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.
VIBE KAYAK & NEXT LEVEL FISHING TV
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!
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.
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.