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.



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