Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Bucketmouth Mission

As with most winter fishing in Virginia, I knew it was going to be hit or miss.  So I recruited a couple of my favorite kayak bass experts to aid in my newly acquired mission.  The growing inbox of bass print requests had been in the crosshairs for way too long and it was time to pull the trigger.

This post is brought to you by the YakAttack Boomstick camera mount.  If you like taking video with GoPro style cameras, you're gonna love it.  Full articulation, quick release, floating... it's brilliant.
Complete review with details coming soon.

I met up with fellow Werner Paddles and Kokatat team member, Drew Camp, his dad Chip, and the legendary Forrest Short.  As I was taking photos and video for the upcoming review of the Boomstick, Forrest and Drew quickly got into some fish early on.  A 17" bass and two good size pickerel were caught before I even left the ramp.  And of course, by the time I got out, they didn't want to bite anymore.  A few hours later, Chip broke the monotony with a 13" slab of a crappie on a jerk bait.

We all hoped the action would turn on as the water temps crept up but it stayed slow.  A while later my jig finally enticed a good sized bass.  

Just shy of 21" and a little over 5 1/2 lbs in 8' of water right next to a cypress tree.  I thought about keeping it for prints, but couldn't.  My respect for larger/older fish couldn't be shaken and it was released... fingers crossed... hoping I would run into one I didn't mind killing.

Not too long after that, Drew picked up a 16.5" bass on a square bill crank bait   

After a thorough inspection of the super healthy short round, it went on the stringer.  
Mission accomplished.

I was hoping for an upgrade to about an 18"-19" but that never happened.  Forrest took off to try another lake and scored a huge 25" pickerel and a healthy 18.5" bass.  I went on to score one more fish; an 11" crappie on a small husky jerk, which accompanied the bass for an ink session.  Drew went on to catch another nice pickerel.

All in all, a very satisfying and successful trip.

Hopefully the upcoming weather doesn't keep us off the water too long.

Those of you who have been waiting patiently for a bass print,
soon my friends...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Drew Camp - 2014

Here's a fun little video by Drew Camp. 

Looking forward to seeing what he does in 2015.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Blackfin Mothership Trip. Sorta.

Ever since my first one in July of 2010, I've been saying...
There are so many stars that have to line up 
for a mothership trip to happen.

We had the right number of people, the right type of people...
with the right amount of funds, and the right schedule...
the right captain with the right boat...
and of course the right weather forecast

Ric Burnley, Rob Alderman, Matt Anderson, Jeff Lockhart, Alex Britland and myself met in Hatteras just before dawn.  After loading our kayaks and gear on the Good Times, we made our way out to the Gulf Stream.  

All the stars had lined up.  
Or so we thought.

We knew it was going to be a little rough going out.  Two of our crew even did their best chameleon impressions going from ghost white to puke green.  And that was alright because the wind was scheduled to calm down after we got out there.

Except it didn't.

 Some of us had done tougher launches from the mothership before, but regardless, we all test dropped our jigs from the boat.  The current was much faster than expected and the scheduled break in wind was way behind schedule.  As the day went on, we kept thinking we would launch the kayaks soon...
as soon as we found a big wad of fish,
or if the wind and current would calm to where we could stay in the target zone.
All the while, we were still having a blast.

Photo credit: Rob Alderman

The count went nearly 60 blackfins (mostly football size with 4 or 5 bigger ones going 10-15lbs), 3 or 4 amberjack (small), and one false albacore (small).  We had a few run ins with sharks, but it wasn't too bad.  By the time we were headed back in, we all agreed that it was the right decision not to launch the kayaks.  We would have been extremely frustrated trying to stay in position and the catch count would have been dismal.  The thrill of catching them from a kayak was far over shadowed by simply wanting to have a good time.  

And a good time was definitely had.

Photo Credit: Ric Burnley
Photo Credit: Matt Anderson
Photo Credit: Ric Burnley

The last star may not have lined up, but we still got to dance with the little rockets like we were hoping to.  

Side note: by the time we got back in, it was slick calm.
Of course.

Big thanks to Ric and Rob for getting this trip together.

If you're thinking of booking a mothership trip down in NC, Rob Alderman is the freaking man.  He knows all the right people and can hook you up.  He's also one of the best inshore kayak fishing guides in the area during warmer months  (link).  Gear I used includes: Trevala medium heavy with Release SG, Trevala S medium heavy with Daiwa Saltist 20 LDH, Terez medium heavy with Sustain 5000, all 50lb braid to 60lb fluorocarbon leader and 175 lb Tactical Angler Power Clips for quick change ups to various 168-200 gram speed jigs.

I can't wait to try it again!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bananas, Fish Heads, and Bent Jigs

I finally got around to editing the footage from last winter's mothership trip (link).  There aren't many fish in the video, but it should still be entertaining.  Bad juju, bad knots, bad sharks, sometimes that's just the way it goes...

Evil Bastards

Hope you all had a great holiday season.
May the new year bring many more adventures on the water for us all.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Long Drift

3:15 AM, I-64 East
5:40 AM, I look up at the dark sky,
say thank you for the opportunity
and take my first paddle strokes out of Kiptopeke.

Jack Daughtry, Matt James, Ragulsky, and Tex met me shortly after sunrise to catch the incoming tide.  We put out two eels each and drifted 
and drifted...

and drifted...

After joining the fleet of other striper hunters, I was hoping to scope nets scooping big fish.  
Unfortunately, the only entertainment for the day turned out to be a couple of boaters threatening to beat each other up over the radio.

In slick calm conditions we drifted to Old Plantation Light then all the way back to Kiptopeke.
We marked a lot of bait, had pelicans diving around us nearly all day, then got rained on.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall Marathon

It was perfect.  
So perfect, that Lee went to work,
checked the weather, 
then decided that work didn't need him that day.  
 The text came in at 6:30 am saying "Leaving work. Togging it is today."
I happened to be sleeping on his couch at that moment.  
Jeff Lockhart and I got in around 1:15 am 
after fishing part one of what will turn out to be 
... a great fall marathon.

Mountain range leaf piles lined my sidewalk as we loaded two Trident 13s on my little hatchback.  After three and a half hours of raking both the front and back runways,  I was cleared for departure.   On our way out of town, traffic cone remnants of the Richmond Marathon bid us adieu as we refined plans for our upcoming fishing binge. 

Right on schedule, an hour and forty later, Billy Ragulsky (aka Willy Rags) was stocking up on his favorite lures at Ocean's East 2.  We all picked up live blue and green crabs for the next day's target specie and bolted to one of our favorite late fall spots for that evening's quarry, speckled trout.  The tide started dropping about an hour before we launched so we set up at the mouth of a creek and started casting.  Bait flickered here and there, which gave us hope.  Unfortunately, none of us had any hits.  Various Mirrolures, dines, PBs, topwaters, jerkbaits, and soft plastics didn't get the reaction we wanted.  So, we started trolling around the flat and that was the ticket.  I dragged a Procure smeared purple demon Mirrolure on one line and a 1/4oz jighead n dark bodied paddletail on another while the other guys kept to their confidence lures of choice.  The majority of my take-downs happened near the edge of the flat where it started to drop off.  Once I located a group of fish, I would try casting the same lures, but I couldn't get a hit.  And as soon as I trolled by, I would hook up again.  This has happened to me before many times and I always found it interesting.  In any case, we all had an amazing night.  20"-23" trout were prevalent as we all stopped counting how many we had of those.  Jeff ended the night with a new personal best at 26".  I scored two trophies at 25" and 26.5" and the extra point striper at 19" was good.  Willy Rags landed a big diva over 28" that threw a hissy fit on the hawg trough and refused a photo op.

26.5" Speckled Trout

The alarm hadn't gone off yet.  
Bleary eyed... 
I reached over... 
read the text and put it back down on the coffee table.  
Eyes closed, I processed what it meant.  
Smile creeping... 
the day just got way more interesting.

The water was like glass most of the day and in true form, Lee was on fire.  The bite in general was hot, but as Lee says in his own words... "I'm so much better at this than anyone else."  He was hooking up on every drop and laughing at you when you drop on the same hole and...

Over and over again.

Lee was pure entertainment all day and caught 25-30 togs with a lot of them going between 17"-19". Jeff caught another personal best at 18.5" and now understands why we get so excited about togs.  Billy had good numbers with a nice one coming on a crab tipped jighead.  Kevin showed up later on and scored decent numbers as well.  With the weather as nice as it was, several others were out on the tog hunt including a few Maryland Boys and some guys from local forums.  Everyone was pulling in fish, but for whatever reason, I started off slow.

Jeff Lockhart's new personal best tog at 18.5"
Lee Williams

Several little females had this cool yellowish tone.

William Ragulsky with a tog on jig.
Lee "____ 'em up" Williams

It took a little while, but I did find my rhythm.  Eventually, with everyone hanging around the same set of pilings, talking smack, I set the hook into one that got me a little more excited...

"oh ..."

I lucked out with the group's biggest of the day at 20.5"

I ended with 12-15 togs with a bunch in the 17"-18" range and the one over 20".  
Satisfied, we paddled back in on flat water.  

An hour later, Billy, Jeff and I found ourselves standing in line at the gas station convenience store still in waders, reeking.  Hoping for an encore of the previous night's escapades we rushed back to the same spot while cramming down some grub.  

The bite wasn't quite as good but I still wrangled over a dozen in three hours or so.  In contrast from the night before, my first five were caught casting instead of trolling.  Then when that bite turned off, I switched to trolling and found them again.  We got rained on a bit but that didn't bother us much.  With rain jackets and the hits coming steady we weren't fazed at all.  My biggest for the night went 26". Billy scratched another trophy as well at 24".

Thirty three and a half hours after we left, Jeff and I arrived back in Richmond chuckling at the luck we had.  The wind was virtually non existent the entire time and each leg of the marathon was an absolute blast.  I got the pullage I was craving and a good number of groceries to fillet.  

I got my yard work done.