Sunday, April 29, 2012

Catchin' Fishies with Her Royal Goobness

I took a break from my personal conquests to water the fishing seeds within my lil' stinker dinkers kiddos.  My 3 and 1/2 year old was hoping for a ride in daddy's boat, but didn't stay disappointed for long when I found her princess rod.  After promising her a trip in the kayak when it warms up, we were off to the local pond.

While I tried to keep Miles (18 months) from jumping into the water (no fear what so ever), Natalie patiently watched her bobber.  She asked the fishies nicely to come get her worm and it wasn't long before squeals of delight scared away the ducks.

Natalie's first fish of 2012

All giddy and silly...  
touching the fish...  laughing...
She's a total goob...  

But then again, I can only think of one person she could have gotten it from.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eastern Shore Search Continues...

In the glitter, sometimes the water plays tricks on you.  Shapes and colors seem to appear then disappear in the blink of an eye.  It's almost like you want it so bad that your mind thinks it's there for a split second.  But when you finally, and actually, see that big red drum, it's unmistakable.

Unfortunately, the water clarity has been terrible lately and conditions have been tough.  I got out on my birthday for 6 hours and despite good reports from Ric Burnley and Kevin earlier in the week, I got the skunk.  My next excursion came 5 days later on the 20th.  After meeting Kevin, Lee, Shante and Damien at the launch, I was hoping for one of those crazy epic days.  But visibility was still minimal so trolling became the name of the game.  My 6" paddle tail was first to get a hit.

I knew fairly quickly after the first few seconds into the fight that it wasn't the big red I had come for.

Not that I'm complaining about a 40" striper.

Lee got the next striper at 43".  Damien was next up but the fish spit the hook early in the fight.  Lee came up with one more after that measuring around 33".

We met a few familiar faces and after a while without a hook up, took a break on an exposed shoal.
From left to right: Chuck Wrenn, Kevin, Shante, Lee Damien, Wayne Bradby, and Mo Todd. 
Shante found a cool little butterfly ray in a few inches of water.
After the ray got to deeper water that concluded the action for that day.  I ended up being the last to leave...  after spending nearly 12 hours on the water, still craving that bull ride.

The next morning, I rolled up to the launch to find Matt Anderson getting ready to pursue the same target so we joined forces.

Clear blue morning quickly changed to navigation testing fog.  

We ended with the skunk.

But the search will continue...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday Bull Ridin'

We waited anxiously.  More than a few phone calls exchanged theories on moon cycles, water temps, past seasons, weather windows, family commitments and of course the unforgiving work schedule.  By the time I got my stars lined up, Kayak Kevin and Jay Brooks had already clocked in a couple days earlier in the week and both had a notch on their belt to show for it.

My turn.

Kevin was waiting for me when I pulled up to the launch and as I got things ready, he quickly "branded" my kayak.  Holes were drilled, rivets got popped and before I knew it, I had one of his big DVD quality cameras attached to my bow.   I couldn't help but feel like it was part of a gang initiation :) I'm totally in!

Yeah, I know.  I'm a dork.  Anyway, we searched all around the Eastern Shore.  The channels, the shoals, the flats, they all came up empty.  5 hours passed quickly and as the wind grew bothersome, the sun also neared the horizon.  The last segment of the well calculated route had us near a drop off so we anchored up on the incoming tide.  I threw out two carolina rigged whole crabs; one on a big conventional reel and the other on a big spinning set up.  Normally I don't use my spinning rod for chunking bait, but I really wanted to double my chances.  Not too long after, the loop I put in the line-clip of my spinning reel gets pulled out and my 50lb braid is flying off my spool.  I close the bail and hold on tight.

After a few exhilarating runs coupled with the tell-tale headshakes, I released the anchor and quickly found myself on a bull red drawn sleigh ride with a nice sunset backdrop.

The 43"er is a welcome start to the red drum season.  The cherry on top is that it was the first big fish I tagged for the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program.  

Kevin wasn't able to hook up but was happy none the less that I got on the board.  I'm sure he'll be out there as soon as weather and work allow.  Best of luck to him and whoever else decides to venture out in search of that infamous bullride. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

RVA Stripers

It definitely seems like all the local migrations are happening earlier this year. 
The warm water temps are expediting the process and I, like most fishermen, am not complaining.  The magic of this time of year is more than welcome as many of the popular sport fishing species enter our local waters and get our juices flowing.

Reports of bluefish, puppy drum, flounder, speckled trout, and stripers pepper the local forums.  Togs are also readily available, but remember the closed season starts on April 16th this year.  A few regulations have changed for some of the species, so check out this site if you're not up to date.

The local rivers are also experiencing peak spring populations of anadromous species.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to paddle out on the James River after work.  Making my first paddle strokes a mere 5 minutes from home was also a warm welcome.  Richmond, VA (RVA) boasts a great venue to take in this special time of year.  Near the I-95 bridge, the hickory shad action was on fire from the first cast at 7pm until I decided to scoot down river around 7:45.  I was hooking up on almost every cast.  If I let my orange and green shad fly sink near the bottom, the white perch were all over it.  After keeping a couple of each for bait, I drifted down and set up two fish finder rigs just above a good size hole.  The little catfish up to 28"were incessant, but every once in a while, I'd hook up a 26"-28"striper.

I was hoping for either a big bertha kitty or a striper that was bigger than "schoolie" size.  It wasn't long and my wish was granted in the form a 38" clicker-squealing heifer.

Various striper lures should work well over the next couple of weeks, including topwater poppers near the fall line rocks. 

 If I don't find myself looking for other highly anticipated saltwater species, I'll be back on the river chasing RVA kitties n stripers.  Hope you get out to your favorite spring fishing destination soon.