Monday, June 27, 2011

A little something different

I went sheepshead fishing on Sunday for a little while and caught a surprise.  I had one follow my fiddler up last year, but I didn't expect to see another, nor catch one.  But it makes sense.  I dug up some mole crabs since I couldn't get a hold of any fiddlers and I heard that people down south use them to catch pompano in the surf.  Long story short, I didn't catch my target specie, but I always love catching something I never caught before.

13.5" Pompano

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Since my last trip was cut short

The final leg of my last trip was cut short due to weather.  So, I decided to go last night to make up for it and HRBT lightline striper action was the goal.  The last couple of times I went it was less than stellar (compared to last year around this time), but since our team, Fish Junkies, in Kayak Wars needs more points, I took the chance.

I launched around 7:30pm and started off jigging up a few dink flounder.  Then I messed with the croakers for a while until it got dark enough for the lights on the bridge to come on.  It took a while for the current to pick up and I kept telling myself they were going to show up.  I had a feeling that working the incoming tide (as opposed to the outgoing that we fished the last couple of times) was going to produce.  Sure enough, when the current really got going, I saw a few stalking near the surface.  Then a few more.  Only thing is, they were very skittish and veered away from my well presented treats.  I decided I would switch from my light colored grub to a dark green and that was the ticket.  With a 1/4oz jighead, I kept it close to the surface and retrieved relatively fast.  They tore it up.  I must of had at least 20 hard fighting stripers between 19" and 24".  When the current slowed down, so did the bite.  I packed it up around 2:30am and drove the hour and twenty minutes back to Richmond... guzzling energy drinks... and counting up the points for Kayak Wars.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blessing and a Curse

My wife, aka the most wonderfulest woman in the world, granted me the gift of time.  Oh, that precious gift of Time.  For Father's Day, I thought the entire weekend was going to be reserved for family, which I was fully prepared to do.  But it turned out that only Sunday was deemed family time, and Saturday was all mine to do whatever I pleased.  Immediately, a big smile crept up on my face.  I started planning the 24 hours I was given and had 7 different species swimming in my brain all at once.  I knew I should focus on one or two, but I couldn't help myself.

Phase 1.  Target species:  Speckled Trout and Red Drum.  I got up at 2am and drove down to Back River.  I launched at 4am and met up with Forrest, who had already been on the water since midnight but didn't have anything to show for it (unusual for Forrest).  That reminded of my last trip to that area and I thought of all the hundreds of casts I made without a hook up to anything worthwhile.  I kept hope and tossed out my topwater plug.  I twitched three times and my wish was granted... a blessing from Mother Nature and Father time. 

I thought it was a release citation at first, but after looking closely at the photos when I got home, I realized the mouth was open in all my pictures.

Perhaps I could have pinched the tail a little more, but hindsight is always 20/20 and there's nothing I could do about it now.  It might have weighed enough for a kill citation, but I'm glad I released it anyway.  I'm sure that big ol' belly is full of precious eggs.

After releasing it, Forrest said " You know you're not going to catch anything else all day, right?".  I realized what he was talking about and thought "Oh, CRAP!  It's only 4:30 am and I have a lot planned for the rest of the day!"  I told myself to keep hope, it's just a bunch of crazy bologna voodoo, but I knew, catching a good fish on the very first cast is bad luck.

I spent about 5 hours out there with Forrest and that was the only fish I caught.  Forrest hooked up to several but didn't land anything (maybe he did after I left).  He had a few red drum hook ups too, but they all came off.  9am came around and it was time for me to move on to the next place.

Phase 2.  Target species:  Tautog (not in season until the 25th, but still fun to catch), Sheepshead, Black Drum, Flounder and the longshot cobia (sightcast if I saw one).  I stopped at Ocean's East to get some bait and expressed my concerns to Kevin about targeting too many species at once.  Anyway, they didn't have what I wanted so I settle for alternatives (bluecrab and clams instead of fiddlers).  After breakfast, I launched under the CBBT around 11am and went all the way to the 1st island.  Long (very long) story short, every brown shape ended up being a ray instead of cobia, no sheepshead, no black drum, no flounder, one 14" tog, and a bunch of trash fish.  I found a big school of BIG red drum on the side of the island, but they didn't want to eat anything.  Live crab, chunk crab, fresh croaker, clam, bucktail n gulp... they were spooked.  Plus, there were a lot of boaters around.  While I wasted my time trying to for the big reds, a kayaker I met out there earlier ended up doing fairly well with the togs.  He was using self-caught fiddlers and had several togs up to a very nice 22".  If I had stayed focused when I first started tog fishing (when I caught the 14") maybe I could have found more.  But the thought of big black drum, which I saw a few of, distracted me.  Same thing happened with the flounder.  I only tried a little while and later on I talked to a boater who had his limit with the biggest going 25".  I should have picked a primary target and stuck with it.  So many fish!  So little time!

I was off the water by 6:30pm and got dinner at the Pirates of Lynnhaven club meeting.  The food was excellent with company to match.  I had every intention of going to the HRBT afterwards to look for stripers, but the wind picked up and storms were rolling by.  So with Mother Nature and Father Time against me, along with the curse of the first fish, I reluctantly gave in and went home several hours ahead of schedule.

I had a great father's day with the kids (pool, bbq, family time), but before the weekend was over, my wife told me she was sorry she didn't get me anything cool as a gift.  I smacked the crap out of her and... I'm just messin'.... I reminded her, and myself, that I was a very lucky guy with countless blessings.  In the end, even if I complain about a few fishing trips and talk about some stupid voodoo fish curse, her giving me the time is not taken for granted and I thanked her for the millionth time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unproductive Streak

So at the end of my last post, I was thinking about the infamous Mr. Brown.  Cobia have frustrated me to no end and apparently I'm not the only one.  Kevin's buddy Lee Williams called me up and vented his frustration too, as we came up with a game plan.  Unfortunately mother nature had other ideas and our trip to NC turned into a trip to the Eastern Shore for another shot at the big reds.  Kevin, Lee, Zach, Mike and I were hopeful since Kevin found them the day before.  It was humbling to fish with that group.  They've been doing this for so much longer and it showed.   If you look through Kevin's fishing reports through the years, these are the guys that are usually out there with him.  I learned a lot looking through those old reports and I learned a lot listening to their stories while fishing with them.  Plus they're a fun group of guys who love joking around, which is nice when the fish don't cooperate.  We saw a few in the mid 30" range, but spooked very easily.  That was about it for the reds.  We did however find some sharks.  We took turns casting at one really big one and Zach managed to get his swimbait in the perfect spot.  I actually saw the shark turn towards it and next thing you know Zach was off to the races.

Yes, that is a construction helmet.  Like I said, these guys know how to have fun.

We were all surprised that he had it on for as long as he did.... probably around 5 or 6 minutes.  Kevin estimated it to be around 9 feet.  Crazy huh?  But that was it.  Nothing else.  It was an all-star cast, but the show had a disappointing ending. 

That was June 2nd.  On June 10th, I drove down to Back River in search of trophy speckled trout.  I met up with another guy who has an incredible amount of experience and recently pulled up two citation trout at 29" and 28".  Local legend Forrest Short was kind enough to show me around and give me some pointers.  Once again, I was humbled and grateful that he was sharing such info with me.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't my night.  I spent close to 10 hours on the water, all night, and caught 2 small trout, 13" and 15", and several houndfish.  The sun came up, and I had to go since my wife had and appointment.  Later on I heard Forrest hooked into several BIG fish moments after I left.  He got another citation trout at 27.5"!!!  I guess it's just the way it goes sometimes.  Congrats Forrest!  (sorry no pics)

On June 12th, I was given a couple of hours in the morning, so I decided to try my luck with the Smallmouth bass.  The spot is minutes from my house and I used to go all the time, but it had been a while... I was excited.  Plus, I felt like I could redeem myself for the last two trips.  Wrong.  I jumped off a 13" Smallie and a 15" Largemouth.  A few bream and this is all I had for the morning...

Not exactly what I had in mind

To put it lightly, I was frustrated.  Tuesday night came and I was confident I would get good pullage at the HRBT.  This time last year I was catching 10 to 20 stripers a night so that was going to be my way out of this slump.  I was going to get much needed points for Kayak Wars and feel better about the last three trips.  Wrong again.  I fished the last of the incoming tide and most of the outgoing.  Lots of tiny croaker and bluefish to tear up my soft plastics, but the stripers were far and few between.  And the ones I did see spooked very easily.  I was hoping for flounder as well, but that didn't happen.  Just before I needed to leave I caught one striper at 25".

Hopefully that's the beginning of a change in luck.

On a side note, it was nice to meet a few guys that enjoy my blog.  Philly Joe, thanks for all the kind words.  Hopefully we'll have better luck next time.  Ben and Tim, good to meet you guys as well.  

Take care, be safe, and may we all find good luck on our next fishing trip!