Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Per·sis·tence:  the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people  : the state of occurring or existing beyond the usual, expected, or normal time (www.merriam-webster.com)

25.75" Trophy Speckled Trout
  My persistence finally paid off.  A year and a half drought of not catching a paper Speck is no more!  It was tough at times, but not as you may think.  I wasn’t getting skunked or catching loads of spikes.  I steadily caught quality Specks, in the 20”-23.75” range.   I was not tormented by my buddies catching paper Specks from areas I disclosed to them.  What kept me up at night (ok, maybe that’s a bit of stretch) and had me agonizing in defeat, was the numbers of borderline fish that I caught and the monster trout that threw the hook at the last minute, all while watching friends a few yards away get multiple citations. Mike Iaconelli’s known for saying “Never Give Up” and that has been a source of inspiration for me on the less than inspiring days on the water in my quest for a speckled citation.  Knowing that all fisherman, especially those I look up too, experience extreme frustration in pursuing their goals is something I rely on to add perspective and motivation when I’m in a dry spell.   

Since the Hunter’s Moon in October I have been fishing my typical fall area for Speck’s.  While many fishermen are sharing water with others in combat style fishing at the Hot Ditch and the various inlets on the South Side, I am all alone on my favorite stretch of river.

When I am Speck fishing I am not looking for numbers; I’m looking for quality fish.  I might only get six fish a trip but consistently they will be over 20” and I know that at any moment a 30-inch or larger Gator could slam my lure. 

22" Speck 

I wouldn't be able to get to the Specks without my Aqua-Bound Paddle.

22.5" Speck
This Gal is Fat!
All fish this month have been caught using Rapala X-Rap SubWalk 09 in Glass Ghost and Purple Shad colors.  The ticket was to work them real slow with as little additional movement as possible.  The Kistler KLX MH / Shimano Chronarch 201E6 spooled with FINS 30# Braid was the perfect combo for this technique.  If I twitch and increased the speed during the retrieve, it usually resulted in smaller class Specks or Stripers.

Many times last winter I could have gone the easy route and picked up some minnows and a bobber and fished in the “Cove” or Hot Ditch, but I resisted.   It might seem I am too prideful about this, but for me it’s a matter of staying true to my fishing principles, which means I fish ‘my game’.  My game is avoiding the crowds and relying on the experience I gained by years of fishing and growing up on the Elizabeth River.  A year and a half is a long time to be persistent and plenty long enough for doubt to set in.  I’m thankful it paid off.

Next up – land a true Gator Trout.  Till then – stay infishicated.

Some of my by-catch:

Got this fat pumpkin while Fishing for Stripers in a Top Secret light line.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

September 2013 was fishy!

September was a very productive month for Redfish and Bass. All my scouting and exploring really paid off at the right time, as most Reds are at least 20" with many going over 26" and my average catch was in the 22-24" range. Almost all my Redfish were caught sight casting shallow flats in less than a foot of water. Bait of choice varied between Skitterwalks or spooks, paddle tails and soft jerk baits rigged weedless.
This Red was one of many while fishing 6 inches of water, it was an awesome day.

After fighting this brute I had to replace the hook due to it no longer resembling a hook.
Fat 27" E.R. Redfish
Over Labor Day I was able to get my wife out on the water.  She wanted to go paddling on the Eastern Shore. I don't know what it is but whenever she wants to go; it is inevitable that the wind is going to blow in the worst direction.  She was not too happy when she realized that she was going to paddle into a stiff wind for a couple miles in open water.  The hard work paid off we found a creek with a little wind protection and it was game on.  She was able to land her first red on her own with no assistance from me at all.  I did hand her a rod with a bare jighead already tied on and later tossed her a Gulp to bait up with.

On the hunt!
I can stand too!
Labor Day Red
Nicole's first Redfish!
On the windy days fishing deeper waters or at night I have been successful lately using Gulp swimming mullet on a weedless 1/4 oz-1/2 oz jighead, slow bouncing the bottom.

Last day of summer I went looking for Bull Reds, instead I found these guys wanting to play.

When it was too windy to go out in the Chesapeake Bay I found refuge at the local reservoirs.  My main pattern has been pitching through weeds bigger fish have been very shallow. The Booyah Spinnerbait came through late in the day too.

Ambitious little bass

I had a wedding to go to in Michigan and was unable to participate in the annual TKAA Tournament this year.  To make up for it I was able to get 3 trips in on the Maple River, but I had to do some borrowing of equipment.  All tackle, Rods and kayak was loaned to me by Tom (father in-law), Matt and Brent (brother in-laws).  I am thankful that my wife's family is avid outdoors enthusiast, for situations like this especially. The launch was a mere 2.25 miles from my in-laws and which made it possible to keep each trip short to not miss to much family time.

Friday afternoon was the first trip to the river and my expectations were low seeing how this was my first time on the Maple River.  The river holds many species but my main targets were Bass, Pike, Muskies and Walleye.  I was also keeping a look out for migrating Salmon and Steelhead as this is the time of year they start migrating up river to spawn.

I didn't take long to find the Smallmouth and Largemouth. In little time I landed over a dozen all on a beetle spin, this one in particular is my brother in-law call's "Kenny". When I wasn't throwing Kenny around, I had a square bill crankbait tied on. I fished for 3 hours and landed 30 bass.  I was stoked and couldn't wait for the chance to do it again.  Saturday was the wedding, ceremony, reception, eat, drink, dance it was a memorable time. On Sunday I somehow squeezed in two trips.  First a solo trip to the same spot for a couple hours with similar results from the first trip. Then later in the day Brother In-Law Matt and I went a little further north on the river to see if we could find some pike and walleye before sunset.  Matt lost a keeper walleye at the side of the kayak, and from that point on it was all Bass.  Kenny was getting it done again until we noticed a little surface activity.  I tied on a small super spook and first cast I was hooked up and piled up the numbers in a short amount of time.
First fish of the trip.

These little guys came from a small feeder creek.

Hard fighting Smallmouth

Fat Largemouth bit a square bill

Kenny strikes again
Topwater action! woohoo!
Never found any Northern Pike or Muskies but who cares, I sure don't! I had an Infishicated time fishing the Maple River and its feeder streams. Can't wait for my next trip up north at Christmas when I will be able to have my own gear, if the river has not freeze over by then.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to Back weekends

The wife and I headed north to Michigan for a long weekend mini vacation.  The whole purpose was to visit family and see our niece and nephew.  Well seeing how I had never been to Michigan during the warmer months and considering  my fishing disorder it was a must to try my luck on Michigan waters and species.  We flew in to Detroit, drove 2 hours northwest, I met up with my brother in-laws and then headed north for another 2-1/2 hours.  We made it on the water as the sun was going down chocked full of anticipation and with high hopes of filling the cooler with Rainbow Trout.  It was a chilly yet clear night; the stars where shining bright but the fishing was slow. We only managed 2 keeper Rainbow’s and about two dozen smelt.  The savor of the evening was I caught my personal best Rainbow trout…it was a whopper…watch out!

The whopper Rainbow...
Lucky me I married the best wife I could have ever imagined.  I got the clearance to get a second time on Sunday with my inlaw’s neighbor.  I met up with Eric and his son Dan at 3:30 am to make the 2-hour trip to Muskegon, MI in the hunt for Chinook and Coho Salmon on Lake Michigan.  The conditions couldn’t have been better, we had partly cloudy skies, a light breeze and perfect water temps.
Sunrise over the sand dunes on Lake Michigan
Again I was plagued with a slow to non-existent bite.  We had 9 rods out at one time with a big wide spread.  With the smorgasbord of lures we couldn’t buy a bite.  We were marking fish but hours went on with only one hit where it looked to be a big steelhead that hit the outside planer board, but shaked off as quick as it hit. Hope was fading and just when we decided to take a minute to snack, so did the fish.  I was up first and popped the cherry on my first Coho and the big fish of the day.

My first Coho Salmon
On the next pass in the area I hooked up again but lost it five feet from the net.  We were pumped and started to develop a pattern.  Sure enough, with another pass I was hooked in to a real fighter; this Coho had spunk.  After running through two other lines, cutting them off and tangling up all the gear, we had to get all the other lines in quick and turn the boat around to give chase.  We won the battle in the end.  I thought by the fight it was gonna be a monster…it was a solid fish but smaller than the first one. As fast as the bite turned on - it turned off and with the weather starting to turn with increasing winds we called it a day.  As I was pulling in the last line heading into the harbor, I had a hit and this time I got the Chinook (King) Salmon we were looking for.  He was much smaller than we wanted but still made it to the cooler. A big thank you goes out to Eric for putting me on some fish -  this guy knows Salmon.

Couple Coho's

  Shortly after our trip, he went back out and sent me a text while I was at work … he got a citation 27.02# Chinook (King) Salmon.

Eric's Trophy King Salmon

What a blast it was fishing new waters for new species and learning new techniques.  I am looking forward to the next trip to Michigan; hopefully it will include some monster Muskie and Walleye.
This was only half of the equation
Recently it’s been on my list to head up to Richmond VA for some Smallmouth Bass and Flathead Catfish.  What better time to go then when the winds looked crappy for my original planned targets in the Chesapeake Bay?  I called up Dan Smullen, made a game plan and it was fish on!  For August, the morning started off cold and rainy.  I made it up to Richmond to fish the James River a little later than planned.  It didn’t matter seeing how the bite was nowhere to be found.  I threw everything I had including the kitchen sink.  I was starting to dread the thought of a skunk coming on.  Late in the afternoon I decided to catch some Bream for Flathead bait and after catching a few, the Bass bite was finally on!  I landed the first Smallmouth of the day on a gulp cricket.

That was followed up with a big channel Cat that broke off when I grabbed the leader.  Then I went back to tossing artificial lures and caught five more smallies on the Rapala in a short amount of time but none worth writing home about.  All fish where no bigger than 8-12 inches.  So I decided to go back to cat fishing and it didn’t take long and I caught the first Flathead of the day. This guy was merely an appetizer.

I didn’t get any measurement but I’m guessing he was mid 20’s - y’all can be the judge.   Well the bite slowed down and it was getting late so we made our way back to the ramp.  I still had a lively bluegill hooked on so I dropped it down and decided to leave the reel in the free spool as we paddled back.  I mentioned to Dan how I didn’t know how I was going to reel in my line without getting snagged up, and jokingly said “I will wait to reel it in with a fish on…”.   With my kayak lying up on the bank while I prepared to load everything up, my rod started to shake and the line started to peel off the spool -  yup Hooked UP!  I couldn’t believe it.  Did I just call it or what?  This was a much stronger fighting fish than earlier and after a short battle I dragged the beasty Flathead up from the river.

37" Flathead
I wish every infishicated adventure ended in this fashion.

What a nice photo bomb!

This is what happens when I leave, they killed it.  I missed out by a couple of days.