Friday, December 26, 2014

Bananas, Fish Heads, and Bent Jigs

I finally got around to editing the footage from last winter's mothership trip (link).  There aren't many fish in the video, but it should still be entertaining.  Bad juju, bad knots, bad sharks, sometimes that's just the way it goes...

Evil Bastards

Hope you all had a great holiday season.
May the new year bring many more adventures on the water for us all.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Long Drift

3:15 AM, I-64 East
5:40 AM, I look up at the dark sky,
say thank you for the opportunity
and take my first paddle strokes out of Kiptopeke.

Jack Daughtry, Matt James, Ragulsky, and Tex met me shortly after sunrise to catch the incoming tide.  We put out two eels each and drifted 
and drifted...

and drifted...

After joining the fleet of other striper hunters, I was hoping to scope nets scooping big fish.  
Unfortunately, the only entertainment for the day turned out to be a couple of boaters threatening to beat each other up over the radio.

In slick calm conditions we drifted to Old Plantation Light then all the way back to Kiptopeke.
We marked a lot of bait, had pelicans diving around us nearly all day, then got rained on.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall Marathon

It was perfect.  
So perfect, that Lee went to work,
checked the weather, 
then decided that work didn't need him that day.  
 The text came in at 6:30 am saying "Leaving work. Togging it is today."
I happened to be sleeping on his couch at that moment.  
Jeff Lockhart and I got in around 1:15 am 
after fishing part one of what will turn out to be 
... a great fall marathon.

Mountain range leaf piles lined my sidewalk as we loaded two Trident 13s on my little hatchback.  After three and a half hours of raking both the front and back runways,  I was cleared for departure.   On our way out of town, traffic cone remnants of the Richmond Marathon bid us adieu as we refined plans for our upcoming fishing binge. 

Right on schedule, an hour and forty later, Billy Ragulsky (aka Willy Rags) was stocking up on his favorite lures at Ocean's East 2.  We all picked up live blue and green crabs for the next day's target specie and bolted to one of our favorite late fall spots for that evening's quarry, speckled trout.  The tide started dropping about an hour before we launched so we set up at the mouth of a creek and started casting.  Bait flickered here and there, which gave us hope.  Unfortunately, none of us had any hits.  Various Mirrolures, dines, PBs, topwaters, jerkbaits, and soft plastics didn't get the reaction we wanted.  So, we started trolling around the flat and that was the ticket.  I dragged a Procure smeared purple demon Mirrolure on one line and a 1/4oz jighead n dark bodied paddletail on another while the other guys kept to their confidence lures of choice.  The majority of my take-downs happened near the edge of the flat where it started to drop off.  Once I located a group of fish, I would try casting the same lures, but I couldn't get a hit.  And as soon as I trolled by, I would hook up again.  This has happened to me before many times and I always found it interesting.  In any case, we all had an amazing night.  20"-23" trout were prevalent as we all stopped counting how many we had of those.  Jeff ended the night with a new personal best at 26".  I scored two trophies at 25" and 26.5" and the extra point striper at 19" was good.  Willy Rags landed a big diva over 28" that threw a hissy fit on the hawg trough and refused a photo op.

26.5" Speckled Trout

The alarm hadn't gone off yet.  
Bleary eyed... 
I reached over... 
read the text and put it back down on the coffee table.  
Eyes closed, I processed what it meant.  
Smile creeping... 
the day just got way more interesting.

The water was like glass most of the day and in true form, Lee was on fire.  The bite in general was hot, but as Lee says in his own words... "I'm so much better at this than anyone else."  He was hooking up on every drop and laughing at you when you drop on the same hole and...

Over and over again.

Lee was pure entertainment all day and caught 25-30 togs with a lot of them going between 17"-19". Jeff caught another personal best at 18.5" and now understands why we get so excited about togs.  Billy had good numbers with a nice one coming on a crab tipped jighead.  Kevin showed up later on and scored decent numbers as well.  With the weather as nice as it was, several others were out on the tog hunt including a few Maryland Boys and some guys from local forums.  Everyone was pulling in fish, but for whatever reason, I started off slow.

Jeff Lockhart's new personal best tog at 18.5"
Lee Williams

Several little females had this cool yellowish tone.

William Ragulsky with a tog on jig.
Lee "____ 'em up" Williams

It took a little while, but I did find my rhythm.  Eventually, with everyone hanging around the same set of pilings, talking smack, I set the hook into one that got me a little more excited...

"oh ..."

I lucked out with the group's biggest of the day at 20.5"

I ended with 12-15 togs with a bunch in the 17"-18" range and the one over 20".  
Satisfied, we paddled back in on flat water.  

An hour later, Billy, Jeff and I found ourselves standing in line at the gas station convenience store still in waders, reeking.  Hoping for an encore of the previous night's escapades we rushed back to the same spot while cramming down some grub.  

The bite wasn't quite as good but I still wrangled over a dozen in three hours or so.  In contrast from the night before, my first five were caught casting instead of trolling.  Then when that bite turned off, I switched to trolling and found them again.  We got rained on a bit but that didn't bother us much.  With rain jackets and the hits coming steady we weren't fazed at all.  My biggest for the night went 26". Billy scratched another trophy as well at 24".

Thirty three and a half hours after we left, Jeff and I arrived back in Richmond chuckling at the luck we had.  The wind was virtually non existent the entire time and each leg of the marathon was an absolute blast.  I got the pullage I was craving and a good number of groceries to fillet.  

I got my yard work done.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Haps

My homie was like...
"Yo Rob, what's the haps
why you ain't been postin' no mo?"

and I was like...

... priorities"

But check it... here's the haps...
I've been catching a few fall fish here and there, but nothing to get really excited about.  It's been nice just getting out with some good buddies.  A speckled trout, striper, and flounder came home to get inked then subsequently serve as grocery substitutes.  Recent requests for more of daddy's fish chowder as well as the reports of a hot tautog bite have me itchin' to get out again soon.

In other news, there's that certain social media popularity contest for kayak fishermen that has become somewhat controversial.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, skip this section.  If you do know what I'm talking about, I'll try to be brief.  It's a game I don't wish to participate in even though (or especially since) my name is involved.  To those who are playing the game of asking for votes, I mean no disrespect when I say it's my personal choice not to.  This blog won two years ago and came in second last year without me mentioning the awards at all.  And that to me means more.  Again, it's a personal choice and no love lost for those who choose differently.  It feels strange even mentioning the awards here since it probably comes across as trying to get attention for votes.  I'm not going to post a link to vote, but if you feel inclined remember to actually do some homework before voting.  

The main thing I wanted to say is a big thank you to those of you who nominated and voted for me recently and in years past.  I was honored this year with nominations for Angler of the Year, two different videos, and Blog of the Year.  It's an incredible feeling to have such support and I sincerely appreciate it all.  There was a moment earlier on when I wanted to decline all nominations for these awards for personal reasons but then realized I owe it to my friends, those of you who have been following along, those of you who nominated me, and those who just wanted to voice their support.  In the end, it's not the actual award, but knowing that I have made so many amazing connections while sharing my stories. 
Thank you all so much.

Here's a bunch of stuff to look at...

Excellent video by my friend Robert Lee about the 2014 TKAA Tournament

Flounder Face
Dawn patrol with Joe Underwood
Trout master Forrest Short (with sleeves even)

Guess what?

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Kayak Fishing the Chesapeake Bay 3" DVD OUT NOW!

Kayak Kevin's new DVD is out!

"Kayak Kevin, Lee Williams, and Rob Choi target the winter time Chesapeake Bay species, tautog and the Eastern Shore stripers.  They show the rigs and baits, how to use them, anchoring techniques, and navigating the currents during this dangerous time of year to fish the bay."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Big Tournament Red Drum

The desire for that tug-drug kept growing with each successful report that Jay Brooks and Kayak Kevin put up.  And the big drum kayak junkies have been talking about it for years; if we ever have decent weather on tournament day, we were gonna get on 'em.  So needless to say, I had been checking the wind forecast like an addict waiting for his dealer to call.

Game time decision came the morning of the tournament.  I stood at the base of the CBBT as color just started to peek on the horizon.  The wind was every bit of 15-20 kts coming from wide open opposite of sexy.  It's a little over 3 miles to the spot and even though I've done similar paddles, certain muscles puckered.  Regardless, this is the closest I've had in years to do-able weather on tournament day.  So, at 6:30am, I looked up at the sky, said thank you for the opportunity and dragged my kayak across the beach.  It was go time.

I looked back occasionally to see if anyone else was up for the grueling trek out into open water.  With a minimum of 20 paddles strokes between piling sets, I knew the chances were very slim.  An hour and forty five minutes later, muscles on fire, I put out a piece of fresh bunker stuffed with 10/0 circle down to 30-40 ft and a 2 ounce jig with a 7" curly tail Gulp.  As I drifted, I watched the down imaging on my Humminbird, hoping for big blips.  After about 45 minutes,  I got my jig hung up and while I'm retying there's a zip zip from my Release SG clicker.  I look up to see the rod tip bounce twice and instantly dropped what I was doing.  As I tightened down the drag, big headshakes confirmed what I was hoping for.  Three rod bucking and drag peeling minutes later, I grabbed the leader just as the big tail slapped my front GoPro.  After wrestling it over the side, I handled the chore of documenting the measurement with a smile.  48.5"

Just as I was releasing it, the hardcore Maryland Kayak Boys showed up.  I almost couldn't believe it, but remembering how hard they fish, it made sense.  It wasn't long before Mike Rosa had a 48" big red.  Then Shane Hatcher and crew aboard the Badfish, who had just anchored their boat as I was fighting my fish, had 3 with the biggest going 52".  Meghan Lorraine on Jay Brooks' boat also caught a few with a really nice 53" as their biggest.  Then the bite slowed to a crawl.  The wind calmed a little and I wasn't sure what to do.  I had stuck around hoping to break the 50" mark, but with only a couple of hours left before weigh-in I decided to head in and try a flounder spot that produced for me the day before.  I should have stayed.  Jeff Depfer of the MD crew landed a 51" beast that ended up taking 1st place in the Red fish division. 

Big congrats to everyone who placed in the 10th Annual TKAA tournament but the real winners are and always have been Heroes on the Water and Project Healing Waters.  We all helped raise money for two very worthy organizations.  A huge thanks to all the sponsors who donated tons of awards and raffle prizes.  As in years past, I also pitched in and put up some artwork for a raffle.  I wish I had met the guy who won my print (hope he enjoys it) but I was distracted by my 2nd place winnings.

Big thanks to YakAttack for the 2nd place prize (BlackPak w/ three rod holders, GearTracs and a VISI CarbonPro light.

Check out Kayak Kevin's Podcast from the Tourney

On a more personal note, much appreciation to those who had very kind words about my past posts as well as those who had some concerns about my absence in recent months.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and hopeful I can come up with good content.  Much love and respect.  Peace out, homies.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Short Morning Session (with video)

I woke up juggling the calendar, with a foot in my face and an elbow in my crotch.  The Jake and the Neverland Pirates' theme song was still stuck in my head next to potential client email drafts, needy little what's for breakfast and can we have sprinkles.  My mind was crowded with unfinished powerwashing chores, MIA little pink stuffed elephant drama, overdue oil changes, super-evil-mega-corps silently upping my bill, wall doodles, and the infinite stream of laundry.  I Hattori Hanzo'd my way out, making sure not to wake the lil' ninja who snuck into bed upside down.  Then, sans coffee, I silently slid into the river in the cover of darkness.

As light slowly crept through the haze, the curtains were pulled back on the soul invigorating glow of the water.  Long exhales shrank my worries and I felt my head declutter.  With every paddle stroke, I reminded myself of all I had to be thankful for.  A short ways later, I caught a good rhythm on the 6wt flyrod and found a few little bronzbacks to go with my smile.

Back in time to rock breakfast duty and watch Saturday morning couch jumping in pajamas, Jake's theme song wasn't so annoying after my short morning session.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Impromptu Good JooJoo

Life insisted on kicking me while I was down the last month or so.  Work and family drama finally let up enough for me to take a quick impromptu trip to the James. 

After catching several of these on the fly...

... I stuck them on a carolina rig with 8/0 circles, dropped them in a deep hole and they found their way into the mouth of...

43" trophy flathead catfish

I still have a lot to take care of but hopefully I'll be able to get out again soon for a nice water therapy session.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ocean Kayak Trident 13 Review

In case you haven't read through this site and just stumbled upon this review, I want to make this clear; I fish out of a kayak, A LOT.  However, when you kayak fish, you're just as much a paddler as you are a fisherman.  With that said, my main go-to kayak is the Ocean Kayak Trident 13.

There is no perfect kayak.  If you want speed you're going to sacrifice stability.  If you want great stability, the kayak is going to be wide and slow.  There's no way around physics.  But the Trident 13 finds the perfect balance.  The tri-hull design keeps the kayak tracking super straight and increases the stability immensely.  Here's a little more about the tri-hull design from their website:

"What sets Ocean Kayak sit-on-top kayaks apart is our performance hulls. Many of our hulls were designed by a former Olympic coach who is highly regarded in the paddling community. Some of our hulls feature the Tri-Form hull design which has a distinct keel that runs the entire length of the hull with sponson-like shoulders on either side that make up the majority of the hulls’ beam. This Tri-Form hull design enhances stability as the boat eases through the water. The long center keel area encourages boats to track straight when paddling and coasting. The wider "shoulder" areas of the hull ride high at the surface of the water without compromising speed under moderate paddling conditions. These areas provide significant secondary stability, and result in a very user friendly kayak design. Now adding volume to the bow and adding some rocker gives us a lot of maneuverability, and great surf, rough water performance. In addition, Ocean Kayak hulls derive their stiffness from compound curves rather than sharp lines. These curves have fewer stress points, which makes them less likely to crack than other kayak designs, even under impact."

As they mentioned, the bow of the Trident is designed to punch through surf and take on waves.  Going along with the rough water scenario, the rod pod is crucial.  You can store all your mission-essential expensive equipment without fear of losing it if (more like when) you turtle in the surf.  If you like using electronics when you fish, the sonar shield comes in handy to tuck the unit away when you need to and easily bring it back when when the time is right.  The tankwell is plenty big enough for crates, coolers, small children, whatever.

The Trident does differ from many of the new kayaks coming out in that it sits lower to the water.  In rough conditions, I find this to be extremely beneficial.  The center of gravity is lower and it also keeps you less susceptible to becoming a sail.  Your body as well as the side walls of the kayak can catch wind causing you to either move in the wrong direction or slow you down tremendously.

The one thing that can be improved is the seat.  It's not terrible, but with the number of hours I put in it, I upgraded to a Surf To Summit GTS Pro.  They have made improvements since my model (2012) so you might have to check the new ones out. 

I've taken my Trident 13 to nearly every type of water imaginable besides raging white water and have to say, it excels in offshore, near shore, inshore and anywhere you're trying to cover distance.  I highly recommend it.  For info on rigging the Trident and other tips click here.

Photo credit: Joe Underwood