Monday, December 11, 2017

"Stress-Free" Muskie

Normally if I have a day off I'm all about getting to the spot stupid early, but this time I sort of just got up when I normally head to work and started loading the car.  The boss lady and I spent some well deserved down time on the couch the night before and I mentioned how I'd like to just have a stress free, easy going fishing trip on my day off.  Previous trips, like the vast majority of my outings, had the weight of a goal attached to them.  If it wasn't about checking off a new trophy specie, or bringing home groceries, it was about acquiring that right size fish for prints and artwork.  When I told her that I just want to go and cast around she looked at me funny.  "That's not like you."  I told her it's not good to get hopes up for musky fishing anyway.  She rolled her eyes.

I launched late.  It was almost lunch time.  The plan was to drift around and cast the same area I was fishing last year then perhaps explore a different section.  If I got lucky, then perhaps I'd see one or two, maybe get one to follow the lure, and it would be an alright day.  Well within the first 30 minutes I drift directly over one.  So of course, I stayed in the same area and kept casting.  Half an hour later...

Fat 36" Musky

An hour in and I would have been happy if that was the end of my trip.  But of course, I wasn't leaving yet.  I decided to make one more drift before trying somewhere else.  

Thing is, when you drift right over another one it makes darn near impossible to move to another area.  Over the next few hours I saw a total of 4, two of which were nice sized.  I tried a few other lures but I eventually went back to the one I had most confidence in, the big glide bait.  Not long after, a big headed beast followed but veered away before just before I could try to circle the lure around at the yak.  I suspect the wind pushing my kayak into its path didn't help.  

A few casts later my line came tight abruptly and the water erupted.  I got all giddy again and she was pretty with that green iridescence on her back, streaking up and down the river.  I kept yelling "oh you so beautiful!" but she was forever pissed.  When she calmed down, I nervously put the boga lip grip on her and quickly slid my hand up the attached rope.  As suspected, the signature tornado of teeth and giant trebles ensued.  After the final tantrum, I slid her over the side and there was no doubt that I had a new personal best.

She measured out at 43" for a Virginia Citation (trophy)

As good as it was, I figured I would try a little longer. 
An hour later, with the wind really starting to bother me, 
I packed it up... 
More than content with my "stress-free" musky trip.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Specks, Stripers, Togs, the Usual.

Fall might be my favorite season to fish.

Lots of specks this year.  Nothing huge for me but tons of fun.
Various soft plastics on quarter ounce jigheads as well as mirrolures tossed in and around salty creeks got the job done.

Finally got out for togs too.  Love these things.
Crabs on dropper loops in structure.

 Also been getting into a good number of schoolie stripers along bridge light lines at night.

Been busy with artwork as well.  
Hit me up if you're interested.  
They make great gifts :)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

I'll Take Luck Any Day

My friend mentioned to me that some people think I'm getting soft.  And in some ways, perhaps I am. Long hours with clients were followed by a myriad of never ending chores, kiddo piano lessons, nerf gun battles, and making sure to create lasting birthday party memories.  With timing being what it is, I've been playing make believe fishing in Lego land with my youngins more often than I was actually casting lines in the water.  And that's ok.  The richness in my life doesn't feel diminished in the least.

I also haven't felt the need to keep this site updated as much and even thought about shutting it down.  With social media being what it is now, I wasn't sure it was needed anymore.  Then I went back and read some of my old posts.  I used to tell stories and really had a nice following.  I suspect not many will keep coming back but I don't think I can just delete such great memories.  I decided to keep updating from time to time more for my own sake than sharing with others.

On that note, yes I finally had a chance to have a productive fishing session.  As in years past, I went on a fall marathon.  Time of departure, 9:30pm.  First stop, good ol' HRBT.  It took a while but I cruised the light line and found the the schoolie stripers chompin.  Along with them were a gazillion baby bluefish and grey trout.  I had to work the dark paddletail deeper and very close to the pilings to get the stripers to eat it before the blues.  I iced two at 22" and took a nap in the car.

A few hours later, I met my good friend and fellow Werner Paddles and Kokatat Team member, Drew Camp.  I've been wanting to check out his local lake for some time and the standing invitation had been there a while.  After all this time, I can't seem to pull myself away from the trophy/citation hunt.  It was a good lake for big channel catfish I was hoping to check that off the list.  While catching bait, I suddenly found myself in a familiar mode saying "Get in the boat.  Get in the boat!".  I went from catching 6-7 inch bream to hooking into what I thought was a nice crappie.... until I realized it was a massive dinner plate size sunfish.  

Citation starts at 11" for a Virginia sunfish so needless to say, I was a ecstatic.

Drew was tearing up the bass as usual...

21.5" bass caught on a tiny blade bait vertical jigging

 Drew went on to mention how he's caught tons of the sunfish in that area but never anything that big.  

I said I'll take luck any day.

Just then I noticed a grasshopper sitting on the very tip of my bow.  Thought it was pretty cool and perhaps lucky. 
I went back to fishing and not long after hooked into a really nice channel cat an inch shy of citation on the same tiny ultra light rig with night crawlers that I was catching sunfish on. 
 That drag was SINGING!

I went on to catch several more in the 28-29" range on normal medium heavy catfish gear but kept coming up shy of that 30" mark needed for trophy. 

A few hours went by and I was thinking of calling it a day since I already checked a new trophy specie off the list.  On the proverbial "last cast" I hooked into one that pulled me along.  I've caught tons of much bigger blue cats and flatheads as well as smaller channel cats.  I have to say, I was impressed by the citation class channel cats' strength.  They put up a good fight for their size.  
And yes, it turned out to be the trophy I was looking for. 
 And no, I didn't get a grip and grin, like a dummy.

On my way back to the launch I paddled by a downed tree 
and my lucky cricket jumped ship.
I smiled and thanked it for the luck. 
And on a more serious note, messaged Drew about how much I appreciated him showing me around his spot. 
As timing gets tougher and tougher, it's really hard to fully express how amazing it is to have friends willing to help out someone getting "soft". 

Like a proper marathon though, on the way back home I stopped at the HRBT again and took my newbie kayak fishing friend Mike.  He did better than last time (last year) and hooked several schoolies while managing his kayak better in the current/structure.  
I ended up scoring a fat 23"er and one just shy of 28".  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Tarpon Portrait

Tarpon Portrait
Oil paint on Wood panel
Original not for sale
Limited Edition reproductions (25 signed & numbered) available. 
Message with inquiries.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Things I've Neglected to Post Earlier

Citation Sheepshead back in August

Only Cobia I caught on the kayak this summer was 37"

First Billfish (White Marlin) on Jay Brook's Boat
Blueline Tilefish from same trip

When you hook into what you think is a really nice smallmouth but during the fight you realize that's not the case
18" Smallmouth
Flathead on the James


Puppy Drum prefixing the TKAA tournament

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sharky waters

Had a few live spot and croaker in the flow troll...

 Decided to leave it out of the water after shooting this video.

Later on I hooked into a 10+' lemon shark.

It eventually bit through the 100lb leader.  I went back and anchored up in the same spot and had another that was even bigger.  Same result.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sharing the Love

I tell ya, sometimes I just feel like a goofy, giddy little kid when I'm out on the water; stupid grin and all.  Is goobery a word?  Either way, that's me.   Happy and goobery.  Especially lately as I've been falling in love with the near by lake.  After work on a Thursday, I decided to invite a few friends to share the love.  Lockhart, Beck, and Britland joined me on what turned out to be a gorgeous evening out on the water.

Alex Britland enjoying the pedal drive on the new Old Town PDL

I quickly picked up two bass on a texas rigged Cut-R Worm and that aforementioned grin was clearly visible to all.  I shared with my buddies what I used and how I was fishing it to pick up the 16.5" and 18.25" fish. 

 "You should feel the rocks there.  Once you get passed them, there's a drop off.  Make sure to let it get all the way to the bottom." Then I switched up to see if the swim-jig would produce similar results.  A few casts into it I got a solid thump.  Immediately after setting the hook that smile went away.  I went into oh-please-get-in-the-boat mode especially after it thrashed on the surface for us to see that it was close to that 22" citation mark.  Not long after, I landed it and the grin came back.  And when I laid it on the board I smiled a little more...

22.5" Citation Largemouth Bass

Not too long after, Mike Beck landed a 23.5" Pickerel (half inch shy of citation).  And Alex Britland landed a respectable 19" Bass. 

Mike also scored a 19.5" bass toward the end of the night.  Jeff Lockhart had the only topwater bite of the evening with a 16"er.  He also had the misfortune of being the only one who got crapped on by a bird.  
Guess it can't always be smiles and pretty sunsets for everybody.  
But there's always next time.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Trophy Bass from the Neighborhood Lake

We decided to take a family paddle around a neighborhood lake on Memorial day.  On the way, crossing a bridge named after a fallen veteran was a poignant reminder of what so many had sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.  As my family and I drove up to the launch area, I made sure my kiddos knew why we had the day off, and reminded them why we should not take it for granted.

After ninja-ing our way up close, we got a pretty good look at a heron before it flew off.  The kids also enjoyed a dunk in the lake to cool off.  We then did an exploratory excursion into some hard to get to areas and my fishy senses began tingling.  However, as with most outing with the stinkers, their patience ran low and all that swimming made them hungry. Plus with the sun still blazing it was a good decision to head in and not to get too crispy.  After dinner though, my wife noticed my wheels turning and smiled.  "Go ahead".  

Oddly enough, top water lures were not getting the attention I had hoped for.  I switched over to a spinnerbait and casted along the edges of the pads.  In no time, I connected with two 15"-16" fish.  Then a few minutes later, I set the hook into one much heavier.  Turned out to be my new personal best and my first largemouth citation (trophy).  

I love the salt and obviously spend a lot more time there, but I suspect with fish like this near by, there will be more quick trips to my neighborhood spot.  

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend too!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One thing I Don't Skip in Spring

So many fish.
So little time.

The reoccurring theme of this site has become how daddy-life and office-life pretty much kick my ass on the daily.  I keep saying how I want to chase certain fish during certain seasons.  But, winter catfish got skipped, yellow perch got skipped, crappie, bedding bass, and so on.  One of my favorites is spring tautog and unfortunately that got skipped too.  Well, I made sure to make time to look for one of my other spring favorites,

And it was worth it.  As in years past, my buddies and I paddled and searched until we found them.  Willy Rags, Wayne Tu, Doug Greiner, Gary from MD, and myself all hooked up.  Big swimbaits with stout hooks, 50lb braid, and 65lb leader lead to signature headshakes, mean runs and awesome sleigh rides.  

Photo Credit: William Ragulsky
Huge thanks to Ragulsky for his camera work.  
Unfortunately I couldn't return the favor.  He had a thick 50+" red slip out of his lap before I could get a photo.  

Greiner and Gary went on to have an amazing season.  I didn't get as many chances to chase them as I would have liked, but I'm very grateful for the opportunites I did get.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Big Blue Redemption

It was the first trip out for them this year.  Tide was just starting to drop and the sun began dipping behind the trees.  As with most trips I smiled after my first few paddle strokes and gratitude filled for the opportunity to spend some time on the water.  I slow trolled two rods, one with a big crankbait and one with a live bait, hoping to find a good school.  It took a little longer than I expected, but eventually hooked into a good one.

This is my fifth year chasing trophy bluefish in Old Dominion.  Virginia's release citation length for the yellow eyed demon is 36" and every year I've come up just a tiny bit short.  Thing is, weeding through a ton of upper 20" and lower 30" fish to hook up with a paper contender is no easy task. 
The last couple of years, I decided to just let it happen when it happens, enjoy the fights even if it's not a trophy, and not get so bent out of shape like I did in the early years.  2017 was no different.  Heck, as busy as I've been, just finding the time to get out was a joy in itself. 

This one got my heart rate up though.  It was strong.  Streaking away, more line peeled off of the tight drag than I expected.  It came to the surface and thrashed but I couldn't get a good look at it from that distance and low light.  It tucked it's head back under, went on another impressive run and all of a sudden, the line went slack.  The treble pulled and my heart sank.  But I didn't dwell on it.  It wasn't the first time that's happened and I know it won't be the last.  Plus, there's never just one bluefish.  Where there's one, there's a bunch.  I quickly got set back up and just like I thought, it wasn't long before I had another rod bent over.  This one wasn't nearly as strong.  And neither were the next 7 or 8.  Eventually the action slowed and I decided to call it.  I had a good time, it was getting late, and the citation will happen when it happens.

However, trolling my way out of the area got a mean take down.  Line peeled quickly but it came unbuttoned before I could pick up the rod.  And you know what that means.  I couldn't leave on that note.  I was on my second pass trolling back and forth when I got another hook up.  The strength impressed me again like the first one but I was able to get it to the boat fairly quickly.  I turned on my head lamp and that's when it decided to put on a show.  I held on tight as it spun the kayak furiously.  Then with gills all flared out, like tarpon in one of those fishporn clips, it tail walked several feet before going on another drag peeling run.  All the while, as I'm enjoying the fight, in a strange way I just assumed it wasn't going to be a trophy.  I guess all the others over the years that felt similar but kept coming up short conditioned me not to get my hopes up.  That was until I got the lip grip on it and had it laying in my footwell.  It was bigger than I thought it would be.  To be sure of the measurement I went to shore and laid it out.

Of course, I didn't bring a decent camera so a phone selfie is all I got.