Monday, August 17, 2015

Two Trophy Sheepshead, Spades, Togs, and a Keeper Cobia

A dim glow was slowly creeping across the eastern sky when my kayak set free from the beach.  The water was black and glassy and the glide was silky smooth.  I looked up at the stars, smiled, and whispered gratitude.  When I looked back down, my bow was cutting through thick bioluminescence creating Tron-like streaks on the water.  Each stroke of my Werner Kalliste sent clouds of electric blue swirling by and like the other times I've sat on an expansive touch-sensitive light-up body of water, I was reminded of what it feels like to be a child... giddy... full of wonder and amazement. 

The surreal Life-Of-Pi-esque scene, minus the gazillion jellyfish and jumping whale, faded as color spread and reflected on the mirror finish. 

I dropped my sheepshead rig in four or five spots before the sun was clear of the horizon.  Not too long afterwards, I got my first bite.  The strange yet familiar grinding with a sudden weight triggered that instinctual swing and urgent need to gain line.  Plunges of my rod tip preluded the high friction exiting of said line.  We exchanged possession of that length a few times while I kicked and pushed to get away from the big CBBT pilings.  When its rage wore off, I realized the hook was only holding on to a tiny sliver at the tip of it's lip.  I turned the fish so I could tuck my foot under it's pelvic fin, pinned it against the side of my kayak and pushed up as I pulled on the leader.  It measured right at 24".  

24" Release Citation Sheepshead
About 20 minutes later, I replayed the previous sequence much to my delight.  The 25"er had better hook placement on it though. 

25" Release Citation Sheepshead

It was 7:18 and I doubled up on my goal of getting a release citation sheepshead.  Since the bite was hot, I stuck around the area hoping for a third.  However, my patience ran out quickly thinking about the other goals I had for the day.  I had been wanting to make a print of a spadefish for a while, but haven't had a chance to bring one home.  After a quick paddle to different spot, the first drop down with clam brought on the rod-vibrating fight of a 10" spadefish.  Second drop down produced similar. Then, after 15 minutes of no action, I decided it was time to move on.  I checked off goal number two, as one of the spades went on ice destined to be inked.

The final goal of the day was to give it a good shot for cobia.  The sun was getting high enough to possibly see them.  Keeping a keen eye on the surface, I tried to cover as much water as possible in my Ultra 4.7.  However, when I got to one of my favorite spots, I had to drop a fiddler crab down just to see if anyone was home.

Anyone else remember Beetlejuice from Howard Stern?

After four togs up to about 15" I pulled myself away to resume the cobia hunt.  After a good long paddle, I saw what I was hoping for; silly brown clown circling a piling.  It wasn't very big, but I was definitely still going to take a shot.  It was swimming counter clockwise and I tossed a RonZ past the piling to the right side just as fish came around on the left.  I swam it near the surface and he charged as soon as he saw it.  He hit it but didn't eat.  I bounced it and he started chasing.  It was getting fairly close to the kayak and I was running out of line.  I dipped the rod down, thinking I was going to have to open the bail to let the lure drop, but then he grabbed it hard and I slammed it home.  Up until this point, I had only hooked up to cobia on friends' boats and charters.  I've seen plenty from a kayak, including some monsters, but for various reasons (sometimes beyond my control and sometimes my fault) I just never got a hook up.  So, I took my time and enjoyed this fight.  He immediately took some line, came up to the surface and thrashed, circled around and made a run back toward the pilings.  I was able to turn him and then he sounded.  For a smallish cobia, it definitely had some attitude; which I wanted all gone from him when it came time to bring it on the kayak.  I let him take as many runs as he wanted.  Eventually, he stayed relatively calm and I noticed the hook placement was good.  I grabbed the leader and slowly pulled him up.  

I quickly measured him at 38" and decided to keep it.  Knowing how strong they are and their destructive nature if it were to thrash in my lap, I took the hammer to the dome.  

I could have ended the trip at 7 in the morning and the 2hr drive home would have still been all smiles.  But with two release citation sheepies, spades, togs, and a keeper cobia under the hatch... you could say I was cheezin pretty hard. 

I made it back to shore by 2pm to get back home by 5pm as promised.  Cherry on top of it all was taking the kids to their first baseball game.  

That celebratory beer though...


Hopefully I'll be back out soon to upgrade that kayak cobia.

In the meantime, fish prints it is...

Video of the sheepies and cobia coming soon.


  1. Badass my friend as usual. It was cool hearing about it right after it all I never left ;) Strong work buddy!

    1. Thanks, Richie! And yeah, it was nice to share that with you like old times :)

      Stay awesome buddy.

  2. great job man. An outstanding day.

    1. Much appreciated, Dave. Been enjoying your artwork too. Keep it up.

  3. Hell of a day and a great read. Killed it Rob!

  4. Nice fishing Rob! Three of my fishing buddies and myself are going down this week for 8 days of kayak fun. We would love some expert company if you would like to join.. 315 876 8717.. The more who join the more fun involved. Thanks for the great write up too.

    1. Thanks for the comment and invitation Dennis. Unfortunately, I didn't see this until too late. Hope you and your friends had a great time.


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