Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crossing My Fingers in a New Kayak

First of all, I'd like to thank Vic from Appomattox River Company.  He was very knowledgeable, helpful, insightful and just overall awesome.  The customer service was unbeatable.  If you're thinking about getting a new or used kayak, give Vic a call at the ARC store in Kiln Creek.  They have a huge inventory at the store and additional kayaks are constantly being delivered from their main warehouse in Farmville.  They also have every known accessory for kayaking.  Aside from actual fishing tackle, ARC has just about everything else you would need.  Once again, THANKS VIC!

 After long deliberations, I got an Ocean Kayak Trident 13.  I wanted something lighter, faster, and something that would protect my gear during an oceanside surf launch.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Heritage Redfish 12.  I can even say I've got an emotional attachment to it since it was my first and I've done so much in it.  I've had it for 3 years and I've been able to do everything I've wanted to in it.  Except surf launches.  I've been wanted to launch from Sandbridge and other ocean side beaches but not being able to stow my rods and reels inside kept me from venturing into the potentially dangerous and expensive waves.  The Trident 13 will remedy this, plus it's 10lbs lighter and 1.5 feet longer.  The hull is thinner so I won't be beating it up like I did my last one.

Old Hull

 I'll put up an entry about rigging and outfitting soon.


            In the mean time, here's a fishing story. I went to HRBT Sunday  night and got into the stripers again with Marty. The wind picked up pretty bad and the current was ripping.  I had two rods with me but had to put one in my lap since the water was high and I didn't want the top of the rod to scrape or break against the underside of the bridge.  The rod pod came in handy on my first trip.  I ended up with a little over a dozen with the biggest three going 23", 24" and 25".                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       As the title of this entry implies, I'm crossing my fingers because I caught a striper with a Diamond Jim tag in it.  It was dated back in 2009 but I called in anyway and left a message with the tag number.  It's crazy to think that this tagged fish was possibly worth up to $25,000.  A decent consolation prize would be nice.  Hope they call back soon!                                                                                                                                                                                              Stay tuned!                                                                                     
Either way, I'm off to a great start on my lucky new kayak!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Initial review of the VisiCarbonPro

I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of guy. My wife even brags to her friends about my MacGyver skills around the house. So, when I first started kayak fishing, I made my own light pole. It had a nice bright light, attachments for a flag and camera mount, too. I was pretty proud of it and for a while, it did it's job well. Keeping in mind, I fish A LOT, things eventually started to fall apart. I made another one and it also did it's job well, but not long after it was looking kinda rough too. I had metal rusting, inferior grade plastic cracking, tape peeling, messy glue all over the place, lights breaking, and batteries losing juice too quickly. I didn't want to go with PVC since I dislike the light swinging around because of the excessive flexiblity. But I didn't want more metal broom handles either.

I decided to finally break down and get a professionally made kayak light. I found the YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro. It had all the features I was looking for and then some. It's pricey, but let me tell you why I think it's worth it. First of all, finding all the pieces to make my previous two light poles wasn't cheap. That was one of my main reasons for going with the VisiPole. I might as well put that money into one that was professionally made (in the US, I might add). Also, with all the other things I have to take care of around the house, time is very valuable. Time is money, so they say. I simply don't have the time to make another one.

When I opened the package, I was pleasantly surprised how small, and light it was (even with the 3AA batteries already in it).

The first thing I checked for was anything that might rust. Nope. None. Excellent. As I inspected it further, I then realized how much thought went into making this product. It's quite ingenious. The poles are made of carbon fiber, so they're very strong and light. They fit into each other like tent poles to form a 4ft long mast upon which the light stands. And they are thin so there is very little drag against the wind. The bottom is wrapped in quality foam so you can put it in a rod holder and it will remain silent. The one I ordered came with an attachment on the bottom that will fit into a Scotty mount. I believe there is the option to get it with RAM attachments also. So if you don't want to take up a spot on the rod holder, you can put it in either a Scotty or RAM mount.

If you do want to put it in the rod holder, there is a stretchy lanyard that you can pull over the bottom of the rod holder to keep the light in place (just in case you turtle). Smart.

It also has the reflective SOLAS tape on it, the light was plenty bright, and the package says the batteries will last for over 100 hours! However, as a precaution, I still carry extra batteries in a drybox, along with an extra camera battery and batteries for my head lamp. The light has two O-rings so no water gets in where the sensitive stuff is.

The bag that it stores in doubles as the flag. I used to fly full size flags often, but the drag they created made me dislike them. However, the flag/bag that comes with this light pole is only 6" tall, creating less drag. But it's still long enough to be highly visible. Very efficient. Also, they came up with a Silent Snap system which makes the flag very easy to remove and there's no clips that make noise when the flag is flapping. Genius.

So far, I am very glad I got this product. I've taken it out on two trips; one very windy day on the James river, and one nice evening out to the HRBT. I'll put it through the rigors of all the other fishing I do throughout the year and post up a final review towards the end of the season.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OH, IT'S ON....

... like Donkey Kong...

I took my first HRBT trip of the year in the hopes of finding the ever-so-fun-to-catch striped bass. Taking the cue from Ric Burnley's report, I checked winds, temps and tides in preparation for this after work trip. I met KBF prostaff member Marty (PAHillbilly) around 8:15pm and launched to nice flat conditions. The current wasn't super fast, but we found the fish pretty quickly. They weren't stacked up thick by any means, but the ones we saw were very interested in what we had to offer. 4" paddle tails and yozuri crystal minnows were the fish-eye-candy flavors of the night. I ended up enticing over a dozen stripers, landing 7 or 8, dropping more than 5 at the boat. The biggest one I lost was around 24-25". I believe Marty landed 7 or so as well. Around 11:30 the tide slacked off so we called it a night.

It was good to see nice, fat, healthy fish
Hopefully this is the beginning of a great season.

I believe the all-star crew (Burnley, Kevin & Forrest) is heading out tonight. I'm sure you'll find a successful report from them soon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Where Credit is Due

I fish a lot. I know. For someone with a gorgeous wife, a two year old, a 3 month old, a house to maintain, and a job to keep, I'm allowed a lot of time to fish. So here's a little credit, where credit is due.

Before I start, if you read my blog strictly for the fishing content, then I will apologize now. Come back for the next entry. If you have a strong avulsion toward public show of affection, you probably don't want to read this. I'm not one to express public signs of affection often since I don't like seeing or reading about them either. And I like to think I already do a good job of showing her I care everyday. But I figured with it being Valentine's Day, I thought I'd show a little more appreciation. I'm also not big on these made up "Hallmark holidays" either, but I'm a hopeless romantic and I know my wife deserves it.

My wife, my love
Words can not express my gratitude to you
You are a woman with no equal
Stong, smart, patient, loving
mother of our children

You are my everything
and without you I would be lost
It is you and your presence in my life that makes me believe
that no matter what happens
everything will be alright

The sweetness of your smile...
the warmth of your soul...
your never fading beauty...
I am the luckiest man in the world.

Thank you for being my Valentine (for the 12th time).
Love ya.
And no, I'm not going to ask for more kitchen passes because I wrote this.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blues on the James

I got the ok from the wife kinda late on Saturday. Luckily it was before my boss was off the water. He went looking for big blue catfish and I was hoping he'd have some left over bait. He ended up with several in the 20-30lb range and a couple in the 40s and one in the mid 50lb range. He was also gracious enough to keep some gizzard shad for me.

I got on the water just before dawn and as the sun was peeking up over my shoulder, I paddled a gorgeous river without a breathe of wind. I caught glimpses of bald eagles as I waited for my reel clickers to break the silence.

The action was steady in the morning, but the wind picked up significantly and made for tough paddling and positioning. I ended the day with 7 fish ranging from 23" to 35".

I was hoping for more, but it was still nice to get out and feel some drag pullage.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wet day on the Elizabeth

I took my first paddle strokes of the day around 8:30 am. The light drizzly mist rippled the flat black water and for a Saturday morning in February there was hardly any boat traffic at the popular hot spots. With the air temperature in the mid to high 40s and barely any wind, I didn't mind the damp atmosphere. At first.

The initial spot I decided to fish didn't produce. There were 4 or 5 boats around me and nobody was catching anything. Even the guys using bait weren't getting any action. I was relentlessly casting MirrOlures when someone called my name. It was Chong Chae who recognized my beat up kayak. This guy is a character. Always smiling, joking, laughing... I've known him since high school and my brother and I used to go to his father's TaeKwonDo classes. Chong was scary good...

This isn't Chong, but this is the move he used to do to people.
Nuts, huh?

Anyway, I digress. He's also an excellent fisherman. We talked for a bit and I found out the bite was on earlier. He had 3 nice ones up to 25", but nothing was happening now. We talked about tautog fishing for a bit since we both have an affinity for them, then I decided to leave and try another place.

On my way over to another "hot" spot, I spied this...

Go Go Gadget Umbrella!

After a few chuckles, I got to the spot, switched to jigging soft plastics, and quickly picked up several small specks. I had one pull drag and I thought it was going to be a decent trout, but ended up being...

A Lil' 17" Puppy Drum

15 minutes later, the bite shut off, the wind picked up, and the drizzle turned into a downpour. That wind instantly made things feel dramatically colder, especially with the rain dripping off my rain jacket hood and getting blown into my face. After a while, it tapered off, but I still couldn't find a bite and my frigid fingers became incapable of tying knots. I went back to the first spot to see if things turned on but when I got there I only found one boat left.

I kept hope and incessantly threw my lures as the rain and wind pestered me. The monotony of casting and retrieving the lure was finally broken with a drag screaming run. It was the fastest I had seen and heard the drag rip from that tiny reel. Granted, I have ultra light gear, but still, this was definitely a really nice fish. It lasted all of 2 or 3 seconds. If that was a speckled trout, which I like to believe it was, it was the biggest I had ever hooked. So after the cursing and swearing, I continued casting and got a few bumps, a few more missed/dropped fish but finally landed a decent 21" speck.

Shortly there after, Justin Mayer met up with me. And after a few more highly suspect bumps, the bite was gone. I left soon after. I'm not sure how Justin ended up doing, but the fishing was pretty tough today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First trip of 2011

I finally got out for the first fishing trip of 2011! The cabin fever had me feeling like Jack in The Shining. CRAZY! So, with an invitation from local fishing legend Forrest Short and it being the opening day of Kayak Wars, I was determined to get some pullage.

The air temps were in the mid to lower 40s with a little mist. It was nice night to paddle out and as I took my first few strokes I was glad it was dark so Forrest wouldn't see my gooberish grin. It was my first time out in over a month so all the feel-goods were flooding. As we were heading out I listened carefully as he shared valuable info about the area.

We got to the spot and realized we had some friends fishing on shore. Marty (PAHillbilly) and his friend Chris were getting into the striper already. Last I heard, Chris pulled in a 33"er. Anyway, Forrest and I started working our lures and eventually got into a few. I got one 21.75" striper and Forrest's final count was three with the biggest going 23"ish.

It was a tough night of fishing but it was still nice to get out. The highlight of the evening was a green VIMS tag in Forrest's first fish. I believe he can turn in the green tag and get $$$

The thing is, he ended up breaking his Tica rod last night as well. We're not really sure how it happened. He was messing with a 17"ish striper he just got in the yak and snap.

I guess that $$$$ will be going towards a new rod.

Good fishing with you Forrest and thanks for sharing your spot!