Monday, November 21, 2011

Two Skunks, Trout, and Togs

The past week has been quite the fishing quest for me.  It was seven days of fishing that consisted of skunks, challenging conditions, little sleep, freezing temperatures, redemption, fog and a magnificent view of the rising sun over a very serene Chesapeake Bay.

A couple of followers to keep me company
With the cooling water temperatures and a few reports of bigger stripers caught, I had Kippy Kows stuck on my mind. I knew that it was a long shot with the waters at only 58 degrees, but once something is on my mind I have to do it no matter what.  Someone has to do the recon and you never know until you go.  With a SW wind that was howling, the conditions all over Tidewater would be difficult to fish.  I decided to look to the concrete ships for some wind protection and make a go at it.  The plan was set - get to the ships Saturday evening; drown some eels hoping for a hungry Kow and after sun up try for some togs around and inside the ships.  I showed up a little after 11pm and had my eel soaking a little before 11:30pm. It was a little rougher than I had expected.  The wind never laid down and the swell continued to build.  Fishing the gaps in between two ships was hairy and helped keep things interesting.   After six hours of zero bites I called it quits at 530 am and grabbed a little breakfast before round two.  I busted out some blue crab with hopes of redeeming my eventless night with some tog of war.  The current was brutal, the wind increased even more and I couldn’t convince any Togs to come out and play.  I called it quits around noon.  I have unfinished business at the ships and I will be back with a vengeance.

After the horrible day of fishing on Sunday I was feeling a bit antsy to get back on the water.  I think that trip to Kiptopeke was the longest I have ever fished without catching a single fish.  Monday was out due to the winds.  Tuseday was looking promising, but what to go for, stripers or trout? My answer came when fellow angler, Rob Choi, called around mid-day.  He and Justin wanted to chase after some trout on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River and were thinking of hitting the hot ditch.  I consider the hot ditch to be a last resort.  I offered up to show them a few of my spots and launching area if they where up to fishing some new areas.  It didn’t take much to convince the two to follow me out to a few of my favorite speck holes.  It’s not too often that I do this but I felt that they could keep their lips sealed.

We arrived at location “X” around 9:30ish and proceeded to the fishing grounds.  The weather was nice with just a light breeze.  Not much was happening in the first few hours for me and the fishing was slow.  I think Rob had a few early bites and a small trout off a jig.  Justin picked up one using a mirror lure. I was throwing a Zoom Swimming Super Fluke Jr. on an 1/8th ounce jig and Rapala jerk baits with no results.  At some point Justin tied on a topwater lure and started to find success and caught a few fish.  Rob switched to topwater with the same results.  Naturally if everyone else was getting bit with a certain pattern I know enough to join in or risk getting skunked. I went through several topwater lures trying to find the right one to entice some speck action.  It was nerve racking hearing the trout smacking Justin and Rob’s lures as they walked the dog and all I was doing was just getting my lures wet.  I finally found a pattern that worked for me in a Rapala Skitter walk sub-surface. On the third cast I managed this gal - a healthy 21 incher.

21 incher
 The action was hot for pretty much the rest of the night with a few lulls here and there.  My smallest of the night was 19 inches and the biggest went 21 inches.

19 incher
Just when we thought the bite was done we decided to head back in.  At this point it was 1:30.  We heard some fishy disturbance and as Justin hooked up, Rob and I made a cast and we both hooked up at the same time even before Justin could land and release his.  I managed to catch a few more and as the time started to push later in the morning we regrettably left with the fishing still biting.  Check out Rob Choi’s Blog for his account of the story.  It was a first rate night chasing ER specks on topwater.

The weekend was approaching and I wanted to pick up where I left off on Tuesday but also wanted to find some togs around the 1st island as the weather for Saturday was looking quite favorable.  There was only one option in my book -  chase after both.  To do this required me to forgo rest and sleep…but then again, who needs that anyways? There are only a few other anglers I know that would carry out such an extreme behavior to get infishicated.  I met Rob at location “X” around 12:30 am Saturday morning and the conditions were a little different than Tuesday. The river had an eerie feeling to it with temperatures around 28° and a good amount of steam and fog mix.  That wasn’t going to be the only the thing different from Tuesday night.  What happened to the topwater bite?  It seemed non existent and I had only a handful of bites the entire night.  I was off the water around 530 am with my second skunk in a week!

I took a small break and grabbed some food to reenergize before hitting the CBBT to target Togs.  I met up with Rob Choi and William Ragulsky at Alexander’s on the Bay at O'630.  We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise painted with hues of gold, pink, and violet over a tranquil Chesapeake Bay.  It was one of the most enjoyable paddle’s to the 1st island that I have experienced in a long while.  It wasn’t long until we all began to find the right pilings that were producing.  I would catch 5 or 6 Togs at one location and then search for the next hot spot.  Venturing around the island and over the tube was a little annoying with the amount of boats trolling and drifting around for striper.  I had the last laugh as one boater smacked into the pilings… and attempting to get off the pilling chewed up his prop on the rocks.  I caught over fifteen but most were in the 14-15” class; the smallest of the day was a 12 incher and the biggest went a little over 16.5 inches.

Biggest tog of the day @ 16.5"
Feeling some back pain and a lack of bites I decided to call it a day and start heading in.  All in all it was a satisfying day on waters with a warm breeze and I was able to bring home a few dinner guests.

I was off the water in just enough time to get home and change into some less fishy smelling clothes and make my way to the Pirates of Lynnhaven meeting.  Good times are had by those that attend these regular meetings held at Bluewater Seafood in Virginia Beach, Va... not to mention the fish talk that usually extends beyond and into the parking lot well after the meeting has ended.  Tim, the owner and chef, always has something tasty cooking up to feed the hungry attendees too.  If you’re not a member and want to know more, go to to learn more about POL.

I made it home a little after 10pm to fall asleep and dream about all the fish I could be catching if I was out fishing.  I can’t wait to get back on the water and do it all again.  Big stripers should show up soon or at least that's what I dreamt about.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A lonely Red

My first post hope y'all enjoy.

Cabin fever was starting to set in due to a lack of fishing the past two weeks, so I made plans to go togging on Sunday as being my only day with no other obligations to uphold.  Well mother nature wasn't too kind this past week or weekend and sent a cold front with some brisk winds our way.  It was just too nasty for the CBBT so on to plan B.  Plan B involved speck fishing and maybe some Stripers here and there.  Met up with Dan in my neck of the woods.  We were greeted to a rising high tide that just didn't want to quit.  After a short paddle and some off water kayak hauling we were back on the creek making our way to the Land of Gator trout!  This is where the story gets boring, we paddle there and nothing, then paddle to another spot and nothing...what the hell...not even spikes or evidence of any fish activity.  So not to be discouraged we continued on our way up the river to another one of my favorite spots.  I made a lure change to a Zoom "Swim’n Super Fluke Jr. in pearl using my new Kistler Z-bone ST ML paired with Stradic FJ 2500 spooled with 20# FINS XS braid.  Third cast into some rocky/wooden structure and Wham! Fish On!  At first I thought it was a Striper, but that fish was putting one hell of a bend in my rod and not coming up and no head shakes.  I had an itchy feeling it might be a Red, suspicions confirmed once it surfaced for a brief moment and saw the spotted tail, only for the elusive Red to take several more hair raising runs.  My nerves where high since I was using a 10 Lb. mono leader and was around lots of underwater obstructions.  But victory was mine on this day.

Thanks Dan for the photo.
                                                                   a closer look

That paddle tail stuck in the mouth of that Red has treated me well for the last two months.

With our hopes of finding more we continued on our hunt, but came up empty handed.  Overall a good day paddling with good company paying our dues.