Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vernal Reds

For me, it is one of the most anticipated times of the year.  
 Roaming the flats of the Eastern Shore...
leaving slicks of oily remnants in their wake... 
It's just a matter of finding the time 
to find them.

So far, I've only crossed the CBBT twice this season.  Luckily, I was able to find them both times.  On the first day, the weatherman's magic 8-ball was wrong again.  The wind stuck around too long and the rain showed up hours ahead of schedule.  However the water clarity was good enough to still spot schools at times.  The side scanner unit came in really handy though for JBrooks, WillyRags, LuckyLockhart and yours truly.

I found the school 4 or 5 times that day.  A few times, I couldn't have seen them without the Hummingbird 698ci HD si, and a couple of times my eyes saw them before the unit.  The first encounter was early in the morning with the sun in our eyes and wind on our face.  We spread out to cover more water.  I noticed a long diagonal marking on my screen to the right and before I knew it I was paddling right over it.  Then all of a sudden the water erupts violently about 40 feet in front of me.  I spooked em and several large reds exploded on the surface.  The wind caught my 5" paddle tail before it could get to the target area twice but Jeff took the cue and paddled up until he could get a good cast.  He hooked up, but broke off.  Jay was paddling near where the top end of the diagonal marking would go and hooked up a minute later.

Jay Brooks 47"ish Red Drum

We lost the school after that, but we knew they couldn't have gone far.

With the wind being stronger than expected, the water wasn't exactly stand up friendly.  However the Predator 13 was still stable enough for me to get up and take a look around.  And even with the clouds moving in, the polarization on my Maui Jim's cut through and I was able to find the school a couple of times.  After I pulled up a 48"er, Jeff Lockhart got one at 46"ish.


As the rain showed up, I relied on the side imaging unit again.  After covering a good amount of water, the blank screen would suddenly get lit up with marks and I tried my best to choreograph which way my buddies should cast.  We all hooked up, lost fish, and hooked up again on the same school.  At one point we had 4 on at the same time.  I landed one more at 46", William Ragulsky got one at 48" and Jeff scored a 51"er. 

I ended up finding another small school and watched a big fish follow my lure to the boat, but ended up spooking.  All in all, it was a great first trip out for the big reds.

My second trip was a short one.  I had strict orders from the boss lady to be back at a certain time.  The sun was out and the wind wasn't too bad, but once I paddled out to the flat, I realized how dirty the water was.  Again, I was glad I brought the Humminbird side scan unit.  Normally it would have become a troll and hope kind of day, but I actually found a school using the imager and casted to them instead of trolling.  I only landed one though before I had to call it quits.


I'm hoping to go again, 
but you know how life goes...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Til the Break of Dawn

10pm Friday night and Rudee inlet was completely deserted.  Slick calm water and a dense fog made for an other-worldly ambiance as I took the first paddle strokes of my new Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7.  At 15 and a half feet long, it's meant more for open water rather than a small inlet, but I had to try it out.  The acceleration and smooth glide had me geekin' to say the least.  A full review and rigging post up will be up in the near future.

I wasn't quite sure what the plan was that night but I figured, like a party that I wasn't sure of, I can always leave and go home early.  I ended up wildin' out until 9:40 the next morning.  As long as I was back by noon, the boss lady was ok with it.  So I hit up the lights first after slowly navigating through the fog.  I was mildly entertained by small bluefish on little grubs n jigheads but thought about leaving if that was all Rudee had to offer.  I checked a few other lights with little improvement until I found one with bigger shapes cruising around.  I immediately recognized them as schoolie stripers and just as I expected, my paddletail got crushed as I swam it just under the surface.  I pulled two off the light then they disappeared.  After paddling around, trolling, checking other lights, and messing with more small blues, I came back to the same light and the stripers were there again swiping at little minnows.  Again, I danced with a couple more before they would shy away.  I repeated this process until I was satisfied with 6 stripers up to 23", all fat, strong, healthy, and released.  By now it was about 2:30 am and I was thinking about peacin' out but then I heard a massive splash through the fog.  Fast forward 4 more hours and I ended up with 4 or 5 blues in the upper 20" to lower 30" range with the biggest going 34".  I also had one on that felt really nice but I couldn't get her to join me in my new ride.

So as color streaked toward the east more and more people showed up.  Before I knew it, it was down right crowded.  As I paddled along, I heard my name and saw someone waving me over through the fog.  It was Ryan Clark with a few really nice flounder up to 22".

He found a good bite and started throwing a flyrod with sinking line after that.  Not too long, he had an 18"er on his own fly.

I'm not one to leave a hot bite, so I threw a little paddletail on 1/4oz jighead and...

31" Red
Red Drum Chamber of Death

Shortly after that, I finished off my night/morning with a 17" flounder.

Bluefish, Stripers, Red Drum and Flounder....
I'd say the Ultra 4.7 maiden voyage was a success.