Thursday, October 25, 2012

Raid on Corolla

The weekend was fast approaching and with the boondoggle going down in Virginia Beach I knew this was going to be a weekend to remember.  I made plans to fish Friday night on my home waters of the Elizabeth River for Specks, Reds and Stripers.   After that I was planning to catch up with the Boondoggle in Virginia Beach on Saturday for a possible CBBT excursion then on to the Boondoggle dinner at Salty C’s.    Well when making plans it’s always good to leave room for alternate options and this weekend was a prime example.  Friday morning I received a call that altered well laid out plans.  Dave called to pass on that Rob Alderman was on the drum and had seen Cobia as well and wanted see if I was game to head south Saturday morning to meet up with the rest of the militia-fleet.  How could I say no? Of course I was on board!

Just because my Saturday plans changed didn't mean I needed to forgo fishing the ER after work.  To the river I headed to fish the last part of the ebb tide.  A little before sunset I paddled my way out to the fishiest stretch of structure with Specks and Reds fresh on the mind.  The weekend prior the bite was hot but tonight it wasn't.  I still managed a few small specks; the biggest went 18” and a there were a few rat reds in the 17” range.  The hottest action came after sunset when I made a short paddle to another piece of structure that is a striper magnet.  On cue, the stripers were on a feeding frenzy and made for some great top water action. I picked up a couple 23" and a few dozen in the 17-19” range before heading in for quick nap and then changing out my gear before driving to the outer banks.

23" ER Striper

Militia-fleet Raid Corolla

It’s been a little over two years since I fished with the Fish Militia crew in Hatteras.  Thanks to a phone call on Friday morning I would get to raid the waters of the OBX with some old friends and make new ones along the way.  The crew consisted of Dave Kimball, Jeff and Sandy Madre, Rich Donner, Dottie Broadbent, Ruddy, Rob and Lisa Alderman and I.  The plan was to meet up in Corolla and then head north towards Corolla.  The last half of the drive down was full of excitement and anxiety.  The reports of large drum being caught, Cobia sightings, and even a 70lb surf caught Cobia were making me burst with anticipation. 

We hit the beach and talked to another Kayaker, Johnny that was on his way in.  Johnny managed to wrestle 3 reds into the kayak in his short time out.  We had high expectations at this point and it wasn’t long after paddling out that a school of reds were swimming between Dave and me.   But it was not to be as neither Dave nor I was unable to hook up.  As morning turned to afternoon our hopes of catching drum was slowly fading.  I am not one to throw in the towel easily, especially after driving two and half hours.  I ventured to a pod of bait a little south from the rest of the fleet and this proved to be the magic move.  Within a few seconds of my bait dropping down I noticed my line was moving sideways, I applied a little pressure and then the Drum realized it was hooked!  It felt like I was hooked to the bumper of a small SUV, hanging on going for a ride.  After a brief battle I was rewarded with a 46” drum for my efforts and luck.

With no more bites I returned to the group and we decided to drive further up the beach. This relocation was worthwhile too.  There were swarms of bait surfacing all around and it didn’t take long before I was on another sleigh ride.  This guy was pulling like a freight train!  After spinning 360 degrees multiple times and some long powerful drag burning runs, I managed to pull this fat 48” plus Red Drum onto my lap.

With not much else happening and the daylight slipping away, I decided to call it quits and save my remaining energy for the drive home.  Once on the beach, I found out that Rob Alderman managed to pick up a nice Bull Red as well.

As fishermen, we all savor days like that.  Days were you are rewarded with doing what you love among great company and a bringing in some memorable catches.  It was a wonderful day and it reminds me that I need to meet up with the militia more than once every two years.  A big thanks to Dave for probably the best phone call in a long time and big thanks to the best Kayak Fishing Guide on the Outer Banks, Rob Alderman for sticking around and making sure I got the citations taken care of before TW’s closed for the night.  Jeff and Sandy thank you for picking up my pizza at Stop and GO.  Man, that really hit the spot on the drive home after a long day on the ocean.    Rich thank you snapping the pics of the 46” Drum so I have proof of the day!

Until next time, go and get Infishicated!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flatheads and Flatties

This past week I fished the Flatheads & Flatties tournament which is the third out of seven tournaments in the Pirates of Lynnhaven Angler of the Year series. The format of the tournament is a Catch-Photo-Release (CPR) and the longest stringer consisting of two flounder and one catfish wins. I started out Saturday June 9th fishing the CBBT searching for my first sheepshead of the year and trying for flounder as well. I struck out with the sheepies, but the flounder fishing was real good. While paddling to the first island I stopped at the small boat channel and picked up a couple of shorts. This was my first trip out to the island this year and although I was unsuccessful at snagging a sheepshead I made up for it with a nice pair of flatties. I was using a 2oz. SPRO Bucktail in Blue Shad paired with a 6” Pearl White Gulp Jerk Shad combo. While jigging on the bottom a few yards off the pilings on the outgoing tide I caught two flatties going 18” and 21”. Seeing how the sun was setting, I called it a day and headed back to the beach.

Very tasty flounder! 
CBBT Sunset
With the two flatties secured I had completed the first task for the tournament. However, I knew Jarred, another Pirate who was last year’s flounder tournament winner, was looking for a repeat title and that I if I was going to make a serious run at first place I would need a really good size catfish. There are plenty of areas around Tidewater to catch catfish but not the size I was looking for. My only option was to head north on the James River to the state capital Richmond, Virginia. I was infected with a small taste of the fishery back in March for the MS Shad Shootout. Having not fished the river in this area but only once, I needed some local knowledge to point me in the right direction. I called Dan, earlier in the week and made plans to fish an area of the James on Friday targeting Smallmouth Bass, Flatheads and Blue Catfish. On Friday morning we met at a gas station in Richmond and I then followed him to an undisclosed location. The morning started off great considering the blue bird skies above. It did not take long to see a good size ugly brown catfish swimming towards me but he spooked and disappeared. A short while later I spotted some blues swimming, but again they were spooked and quickly disappeared. I decided to drop anchor and drop a float with a live bluegill back 40 yards behind me. Five minutes later Dan paddles beside my float and yells “you got a takedown”; seeing how close he was to my line I first assumed he was joking and that he snagged my line. No pranks there, I was hooked up with my first fish of the day and after a short fight I pulled in a hefty 29” Blue Catfish which turned out to be my biggest of the day.

First fish of the day 29" Blue, and Dan lurking in the background.
 small Smallmouth Bass
Seeing how I managed a nice cat early, I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon fishing for smallmouth bass. Fishing was slow and it was getting late in the afternoon. Dan had fatherly duties to take care of and had to call it a day. I however was not ready to call it a day but I was starving and needed to take advantage of the break. I filled my stomach with some grub and coordinated the evening fishing plans with another fishing buddy in Richmond. I got ahold of Rob Choi, who was still at work and we coordinated to meet at 6pm for round two.

Round two seemed to be very promising with the sun setting in the evening. We initially met slow conditions. I did manage a Smallmouth bass on a topwater popper on the first cast but none after that. The catfish action started right before sunset. Rob started things off by pulling in a few flatheads and Blues and a little bit later my rods start to see some action as well. I picked up four blue cats in the 22-28 inch range. With bait running out and the sky’s void of any light we decided to paddle it back in.

this lad was bigger than the first, but not by much.

After we packed up Rob says to me “for once I have a shorter drive…”. He was right, this doesn’t happen too often because there are so many fishing opportunities in the Tidewater Area. I always enjoy checking out new waters. I will probably not venture there again anytime soon, but I will definitely be back. As it turns out, The decision to head to Richmond was a smart one as I managed the best limit of the tournament taking first place. I would not been able to do that if I had not met up with Dan and Rob in Richmond and explored their backyard fishing waters. Thanks fellas for putting me on some fish! And congratulations to the other top finishers in the tournament. I love being infishincated…

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Attacked by Bluefish followed up with a skunk!

This past Friday I fished the HRBT in search of a mix bag of fish.  I meet up with Dan shortly before sunset and we were greeted by an incoming tide and light winds.  It didn’t take long for us to find the fish as they where snapping at anything that hit the water.  Before searching for bigger and better fish I wanted to get three blues for the Pirates of Lynnhaven Yellow Eyed Demon Days Tournament, the first of seven in the Angler of the Year Series.  I was not looking for a win, just a solid 3 fish limit.  The Bluefish have definitely taken over the HRBT.   These were no normal Bluefish, as the devilish and angry demeanor was elevated 10 times that of a sane Bluefish. Warning…Explicit!  The second fish of the night latched hold of my crotch and wouldn’t let go!

Luckily I had worn my dry suite which protected my valuables. Once safe I heaved the blue across the Atlantic and then had a good laugh and paddled back to my spot.  I should have known at that point these feisty little blues had a major attitude problem and where looking for blood.  On the very next cast my gulp was swarmed by a school of Bluefish and they attacked the gulp as if they were a pack of piranhas. I reeled in my jig with just a tiny piece of gulp left, not wanting to waste my grub I casted out basically a scented hook and immediately hooked up with a decent blue.  I brought the blue demon over the rail, grabbed him with my left hand and while trying to reach for my pliers to remove the hook the fish somehow managed to wiggle out of my left hand and propel himself towards my right hand.  Within a millisecond I had 15.5” yellow eyed demon clamped on to my forefinger like a pair of vice grips. The only difference is vice grips don’t have razor sharp teeth.  With my hands kind of occupied trying to keep this blue from taking a chunk of finger off I used my left hand to keep him steady.  Luckily Dan was within yelling distance and I was able to get his attention.  He quickly paddled over to aide in the removal of the Bluefish clamp that was fused to my finger.  I could feel the teeth hitting the bone in my finger.  It took maybe 30 seconds of prying and beating this blue before it finally let go, which to me felt like minutes due to the horrible pain I was in.  After ejection of the Bluefish from the kayak I had to make a decision - stay and continue fishing or paddle back for the first aide.  Paddling would have been difficult seeing as I was pouring blood all over the kayak and gear.  Seeing how the fishing was good with plenty of Hickory Shad to keep things fun, I decided to deal with my wounds at a later time and knew eventually the bleeding would stop.   I took a break from the bluefish for awhile and caught a few croakers and plenty of Hickories while trying to find the stripers.  I never did find any stripers but had fun and around 11:30 decided to call it a night as I had plans to be on the Eastern Shore early in the morning.

Hearing good reports of drum being landed from the eastern shore, I finally had a day that the weather allowed me to get over there and chase some bruiser reds around the flats and shoals – well, so I thought.  The day started out optimistic with nice weather and a light breeze. 

Sunrise overlooking Fisherman's Inlet
I arrived at the Wise Point boat ramp a little after 6am and not long after my arrival Rob Choi pulled up.  After a short strategy session we were off. It was slow, slow, and slow.  The water clarity wasn’t the best for sight fishing and with the slight chop on the surface my eyes started to play tricks on me.  Slowly making way towards the shoals, while trolling 6” Swimbaits, thick fog started to roll in.  As cool as it looked at a distant, it was not cool once we were engulfed by it.  Navigating around the breaking shoals was a no go.  After limited visibility and no fish, Rob and I decided to split and cover two different areas in hopes that one of us would be able to locate the fish. I made my way to the North end of Fisherman’s Island bayside.  The water was much cleaner there.  After a couple hours of scanning dead water I made my way back south to an area where I had seen stripers in the last few years.  Still, no luck.  That was frustrating, I hate getting skunked!  The only good thing was the water clarity improved a lot from earlier in the morning but by then I had ran out of time.  I had to be at the Pirates of Lynnhaven meeting early that evening, so I made way back to the boat ramp.  That’s when my last glimmer of hope for the day came as a school of stripers came screaming along in some shallow water - like 18 inches shallow. They saw me and broke into two groups still within casting distance.  I landed a perfect cast, or so I thought, about 20 yards ahead of the moving school. With the water so shallow, the splash of the cast spooked the school and they left the vicinity and headed for the nearby channel.  Just as quickly as it appeared there disappeared my chances of catching a fish that day.  Out of time I called it a day to head back to enjoy the camaraderie of the Pirates of Lynnhaven.

Until next time, go and get Infishicated!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Winter 2012

Here it is April and I am just now getting around to my first post for 2012.  Well I can say it is not from the lack of catching fish.  I have been quite busy the last few months and have tried to fit in fishing whenever I have the time and weather allows.  I was elected by my fellow brethren in the Pirates of Lynnhaven Kayak Fishing Club back in December as the new Tournament Director.  I am honored that I have the opportunity to help and to be more involved with such a great kayak fishing club.  Taking on this new role has been a learning experience.  Be on the lookout for POL tournaments and events.  There are a lot of dedicated anglers working to make 2012 a phenomenal year for the Pirates of Lynnhaven.  I will be posting more information on the Angler of the Year tournament Series within the next few weeks.

Speck Trout Fishing was consistently good the first half of January. I made it out a couple times per week after work for some late night sessions and each night I averaged 5 trout in the 20-23 inch range.  Unfortunately in February the night time bite slowed down.   Once the weather stabilizes and the winds calm down I will be on the prowl under the moonlight again.

23" ER Trout
She liked my Catch 5.  When I hooked this gal, I
already had four shake off near the kayak
20.5" Speck
23" Striper
I will also be competing in the Atlantic Division IFAKayak Fishing Tour this year.  This is my rookie year with the tour.  First stop was in Savannah, GA, March 24 & 25.  The event was well organized and planned but unfortunately, for the competitors, the weather made for some harsh fishing conditions both during pre-fishing and tournament day.  Even though I was dodging thunderstorms and fighting oppressive winds all weekend I still managed to have a great time by meeting and making new friends who share the passion of fishing as I do. I am looking forward to the second event coming up on June 2 & 3, in Charleston, S.C.

Sunrise over Saint Catherines Sound on Tournament Day
The very next weekend after the Savannah event, my girlfriend Nicole and I fished the MS Shad Shootout in Richmond, VA.  The MS Shad Shootout was a fishing tournament to raise money for the MS Challenge Walk.  We fished the James River in Richmond, VA and launched the canoe from Anncarrows Landing.  The location was by far not the prettiest scenery on the James River but it was still fun none the less.  This was my first time fishing in Richmond and first time specifically targeting Shad.   My Shad prowess was not so great; we started out throwing gold shad spoons while working our way to the I-95 Bridge.  When noon approached we still had not boated any fish.  We decided to drift our way back down river and with a few changes to my rig we were a drift.  My rig for the drift consisted of a row of 10 gold hooks tipped with a tiny piece of night crawler.  It wasn’t long and I had a fish on. All it took was a small Blue Catfish to break the skunk.  At that time I thought catching a shad for cut bait was not going to happen. So on the rod I had planned to use cut shad with I placed a 4” new penny Gulp shrimp on the 8/0 circle hook.  Within minutes of dropping the Gulp to the bottom I was hooked up again to another small catfish and no sooner than releasing the blue cat my rod with the gold hook was bent over with the first shad of the day. BAIT!! I dropped anchor and proceeded to cut the shad up and to use as cut bait.  This is when the day became exciting.  Cast after cast I was pulling in catfish and Nicole was joining in on the thrill too.  We wore that spot out and after not getting any bites for awhile, it was time to call it a day.  I ended the day with my biggest Blue cat going 28”and a pair of shad; Nicole caught several kitties, a PB 24” Blue Cat, 20” Striper and a Shad. 

This little guy broke the skunk
Nicole's first shad
24" Blue Cat
That's a face only a mother can love
A fat 28" Blue Cat
20" Striper
All that paddling against current and reeling in fish after fish worked up an appetite.  We were in luck as the weigh-in for the MS Shad Shootout was at Finn McCool’s in RVA.  After a cold refreshing beer and hot food, I would recommend checking out Finn McCool’s if you are in the area.  Their calamari appetizer is a good place to start on the menu too.  I soon realized my blue cat, although a decent size, was not going to be sufficient for placing in the tournament with my one recorded medium sized Shad.  I had no regrets though because it was a great day on the water.  Congratulations to the winners of the MS Shad Shootout and a big thanks to Thom Mattauch for organizing a great event.

The Winnners!!!!!
William (3rd Place), Brian (1st Place) and Tom V (2nd Place)
Maybe next year you wont catch all your fish the day before?
Until next time, go and get Infishicated! 

Product Review - FINS Premium Superlines

FINS, for years chose to use their braiding expertise to manufacture braids for others who marketed superlines.  Over the years FINS offered these customers value added services to improve the performance of braided Spectra lines.  FINS, using their knowledge of superlines, developed coloring, coating and other post-processing techniques needed to make Spectra fiber lines user friendly.  FINS product line of situation braids is a natural evolution based on experiences and capabilities.  No single style of Superline will be universally liked nor is any one style best for all situations.  That's why FINS developed a line of situational braids, to offer anglers a choice depending on their situation and personal preferences.  FINS offers five styles of fishing Superlines, each one produced with genuine spectra fibers and manufactured at their Kentucky plant.

I have been using FINS XS, Windtamer and PRT Braid, for several months now.   I have been remarkably pleased with FINS line of braid. I currently have XS in the 15lb and 20lb test spooled on my reels. .  FINS XS is very smooth and slick, which is nice because it is smoother and quieter than other brands when coming through the guides.   I have tested this line the past fall and winter on the HRBT light line catching stripers and on the Elizabeth River chasing trout.

I also have a few spools of Windtamer for those breezy days in 15lb & 30lb test.  Windtamer braid has been treated to produce a more compacted round and smoother Superline with a firm body.  This enables Windtamer to pack very well on reels without pulling into itself and cuts through the wind to cast without wind knots and rod tip wrapping.  Saltwater inshore fishing is a situation where Windtamer stands out, particularly for those using bait casting reels. I have been using the Windtamer in the color pink.  The benefits of pink are low visibility below the water and high visibility above the water.

I have also started using the FINS Shock Absorbing Braid (SAB) which is designed to offer a little stretch for those fishing situations where a little give is helpful.  So far I have been using this for my topwater baits, big jerk baits and crank baits.  SAB is 75% spectra and 25% Dacron; this blend allows the line to stretch 8 to 10 percent when under a load.

If you are an angler who wants the best of the best, you have to try FINS Situational Braid.