Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just one more...

Despite having three separate invitations to fish freshwater today (Lake Anna Stripers with Dan Smullen, Smallmouth Bass with Alan Tharrington and Catfishing with my boss), I decided to go to the Elizabeth river (hot ditch) to see if I could catch one more citation before the end of the year. I launched around 10:30 and immediately started catching...

10"-16" spikes

And lots of them. The majority of the time I was throwing a 1/4 oz jighead n dark green body/chartreuse paddle tail. The action stayed steady for a little while and eventually pulled up two 20"ers.

Shortly there after Justin Mayer joined me and he got in on the action too.


As the tide started to shift, we decided to try a different spot. I trolled over to "the cove" and found a minefield of bobbers. I paddled along the shoreline, courteously staying clear of the other boats and their live baits. I found a decent spot, tossed my soft plastic and immediately hooked up with another spike. Not what I wanted but better than nothing I thought. I busted out the trusty black and orange MirrOLure and worked it really slow. I had something hit it, but not hook up; which is hard to understand because they have three treble hooks on them. Anyway, I checked my watch and realized I was suppose to leave 15 minutes ago.

I casted my lure one last time, started cranking, and BAM! There it was! About 15 seconds into the fight my Mirrolure came flying out of the water and the side of the fish flashed and teased me through the brown-orange water. As expletives flew out of my mouth I knew I couldn't leave now. It looked like it could have measured in the lower 20's. I made several more casts and after about 10 minutes I started to get discouraged. I knew I'd be in deep doo-doo if I stayed much longer. So I casted one last time, again, let it sink to the bottom, slowly crank, and about halfway back to the yak it got crushed! The drag ripping from my 2lb test ultralight outfit seemed so loud in the quiet, windless air. I frantically repeated "Please stay on, please stay on, pleeeeeeeease stay on....". After a couple more nerve racking good drag runs, I finally landed what I came for.

24.25" Release Citation Speck

After a two hour ride, I came home to a pleasant wife who immediately put me on diaper duty and bath time. Afterwards, I got a message from Justin telling me about his great catch after I left. Here is his report.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Living the Dream"

Well Christmas has come and gone, and with the new year upon us, I find myself reflecting upon the past and what is to come. In previous years, this annual ritual was filled with plans for myself, including goals for fishing. Life for me has changed dramatically and to be honest, there have been moments where I ask myself... what the hell have I got myself into? TWO kids, really? All the things I want to do for myself seem to be fading and the uncertainty of when they may return has weighed heavy on my mind.

On the other hand, new dreams have spread roots in my soul. As my daughter gets older, the realization of all the things I will be able to do with her soon is very exciting. She is learning so much so fast, so I decided to get her her first fishing rod this Christmas.

It was priceless.

I got something in the mail the other day from someone else who makes me question my dreams. It was Kayak Kevin's new DVD of his Chesapeake Bay Tour. After all the holiday shenanigans with the fam, I finally got to watch it. Now, as you can tell from my previous posts, I have become friends with Kevin, so I'm trying to be as unbiased as I can when I write this "review". As the name implies, this is not an all out fishing DVD like his last one, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a real-as-it-gets movie on long distance kayak touring. From "pee barriers" to "nightly critter kills" and frustrations with NOAA, it was really quite a treat to see the Chesapeake Bay from that vantage point. There was excellent footage of the wildlife and gorgeous sunsets on some beautiful beaches along with some intense storms. However, my favorite quote is "then.... out of nowhere... without warning.... an all out blitz erupted!". That was followed up with an insane scene with boiling water everywhere and baitfish doing cartwheels. I'm trying not to give it all away... but man, that was awesome.

I noticed something while watching the DVD. On the stern of his touring kayak he wrote "Living the Dream". And for many, that really is living the dream. Being out there... on your own... with mother nature. And perhaps, one day I may try that too (down the James River), but for now, I have my dreams firmly planted in my children.

Thank you Kevin for sharing yours with us.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and may your dreams come true in the new year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eelin' for the Bigguns

After 47 days without fishing, I finally finagled my way out to the water. The wind was finally looking right, I still had the ok from the boss to take a day off, and I had a plan to make sure the wife was happy. So, after a full day of work and putting Natalie to sleep, I was good to go. When my mother-in-law found out what I was doing, she had a bewildered look on her face asking "You're doin' what?!?! You know it dropped down to 12 degrees last night..." I reassured her I was taking every safety precaution and I was going to be fine. On the flip side, my wife is not even phased anymore. She just rolls her eyes and says to have fun.

As I pulled into the launch area, the temp gauge on my dashboard read 24degrees. Freakin' cold indeed. I reached the spot and met up with Justin Mayer, Ashley Bishop and Miles Wong. Ash and Justin had already had a few hook ups but dropped them at the boat. I was all pumped up. Finally out on the water, nice paddle out, fish being hooked up.... it was a great feeling.

Miles hooked up immediately after I joined them. But he also dropped his after a good 2 or 3 minute fight. A couple minutes later, he hooked up again and it was pure chaos when he brought it up to the surface. We heard the big splashes in the darkness, followed by a "Ohhhh man....". It came off, again. It was the same story with Ash as well. Except it happened 4 times!!! Poor guy had some tough luck but I'm sure he'll be back out there soon to redeem himself.

It was Justin with the hot rod of the night. He landed a 38", 39", 40", 44" and 45". The 44" and 45" came back to back. Just as he was landing the first, his other rod went off zipping.

Justin's 40"er.

Justin with his double.

While all this is happening, I'm not getting a single bump. I was using the same technique, same depth, right next to him, and I just wasn't getting any bites. And then the bite shut off. No one was getting anything and that awesome feeling I had earlier when I got to the spot was wearing off. After 6 hours on the water, the penetrating cold was starting to get to me and I desperately wiggled my toes in futile attempt to warm them up. Then, just as we decided to move to a different spot, BAM! I was instantly on a sleigh ride. I mean, I was bookin'. Justin said he had to paddle pretty hard to catch up to me. After an intense fight, with a big ol' grin on my face, I leg lifted him in.

44" Release Citation

It's funny how your frozen feet don't bother you after that!

I got back to Richmond by 8am, just in time to feed my daughter and take her to daycare. And now it's nap time for me.

Before we left, I said to the guys, "It's amazing how much money we'll spend, time we'll put in, the number of "stupid" things we'll do for that 3 or 4 minutes."

It's worth it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heroes on the Water - Central Virginia Raffle

The Central Virginia Chapter of Heroes on the Water had their Christmas Raffle on Sunday at the Bass Pro Shops in Ashland. So I took my daughter to go check out the fishies and donate to a great cause. I bought my lucky number in raffle tickes (7) and we watched the fish, some bigger than my 2yr old, swim around in the freshwater aquarium while we waited for the drawing. It was also nice to put some faces to some names that I knew from the forums and flap our gums about yak fishing. I ended up winning the Ocean Kayak Frenzy and I immediately started thinking of what I can do with it. It's too small for me and I already have a kayak for my wife and kids. So I was thinking I could sell it and pay off some of my credit card. Or maybe use the money for some x-mas gifts.... or I can sell it and buy that sweet rod n reel set up I've been wanting! But then I realized the right thing to do would be to donate it back to the organization. For all the great things they do, plus the Central Virginia Chapter being new and all, I wanted to help out even though I don't have much time on my hands. So after telling Tina about my decision I squeezed through the crowds of shoppers and walked out the door.... my smiling daughter in my arms..... feeling good.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

They're here!

A couple of buddies of mine have caught a few Kiptopeke Kows and I'm itching to get out there. My cold weather gear is ready, my rigs are tied and stored in my leader wallet, the batteries for my camera are charging and I'm looking closely at the water temps and wind. My parents want to watch my daughter and my wife is doing great with the new little guy. I'M READY.

Hopefully this sudden drop in temps the last two days doesn't send them off.

On a side note, The Chesapeake Angler magazine has a kayak fishing section that Kevin writes for and this month's article is about... of course... the Kiptopeke Stripers. I was tickled to see my picture from last year with the article. Thanks Kev!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can't wait!!!

So it's been a little over a month since I've been fishing. The kids are keeping me busy, but I still catch myself daydreaming.... especially on the overcast days with no wind. My sighs become deeper and lower like a teenager in love. But it's a painful long distance relationship, so with togs, trout and stripers heavy on the brain, I've been checking out other peoples reports. Enviously.

One thing I've especially looking forward to is the annual run of "Kow" stripers at Kiptopeke.
Kayak Kevin has the ultimate tutorial for fishing the concrete ships for big stripers on a kayak.

Dude also has another DVD coming out soon. This one is about his last tour that stretched the entire Chesapeake Bay. Just in time for the holidays!

Check out the trailer!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Compilation Video

As time goes by and my friends catch more fish, I do my duty as a father and husband to prepare for our new baby. Naturally, my mind wanders back to fishing when I don't have my hands full so in the evenings I've been putting this video together. It's about two years worth of footage that I tried to compile. I probably have enough leftover footage for another video so maybe I'll work on that next. But for now, I hope you like it...

Kayak Fishing 2008-2010 Compilation from Rob Choi on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Last Marathon

I was granted one last pass to fish my heart out since my wife's due date is getting near. First on the agenda was the lightline. I went out Friday night and launched with William Ragulsky and cruised the HRBT in search of the schoolie stripers. The powerboats were out in force so I should have known that it was going to be tough to find the target specie. The blue fish were every where and biting anything you threw out there. Poor Billy got a treble in the finger while landing one. He pushed it all the way through, cut the hook, slid it out and got back to the task at hand. Normally, we would find them stacked up thick when the current is running. But with all the big boats moving around, they were hard to find. We did find some here and there, but they were few and far between. I worked my lures slower thinking they might be deeper, but that didn't work either. Eventually, I found some along the rocks of the island and got my keepers. The Marshworks Killa Squilla did the trick for me.

I also got my first striper on fly. It's not the biggest, but I was still happy to pop that cherry on a kayak.

But then just as fast I found it, the action shut off and was not found again.

After a long night with not very many fish, we got off the water and by the time we packed up it was 2:30. We got over the Ocean's East parking lot by 3 and passed out there since that was our rendezvous point at zero six hundred anyway. I had invited several people to go Tautog fishing in the morning. Some had been asking me to take them for years, some I had been fishing with for a long time, some i've been fishing with for a short time, and some I had just met. Billy and I were greeted by Kyle Sawyer, Justin Mayer, Justin Balonis, Tripp Seed and Joe from MD. We cleared out the fiddler crab inventory and made our way to Chicks Beach.

Upon arriving at the first island of the CBBT after an hour long paddle, we immediately started hooking up. While still cursing at missed hits, snagged rigs, and rogue powerboats trying to get in on our spot, we were all smiling and having a great time. There was discussion about how tough they fight for a relatively small fish. They're bite is so fast too so it's easy to miss. But when you do hook up, it's amazing. If it's a decent size fish, it almost feels like you're snagged on a rock. But then the initial run makes you struggle to keep the fish from taking you back into the rocks.

It was a phenomenal morning of tog fishing as almost everyone got their limit.

Kyle had the hot rod of the day with a 21.5" (release citation is 23").

I ended the day with around 30 fish with the biggest going 19". Most were 16"-17" and lots of females were released.

Justin with a nice fish

Afterwards, I got a bite to eat and decided to try out the Elizabeth river. I had a reliable source give me some tips to find decent speckled trout so I had to try it out. I know there are lots of small ones by Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets, but I wanted something worth the effort.

I get to the spot, and I realized I timed the tides all wrong. It's dead low and there wasn't a single thing out there. I had to make a choice. Do I leave or wait it out? If it wasn't going to be my last outing for a while, I think I would have left, but being in the circumstance that I was in, I had to stick it out. So I watched a beautiful sunset while twitching my soft plastic on the bottom. My body finally started to tell me I was running out of steam. But I was persistant. Tim Morris of HRKayakfishing came out to meet me since he had be doing well there recently. He had told me about the spot and we were sure it was going to get good since the tide was rolling in. But long story short, we got a couple of little ones and I called it a night around 11:00. It was just not to be. As I was packing up, I realized I had my waders on for over 27 hours straight and I reeked something fierce.

The long drive back to Richmond, fueled by energy drinks gave me time to reflect on the good times that I have had, the great people I have met, and crazy things that I've done in the pursuit of "the tug that is the drug" for the past 3 years or so. I've been fishing my whole life, but ever since I bought a kayak and joined the organizations that I have, passion doesn't seem like a strong enough word.

I look forward to when I can take my kids out on the water and instill the same in them.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hoping I get to go

I was reading the latest issue of Saltwater Sportsman Magazine and came across an article on tautog, also known as blackfish up north. I love tautog. The first paragraph of the article really hit home.

Just thought I'd share.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

Kids are expensive. And like most, mine has a perpetual appetite. So when I noticed the freezer had some vacancies, it was the perfect excuse to bust out the waders and catch me some fish.

Not that I really needed an excuse. (insert smiley face)

So I got off of work around 6:00, made dinner for my wife and kid, did bathtime, diaper change, PJs, the whole nine yards. Drove down to the Willoughby boat ramp and met up with a few TKAA members. John, Kim and Matt were waiting for me, ready to go. We launched at 9:00 to nice calm waters towards the HRBT. It was almost slack high tide when we got to the bridge and I immediately hooked up to a nice 21.5" blue eyed flounder.

We also met up with several familiar faces out there. Striper season brings out all the "crazy yakers". I think I counted 9 of us, including Mark Lozier and William Ragulsky
We messed around with the flounder until the current picked up. I had a dozen or so dinks up to 17.5" while waiting for the main event. It took us a little while to find the stripers. But once the current really started picking up, we found them. I enjoyed working a redhead, yellow body yozuri crystal minnow and kept two 24"ers. Various soft plastics worked as well including a new one I got from Marshworks. The big paddle tail definitely has great action.

At 1:30 the wind was getting pretty nasty and the paddle back to the ramp was rather unpleasant. But knowing that I accomplished my mission made it a little easier.

Matt also had his limit with the biggest going 27".

Nice job Matt! For someone new to saltwater fishing and never having been to the HRBT, I was happy to have helped him get on some fish. Feel good bonus for me!

He did pick it up rather quickly so I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him.

On a side note, we got checked by "the man", the po-po, the fuzz, 5-0, whatever you want to call them. They said they appreciated us having a white light on the pole, but they also wanted us to have some sort of white light that we can point at people to get their attention (headlamp). A friend of mine was asked to get off the water because his lamp was low on batteries, so be sure to check your batteries before you get on the water. To be honest, I was glad to see the marine police out there. Especially around striper season. I see people keeping illegal fish and guys speeding up and down the bridge in their motorboats all the time. Also, to all my fellow yakers, remember to stay proactive about knowing your surroundings. Striper season gets pretty crazy out there so my head is always on a swivel, checking for boats. I even carry a mini air horn in my PFD because some of those motorboaters just don't pay attention.

Stay safe and have fun. Cuz like they say,

It's on, like donkey kong!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the verge of striper season

Last Thursday night I went to see if the stripers were lining up along the lightline of the HRBT. It was a little windy but not enough to keep me away. I jigged a gulp first and found a 18.5" flounder.

Then I had several of these...

...which are actually pretty darn strong when they get this size. Pulling drag, they definitely earn the name "silver drum".
I became distracted from my striper mission in the hopes of finding a 20" croaker for a release citation. But that was not to be. After about an hour of constant action with nothing over 17", I decided to resume the quest for stripers. Most lights had 3 or 4 rockfish under them, but I had a feeling I'd find one with a good number. So after a thorough investigation of each light, I found the mother load. They were stacked up so thick, some were even trying to line up in the shadow of the light pole. Shoulder to shoulder there must have been over 50 of them.... and they were aggressive. Most were around 20" but every once in a while I'd find one a little bigger.

With the super fast current and wind going in the same direction, I had to call it quits around 3:30.

The next day, found a couple of these.

Then came the TKAA tourney, which was awesome.

A week went by and on Saturday I got to squeak out for a bit while my parents watched my daughter. I dropped fiddlers in the hopes of finding togs or sheeps. After missing a few solid hits I started getting frustrated. The wind was tough, the current was getting fast and I was running out of time. I promised to bring back pizza for the family so knowing I had to go soon, I dropped one last fiddler. The bite that followed was very different. I set the hook and immediately the line shot horizontally. I knew instantly that it wasn't a sheep or tog. For how heavy it was, I brought it up to the surface quickly, but before I could identify it, it realized what was happening and with a powerful swing of it's tail, I got a face full of water. As my drag did it's thing, my smile grew bigger along with my curiosity about the specie I was fighting. I was hoping for a big red, but I was not unhappy it was...

33" Striper

After pizza, I decided to try out the lightline, but the wind was pretty nasty. I saw a few, hooked one, got wrapped around a piling, and with the wind pushing me the wrong way I couldn't maneuver fast enough. I broke the tip of my rod and I'm still pissed.

But it looks like the striper season should be good. Remember to follow the regs!
Also, I hear the big reds are off Sandbridge as well. If only the weather would cooperate I might be able to get my parents to watch my daughter again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Feelin' good and giving thanks

The annual TKAA tournament was this weekend and I was lucky enough to have some family help out with my baby and bedrest ridden wife. I know it probably looks pretty bad leaving my poor wife at home to fish. But she knows I've been looking forward to this the whole year and insisted that her sister can help out and she'll be fine. So I guess I'd like to start by thanking my wife and her sister.

Secondly, I'd like to thanks all the people that organized the event. It was a first class tournament and I had a blast. The wind made for some challenging fishing, but it was still better than not fishing! I went out to Lynnhaven inlet since I fished the day before and scoped out some prime areas and saw some huge swirls that I knew had to be redfish. Anyway, I ended the big day with a 19.75" and 18.75" flounder. I had a 12" speckled trout too, but that didn't count for the tourney and the redfish spot I found the day before did not produce like I thought. Oh well. It was still a good day on the water.

I got back to the weigh in and helped to review the contending photos. It was fun to see everybody and put some faces to the names I know from the forums. For all of you that had kind words to say about my posts, pictures and videos, thank you very much. I really enjoy doing it and I hope it motivates you to go out and try it yourself.

I came in third in the flounder division, which was actually a surprise to me. I really didn't think my fish would hold up in such a big crowd.

After looking at it closer, it's actually 20" since I didn't put the nose on the line. I wouldn't have come in second anyway.

I won a Hobie stakeout pole along with several other raffle items including a Roger's western hat, Tilly Airflo hat, gift certificate to Blue Talon Bistro in Williamsburg, and various Aqua Pac accessories. Thanks to all the sponsors that really made the event happen.

On top of everything else, knowing that all the money from the raffles and entry fees go straight to two great causes, had us all feelin' good and giving thanks. Heroes on the Water and Project Healing Waters are really what this is all about. Chad Hoover of Kayak Bass Fishing had a great speech and one of the things that I was able to relate to is when he spoke about how amazing it is for these wounded vets when they feel that freedom and be able to control their movement on the water. I know how I feel when I take those first few paddle strokes of the day. There is definitely something therapeutic about it and I can only imagine how it feels for someone who may have been limited in their movement on land. I am proud to have contributed and plan to help out with HOW's new Central Virginia Chapter as time and family allow.

Once again thank you to everyone that made this happen!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Late summer kitties

So my friend Thom asked to go catfishing after work and of course, I had to make it happen. It was his birthday after all. Only thing is, I was in such a rush to get on the water after work that I forgot to bring my camera.

I hate it when I forget my camera.

Luckily he brought his camera.

We paddled out to an absolutely gorgeous late afternoon river. Virtually no wind, clear water, perfect. I even saw two flatheads as we were getting to my spot. I really wished I had my camera then for some underwater footage.

Anyway, I hooked up first and as my drag starts ripping, I hear a "oh #!@$". He didn't have the memory card. Doh!

Oh well. Cell phone it is.

36" Blue cat

Not long after...

Thom's first flathead at 30"

Shortly after that, Thom hooks into another that really ripped drag and I got busy clearing lines. Getting excited like a little kid, I watched his line cut through the water, swing the yak around, and put a nerve racking bend in his little Ugly Stik. He had a helluva time landing the thing as I watched with a big ol' grin. I have to say, it's almost just as fun watching.

34" Flathead

We had a couple other little guys around 24".

It was good times for a few of hours after work. Happy birthday, Thom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Music to my ears

Here's a short clip. It's not the longest drag run, but is sure sounds good anyway. Hope you like it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finding the time...

I used to go catfishing all the time. But most of this year, I've been addicted to the salt and even though the James River is minutes from my house and I found myself driving down to the tidewater area a lot. Well, lately, my 7 months pregnant wife, who was recently put on partial bedrest by her doctor, has needed me around more often so I've had to stick close to home. However, as usual, I had a pretty bad hankering for some drag pulling shenanigans. So I got to thinking. I needed someone to watch my 22 month old daughter for a few hours. And after a little brain storming, the light bulb lit up . I owed my wife's 14 year old nephew (Calvin) a fishing trip, so I called his mom to see if he wanted to go and if she could come over and help watch my baby. Bingo bango! She even owed my wife dinner, so everyone was getting what they wanted.

Kind of.

Poor Calvin couldn't get a hook up, but enjoyed watching me pull up a 30" flathead.

But that was it for the afternoon. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, gorgeous water and each other's company. I promised to take him again soon, since it would be his turn to catch one. The last time I took him, he caught one and I didn't.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Time well spent

The family has been camping on Labor Day weekend for several years now and this weekend was no different. In years past we did Kiptopeke, but in recent years the vote went towards the mountains. Sherando Lake was the spot this time as it came highly recommended by several friends.
It did not let down.

My daughter had a blast and my wife was relaxed. My dog was excited, my mom made amazing food and my dad told stories about his childhood growing up in S. Korea... fishing, messing with snakes n frogs, and stealing melons...

We got to spend a little time on the water and I even wet a line.

I got up pre-dawn one morning with flyrod in hand to check out the second of the two lakes.
With the moon still up...

The sunrise was beautiful...

I caught a couple of these guys.
Which is a lot of fun on the flyrod.

The weather was perfect, the place was beautiful, not much fishing,
but the time spent with family was time well spent.