A temporary leave from the office chair shackles was granted for a rare Tuesday and the boss lady kindly approved my plan for stripers and togs. Monday night dinner time with the kiddos was quickly followed by a hasty packing of appropriate gear and a forecast-double-check.
First stop was at a spot I used to fish all the time. I was all smiles even though the schoolie stripers weren't there in numbers like they used to be. Over a couple of hours, I plucked 6 off the light line and kept two at 23" and 22".
Phase one, complete.
The next morning, in search of tautog, I launched at the CBBT before the sun was over the horizon. Tex had the same idea and met me out on the water. With the full moon being a day away, the current was brutal. We started off with a bunch in the 15"-16" range but eventually we got what we were after.
Tex's two biggest went 20" each.
Chunks of blue crab got it done for us but I'm sure it'll be hard to find them soon.
My craving for that hard thumping signature tog fight got a momentary fix. I ended the day with about a dozen togs with the two biggest at 22" and 19".
Phase two, complete.
Keeping my promise, I made the drive back to Richmond in time to pick up the kids and get back on dinner time duties.
For those of you that were interested, I'll have striper prints ready in time for the holidays.
I took Jeff to a spot down on the James River below Hopewell and got into them quickly. Minnows on the bottom as well as under bobbers didn't last long. We lost count of the mid to upper 30" gar. The hard part was letting them run after they picked up the bait. If it was too earlier, we could feel them drop and the minnow would come back missing scales. When we timed it right, we were treated to fast streaks and tail walking mayhem. Anytime you have a 40 plus inch fish jump clear out of the water multiple times then thrash right next to your kayak with mouth wide open and full of please don't get in the kayak yet, adrenaline will flow.
Over the span of a few hours I tallied 5 citations up to a little over 44". Jeff got the timing right as well and landed a citation also right at 40".
After running out of minnows, I found a nice channel with a sharp drop off. We dropped chunks of gizzard shad on 8/0 circle carolina rigs and I quickly had a strong take down. The heavy catfish swung my kayak around in a hurry but somehow the circle hook came out. Not too long after, this 41"er gave me a chance for redemption.
I wish I had brought my scale because it had been eating very, very well.
The trophy blue catfish was a most welcome cherry on top of a an already awesome day.
Hit a creek off the James River well below Richmond. Main target was gar. Caught 7-8 up to 35". A few stripers to 20". Too many little catfish to lower 30". Lost one decent catfish in the mid 40" range at the boat. Most on minnows. Couple hits on silver buddies. Hoping to go back for that 40+" gar.
Long story short, we went looking for false albacore down near Harkers Island, NC and found a slew of other species. Willy Rags led the charge with Tex, Luther Cifers and three others from the YakAttack crew hoping to experience the drag scorching fight of an albie on light tackle. We were fully aware that they can be caught closer to where we live but historically there are much denser concentrations of them down near Harkers Island. This was also a chance to explore new water and enjoy what my wife likes to roll her eyes at and call "a boys' weekend away".
Some of the YakAttack crew had little to no saltwater experience, not to mention surf launching. Turned out to be a trip of many firsts for them.
Nick Kellogg's first of 4 sharks
We also found bluefish, grey trout, black sea bass, lizard fish, needlefish, grouper, sea robins, baby jacks, and I'm probably forgetting a few others. Most were caught bouncing a diamond jig on the bottom.
Willy Rags messing with sharks on a bass rod.
Rags and I got lackadaisical during one of the surf landings and paid the price. We should have timed the waves better but at least we didn't lose anything but a pair of cheap scissors. Cory Routh was kind enough to document my "oh $%^" moment :)
Photo credit: Cory Routh
Just before it was time to leave, John Hipsher lucked into what we were after while trolling a 6" RonZ.
Good times were had and memories were made. Laughs, brews, fishing stories were shared and Luther cooked up an awesome batch of fresh grey trout tacos. I didn't catch what I was after, but I definitely can't say the trip was unsuccessful.
I haven't been able to get on the water with Kayak Kevin since last November so I hit him up and the plan was to team up on the fall red drum madness. If you haven't seen what he's been up to, click here. It's ridiculous. Disgusting even. His moniker, "Drum Jesus", is more than fitting. The time comes to get together and of course mother nature spews chunks all over our party. So there we were... the only two kayak anglers in the area who have achieved "saltwater expert angler" hoping to chase monster drum... but instead settle for....
spot. Opting for the tiniest rods in our possession, we put on bottom rigs with fish bites and blood worms. Our thoughts switched from fighting big game fish to grocery fishing for tasty morsels. Unfortunately we got the attention of a wide array of itty bitties but no spot. Plus, the current was on turbo mode in the creek we were in. At least I got some fun photos and hung out with one of my mentors.
Black Sea Bass 2nd dorsal fin
Stabby little Pinfish
Sea Robin dorsal fin
Sea Robin 2nd dorsal
Included in the mix was a baby tautog that ate bloodworm and a 15" croaker which came home along with nine 8"-9" pigfish (aka grunt). It was my first time trying pigfish, especially since I never catch them over 5"-6". They are very similar to spot and quite delicious.