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?