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.