Larysa Switlyk, an Old Town pro staffer and host of “Larysa Unleashed” on the Sportsman Channel and a former contestant on Top Hooker stole away on an Old Town Predator recently to sight fish for redfish in South Carolina with Capt. Patrick Crawford, the winner of Animal Planet’s TV show Top Hooker and owner of Allure Fishing Charters. Check out Larysa’s full story of the action below.

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Kayak fishing is my new addiction. It brings fishing to a whole new level for me and I enjoy the challenge and skill set involved with landing a fish on a kayak. Besides getting my exercise for the day, I get to use my hunting instinct and stalk up some fish in skinny water where most boats can’t reach. You definitely won’t find me on the water without my Limbsaver bowfishing bow and Muzzy gear. Depending on where I’m fishing, I won’t miss the opportunity to get a shot off at a school or mullet or stingray gliding by.

When Captain Patrick Crawford invited me to put my Predator to the test on the waters of South Carolina, I didn’t have to think twice. After fishing the Predator at home in Florida, I was interested in trying out these kayaks on unfamiliar waters. With the reds now schooling there, this is the perfect time of year to test them out.

There’s nothing Patrick enjoys more than chasing big schools of wintertime redfish in South Carolina. Now add in getting to jump out of the flats boat, into the Predator kayak and go for a sleigh ride on a cool December morning.

This time of year Patrick prefers to fish three hours before low tide until three hours after low tide. He explained that the fish are out of the grass and moving towards oyster bars for protection from their archenemies the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.

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Once we dropped the kayaks in, it didn’t take us long to find the school of red fish we were searching for.  Being able to stand and paddle off our Predator kayaks gives us such an advantage. As clumsily as I am, if I haven’t fallen off yet!  Standing and poling down the flat we can see the school of fish from over 100 feet away in the clear green winter water.

One thing that separates the low country of South Carolina from other fishing hotspots in the southeast is the amount of tidal flow they get. On average they get five feet of tidal change between high and low tide. With this much current moving you really have to stay on your feet and pay close attention to what the fish are doing because conditions are constantly changing.

Staking off with my fellow Top Hooker cast mate and now officially my fishing guide beside me in his Predator 13, once within 20 to 30 yards from the fish we both quietly place the paddle down and make long casts to the school as they are making their way towards us. We are both throwing weighted flutter hooks, mine with a chartruece Gulp! ghost shrimp and his with a lime tiger glow Gulp! shrimp. I was the first to hook up on a hungry redfish from the school. The fish hit hard the sleigh ride started immediately.

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The best part about kayak fishing is once you hook up, you can really feel the strength of the fish because they literally pull you.  My first red took me by surprised because it dragged me right towards the school and I fought back with the bend in my rod.  Adrenaline hits and its just me against the fish.

Once I released my first red I was ready for my next one!  After the commotion of fighting the first fish, the school of reds swam farther away from us. Patrick decided to paddle ahead and cut the fish off and push them back towards me.  By positioning our kayaks we had the school of reds pinned near the bank and in shallow water. I decided to anchor up while I watched the school swim towards me. Standing up, I saw fish come right up to my kayak and watched the puffs of mud all around me as they scooted back towards Patrick.

Suddenly, I hear from across the school, “BOOM, BE SOMEBODY!” I instantly know Patrick is hooked up and it brings back fond memories of our time competing on the Animal Planet TV Show Top Hooker.  Patrick’s favorite saying pretty much replaced, “fish on” among the competitors.  I watched as an 11 pound redfish pulled him around the flat.

After catching a few more reds out of that school, the tide was rolling back in and we decided to call it a day. Definitely a successful trip to South Carolina; that’s the way to break in our new Predator kayaks!

We were fishing with Penn Legion rods with Penn Battle 3000 series spinning reels spooled with Power Pro 20 lb super slick and a short Seguar 20 lb flourocarbon leader. As the tide dropped and the fish started to get more finicky we switched over to Calcutta circle hook jig heads in chartreuce color baited with finger mullet.

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