Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sharky waters

Had a few live spot and croaker in the flow troll...

 Decided to leave it out of the water after shooting this video.

Later on I hooked into a 10+' lemon shark.

It eventually bit through the 100lb leader.  I went back and anchored up in the same spot and had another that was even bigger.  Same result.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sharing the Love

I tell ya, sometimes I just feel like a goofy, giddy little kid when I'm out on the water; stupid grin and all.  Is goobery a word?  Either way, that's me.   Happy and goobery.  Especially lately as I've been falling in love with the near by lake.  After work on a Thursday, I decided to invite a few friends to share the love.  Lockhart, Beck, and Britland joined me on what turned out to be a gorgeous evening out on the water.

Alex Britland enjoying the pedal drive on the new Old Town PDL

I quickly picked up two bass on a texas rigged Cut-R Worm and that aforementioned grin was clearly visible to all.  I shared with my buddies what I used and how I was fishing it to pick up the 16.5" and 18.25" fish. 

 "You should feel the rocks there.  Once you get passed them, there's a drop off.  Make sure to let it get all the way to the bottom." Then I switched up to see if the swim-jig would produce similar results.  A few casts into it I got a solid thump.  Immediately after setting the hook that smile went away.  I went into oh-please-get-in-the-boat mode especially after it thrashed on the surface for us to see that it was close to that 22" citation mark.  Not long after, I landed it and the grin came back.  And when I laid it on the board I smiled a little more...

22.5" Citation Largemouth Bass

Not too long after, Mike Beck landed a 23.5" Pickerel (half inch shy of citation).  And Alex Britland landed a respectable 19" Bass. 

Mike also scored a 19.5" bass toward the end of the night.  Jeff Lockhart had the only topwater bite of the evening with a 16"er.  He also had the misfortune of being the only one who got crapped on by a bird.  
Guess it can't always be smiles and pretty sunsets for everybody.  
But there's always next time.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Trophy Bass from the Neighborhood Lake

We decided to take a family paddle around a neighborhood lake on Memorial day.  On the way, crossing a bridge named after a fallen veteran was a poignant reminder of what so many had sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.  As my family and I drove up to the launch area, I made sure my kiddos knew why we had the day off, and reminded them why we should not take it for granted.

After ninja-ing our way up close, we got a pretty good look at a heron before it flew off.  The kids also enjoyed a dunk in the lake to cool off.  We then did an exploratory excursion into some hard to get to areas and my fishy senses began tingling.  However, as with most outing with the stinkers, their patience ran low and all that swimming made them hungry. Plus with the sun still blazing it was a good decision to head in and not to get too crispy.  After dinner though, my wife noticed my wheels turning and smiled.  "Go ahead".  

Oddly enough, top water lures were not getting the attention I had hoped for.  I switched over to a spinnerbait and casted along the edges of the pads.  In no time, I connected with two 15"-16" fish.  Then a few minutes later, I set the hook into one much heavier.  Turned out to be my new personal best and my first largemouth citation (trophy).  

I love the salt and obviously spend a lot more time there, but I suspect with fish like this near by, there will be more quick trips to my neighborhood spot.  

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend too!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One thing I Don't Skip in Spring

So many fish.
So little time.

The reoccurring theme of this site has become how daddy-life and office-life pretty much kick my ass on the daily.  I keep saying how I want to chase certain fish during certain seasons.  But, winter catfish got skipped, yellow perch got skipped, crappie, bedding bass, and so on.  One of my favorites is spring tautog and unfortunately that got skipped too.  Well, I made sure to make time to look for one of my other spring favorites,

And it was worth it.  As in years past, my buddies and I paddled and searched until we found them.  Willy Rags, Wayne Tu, Doug Greiner, Gary from MD, and myself all hooked up.  Big swimbaits with stout hooks, 50lb braid, and 65lb leader lead to signature headshakes, mean runs and awesome sleigh rides.  

Photo Credit: William Ragulsky
Huge thanks to Ragulsky for his camera work.  
Unfortunately I couldn't return the favor.  He had a thick 50+" red slip out of his lap before I could get a photo.  

Greiner and Gary went on to have an amazing season.  I didn't get as many chances to chase them as I would have liked, but I'm very grateful for the opportunites I did get.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Big Blue Redemption

It was the first trip out for them this year.  Tide was just starting to drop and the sun began dipping behind the trees.  As with most trips I smiled after my first few paddle strokes and gratitude filled for the opportunity to spend some time on the water.  I slow trolled two rods, one with a big crankbait and one with a live bait, hoping to find a good school.  It took a little longer than I expected, but eventually hooked into a good one.

This is my fifth year chasing trophy bluefish in Old Dominion.  Virginia's release citation length for the yellow eyed demon is 36" and every year I've come up just a tiny bit short.  Thing is, weeding through a ton of upper 20" and lower 30" fish to hook up with a paper contender is no easy task. 
The last couple of years, I decided to just let it happen when it happens, enjoy the fights even if it's not a trophy, and not get so bent out of shape like I did in the early years.  2017 was no different.  Heck, as busy as I've been, just finding the time to get out was a joy in itself. 

This one got my heart rate up though.  It was strong.  Streaking away, more line peeled off of the tight drag than I expected.  It came to the surface and thrashed but I couldn't get a good look at it from that distance and low light.  It tucked it's head back under, went on another impressive run and all of a sudden, the line went slack.  The treble pulled and my heart sank.  But I didn't dwell on it.  It wasn't the first time that's happened and I know it won't be the last.  Plus, there's never just one bluefish.  Where there's one, there's a bunch.  I quickly got set back up and just like I thought, it wasn't long before I had another rod bent over.  This one wasn't nearly as strong.  And neither were the next 7 or 8.  Eventually the action slowed and I decided to call it.  I had a good time, it was getting late, and the citation will happen when it happens.

However, trolling my way out of the area got a mean take down.  Line peeled quickly but it came unbuttoned before I could pick up the rod.  And you know what that means.  I couldn't leave on that note.  I was on my second pass trolling back and forth when I got another hook up.  The strength impressed me again like the first one but I was able to get it to the boat fairly quickly.  I turned on my head lamp and that's when it decided to put on a show.  I held on tight as it spun the kayak furiously.  Then with gills all flared out, like tarpon in one of those fishporn clips, it tail walked several feet before going on another drag peeling run.  All the while, as I'm enjoying the fight, in a strange way I just assumed it wasn't going to be a trophy.  I guess all the others over the years that felt similar but kept coming up short conditioned me not to get my hopes up.  That was until I got the lip grip on it and had it laying in my footwell.  It was bigger than I thought it would be.  To be sure of the measurement I went to shore and laid it out.

Of course, I didn't bring a decent camera so a phone selfie is all I got.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Letter to Sir Esox Masquinongy

Dear Sir Esox, Monsieur Muskellunge, if I may just call you Musky,

Without question your reputation precedes you.  Many anglers consider you The Don of the freshwater sport fishing world and your "fish of 10,000 casts" moniker seems well deserved.  General consensus is that you're a bad futhamucka and I have admired you for many years without realizing how close you actually were.  

Last year I went looking for you on the New River and only caught several glimpses as you followed my lure. You reminded me of my friend the Cobia.  You're both very curious and willing to follow my offerings but sometimes you just lose interest.  And don't take this the wrong way but you guys act just like cats.  Not catfish; not trying to insult you; I mean cats.  You guys will show interest in something, slowly follow it, stalk it, get ready to pounce and attack, but then if it doesn't get scared or try to get away you don't care anymore.  I guess it's just not fun for you if they're just sitting there.  For example, there is a cat toy that is a feather on a string attached to short wand.  If you put that feather in front of a cat, it'll just roll it's eyes at you.  But if you twitch it right and make it act as if it's trying the get away, it gets destroyed.  Yeah, that's you.  It's like you take pleasure in scaring the crap out of the little fish, making it freak out, swim for it's life, all the while knowing you're just going to come with a burst of speed like a goddamn tiger and chomp down on it's sorry ass.  You're a sadistic predator and I know you give zerofux.  Ain't no shame in your game and that's one of the reasons I was so delighted to make your acquaintance last week.

When I found out that I could find you in the upper James River I went all stage-five-clinger mode and google earth'd the ever loving satellite view out of your neighborhood.  I'm not afraid to admit it.  I stalked the shit out of you.  It put me an hour closer to home than the New River and there's something special about the fact that the same water from the upper James leads to Richmond, my home town, and hundreds of miles later, down to the Chesapeake where I chase all my favorite saltwater species.  It kinda of brings you and Cobia a little closer in my mind.  

What's different about you though, is that it's much more of a mental game.  Throwing huge lures all day is no joke.  Cast after cast after cast, while making sure the lure is doing what it's supposed to, it's easy to start second guessing yourself.  There were creeks dumping into the river, nice rocky drop offs and all the other things you like to hang around, but I started to wonder if you're even in the area.  The wind was pushing me down the river way too fast, the sandwich from earlier wasn't cutting it, I was dreading the 2.5 hour drive back home, the cold was punishing my feet, but still I kept casting.  And casting.  And casting.  I tried to maintain focus but it did become dreadfully monotonous.  Until the moment came.  On my 6th trip (2nd to the James), you surprised the hell out of me and I fooled you into chomping on my 10" glidebait.  

The sudden shock of your weight on the line, the head shakes, the streaking side to side, spinning me around a bit, your violent thrashing near the kayak, I thank you for the thrill I was hoping for.  

All 41" of you, with that emerald iridescence on your back (that doesn't show up well in photos), the attitude, them teeth, I couldn't have asked for a finer specimen for my 1st musky and the experience was definitely an affirmation of your reputation.
On a side note, you've obviously been eating pretty damn good.  You had quite the dunlap going. 
Your belly dun lap over my fingers

I plan to be back in your neighborhood in the near future.
Don't be shy.

Until next time,