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!