Launching a kayak is where a man and his family can get lost and draw back to a simpler past time.

Last year, I had the pleasure to go on a guided trip with Capt.Fil Spencer out of Corpus Christi, Texas around February. Let me tell you, it was life changing! Catching 5 redfish within 4 hours on soft plastics is an experience that can only be understood by going with this legend. As I write this, college kids are dreaming of spring break and partying. I’m glad my birthday present was a trip before all that madness! My dreams are of swirling chaos; a perfect orchestration the Texas Bays offer.

If you’re fortunate enough, call your favorite guide. Or simply tune into weather and fishing reports to help assist with a good launching area for a kayak. Bring your gear, a bag of shrimp, some food, a camera, and don’t forget the FAMILY! The tail end of winter, and the top of spring offers excellent fishing opportunities for family fun and bonding.

By: Robert R-Dub Winans

OFFSHORE Surf Entry Tips – Part 1

One of many hurdles for Texas offshore kayak anglers is the surf. While there are a few techniques for launching, here we will discuss punching through the surf and utilizing your paddle as a rudder device in the forward position.


Instagram: @NextLevelFishingTV
Twitter: @NLFChris

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Ram: Nacho Daddy Spoons; Buggs
Chris: Matrix Shad; Unfair Lures
Reuben: Matrix Shad;

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Blogs & Magazines
Saltwater Angler – Kayak Edition Magazine

Satlwater Angler Kayak Edition

The popular ‘Saltwater Angler Magazine’ planting new seeds.

Just a few weeks ago, Saltwater Angler Magazine released a FREE Kayak Edition Magazine to the public. We feel that frequent bi-weekly reports have played a huge part in its success, and acquiring it at no charge is a no-brainer.  To our knowledge this may be the only magazine in or around the area with this style.

So why a bi-weekly report? Really the answer should be why not. Fishing changes daily and by the time you buy a monthly magazine, they are gone before you even read it.  It’s important to understand that this isn’t a tell all magazine. No contributor will give you an EXACT spot, but he or she might give you a huge starting point and tell you what to look for.  If you’re lucky you might even pickup on the location by understanding a toy of words.  It’s a super fun magazine offered in most tackle shops along the Texas Coast, featuring some of the most well known guides and ambassadors of the sport.

SPI Kayak Inshore Report – EDWARD AVELAR

Lower Coast Kayak Report – RUDY CELDRON

Corpus Area Offshore Report – CHRIS CASTRO

Corpus Christi Kayak Report – GLENN MADDEN

Kayak Report – CAPT. FIL SPENCER

Upper Coast Marsh Report – JERED ESLEY

Upper Coast Kayak Report – MARTIN FELTS

Upper Coast Kayak Report – JASON SMITH

Upper Coast Kayak Report – WILLIE NELSON


Digital copies are also available online at for visiting anglers on the road.  If you have any questions about the Saltwater Angler Magazine contact:

Ron Henne Jr at (361)438-7572



Hunt for the RED OCTOBER 2


Chris Castro of NLF-TV invites you for a quick Texas Redfish limit. Join him as he discusses a couple of techniques used for both soft plastic and dead bait. What is he looking for while engaging on his limit? Find out here and follow the adventure!


Brief Summary

The video has been ready since October although this time we delayed it! Last year Reuben Pena and Chris Castro set out to demonstrate teamwork by means of sight casting redfish on exposed grass lines ( Marsh ).  This year it’s a little different, as we discover that on clear water days sand pockets can be just as productive.  Mr. Castro will set out to locate the fish days before using his go to lures from Matrix Shad, followed by a combination of dead mullet.

“Never underestimate the Mullet Head”


Key Notes

  • Head to popular spot off the Texas Coast ( Corpus Christi, TX )
  • Discussing fast and slow retrieval with soft plastics ( Matrix Shad ) * Fish 1 and 2 Caught
  • Locate fish by means of sand pockets ( Pause Technique Demonstration ) * Fish 3 Caught
  • Use Dead Mullet and how to hook them – *Fish 4 and 5 Caught

Behind the scenes: Fishing sand pockets 

A limit of redfish is the goal for every saltwater kayak angler, but of course that’s not the case every trip. It takes a lot of grinding and time to put yourself in a scenario where you will eventually be tested.  I’ve learned the most about myself during clear water days where the fish and the angler can both see each other.  These are the best moment because there is no excuse for what went wrong, as you can analyze everything from the cast to the hook set.  Sight casting into visible pockets allows you to see how fish react first hand based off your retrieval technique.  I’ve always had too fast of a retrieval like many other anglers I know, so I’m always having to remind myself to pump the breaks.

On this particular day I noticed that all my bites where on the drop. When fishing sand pockets I always elect to over cast the area because of two opportunities I want to take advantage of.  Dragging and dropping the lure from marsh to pocket, then dragging the lure from pocket to marsh all in one cast. Most the pockets we fish here in south Texas will be circular more often than not, so I tend to fish these areas for about 10-15 minutes before moving to the next. So where do I pause or let the lure drop? Right on the line that separates the sand from the grass ( grass line ). Today we’re able to capture the magic on a quick limit in 12 minutes called “Hunt for RED OCTOBER 2” Let us know what you think and where you would like to see us next, as we are always open to traveling. Tight lines from the entire NLF-TV staff.

Sponsors and Partners

2016 Malibu X-13 Kayak

Well if you don’t know the story, your about to find out. It’s been said that Malibu has been one of the hardest companies to get answers from until recently. Chris Castro of Next Level Fishing TV receives an email in regards to a Malibu Stealth 14 walk through video. Later an invitation was given to test out some undisclosed models while returning some feedback on possible tweaks.  As time goes, Chris Castro begins to learn more about the companies past. What was initially learned was disappointing, but ended in amazement.

Despite the company not seeking big in the advertisement world, sales for Malibu Kayaks have still been relatively strong.  Focusing not only on fishing kayaks, but recreational designs as well.  Not long ago one of the largest kayak brands in the industry, once struggled to exist. Long story short, not long ago an individual literally took the moldings over night to head overseas. That’s right, STOLEN! Somewhere in the social media world we remember a comment from an unknown individual “Malibu should be on the same level as Jackson by now”.  The problem lies within Malibu taking a huge hit from the stolen goods.  When your one of the largest producing kayak companies, one can only imagine the chaos to wake up one day, and find everything gone. In order to save the company, it seemed that evasive action had been taken. Pro-Staff gone, advertisements cut, and jobs lost. What once was king of the hill, had now been grounded.  As a matter of fact its been said to have set back Malibu a good 5 years.  Major problems begin to show within a revised molding, and product began to be pulled off shelves. Basically, the company was loosing money.  Years pass and despite all the obstacles, the moldings where fixed and sales begin to slowly escalate.  What has stood out to Chris Castro was after everything was said and done, they are still ‘Made in the U.S.A’ where most companies could have easily sold out. Loosing ground is never easy, and it’s good to see Malibu begin to get back on the horse. While not ground breaking, we are starting to see some strong unique improvements. The new Gator-Hatch, X-Wing console, X-Tank, and integrated live bait wells. All promising and fictional accessories which have us wondering, what’s next?

So keep your eyes out for Malibu, and look for them to start making a push. Oh, and about those undisclosed kayaks….here is one of the latest test subjects now released for public. The 2016 Malibu X-13 reviewed by Chris Castro, host of NLF-TV. This is probably one of the finest kayaks in regards to build quality, and performance for the price. This offshore machine can be found retail around $800-$900.

Simple, Sleek, and Sexy! This is the 2016 Malibu X-13

-If your in Texas, give ‘Cowtown Kayaks’ a call and they can get these ordered for you.

Cowtown Kayak




PREVIEW Next Episode – Double Bull Reds


NLF-TV has just wrapped up a 2 part Baffin Bay Series.  While back at home, we receive a call about ‘Bull Reds’ passing through the Humble Channel.  Reuben Pena and Chris Castro quickly pack the bags and head to a local area popular among local fisherman.

  • Chris Castro “The advantage of Kayak Fishing, is that we can peel away in a stealthy manner and pick them off before heading near the piers and boat launches”
  • Reuben Pena “DOUBLE HOOKUP”
  • Chris Castro “A double hookup with any target species is a bonus. For a seasoned Kayak Angler, these are the moments we live for”

We like to think of these moments as pop quiz’s on the water. You never know when it’s going to happen, so when it does it’s all about that controlled chaos. A friend of ours ‘Robert Fields’ has talk a little about it, and it stands true! There is a huge sense of accomplishment when landing two fish at once, and this becomes Reuben Pena’s moment.

Episode intro Keynotes:McCain Bend

  • Intro – 1 min
  • Chris & Reuben get tip off location while driving offshore. Trip takes a turn..
  • Missed exit over JFK bridge so instead kayak across to bait shop to pickup ice and water.
  • Paddle away from pier and boat launch
  • Chris, Reuben, and Ram spread 100 yards apart down the channel
  • Trout, and small Drum caught quickly.
  • Chris Castro spots the school
  • Reuben positions himself in the middle of channel working an Unfair lure up front and dead bait in rear.