Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vernal Reds

For me, it is one of the most anticipated times of the year.  
Big.
Red.
 Drum.
 Roaming the flats of the Eastern Shore...
marauding...
annihilating...
leaving slicks of oily remnants in their wake... 
It's just a matter of finding the time 
to find them.


So far, I've only crossed the CBBT twice this season.  Luckily, I was able to find them both times.  On the first day, the weatherman's magic 8-ball was wrong again.  The wind stuck around too long and the rain showed up hours ahead of schedule.  However the water clarity was good enough to still spot schools at times.  The side scanner unit came in really handy though for JBrooks, WillyRags, LuckyLockhart and yours truly.

I found the school 4 or 5 times that day.  A few times, I couldn't have seen them without the Hummingbird 698ci HD si, and a couple of times my eyes saw them before the unit.  The first encounter was early in the morning with the sun in our eyes and wind on our face.  We spread out to cover more water.  I noticed a long diagonal marking on my screen to the right and before I knew it I was paddling right over it.  Then all of a sudden the water erupts violently about 40 feet in front of me.  I spooked em and several large reds exploded on the surface.  The wind caught my 5" paddle tail before it could get to the target area twice but Jeff took the cue and paddled up until he could get a good cast.  He hooked up, but broke off.  Jay was paddling near where the top end of the diagonal marking would go and hooked up a minute later.

Jay Brooks 47"ish Red Drum

We lost the school after that, but we knew they couldn't have gone far.

With the wind being stronger than expected, the water wasn't exactly stand up friendly.  However the Predator 13 was still stable enough for me to get up and take a look around.  And even with the clouds moving in, the polarization on my Maui Jim's cut through and I was able to find the school a couple of times.  After I pulled up a 48"er, Jeff Lockhart got one at 46"ish.


48"

As the rain showed up, I relied on the side imaging unit again.  After covering a good amount of water, the blank screen would suddenly get lit up with marks and I tried my best to choreograph which way my buddies should cast.  We all hooked up, lost fish, and hooked up again on the same school.  At one point we had 4 on at the same time.  I landed one more at 46", William Ragulsky got one at 48" and Jeff scored a 51"er. 





I ended up finding another small school and watched a big fish follow my lure to the boat, but ended up spooking.  All in all, it was a great first trip out for the big reds.

My second trip was a short one.  I had strict orders from the boss lady to be back at a certain time.  The sun was out and the wind wasn't too bad, but once I paddled out to the flat, I realized how dirty the water was.  Again, I was glad I brought the Humminbird side scan unit.  Normally it would have become a troll and hope kind of day, but I actually found a school using the imager and casted to them instead of trolling.  I only landed one though before I had to call it quits.

41"


I'm hoping to go again, 
but you know how life goes...


Monday, May 11, 2015

Til the Break of Dawn

10pm Friday night and Rudee inlet was completely deserted.  Slick calm water and a dense fog made for an other-worldly ambiance as I took the first paddle strokes of my new Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7.  At 15 and a half feet long, it's meant more for open water rather than a small inlet, but I had to try it out.  The acceleration and smooth glide had me geekin' to say the least.  A full review and rigging post up will be up in the near future.

I wasn't quite sure what the plan was that night but I figured, like a party that I wasn't sure of, I can always leave and go home early.  I ended up wildin' out until 9:40 the next morning.  As long as I was back by noon, the boss lady was ok with it.  So I hit up the lights first after slowly navigating through the fog.  I was mildly entertained by small bluefish on little grubs n jigheads but thought about leaving if that was all Rudee had to offer.  I checked a few other lights with little improvement until I found one with bigger shapes cruising around.  I immediately recognized them as schoolie stripers and just as I expected, my paddletail got crushed as I swam it just under the surface.  I pulled two off the light then they disappeared.  After paddling around, trolling, checking other lights, and messing with more small blues, I came back to the same light and the stripers were there again swiping at little minnows.  Again, I danced with a couple more before they would shy away.  I repeated this process until I was satisfied with 6 stripers up to 23", all fat, strong, healthy, and released.  By now it was about 2:30 am and I was thinking about peacin' out but then I heard a massive splash through the fog.  Fast forward 4 more hours and I ended up with 4 or 5 blues in the upper 20" to lower 30" range with the biggest going 34".  I also had one on that felt really nice but I couldn't get her to join me in my new ride.

So as color streaked toward the east more and more people showed up.  Before I knew it, it was down right crowded.  As I paddled along, I heard my name and saw someone waving me over through the fog.  It was Ryan Clark with a few really nice flounder up to 22".



He found a good bite and started throwing a flyrod with sinking line after that.  Not too long, he had an 18"er on his own fly.



I'm not one to leave a hot bite, so I threw a little paddletail on 1/4oz jighead and...

31" Red
Red Drum Chamber of Death

Shortly after that, I finished off my night/morning with a 17" flounder.

Bluefish, Stripers, Red Drum and Flounder....
I'd say the Ultra 4.7 maiden voyage was a success.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Testify

I'm not a big mountain trout fisherman, although one day I hope to explore that avenue in this amazing world of fishing.  Regardless, if you fish, you'll enjoy this video/poem.  The last few lines are perfect.

Monday, April 13, 2015

GoPro Alternative Power Sources

If you have tried using a GoPro to capture your fishing excursions, you know how pitiful the battery life is.  And if you fish from a kayak, you know how much of a pain it is to switch out batteries.  For me, my hands are constantly wet, not to mention many of the places I go have wind, waves, spray, and many other variables that make me more than a little nervous when I have the housing open.  So, I did some homework on alternative power sources for GoPro Heroes(newer models) and thought I'd share.

First up, for those of you with the Hero 3+, the Brunton All-Day battery pack was a great choice for me.  It snaps on to the back of your case and lasts a long time.  I don't record constantly, as in I use my GoPro remote and start and stop recording as I see fit during the trip.  I maxed out a 32gb card in a few hours and turned the camera off with the wifi still on.  The next day, the blue wifi light was still blinking.  I heard from a few others who have the Brunton All-Day and some say they wanted more battery life and bought two to switch out on the water.  They had much larger memory cards and recorded constantly the entire time on the water.  Over all though, I was very happy with it.  Keep in mind that it's not meant to be submerged.  It has no problem being splashed on so it served as my bow camera where I didn't intend to actually put it in the water.  One other thing I would recommend is switching the black O-ring that comes on the Brunton with the white one that is on the back door (that you removed to put the Brunton on).  The black one was thinner and let a tiny bit of moisture in as opposed to the original GoPro gasket which was nice and tight.




When I decided to upgrade to a Hero4 Black, the Brunton All-Day was no longer an option since it does not fit.  Although, I did hear a rumor that one will be available for the Hero4 in the near future.

My continued quest lead me to what I believe is a game changer.  There are multiple pieces and it starts with a 30Pin-to-USB power cable with waterproof backdoor (link).

It's $23.90 + $4.90 for shipping.  It fits the Hero 3+ and the Hero 4. 

Basically, you just plug it in the back of the camera, snap on the door and shut it like you normally would.


Next you need cable glands (size PG7) and a waterproof container for the battery.  For my bow camera I just used a food storage box that I found for a few bucks at Target.  I drilled a hole to match the end of the cable gland and screwed it into place  I added an o-ring (plumbing section in hardware store) between the outside wall of the box and contact point of the cable gland just for added waterproofing.  Then I cut the USB cable about 10-12 inches from the plug and passed it through the gland.  Tightened down the gland onto the cable then spliced the cable back together.  There are only two wires in the USB cable so it's easy to do.  You can look up how-to videos, but I just stripped off about an inch of the outside cable material and half an inch off the wires, slid on heat shrink wrap (or electrical tape works as well at the end), twisted the two wire ends together, and added a little solder (optional) for extra reinforcement.  Then you can either wrap it with electrical tape or shrink the heat wrap with a lighter. 

I mainly use a YakAttack Panfish Portrait for the bow camera and simply tuck the battery box into the main hatch.  The cable is long enough to use extension accessories like the Dog Bone as well and still stow the battery below deck.

I chose two different types of batteries.  For the bow camera I got a 10,000 mAh power bank.  To give you an idea, the Hero 4 battery is 1160 mAh and the Brunton All-Day is 4000 mAh.  The 10,000 mAh battery will last a long time.  For the monopod (or YakAttack Boomstick), I opted for a smaller, lighter 5200mAh battery.  The keep the weight and bulk down, I used a heavy duty ziplock type bag to keep the battery dry.  I added stainless steel washers, neoprene washers and a little contact cement for the cable gland since the plastic bag is flexible.  

The E-Case 13 had two slots at the corners so I attached a velcro strap through each one to wrap the battery bag around the pole and keep it in place.

I've taken these set ups on 3 long trips so far and have been very happy with them.  I have yet to run out of juice on the bow cam.  The one on the monopod runs out after about 6.5 hrs of keeping it on the whole time with the wifi connected to the remote and maxing out a 64gb card (I upgraded the card recently).  The new Smart Remote from GoPro lasted about 6 hrs as well without turning it off.
 

 Now if only they made a waterproof microphone for GoPros...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Still Messin' Around on the River


While looking forward to getting back to the Chesapeake, the James River in hometown Richmond has kept me entertained.  Quick trips after work have yielded an abundance of hickory shad as well as some white perch, herring, and American Shad.  Reports of big catfish and some stripers have picked up as well.


American Shad.
Remember you are not allowed to possess herring or American Shad.

Jeff Lockhart and I hit the river after work on Monday.  It took a bit to find the fish but once we did it was hook up after hook up.  Shad flies as well as spoons produced many hits.  After the sun went down we put out chunks of hickory shad on 8/0 circles hooks.  It was slower than I was expecting but after a while, Jeff's kayak started dragging anchor as he went to work hauling in a good size fish.  An impressive set of splashes caught enough interest from me to pull my anchor up to see what it was.


Jeff crushed his previous personal best blue catfish with this fat 43"er.  

We stuck around a little longer, messed with smaller cats, and called it a good night in RVA.  The short drive back home left little time to plan the next trip, 
but we both agree...
The salt calls.



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Start of the RVA Shad Run

Things were off to a slower than usual start but it is starting to get good on the James River in Richmond.  After two blanked trips, I went on a trip with Wayne Tu after work on Wednesday.  



We took the kayaks out of Ancarrow's Landing and Wayne started getting into a few Hickories on a large gold spoon.  I stuck with the 6wt. fly rod and got a few as well with the two biggest going 1lb 14oz.  Light faded quickly and we soaked a few chunks and caught a couple of blue cats (neither of which were worth measuring).  

Photo Credits:  Wayne Tu

Remember to check river levels and predictions before heading down there.  When the water is running over 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), line/depth control will be very difficult and paddling against that kind of current can be strenuous. 

Best of luck.  The shad are definitely here.