Thursday, September 29, 2011


So I was sitting there in my office, being productive, getting my work done, feeling good after the recent tournament, when I decide to give Kayak Kevin a call to wish him a happy birthday.  When he picked up I could tell he was excited about something.  It turns out he had a 46" red drum in his lap!  My palms instantly got a little sweaty and my mind started racing (I know, I have an addiction).  I immediately wanted to be out there fishing for those powerful bulls.  He went on to tell me the story, which I'm sure he'll share on his website, then hung up to chase some more.  He was under the CBBT fishing for sheepshead when the reds showed up.  About 10 minutes later, I get a call from Kevin's buddy Lee Williams and he says "dude, I was on your piling fishing for sheepshead when I hooked into a massive red!".  He continued to tell me how it came undone, then he had to take off to go to work.  By now, I was standing out of my office chair, with both hands grasping my hair, mind racing even faster, completely incapable of doing work at that moment.  I had to go.... SOON.  I immediately checked the weather forecast and tides then called the one other person that I knew Kevin wouldn't mind if I told.  The news had a similar effect on Justin Mayer.  We called our respective wives and the plan was set in motion.

We launched around 9:30pm after a full days work and an hour and a half drive.  We fished the CBBT lightline for schoolie stripers on the way out to the target area.  We each caught 4 or 5 and as the current started to slow down, our anticipation grew.  We both put two rods out with whole crabs on fishfinder rigs and jigged a 6" chartreuse swimming mullet Gulp on a 2oz jighead.  Justin got a hit first.  One of his lines with a crab started peeling off, he engaged, and just as his kayak started getting pulled, it came unbuttoned.  About 10 minutes later I suddenly lost tension on my jigging rod.  I reeled in the slack and instinctively set the hook knowing that something picked it up and moved upward.  The ensuing headshakes and screaming drag run quickly made me realize, this was a big fish!  I was very lucky it didn't go straight through the set of pilings that were near by.  Instead the beast pulled me in between the two bridges then did a 360 and ripped drag back toward the pilings.  Luckily it veered away again, and after about 7 or 8 more minutes of tackle testing drag runs, I leg lifted the brute red over my gunwale.

Heavy 48.5"
Citation Red Drum

Those were all the bites we had. I got home at 5am feeling tired, but still buzzed from having caught my biggest fish thus far.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011 TKAA Charity Tournament

It had been raining on and off all day.  My hands were exceedingly pruney, my hat was soaked all the way through and I was yet to feel a fish on the end of my line.  Other tournament anglers started heading in and many of them asked about my luck.  Every one of them had either a perplexed look or thought I was joking when I told them I hadn't hooked a single one.  I was running out of time so I decided to make one more pass by my favorite spot in the inlet as the rain got heavier. I was trolling a MirrOLure when it got crushed...

by a big...



Yet, for some reason, I was still smiling, happy and had a supreme sense of satisfaction as I drove to the weigh-in/awards ceremony.  The confused looks and "you're kidding, right" statements continued there, but I went on to explain to them that I had a different goal that day.

Every year there's a group of people that take some veterans from the near by hospitals and gets them out on the water to fish during the tournament.  I decided to be a part of that group.  At the end of the day, Ben Swenson of Virginia Wildlife Magazine wanted a quick interview, so I obliged, and most of the questions were easy... was this your first time volunteering for this... yes... do you think you'll do it again... yes... but there was one question that I couldn't answer very quickly.  "Why?"  "What made you decide to do this?".  My mind was running so fast...  I'm usually a very competitive person and I love these types of events... so why did I decide to forego the enjoyment of competing?  Why would I use that precious time away from my family and personal fishing endeavors for something like this?  I don't have any strong connections to the military.  I dislike politics.  I just didn't have an immediate answer for him.

Maybe I just wanted something cool to write about on my blog.  Maybe I thought it would make me look like a "good guy" in the kayak fishing community.  Or maybe it was the perfect opportunity for me to really help someone by sharing the passion I have for this sport.  And not just anyone, but someone who has put his country before himself...  someone who did what our country as a whole needed him to do and now he's stuck in a hospital.  I know if I was in his shoes, I'd love it if someone took me fishing.

Maybe I volunteered because I've always felt like I owed a debt of gratitude to the veterans of this country.  I was born here, grew up here, and enjoyed the freedom my entire life.  My parents came here from South Korea back in the mid 70's, not only because this country opened its doors to a certain number of immigrants from there, but also because of the veterans who fought the Korean war.  The outcome of that war would obviously be very different if it hadn't been for those veterans and I would not be here today loving life to the fullest, and you would not be reading this. 

Maybe I didn't have an answer for Ben Swenson because I didn't know how to bring up the subject of my wife's beloved grandfather, who recently passed away last month.  He served in the United States Army and was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge and three bronze stars for his service in Korea.  You can imagine the sense of gratitude I have, especially when I was around him.  Here I am, in the greatest country in the world, enjoying all the freedoms that come with it because of the service and sacrifices made by him and the other veterans of the Korean War.  And to top it off, I got to marry his granddaughter.  I made sure he knew that she was in good hands with me, and he was many times the recipient of a fillet or two from my outings along with the treasured visits from his great grandkids.

I know this would have made him happy and proud.

Mark Lozier gives a few pointers to the veterans

I took Lance Corporal Israel Ramirez out to Rudee Inlet in my Redfish 12.  He had been to many places including Greece and Lybia and now had several pins in his right hand along with a cast.  Knowing that I shouldn't push him, we started off pretty relaxed.  I just wanted him to have a good time on the water.  But after chatting and getting to know him, I realized he was pretty mission driven and today's mission was to catch a fish.  It's something he had never done before and it was my goal to help him achieve that.  His casting got better as the day progressed and his paddle strokes got stronger.  He couldn't quite grip the paddle all the way and I told him to let me know if his hand was bothering him and that we could take a break.  But like a true marine, he told me "pain is weakness leaving the body" and trucked on as I nodded and smiled.  Shortly there after, I got him to hook up and I was ecstatic when he caught his first fish ever.

He caught 2 more spot (bigger than the first) and a nice pinfish as well.  When we got off the water for lunch it was obvious the vets were all glad to have gotten a little therapy on the water and it did them good.  They had so much to talk about and at least for a short while, their minds were away from the heavy burdens they accumulated through their previous experiences and long stays in the hospital.

Later on, Israel came up and told me that his buddies from the same hospital couldn't believe he caught 4 fish.  The others enjoyed themselves on the water, but were not able to catch anything.  That added a certain level of satisfaction for me, knowing I helped him get those bragging rights!

There's definitely something magical about powering yourself though the water.  Add the lure of angling and the therapy is undeniable.  For more information about the program helping the vets, check out the Heroes on the Water page and Project Healing Waters page.

All the proceeds from the tournament went towards those programs so even those that didn't fish with a veteran still helped out.  They are two great organizations that definitely deserve our support.  If you live in the mid-Atlantic, enjoy kayak fishing, and have not attended this event before, please consider trying next year.  The camaraderie is second to none and the raffle is out of this world.  Here's a link to some more info about the tournament and the results.

On a side note, after the weigh-in and award ceremony, I ventured back out to the HRBT for a few more hours of personal fishing time.  I quickly picked up a 19" flounder, 5 schoolie stripers and a few good size croaker.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Before the Big Tourney

Who's Awesome?!? My wife! That's who! She agreed to hold the fort down with both kids while I made the annual trip down for the TKAA tourney. I got permission to leave Thursday night and soon felt a good binge coming on. It was like being back in college and it was the first day of spring break. I smiled as I thought... I'm going to get crazy hammered on some fishing then hang out with all the cool kids at the biggest kayak fishing party in VA. WooHoo!!!

I got to the HRBT around 9:15pm and as I took my first few paddle strokes, I realized I hadn't paddled in the salt in almost two weeks. Man, it felt good. I found a good mess of stripers along the light line, but the baby bluefish were just everywhere. It was one of those nights where if you casted just a little too far in front of the striper, the blues would just tear them up. It was really quite a sight to see water boiling all around the bridge... and it lasted all night. I managed around 20 stripers ranging from 16" to 26", some nice size croakers, a few small speckled trout and grey trout, and obviously more bluefish than I cared for.

While fishing, I met Jack Daughtry and a few other guys from Maryland who had come down to prefish the big tourney. It was nice to meet a few other kayak anglers that didn't make me feel like I'm the crazy one. I left and took a nap in the car around 5am, but later I found out that those guys stayed up past sunrise.

I woke up and went over to Kayak Kevin's place to figure out where we were going to prefish that day. I really wanted to try the Eastern Shore for the red drum but the weather was iffy. While we checked the radar, I got a sneak peek at portions of his new DVD that's coming out soon. It. Is. Awesome. He's got a few more expletives he needs to bleep out, but I can't wait for it to be released. Anyway, with all the little storms popping up Kevin decided to stay in and work on the DVD some more. As for me, after watching some of the sheepshead clips, I couldn't resist. Instead of prefishing for a species included in the tournament, I went after the notorious convict.

With Kevin watching the radar for me I got to the base of the CBBT, unloaded, had everything ready to launch... then thunder rumbled in the distance. I checked radar on my phone and the storm was a good distance away, but headed toward me. About 45 minutes later, Kevin calls and tells me it's getting close and I should get off the water. Luckily, I knew better and hadn't even launched yet. About 20 minutes later, lightning cracks, wind picks up and the sky drops buckets of water. Boy was I glad I waited. It was 3:00pm by the time I launched, which was actually just right for the slack tide. I quickly got into a scuffle with a 22.5" Sheepie that nearly broke me off on the piling.

Not too long after, I fought into submission a 25.5" and a 24.5" convict to become my 4th and 5th release citation sheepies for the year.

It started raining again so I started heading in. The wind never got bad though, which was nice. Feeling good about my catches, I got off the water and headed over to the captains meeting for the big tourney coming the next day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Late Summer Cold Front Bassin'

There was a time in my life when football took precedence over fishing.  But in the last couple of years, that's changed.  My desire to get on the kayak and feel the water got pretty strong, and my first chance to get out was late Sunday afternoon.  With the winds blowing 20-30kts down in my favorite saltwater spots, I decided to stick close to home.   It definitely felt too early to dust off the waders, but the temperature dropped enough and I had to resort to the chest high breathables and long sleeves. 

I started with a black double colorado blade spinnerbait and got a bunch of short strikes.  Eventually I got one to hook up and landed this feisty little smallmouth bass who was fond of getting airborne.

I switched to a small white grub to find a few sunfish and tried using them to catch flathead catfish.  I found the bream along the bank around some fallen trees, but the catfish were nowhere to be found.  I casted the spinnerbait again as I soaked the baits and hooked up to one more...

It's a little unusual for me not to find any catfish this time of year, but at least I got to tango with a few smallies.  On a side note, I did see some BIG carp.  I went home a little after dark, made some chili, had a beer, checked the scores and called it a good day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Yak Catch Fish Bag - Gear Review

As a conservation minded angler, I now release the vast majority of the keepable fish I catch.  But sometimes I target a species that isn't being overfished nor in serious decline.  Plus, there's always something special about harvesting food for yourself and/or your family (as long it's done responsibly).

For a while I just put the fish I caught on a stringer and tied it off to the side of the kayak.  But on the long trips with strong current, the stringer full of keeper size fish became a drag, literally.  The kayak was slowed down considerably when I was paddling or it was pulled by the current quicker than I'd like when I was trying to stay over certain structure.  So I'd have to haul the stringer over the gunwale often to relieve the drag for a bit then put it back in the water.  It was annoying and tiresome to say the least.  Also, if you catch something you plan on keeping early in the trip, that might mean you're going to drag that fish around for another 5-6 hours.  I've done it.  It sucked.  For the shorter trips in places with less current, the stringer didn't bother me.  Or if it was already very cold, I could just put the fish in the kayak hatch.  But in the heat of the summer, you might as well be baking the fish if it wasn't in the water or on ice.  

Kayak Kevin's buddy Lee Williams suggested the idea of a fish bag that we could put inside the yak and I started searching the internet.  I met another guy out at the CBBT who was utilizing it and he like it a lot.  So, I went ahead and tested out the Yak Catch Fish Bag in medium from HOOK1 for myself.

I like the crate organization system made by Precision Pak, so I figured this fish bag would be just as well thought out.  I think for most kayaks, it would be easy to strap to the top with the attached clips.  The guy I met out on the water put his inside the front hatch and just scooted forward to access it.  If you have a kayak with a rod pod, you can access it easily through there. 

There is a removable PVC liner bag for easy cleaning.  The insulated bag is made with durable 600D polyester PU, lined with 300D PVC and fully padded with 2mm PE foam.  Honestly, I have no idea what that means.  I just copied that from their website.  But what I can tell you is that a small bag of ice will last at least 5-6 hours in mid 80 degree temps.  A little will melt, but the fish will definitely keep cold.  I'm thinking of investing in several of the re-freezable gel packs as well.  Also, you can keep frozen bottles of water in the bag to help keep things cool and as they thaw slowly, it will be refreshing.  

For those that want to strap it to the top, there are bungee cords and other tool storage slots.  Also there is a long centered waterproof zipper for easy access.  Plus, it's got a carrying handle and shoulder strap so you can easily transport it from your vehicle to your kayak.  There are two other sizes (small and large), but the medium fits inside the Ocean Kayak Trident 13 well.  I can still stow my rods toward the rear of the the kayak and there is still plenty of room for other things.  During the Catching for Kids Tournament I was able to fit two 12" spadefish, two 15.5" togs and one 22.25" tog so the bag can definitely hold plenty of fish.  I probably could have fit a flounder or two in there as well.  I lost a lot of ice that day because it was extremely hot and we were out there for nearly 11hrs.  But the fish were still cool when I got to shore.

Over all, I'm very happy with the product and anytime I plan on keeping fish in warm weather, I'm bringing it with me. 

If you're interested, visit Hook1's website and checkout the Yak Catch Fish Bag by Precision Pak. Use code ANGLINGADDICT for 10% off!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Brown and White Redemption

My first cobia charter didn't go quite according to plan.  Mistake after mistake and a few uncontrollable circumstances landed me the skunk.  So when my boss got a call from Captain Tony Horsley, saying this is probably our last chance before the cold front comes through and closes the curtain on the exiting fish, we jumped on it.

After meeting the captain and his mate over at Bell Island Marina, we launched and headed straight for the ocean.  Almost all the other cobia sight casting charter captains had already given up on the season.  But Capt. Tony knows his stuff, and got us on plenty of fish.

I still felt anxious standing in the tower, but this time, my bucktail found the target and I was able to pick a fight with the brown clown.  And it was a great fight at that!
My first ever hooked and landed cobia @ 44"
Photo credit Bob Shepherd.

We probably saw around 30-35 fish, hooked about 18 to 20 of them, and landed 10.  We had a few chances at 2 or 3 big slobs, but things just didn't work out.  I had another wrapped tip like last time, I accidentally threw an eel into my boss' line, and nerves got the better of me, again.  But none the less, we had an excellent time.

Later in the afternoon the wind picked up and seas got a little rougher, but Tony's 26' SeaFox handled it well.  The ride back in was definitely more enjoyable than last time since I finally had that monkey off my back.

So next year, if you get a hankering to try sight casting to one of the top predators in Virginia waters, give Capt. Tony Horsley of Bowed Up Fishing Charters a call.  804-513-7744.  The man is passionate about finding and catching these fish.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Traffic Court Excuses

No, I wasn't caught speeding on my way to go fishing.  I had some expired tags and I forgot about the state inspection.  The thing is, I was pulled over in Virginia Beach.  That meant I had to make a trip back to Virginia Beach for court.  Naturally, I brought my kayak to the courthouse and tried not to daydream about fishing too much.

Both tickets were dismissed since I took care of the problem issues quickly.  I paid my court fees, changed into my fishing clothes and made my way to the tackle shop.  They didn't have any fiddlers and I didn't want to drive 20 minutes to the other tackle shop.  So I decided to just go with clams and focus on the spades.  

The wind was a little worse than predicted and the swells were definitely bigger than I thought they'd be.  I checked my phone to make sure the line of storms were veering away, and they were.  The surf was looking not-so-pretty, but just past it didn't look that bad.  So I launched.  It was rough.  

I got hit by another big wave about half a mile out.  Most of them were small 1-2 ft waves but this  rogue 5-6 footer was building then started breaking right in front of me at a slight angle.  Luckily I had just enough time to turn straight into it and I got as vertical as I've ever been in a kayak.  It soaked me, but I didn't lose anything.  I definitely would have turtled if I hadn't straightened out.

I told myself, if I ran into another one of those, I'd turn back.  But I didn't.  It got better and the wind calmed a bit as I got to the target area.  The baby bluefish were out in force and annoying as hell.  But eventually I hooked into a decent spadefish.

After that, I had a hard time finding any more.  I tried the clams on the bottom to see if togs or sheepies wanted any, but that didn't work either.  Just after sunset, I made it back to the launch area and heard the roar of the surf.  I knew I needed to utilize the rod pod.  I put away everything that was expensive and tried to time the sets of waves.  I paddled in behind a wave and just as my bow was about to hit the sand a massive wave crashed right behind me and sent my kayak flying.  Luckily I was able to stay in it and keep it straight.  I was completely drenched, but once again glad I didn't lose anything.  

I talked to Justin as I was packing up and we decided to hit up the HRBT after I grabbed a bite to eat.  The wind dropped out and the swells were non-existent by the time we launched.  The baby 10"-15" bluefish were literally everywhere under the bridge.  Mixed in, we found some grey trout, small speckled trout and a few schoolie stripers, too.  
Right around slack tide, I found several flounder and Justin managed to find a beautiful 25" redfish.
I got pretty tired and left around 2:30am.  Justin's crazy ass stayed out there until 5:30am.  I bet the bite got good when the current got running and I'm sure he'll have a good report up soon.  He had an awesome home-made lure he was trying out too.  Check it out!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Camping

I didn't get much time to fish, but that wasn't the point of this trip.  It was the annual Labor Day weekend Choi family camping trip and it went off without a hitch.  The weather was nice and surprisingly, the traffic wasn't too bad.  We switched it up from last years location of Sherando Lake to Kiptopeke State Park.  My parents, my brother, his fiance, my wife, two kids and dog made the trip across the bay for a long weekend of campfire hijinks and beach time antics.

My dad fished the pier and ended up doing well with two keeper flounder at 19" and 22" on live gudgeons. Sorry, no pics.  He had them cut up before I had a chance to take pictures.  It's pretty awesome to have super fresh sashimi at campsite.  I hung out at the pier for a bit and was quickly reminded of how awesome it is to be on the kayak.  The pier was crowded with "interesting" people and personalities some of which I cared not to be around for very long.  Not to mention the line tangles from errant casts of the guy 20 feet down the pier from you.  All the prime spots were already taken and some drunk guy sang the same terrible song over and over, and over again, loudly, in a another language!  The dude was definitely hammered.
I got one chance to take out the kayak and it was only for a short time.  I targeted flounder then dropped fiddlers for a bit.  I hooked up to a what felt like a good size flounder...

...but after a few seconds, it came off.  I should have waited one more second to set the hook since I was using the 7"Gulp Jerkshad.  Oh well.  I ended up with the skunk, but it was better than getting the evil eye from the family for staying out too long.

T'was good times and I'll get my pullage soon enough.

Hope you all had a good holiday weekend as well.

Tagged Tog Info

I love learning about the species I target, so whenever I catch a tagged fish I look forward to receiving the information about it.  The last time I went out fishing I caught a tagged tautog and called in the number.  I got the info from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission in the mail the other day and just thought I'd share it with others who might also be interested in this type of thing.

It was originally tagged by Rob Collins of Norfolk, VA.  Caught and tagged at the 1st island of the CBBT on March 20, 2011, the little guy was 13.75".  153 days later I caught it at the same place and it was 15.5".  It was in excellent condition and must have been eating good since it grew 1.75" in about 5 months.  It's my understanding the rate of growth slows down dramatically when they get larger (like with most species).

I usually release tagged fish so the research can go on, but I was fishing the Catching for Kids tournament and I kept it. 

Over the last 3 or 4 years I've caught several tagged fish and usually I get a T shirt or a tackle storage box, but this time I got a cool tautog pin.  Thought that was pretty neat.

It's about an inch and a half long