Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Skinny Sweetwater Shenanigans

The 2pm kid-duty-switch-off agreement put the kibosh on 
hopes of returning to my salty big water conquests.  
Instead, little creeks became our stadium.  
And we came to play.

By the time the first rays of light pierced through the trees, Jeff Lockhart, Matt Anderson, and I were already well into our first creek.  A few small bass had been hooked and quickly released before finding what we were hoping for.  Snakehead.  

The 22"er struck Jeff's frog imitation in less than a foot of water.  Our expectations of a furiously savage fight as described by others encountering the invasive specie were muted by the fact that it quickly had a huge amount of vegetation around the line and covering it's face.  Regardless, we were ecstatic to confirm our hunch.  The area is not known to hold snakeheads but we thought it was worth a shot.  

As the day went on our search for more only yielded a few suspicious wakes.  However we were still all smiles with the abundance of other life in the area.  The little creeks were holding tons of baitfish and the largemouth bass were waiting around nearly every bend or dip to ambush them.  Weedless, weightless flukes and frogs yielded a little less than a dozen bass with most of them in the 18" range.  Topwater blow ups never get old and it was thoroughly enjoyable to watch bass take the fluke only a few feet from the kayak.  

Matt got into double digits of bass as well on various swimbaits and senkos.  In a larger part of the creek, Jeff landed the biggest bass of the day going a little over 21".  At one point, I kept getting short strikes on the fluke when I finally set the hook into something that surprised us all for this time of year.  The good sized yellow perch made me switch to the smaller set up with a little white grub.  The following 3 casts rendered 3 more perch with the biggest going a bit over 11".  Matt scored one just shy of citation at 11 3/4".  Not too long after that, I lucked out with a new specie checked off my bucket list; bowfin.  It tore up the baby bass fluke and provided a most satisfying fight on relatively light tackle.  Unfortunately, my GoPros turned themselves off due to the heat and the 23"er flopped out of my hands just before Jeff could click the shutter. 

For a relatively short trip, it was really a blast.  Jeff added one more specie for the day with a decent crappie from under a duck blind.  The call of the salt may be strong, but if weather and timing doesn't work out, we'll definitely be up for some more skinny sweetwater shenanigans. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rare Bluewater Treat

3AM and I struggle to focus my eyes.  I sit on the throne.  Haze clears.  Forecast double check provides a smile.  I wipe.  I'm out the door.

It was supposed to rain later but the lack of wind made it a good day to introduce my new Ultra 4.7 to the CBBT.  Looking to knock sheepshead off the yearly citation list as well as play with some spadefish, I picked up fiddlers and clams at Ocean's East.  When I arrived at the beach, I was more than a little disappointed.  The wind was sustained at 15kts at least from open water with gusts much higher.  I'm pretty sure I would have verbally abused if not shin kicked the crap out of the weather man if he were there.  Luckily, my good friend WillyRags, who was supposed to be there too, gave me the heads up about Ric and Lee about to head out on the boat.  

The trek out was needless to say, brutal.  It felt like we got airborne about 20 times but a smile crept on my face knowing that I rarely get to see that type of water; especially right out of Virginia Beach.  The little 20' Jones Brothers center console actually handled the rough water well... all 30 miles out.  And it got better as we went further out.  

Based on prior year catches on Ric's boat, the main target for this trip was mahi.  We put out a spread of 5 ballyhoo (2 outriggers, two short lines, one flatliner right behind the boat) and one big crankbait 10-15' down.  Within 5 minutes of trolling we were on them.  Then not too long after we lost them.  We put decided to mess around on some wrecks and I jigged up a thick 20" flounder.  Lee was working the Lucanus jig when all of a sudden he hooks a mahi and next thing we know had them all around the boat.  Ric hooks up on cut bait and keeps it in the water to keep the school around.  Unfortunately, they wised up quick and we only picked off a couple.  We go back to trolling and it was on.  The count for the day was 11 mahi with the biggest going 15lbs and the flounder.  

The rare bluewater treat was the farthest thing I could have imagined doing that day, but I'm so glad it happened.  I learned a little more about driving a boat, properly rigging ballyhoo for trolling, understanding outriggers, not to mention bringing home a bunch of excellent meat.  Big thanks to Ric and Lee for accommodating me as well as Rags for sending me their way.  Thanks guys.

Photo credits: Ric Burnley