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.