I was actually caught off guard. After finding the right time to ask the boss lady if I could go for big reds this weekend, she looked at me with a sharp glare... "It's not that I don't want you to go. I'm just so tired of you coming home and whining like a baby about getting skunked again and again." Cringing from the salt that just got dumped on my festering wound I thought "so that's a yes?"
This would be my 7th trip in a month. Many Eastern Shore regulars as well as several first timers watched me strike out over and over as their reports of successful trips, I admit, drove me wild with jealousy. The ill-fated timing... that one bad knot... the enslaving wind forecasts... and all the tiny on-the-water decisions that cut me with every could-have-been replayed themselves as my frustration got worse and worse.
But with so many friends cheering me on, I finally made it to the big drum party.
|Photo courtesy of Joe Underwood ©2013|
An entourage showed up at the Wise Point boat ramp on Memorial Day morning and we scouted the area thoroughly. In the mix was mister YakAttack himself, Luther Cifers, and his son Tyler who had just graduated two days before. Luther was on a mission to get his soon-to-be Virginia Tech Hokie on a big red.
One of the stars of this spring's drum run, Joe Underwood, hooked up first on the troll. I immediately turned around and paddled toward the school. After spooking two reds right in front of me, I tossed my swimbait passed the area they were going and hooked up with the quickness. It shot straight at me as I furiously reeled in the slack line. I saw the giant go under the kayak and rush off in the opposite direction I was headed. While spinning the kayak, I thumbed the spool a little too hard and *pop*. Expletives exploded out of my mouth as I slammed the rod tip into the water. Immediately, I grabbed the trolling rod and start casting, but no dice. After things settled, Joe landed a nice 47"er and I started feeling a little déjà vu from a few weeks ago where I busted off a big red while others landed theirs.
But the day was young and the search resumed. Joe was flanked by Luther on one side and me on the other when he made visual contact. Since he already landed one, he let his true character shine by backing off and letting Luther, me, and a few others take our shots. I couldn't see the fish from my angle, but I noticed a difference in the surface ripples and put my swimbait out in front of it. I hooked up again. And broke off again, even with looser drag. I didn't have time to lament at that moment since I knew the fish were there. An almost panicky feeling came over me as I grabbed my other rod. I fan casted the area and paddled in the direction the school was going, but again, we lost them. After lingering in the area, a little while later William Ragulsky picked up a nice one on the troll and much to Luther's delight, Tyler got a 42" while casting.
Photo courtesy of Luther Cifers ©2013
I decided to put away the rod and reel that broke off twice. After putting a lot of pressure on that 30# braid over the last two years (e.g. big reds and sharks at Sandbridge) I should have changed it out earlier. My 50# spinning set up became the go-to and when I hooked up while blind casting, it held up to the test. It was one of those hook ups where I hadn't even started cranking yet. Just as I was closing the bail, the line came tight and the acappella from my drag grabbed everyone's attention. Part of me wanted to tighten it up, but after the last two hook ups, to say that I was nervous would be an understatement. When I finally had it in my lap and stretched it to the end of my 4ft ruler, a sigh of relief came over not only me, but everyone else there who knew about the overweight monkey on my back.
|Photos courtesy of Joe Underwood ©2013|
As the day progressed, the wind's crescendo put a sour note on our search for more big reds. Alex Britland and I met the notorious Wicked Pissah himself, Joe Maccini, in the back of a creek slinging little puppy drum with his spinnerbait on every cast.
We crashed his party of one and proceeded to hootin' and hollerin' with him about how fun the little reds were on light tackle. The action was literally non-stop. Had I not forgotten the tagging kit, I would have ran out of tags fairly quickly. I even pulled out the big 10wt, which was intended for the big girls, but was still fun with little reds up to 19".
Too bad there's no rest for the weary as I'll be after number 4 soon.