Back To Basics - Gulp & Kayak fishing
Todd Hart is an accomplished Kayak Tournament angler and a valued member of our Kayak Fishing Pro Staff.
Back to Basics.. Berkley Gulp keeps it simple
When I first moved to Texas I had no experience fishing in saltwater. I spent a lot of time soaking shrimp, either free-lined or under a popping cork. As I moved on to tournament fishing I had to learn new methods. I had to learn to throw a bait caster. I had to learn how to “walk the dog” when throwing top-water lures. But most importantly, I was forced to leave the live bait behind and switch to artificial lures completely. This was a huge learning curve.
At first, I searched for lures that were similar to my fishing experiences and that was acquired using live shrimp. Like most fisherman I spent hours wondering around sporting goods stores staring at the tackle aisles. Berkley Gulp shrimp caught my attention. Their advertising slogan, “Out Fishes All Other Bait” seemed promising. And it looked a lot like live shrimp. I was hooked. First, the bait has to catch a fisherman before it can ever a catch a fish and Berkley Gulp did just that. I was hooked.
Gulp products come in many colors. I think the color I use most is “New Penny”. It looks like shrimp, at least to me. However, the color I think most tournament fisherman have the greatest success with would be pearl white (or glow).
My next step was learning how to actually fish with Gulp shrimp. After a bit of research I began using the Gulp shrimp in a “Texas Rig” style. I could cast this next to a grass line within the marsh or open sand pockets in the middle of grass. I would then slowly bounce it off the bottom and sometimes twitch it and let it sit for a while. I tried two different types of rigging for this. At first, I rigged like the pictures below.
After a while of fishing like this I realized I could get more distance on my casts if I removed the tail. I usually just bite it off like the pictures below. The missing tail really didn’t seem to make a difference to the fish. Just remember to bounce it and/or twitch it slowly on the bottom.
This method has produced both redfish and trout for me. Using only this method I placed second (Errrr.. missing out on first place by a mere ¼” ) in an IFA Series Kayak tournament in Cocadrie, LA. While writing this article I had another thought, why not try a weedless weighted hook like the one pictured.
Often times when I’m fishing and in a hurry to try something different I’ll simply throw a gulp shrimp on a jig head. I usually use a jig head that weighs between a 1/16 – ¼ of an ounce. Very seldom will you need anything heavier. This is a great method for drifting over flat sandy areas. I often bounce it off the bottom. You can vary the hook/jig position to give you different types of action. If I’m over oysters and I cannot actually let it hit the bottom I’ll place the hook shank in the Gulp Shrimp like the picture below as so to create a jerky motion as I lift it and let it fall.
Many times I will place the gulp shrimp on a spinning rig. I really enjoy doing this with Gulp Pogies. One of the biggest weaknesses of the gulp pogie is their lack of action. This method will draw more attention to the bait and/or allow you to have a faster retrieve for those times when it is required. I tend to have a great deal of luck fishing for trout this way.
I don’t try this very often as I’m not a big fan of chatter baits, but this has landed me a few fish. Many people argue that chatter baits do a great job attracting fish especially reds.
Lately, I have noticed that many tournaments are being won by fishing with Gulp shrimp under a popping cork. I have caught a large number of trout and redfish using this method. It can be a bit tedious fishing this way during tournament time as you are only allowed to use one rod at a time. But if you constantly pop the cork about once every five seconds it can produce well. Make sure you have this rigged on a pretty stiff rod. If you are just using a simple hook it can be hooked a couple of different ways. I prefer to hook it this way.
I often will hang out in the middle of the marsh and look for signs of redfish along the grass lines. When I see or hear a redfish working the area I’ll quietly paddle over and cast the popping cork a ways ahead and start popping it while trying to draw in the fish. This method has landed me a large number of redfish this season.
I have had a great deal of luck using the Shiney Hiney jig heads by Texas Tackle Factory (TTF). I’m not sure why but, the fish really seem to like these jig heads. Maybe it is the eyes? When I rig the Shiney Hineys with Gulp, I usually remove the head of the Gulp shrimp so it fits nicely on the jig head. See below.
Berkley Gulp can be a great product. It is rather pricey, but simple to carry and use. I’m not sure if it actually “Outfishes All Other Bait”, as the labeling suggests, but it certainly gets the job done. Here are a couple of things I would recommend if you plan on using Berkley Gulp products. First, I would invest in a small resealable container. The containers that the Gulp products come in are not leakproof once they are opened. Plano makes a series of containers. However, anything that seals and does not leak will work.
The second thing I recommend is to always remove a Gulp product from the hook when you are done with it. Once they dry out they shrink to a fraction of the size and it becomes nearly impossible to remove them from the hook or jighead.
I started fishing tournaments using this method and I had a great deal of success. As time went on I went away from this and focused more on on other methods. As I reflect back to last tournament season I see that some of my greatest success (and that of many other fishermen) has come from Berkley Gulp shrimp. And to be honest, I would have to say Gulp shrimp on a popping cork may have been one of the most consistent and productive methods around, not just for me but many tournament fisherman.
Fishing Tackle Unlimited/Hobie Cat Co.
Kayak Fishing Team Member