Friday, July 29, 2011

After Hours Topwater Bassin'

I get a call at 4:50pm, right before quittin' time. 

"Dude, you wanna go fishing?"

It's Justin, a fellow diehard fish junkie... looking to get his midweek fix.  

Before we're off the phone, the drug of choice for the night is determined.

Topwater bass fishing.  


Second cast, 15.5"er
By the time we got on the dance floor it was almost 9pm.  
The paraphernalia for the night consisted of Zara Spook Jr.'s, Pop-R's, 
and various Rage Tail soft plastics. 

This pretty 20"er couldn't resist Justin's sexy noise maker

Bustin' out the ninja moves on another 15.5"er.

Tango with the twins... another 15.5"er.
Justin got some love from the fat ones, like this chubby 18"er

16.5"er.  No I'm not stoned, just high off the topwater action!
It was a great night on the water.  Even the youngin's came out to play.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

...Getting Slammed

I found this report after what I am about to tell you.

My Grand Slam day turned into an unnerving situation by getting slammed.  That moment when I noticed the guys looking up at the sky, the wind jumped and hit us all in the face.  And not a second later heavy rain started pelting everyone, except those of us under the bridge.  About a dozen boats came rushing to get cover so I knew it caught them off guard too.  There was also one other kayaker near by who had been anchored up as well.  About 5 minutes later, the rain died off and we both decided it was time to head back.  About 10 minutes later, mother nature unleashed a fury the likes of which I had never been on the water for.  Yes, I have been in some pretty intense storms, but this was definitely the worst.

We were under the southbound bridge and the rain made the north bound bridge barely visible.  The lightning was not that cloud to cloud stuff, but the crazy intense bolts that exploded when it came down.  For a while it was every couple of seconds...  the sound was deafening and I could feel it deep in my chest.  I laid my rods down and tucked my yak behind the middle of the three pilings.  I brought my body down as far as I could while still being able to paddle in place, not only because of the lightning, but to keep my body from becoming a sail.  The other kayaker was two piling sets behind me and I kept looking over to make sure he was still there.  When the gust slowed down, I would move up one set of pilings and he would follow.  We got a little ways then the wind picked up even more.  I felt my paddle push violently against me and that's when I thought "what if there's a tornado/water spout?"  The rain was hitting my face so hard I couldn't keep my eyes open.  I would squint a peek every now and then just to make sure I was still behind the piling.  Waves were crashing into my kayak from what felt like all directions.  When I felt myself tipping to one side I used my paddle stroke on the same side to push back.  I didn't panic or freak out.  I felt confident in my ability, my body didn't feel fatigued and I knew if I stayed under the bridge, behind that piling, and hopefully I don't get airborne, I would be alright.  I knew it couldn't last too much longer.  I had never met the other guy before and I had no idea how much experience he's had or his ability to paddle through that type of scenario.  Thus, I worried.

When I could open my eyes again, I looked over and the other kayak was gone.  "Oh Crap!"  Lightning bolts were still going off and we were maybe 1/3 of the way back of the 3+ miles.  I knew I couldn't go looking for him in those conditions.  There was no sense in getting myself screwed as well.  I couldn't reach for my phone either because if I stopped paddling even for a few seconds, I would be pushed away from the bridge and safety of the pilings.   I told myself I'd call for a search/rescue as soon as I get the chance.  At that moment, my safety was my primary goal.

I managed to keep myself in place for a while, then I looked over again and barely made out a shape.  He was paddling furiously, trying to get back to the bridge, but it wasn't looking good.  I lost sight of him again as gusts came through that rattled my nerves and lifted one of my rods from my lap (same one I almost lost to a spade earlier).  I got things situated and looked back again and much to my surprise and relief, a boat pulled up and looked like it was going to pick him up.  Whew!  Sigh of relief.  Time is hard to measure in moments like that.  But it felt like a long time.  

I decided to keep going since I didn't know how long they were going to be.  I kept going one piling at at a time and eventually, the gusts slowed down and the lightning stopped.  And about a quarter mile from shore, like Keyser Söze, "...poof, he's gone".  The rain stopped, the sun came out, the water flatten, I looked back at the island and shook my head.  My favorite/lucky hat was long gone, but luckily, that was all I lost.

When I got to shore, I was greeted by a wedding party setting up in front of Alexander's restaurant.  It was the strangest thing.  They wanted me to hurry up and get my stuff out of the way, like they had no idea what I had just been through.

The other kayaker who had been on shore for a little while now walked up and introduced himself.  If you're reading this, I apologize, I forgot your name.  Glad it all work out though.  It turns out he tried to anchor to stay in place and it popped out.  He turtled (flipped) and amazingly got back in.  He lost everything except his paddle.  The boat passing by might not have seen him if he wasn't able to get back in and paddle back towards the bridge.  Knowing how to recover and get back in the yak was critical for him.  If he had lost his paddle or didn't have a spare, he could have easily ended up way out in the bay and maybe in the newspaper.

I find this all sort of ironic because I was recently asked by several people if I could take them out to the 1st island.  I felt helpless, something I rarely feel, when I couldn't help that guy out on the water.  Though not often, stuff like this happens and this is exactly why I have a hard time agreeing to take people out, especially if I don't know their skill level.

I try not to exaggerate too much in my posts, so here's a wind report I found.
That's 62 mph in Virginia Beach, during the time I was out on the water.  That's no joke and I felt every bit of it. 
It only displays the past 72 hrs, but here's the screen capture.

 I went to Ocean's East to tell them I was alright since Kevin knew I was out there.  He told me they were keeping an eye out on the radar and all they saw was a little blip that turned into a massive storm all of a sudden... there wasn't much they or I could do to predict that one.   

Later on, after reading this post, a certified storm spotter sent me a message.  He reiterated that there wasn't much I could do about that one.  There was no storm watch issued that entire day, but they sent out a warning as it was already happening.   My smartphone and VHF radio would not have given any warning until then.  He was also kind enough to send a radar loop.  I was three miles north of the "k" in Norfolk. 

Click image for loop

Those of you who haven't perfected your kayak recovery, you need to remedy that.  For those that want to make those long trips, work on your endurance.  Anything can happen...

Grand Slam...

I got lucky.  I was expecting to have to work with my dad at his shop while my mom got in on some quality time with her granddaughter.  But my dad got it covered so he told me to just go fishing.  Bingo.  Bango.  Weather looked good and the tides were alright so I launched at one of my favorite summer time spots, the CBBT.  I knew it was going to be close to 100 degrees if not over, so I packed a soft sided cooler with five frozen 1-liter bottles of water and lots of sunblock.  In hopes of trying to stay cool during the long paddle out, I stayed in the shadow of the bridge.  It definitely helps to not be directly in the sun.

My first stop of the day brought in several flounder with the two biggest going...


The 21.5"er was lazy and didn't put up much of a fight.  I knew I wanted to keep him so I opened the rod pod and as I was grabbing the leader, the flounder went nuts.  I slid his body over the gunwale, got him in the rodpod and for about 10 seconds straight it thrashed, banged around and threw up minnows all over the inside of my yak.  Flounder are notorious for going ape-shit once landed and I've lost my share so I was glad I had the rodpod for this one.  On a side note, if you get one of these while leadering a fish...

... make sure you use the other hand to squeeze the lemon while cooking the fish.  Not fun.

Anyway, back to fishing... I was using a 1/2 oz jighead and 5" crazylegs gulp jerkshad in white/chartreuse.  TKAA member Scott J. was out there, too, wearing the flounder out on live bait.

After a while, I decided to switch rigs and bust out the fiddlers.  My first drop down...

Mr. Tough Guy Tautog, even for a 16"er.
The very next drop in the same spot produced a single distinct thump and a heavy weight on the line.  I slammed the hookset hard and the ensuing mayhem had me thinking it was the citation tog I've been wanting (for those of you who have been follow along for a while, can you tell I want one really bad?)  A skiff with three guys on it, that happened to be near by, started hootin' and hollerin', when they saw me put a nerve-racking bend in the rod.  After a while, I saw the stripes so I knew it wasn't the tog.  But who can be upset after a fight like that?

24.5" Release citation Sheepie
I tell you what I did get upset about... bad fishing etiquette.  While I was taking the above picture, I drifted off just a little (no anchor) and the skiff with the three guys on it scooted right into my spot.  I saw a small opening for me to squeeze my yak in, so I got over there, asked if they have had any luck, and dropped my line right next to theirs.  They started small talk and mentioned they had been sheepshead fishing all day and hadn't caught a single one.  They asked what I was using for bait, and me being the polite guy that I am, said "fiddlers".  A minute later, I get a hard thump and a heavy weight on my line, again.  It's that split second that you know, "This hookset is going to be awesome".  Wham!  It's on.  Bowed up and tearing drag, I look up at the guys with their jaws dropped open.  I smile, give a little "woo hoo!" and enjoy the signature sheepie fight...

25.5" Release citation Sheepie
"In your face!"
I get back to my spot, low and behold, the douche-bags have now positioned their skiff so I can't squeeze in anymore.  I decided not to get upset and fished the next set of pilings over.  I was thinking of switching over to spadefish soon anyway, but wanted to try for one more.  About 3 or 4 minutes later, I was about to pull my line in when once again, I felt that familiar thump.  Immediately after setting the hook, I yelled out "There he is!" just to make sure the skiff knew I was a hooked up, again.  It finally got to the youngest of the three.  He was just disgusted.  As he watched me fight the fish he yelled "What the fuck man!  Now that's just not fair!  God damn it!  You gonna make me go out and buy one a dem damn kayaks..."  I was trying really hard not to burst out into laughter, just smiling and nodding my head.

Real pretty 23"er  with all it's fins out.  Love it.
I wished the guys good luck and moved on to the spades.  I switched rigs, opened up some clams and immediately started getting bites.  The thing is, their bites are so damn fast.  Eventually, I finally got one to hook up, almost losing my rod in the process (wet hands with clam juice on them).  I saw the flash of it's bright side just before it came off.  Frustration set in soon after when the same thing happened to me 4 or 5 times.  I would get the hook up, have an intense 4 or 5 seconds with drag ripping chaos, then it would come off.  To make things worse, the current was picking up, which meant I wouldn't be able to maintain the one arm paddle for much longer.  But I really wanted to beat my 12" personal best, so I kept at it and finally got one to stick.  It didn't fight as hard as the others I had hooked earlier, but I was glad to finally land one.

Toughest 12" fish ever.
It only tied my personal best, so I went back to try again.  Unfortunately, the current got even stronger and the fish had disappeared.  I decided to take a break and anchored up next to the island, under the bridge to stay in the shade.  As I was eating a snack I realized I caught 4 species of fish that day (not including the trashfish like oystertoads and baby bluefish that I failed to mention earlier).  I thought to myself "CBBT Grand slam, baby!  Yeah!"  It had been a good day and I was contemplating about heading back in after my break when I noticed a skiff with a pair of flounder fisherman on it looking up at the sky.

I thought "what the heck are they looking at?"

That's when it happened...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fishing with his Royal Brownness

For the rest of you brown people out there, please don't take offense to the title..  I love this guy almost like my brother.  We went to college (partied) together, and came up with a bunch of inside jokes and nicknames.  He happened to be the whitest brown guy I knew and I was the whitest Asian guy he knew.  People started calling me the Harold to his Kumar.  I'm not trying to get into any racial discussion, because I really don't care.  But every day I wake up, I think... "what can brown do for me?"

So my friend Dorian doesn't fish, doesn't kayak, doesn't really even like the outdoors.  But since we work together, he's heard my rants and raves about this whole kayak fishing thing.  And the other day, out of the blue, he bought a fishing license.  Dude wanted to go fishing with me, and like any good friend, I obliged.

After a quick kayak tutorial in my first kayak, we were off to one of my favorite catfish spots.  I set up two rods for him and two rods for me.  I was really hoping he'd get the bites and get to experience a good fight.  Unfortunately, only a few fish came out to play.   I had two decent upper 30" flatheads mess with my lines and a small channel cat on his...

Notice the nice watershoe tan...

His Royal Brownness doesn't like holding fish, yet.
It's a terrible picture, which he's going to hate, but I'm posting it up anyway.  Hopefully I'll be able to get him on some big ones soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Toothy Bastards

Justin and I must have caught at least 30 or so.  
All sandbar sharks.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Few Hours Before Work...

Carp.  Some call them bonefish of the freshwater world.  I got several reports from various sources about a good population of them very close to home.  So I took a few hours before work to check it out.  Bonefish, known for their unrelenting drag smoking runs on the flats of the tropics, have always interested me.  Thus, when people start comparing carp to bonefish, I naturally had to try it out.  Disclaimer; I didn't try with the flyrod, which is the way most people catch bonefish, but one day...   I was short on time so, I used the traditional dough-type bait on a small hook instead.

I started off catching a few small catfish, but shortly there after, I hooked into something very different.  I immediately knew and felt the difference.  Using light tackle, the high pitched music of my spinning reel drag instantly brought a smile to my face.  And then the bright fire of it's beautiful tail flashing under water, made my eyes happy.

25" Carp

In the short amount of time I had available, I ended up with a 23" and a 25" carp.  I also had one hookup to a much bigger one that really pulled like a freight train, but a minute into it, it came off.  I also saw a couple roll that had to have been pushing three feet.

I've never actually caught a bonefish before, but from the stories I hear, I imagine they're really quite amazing.  And I'm sure the diehard bonefish fishermen will say there really is no comparison, but from someone who's never caught one, and probably won't have a chance to any time soon, my sweetwater bone will have to do.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One for the Record Books

In the saltwater kayak fishing community of Virginia, no other kayak angler has achieved what Kayak Kevin has.

Many avid non-kayak anglers find it very difficult to do, but he reached "expert angler" status in the Virginia Saltwater Tournament, not only once, but twice (2006 & 2007).   Catching 6 citations (trophies) of different species in one year all from a kayak is no easy feat.  But on Tuesday, July 5th, he brought yet another goal into realization and I was privileged and honored to be a part of it.

Kevin was already out under the CBBT when I pulled up to Chic's Beach, so I unloaded and launched as fast as I could.  I'll be honest, having become friends with Kevin doesn't make it any less exciting to fish with the guy.  I believe I'm a pretty driven person and I've accomplished a good bit, but what this guy has done and is still doing is truly inspiring.  He had been talking to me for a while about needing one more citation fish... and as we planned this trip, we knew... the recent reports, the weather, the tides, everything was just right.

Kayak Kevin's 24" Release Citation Sheepshead

First fish of the day was a gorgeous 24" sheepshead and the pressure was off.  There was a sigh of relief and a buzz of excitement as he held up his citation fish.  That fish now made him "Virginia Master Saltwater Angler".  It takes 25 citations in a minimum of 5 different species (a maximum of 1 citation per species per year allowed) over an unlimited period of time to achieve this.  Throw in the fact that he did it all in a kayak and it's really quite an amazing accomplishment.  Congrats, my friend.

The first fiddler I put in the water got eaten just a few minutes later.  I set the hook and my rod violently doubled over as Mister Badass Master Angler chuckled and watched me struggle to stop the fish.  It was my first sheepie hook up of the year and I was quickly reminded of how strong they were when it pulled lots of line off the super tight drag.  However, moments later my heart sank as I lifted up a bent hook.  It wasn't just a little bent.  It was wide open...  and my imagination ran wild about the size of that fish.  I kept hope while I tried other spots and when I got to one of my favorite pilings ... the fight was on again. And this time, I kept him on the hook.

25" Release Citation Sheepshead.

Feeling good about our sheepshead catches, we moved on to try spadefish.  Using clam as bait, Kevin ended up with one around 15" and I dropped one that looked about 13" right at the boat.  That little spade darn near yanked the rod right out of my hand!

Soon after, the current really got going and the wind started picking up so we decided to take shelter behind the island and see if big ugly was around.  And as if one citation species for the day wasn't enough, Kevin rocked another one...

48" Release Citation Black Drum

He was using artificials and I tried with clam, with no luck.  They were very skittish but fun to watch.  It's really quite amazing to float right over these 4 foot plus behemoths.  We even saw a few with their tails out of the water as they buried their heads looking for grub.  I'll try again for them next time.

As the current started to fade, we tried for spades again, with little success.  I switched over to fiddlers and on my first drop I felt a single hard thump.  I set the hook hard and the butt of my rod quickly dug in under my arm.  It felt good... and I thought to myself  "if this is a tog, it might be the one".  I've been wanting to reach that magic 23" citation mark for some time.  When I got it in the boat, the excitement flooded my mind.  It was close.  I laid it on the measuring board...  "c'mon... twenty three inches...."

Not quite... but still happy.

New personal best 22.25" Tautog
Shortly after, with the wind picking up and heavy clouds on the horizon, we called it a day.  A great day, in fact.  The fishing was excellent and Kevin once again scratches his name in the record books.

His near unparalleled dedication to the sport matches his mantra well...

"You only get out of life, what you get out and do."


Check out Kevin's website for more info and pics.

And for those that were wondering, yes, I did go for stripers at the HRBT later that evening.... caught just a few small stripers.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quick Trip to the River

Got bored.  
Caught sunfish.  
Still bored.  
Freelined sunfish.  
Caught some flathead catfish.  
Had fun.
The end.