Monday, July 30, 2012

Chunkin' in the Marsh

Hiding in the grass like a marsh ninja

Hooked up!

But it's not what I had in mind.  Can you guess what it is?

Giant sting ray

 I ended up catching several of these gargantuan rays 
as well as a few small sharks...

...and a couple of these pretty little things.

Late Afternoon Piling Hunt

After some back and forth deliberating on whether it would be worth it or not, 
I finally got on the water at 4pm.

Glad I did...

The conditions weren't the best with wind and current making things quite difficult.  However, the little spades were easy for the pickin', along with this little guy...

After switching over to fiddlers, 
it didn't take me long to hunt down a fiesty little tog.

The highlight of the short jaunt was a trophy sheepshead.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Under the Bridge and Dreaming

We launched to down-right-sexy conditions.  The sun, barely over the horizon, peeked through a loose patchwork of clouds.  Air temps were perfect.  The wind was but a whisp and current crept at a snails pace.  Add the excellent water clarity and it was hard to imagine a more perfect scene.  It was as if the goddess of the sea was flirting with our senses... and easily stealing our hearts.

She let us peek 5-6 ft into her underworld and the things I saw made my jaw drop.  I've seen decent numbers of spades before, but this time, the size is what blew my mind.  Staring down through the refracting light and seeing the tight schools of massive, near citation spadefish almost felt like a surreal dream.  I couldn't get them to eat, but did end up picking a fight with some of the smaller ones.

Best of the day for me was a 15"er.

We hung around the rocks when the current picked up and quickly got into a good number of triggerfish.

Richie Bekolay with a nice 17.5" Trigger

We all know that the sea tends to be moody and that day was no different.  The good graces of the morning did not last long and by 2pm, she was on the verge of showing her nasty side.  We were slapped with a stiff head wind for the majority of trip back then thunder grumbled just as we got to shore.  We bid her adieu, but the spell she put on us will not be broken anytime soon.  We'll be back.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crazy Hotness and the Itty Bitties

It almost sounds like a band name, doesn't it?  "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome The Crazy Hotness and the Itty Bitties with their hit single... Swamp Butt".  Seriously though, it was stupid hot.  But with hopes of catch up to Jay Brooks and Justin Mayer in the race to VA Saltwater Expert Angler, I braved the heat with several bottles of frozen water and ventured out under the CBBT.  Much to my surprise several other kayak anglers were out in search of that addictive tug.  It was nice to meet some new guys and see a few others that I recognized. 

The action was almost as hot...

Caught a few flounder up to 16.5" while jigging soft plastics.
Also met a guy who had a nice 20"er earlier in the day.
There were plenty of what Lee Williams likes to call "ChesaFreak bay Oyster Toads"

Dropped some fiddler crabs to the bottom and found a few tautog up to 15"

And you can't drop fiddlers in the summer without running into a few of these... Black Sea Bass.  Normally, they're extremely small. 
I was surprised to find some in the 10"-11" range.

I switched to clams and found the ever-so-fun spadefish.  Some friends went out earlier in the week and got into better class of fish, but the biggest for me was a mere 9".  At least there were lots of them to keep me entertained.
On a side note, I recaptured a spadefish that I tagged 6 hrs earlier.... it was still on the exact same piling!  I wonder if they'll send me a t-shirt for that.  I mean it was a tagged fish, right?

So in the end, it was a veritable buffet of itty bitties and no check off the citation list.  I did have one bite and hook up that still has my imagination running wild.  I was under the same piling that I caught a near citation tog at last summer.  It went on three absolutely amazing runs, then I used the remote to start recording on the GoPro... I get a little slack in the line and the fish gets off.  A boat near by gives me the "Aww man, that sucks... that really looked like a good one".  Pardon my language at the end of the video clip.  But notice the vein sticking out of my neck during the slow mode...

Monday, July 2, 2012

CBBT Critterpalooza

After waiting out a storm, and launching over an hour later than expected, the first thing I saw was a cobia thrashing on some bait.  I quickly grabbed the bucktail rod that I specifically brought just in case that scenario presented itself, but by the time I turned back around it was gone.  After searching a while, I switched to dropping mole crabs.

First up, a nice hard fighting 22" sheepshead.  

Next, a not-so-good looking schoolie striper.

Then, after a few croakers, I switched over to clams and tried for spades.  I didn't see any or get any bites at the usual spot and the current was brutal, so I took refuge on the down current side of the island.    It was a good opportunity to look for big black drum that sometimes hang out in the rocks near the surface, but that was also fruitless.  Next, I turned my efforts towards triggerfish and quickly hooked up to a bunch of baby black sea bass.  Normally, I'd be pretty irritated but after remembering that they were on the list, I got to tagging.  Eventually, I got a slightly different kind of hit and slowly reeled in to find a triggerfish chasing the empty jig head.  I rebaited and caught the aggressive little guy.  Sorry no pic.  He was only 11".  Tagged and released.

I kept at it and after a while, noticed an itty bitty little thing just under the surface... something I've never seen before.  

After doing some homework, I'm pretty sure it's a juvenile Banded Rudderfish.  It stayed under my kayak for quite some time, darting out every once in a while.

I love finding new species!

After eating a snack while watching my little buddy peek out from under me, I switched back to mole crabs and brought up something I've never caught before.

Bergall aka Cunner

Like tautog, it's a member of the wrasse family.   

I braved the current again to try jigging for flounder, but only became frustrated.  The water was just too fast.  After losing a few 2oz jigs and not getting any bites, I went back to the island.  Eventually the current slowed down, but only for a little while.  The incoming was also predicted to be very fast, so my window of opportunity was short.  I went back to find the spades.  They were little, but at least I got some.

Even the little ones put a bend in the rod
Wee lil' 8" spade
One right after another

Like predicted, the slack current didn't last long.  And after tagging several of the baby spades, and getting a serious work out from all the one arm paddling, I had to call it a day.

The paddle back seemed to take forever... giving me a chance to think about the tough but interesting day.