Sunday, May 27, 2012

Taggin' some Flatties

After hangin' with Sammons and not getting any personal footage of the flounder action, I went to the HRBT the next evening to remedy that.  I got there at the beginning of the incoming tide and quickly found them hungry and aggressive.

I ended up with 8, going 19", 18.5", 21.5", 15", 17", 14", 16.5", and 17".  All were tagged and released except the 16.5"er (flopped out before tagging) and one of the 17"ers got gut hooked.  I try not to take too long before setting the hook since flounder are notorious for completely woofing down the lure/bait (especially smaller lures), just as much as they are known for soft lipping a bait before eating.  If I were using big 2oz jig heads and 6"-7" Gulps at the first island I may wait several seconds after the initial hit before setting the hook, but with 3"-4" lures I wait about 2 seconds.  If it's one of those days that I start off swinging and missing, then I'll add a few seconds before setting the hook.  I'd rather be a little early than gut hook a fish. Anyway, this 17"er was different.  I felt it hit at the top of my jig (when my rod tip is at it's highest) and by the time it got to the bottom, the lure was already down the hatch.  I didn't have a stringer or cooler in the car, so Jared (near by kayak angler) was the recipient of a nice keeper flounder.

Another thing flounder are notorious for is violent thrashing and flopping once they are landed in the kayak.  For the bigger flatties, I utilize the rod pod as what Kevin emphatically likes to label...  "the hurt locker".

They can also be tricky when trying to get a decent pic.
(Enjoy the goofy facial expressions)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Legend Among Legends

I knew about the scheduled visit months in advance but only managed to get out for one of the three days that Jim Sammons was in Virginia.  In fact, it was the last day and Kevin had been trying to get Jim on big red drum for some time.  

When I walked into the lodge, bags upon bags of gear, rods and reels, and big video cameras were all over the dining room table and spreading out across the floor.  The familiar face of The Kayak Fishing Show along with the producer/videographer and the narrating voice, Will Richardson, and the full Kayak Kevin crew (Kevin, Lee, Damien & Shante) were getting ready to hit the water.  It was an honor to be invited to fish with a legend among legends of this sport.

Unfortunately, our hopes for filming big red drum did not come to fruition.  Challenging conditions coupled with bad timing was frustrating to say the least not only for me (6th time out without a big red) but obviously for Jim and Will having traveled so far... and of course Kevin who worked so hard to try to make it happen for Jim.   

Jim taking a break

We tried to make the best of it by switching gears and found the flounder bite on fire.  Jigging various soft plastics got everybody on some action.  I also found some hermit crabs and gave them a shot for tautog, but came up empty.

Lunch time for Will, Lee and Kevin 
Tog Candy

Somehow, I forgot to take any video footage or pictures of the flounder action for my blog and before I knew it, it was time to head back in.  After an impromptu cookout back at the lodge, with adult beverages in hand, we sincerely hoped they had enough footage for their show.

Will went on to show us some truly breathtaking photos of Jim's escapades that really showcased how far he has pushed the boundaries of this sport we love.  I felt very privileged to be in such company and profoundly hoped it wouldn't be the last.  

The line up
Shante, Lee, Rob, Jim, Will, Kevin, and Damien

(photo credit: Kevin Whitley and Jay Brooks)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

YakAttack - CVA HOW Tourney

A little ways off a two lane country road, near the YakAttack and Appomattox River Company's hometown of Farmville, we got together for some kayak bass fishin', pig pickin', camp fire shenanigans, and of course help out the Central Virginia Chapter of Heroes on the Water.

Captain's meeting - 59 registered anglers and many volunteers there to help

The camaraderie at this event was second to none.  With the absence of strong egos and drama, everyone was there for the same reason.  There was no shortage of smiles, jokes, and simple good times with the spirit of competition.  There was also no shortage of amazing food.  Luther Cifers of YakAttack, along with his family provided ribs and ribeyes after the Captain's meeting on Friday and a full pig was pulled on Saturday after the awards ceremony.  The spread they put out was simply amazing and definitely worth more than the entry fee alone. Throw in two huge tables covered in generously donated raffle items and the knowledge that all the proceeds go to help HOW, it's a win-win for everyone.

After helping to unload all the kayaks for the vets, who were expected a few hours later, I launched to an amazing sunrise.

Left:  Phillip Ruckart and son.    Right:  Chuck Wrenn

Doug Gibson

The Jersey Boys

As the morning progressed the wind picked up, making things very challenging.  I was able to scrounge up one little 11" largemouth, before the air horn let me know that the vets were almost at the launch.  Upon meeting up with the other volunteers, I was relieved to know that I was not the only one having a tough time with the fish.  We all switched gears and went into guide mode as the vets got off the van.  

Tina Shank making sure the vet is comfortable and safe  

I paired up with Jerry, who had done this once before and was eager to get on the water.  I didn't ask him, but for someone who uses a walker and obviously has limited mobility while on land, it had to feel pretty darn good to be just like everyone else in a kayak and have that sense of freedom on the water.

Although we didn't catch anything, I know he had a good time...  flirting with Tina, joking around, yelling at his buddies on the water... he wanted to go right back out after lunch!

At the awards ceremony Jim Shank said something that I couldn't help nodding my head to.  We know that the vets get something out of going out on the water. That's why this program exists.  But the volunteers also get something.  Knowing that we're helping and giving back is quite the reward.  

When the veteran gets off the water and thanks you for spending that time with them, it makes you want to keep doing it.  

A big thank you to everyone who made this possible... Tina and Jim Shank, the YakAttack family, all the sponsors and people who donated, and everyone that came out to support the event.  Congrats to all the winners of the tournament.  I had an absolutely amazing time.  It was great to meet new people, put faces to some names, and catch up with good friends.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Unpleasantries and a Switcharoo

I got out on the Eastern Shore for about 6 hours or so.  After finding a nice stretch of clear water, as luck would have it, the sun got covered up.  Needless to say, sight casting was a no-go.  And without crabs, trolling was my only option.
The higher than predicted winds, made for a wet and bumpy paddle, but I stuck with it and hooked up 9 times!  Unfortunately, they were all cownose rays.  My dislike of the nuisances are right up there with deer on the side of the road. 

I saw a few big sharks, one dead sea turtle, one bright orange sea turtle (live), a boater hooked up to what looked like (and acted like) a big spinner shark, and on the way back in I got stuck on the flat at low tide.  Dragging the kayak to deeper water is unpleasant to say the least.

Next weekend, I'll be switching things up and trying my luck for bass and other sweetwater species.  May 18-19 is the 5th Annual YakAttack Tournament for Heroes on the Water (Central VA chapter) in Farmille, VA.  If you're in the area (or not) and want to come check it out, I hear the food is incredible (Luther roasts a whole pig and several chickens), the people are super friendly, there are lots of great raffle items, and it's all for a great cause!  There's a place to camp out, have a few drinks, and talk fishing by the fire.  So come on out, it's going to be fun!

Click for more info

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Decisions, Decisions.

I rubbed the sleepy crumbs from my eyes as the first rays of light streaked the sky.  I was there when the gate opened and not long after I was ready to launch.  Just as I was about to push off, Matt Anderson pulls up to the ramp.  Decision one... I resisted the urge to launch ahead and waited for him to get things ready.  A short while later, we both get on the water, but after a mere 50 ft of paddling, Justin Mayer showed up.  Apparently my phone calls the day before helped make his decision to join me.  Not that he needs much convincing.  He had pretty decent luck earlier in the week (a couple 37" stripers and a 42" red).  As we waited for him, Tripp Seed shows up.

I should have just launched when I was ready.

It's a good thing I like fishing with those guys because I definitely wouldn't have waited otherwise.  I had a pretty good idea of where the fish should be and after the long paddle, trolling all the way, Justin hooks up first.  Just before the hook up, we both decided to veer to the right as the other guys went left.  Good choice... strong headshakes lead to a crazy fast sleigh ride.  My next decision was critical.  Do I cast or do I film?  I just made a new monopod that extends to 6 ft and wanted to test it out, so filming it was.  Tripp casted and quickly hooked up.  After a few minutes, I couldn't take it anymore and put the camera down. Unfortunately, the school was gone.  Tripp's fish came off and Justin landed a real behemoth.


Congrats, Justin. 
That was it.  All day... 12+ hours on the water.... almost 25 miles of paddling...

At least I got some good footage.  

But you know darn well it won't be long before I'm back on the hunt.