Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eeling for the Big' Uns

With the water getting cold, I have had striper on my mind for weeks. Between work, school, and hunting, I haven't had the chance to get down to the light lines yet, and have gone striperless for almost 12 months. I called Rob Choi to see if he wanted to fish the HRBT on Friday night, but he wasn't in town. He did say he planned on toggin' or eelin' on Sunday which got me all fired up, as there have already been a few reports of Kows coming in from the Concrete Ships. The winds weren't great either for fishing the light line, so I decided to hold off and fish Sunday. In the mean time, my fishin buddy Alex Britland called and wanted to go to the ships, as did  William Ragulsky, so we decided to cross the big bridge in search of citation stripers instead of fishing under it for Tog. Billy's buddy Tommy would be joining us as well, and the plan was to meet at Oceans East for eels before crossing the tunnel.

We hit the water around 11 and headed straight to the alleyways between the ships. It was my first trip to Kiptopeke, so I was excited just to be in the mecca of kayak fishing for stripers.

Me and Alex set up on opposite sides of an alley and dropped our eels down, set the clickers, and waited for a bite....... nothing. A couple hours later...... nothing. There was a point when my eel was going nuts, but nothing ever came of it.

After an hour, I brought him up to find he had balled up on the line and created a mess. I decided just to cut him off and re-tie. The current was dying at the alleys, so Alex decided to drift the outside of the ship. He had only drifted about 60 feet from me when I heard his clicker scream. I looked over to see Alex set the hook, but the clicker screamed again.....? In all his excitement, he forgot to put the reel in gear........the fish was gone!
Billy had one run later in the afternoon, but all in all, it was an uneventful day and we headed in around 4:00.

 We all agreed, The fish are there, just not real active yet. Once the water temps drop a little lower, the bite will turn on. It was worth a try. We considered hitting the CBBT light line on the way home, but being Sunday, Alex and I both dicided it would be better if we headed home. Turns out Rob had gone toggin' and finally got his citation Tog. Congrats Rob! We stopped at Ships Cabin for some dinner with Billy and were home by 9:15.
                                                                             Sunset over the Ships is Beautiful!
It won't be long til I make the drive back over to the Eastern Shore. Kows are calling my name, and I can't catch 'em sitting on my couch! Tight Lines- See ya on the water.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spots and Specks

Kamaron's granddad turned 90 years old this past Veterans Day, so we headed to Wrightsville Beach one last time this year to celebrate with him. He is in great shape for a man of his age, and still goes hunting and fishing when he can. Coincidentally, the NCKFA was hosting a small tournament at Fort Fisher the same weekend, so I could see no reason not to take my little plastic boat down with me and see if I could find some fish. William Ragulsky was also going to be in the area on other kayak fishing business, so we decided we would get together and try to plunder another kayak from a N.C. tourny. This would be a CPR event, with the combined total length of 1 redfish and 1 speckled trout being measured, hence the name Spots and Specks.

This was a very informal tourny, with the registration and captains meeting held the morning of, at the public ramp into the Basin @ Fort Fisher. Lauch time wasn't until 8:00. Billy had won the Hook, Line, and Paddle tournament with a trout from the fort, and I had fished here a bunch in the past, so we knew we could find fish, it was just a matter of finding bigger fish.

We started the morning trolling the wall that separates the Basin from the Cape Fear River with a 3" Bayou Thumper and Mirrolures. There are several places where the wall has broken apart, and the current rolls through carrying bait back and forth from the river. It didn't take long to get my first bite, and with the head shakes, I was sure it was a trout... until I saw those beady yellow eyes.... Damnit! Bluefsih.
We trolled the wall around to Zeke's Island and worked that area for a bit, drifting along the wall and casting. There was very little bait in the water, so it looked like it was going to be an all artificial day, which I don't mind one bit. We decided to head through the Cribs and down to the second bay. Billy quickly picked up a 13" Spec as we left the wall and trolled along Zeke's. A few minutes later my rod bent over but as soon as I picked it up, the fish came unbuttoned. I left the line out and began paddling again trying to match my previous speed when it bent over again. This time I made a good hook set. The fish stripped a little drag, shook its head a few times and came over the side of the boat.
At just under 17" in was no gator, but if I could find an upper slot Red, I might have a chance at this thing. We worked our way down the the second bay, trolling the whole way, picking up smaller fish here and there. We weren't hearing of any trout much bigger than 17" being caught, so I still felt confident that I had a chance at this thing.

Billy ended up way out in front and I eventually lost track of him, as his boat is much faster than mine. The tide was moving out pretty fast now, and having my specks, I went in search of my spots. I found a very shallow cut between a grass island and the shoreline with a muddy bottom. This looked promising, so I slowly worked my way in, keeping my eyes peeled for signs of activity. There was only about 18" of water and it was crystal clear, but the breeze was blowing a little, and I couldn't get the sun at my back, so spotting the fish was proving difficult. As soon as I entered the creek, I paddled right over a redfish and he spooked, leaving behind a cloud of muddy water. After spooking 3 or 4 more fish, I finally spotted one ahead of me slowly cruising around waiting for the current to push bait to him. My heart was beating like the first time I shot a deer. I made a perfect cast and he immediately hit the Thumper, but it was a short strike. Luckily, I hadn't tried to set the hook, and just kept my retrieve steady. He was chasing the bait- couldn't have been more than 3 or 4" behind it. I paused my retrieve for a split second and he short struck again. At this point he was only 15' from the kayak. He saw me and disappeared into a cloud of pluff mud. I worked my way throught the rest of the cut, a spotted a few more, but was unable to cast to them before they spooked.

I met back up with Billy, and we worked through the same area one last time looking for a redfish, and found one more, but Billy made a bunch of commotion and that fish was long gone. I'll let him tell you the story, if he wants. We trolled our way back to the ramp and both picked up a few more small trout, but nothing worth keeping.
        This one went somewhere around 13" but hopped back into the water before I could get a clear picture. We ended the day with lots of specks but no spots. The winner, with a 18.5" redfish and a 18.25" speckled trout took home a new boat from KC Kayaks. I took home dinner, so I wasn't empty handed.
Gotta love the bait well in the Malibu Stealth. Almost 5 hours after catching this guy, he was still live and kicking, and that's without the aerator plumbed. As always, it was a great day on the water. Always glad to wet a line with Billy. NCKFA puts on a few great tournaments every year, and the Wrightsville Beach/Cape Fear/Fort Fisher area is fantastic place to kayak fish. Check it out if your looking for a new fishing destination.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Proud Older Brother

My brother Jeremy was never into fishing when we were kids. He grew bored very quickly and didn't have the patience. A few years ago he started talking about how he wanted a recreational kayak, but never had the money to spend. After I bought my Malibu last year, his desire to paddle re-emerged. When he decided to move to Charleston, SC with a couple buddies, he also decided he wanted to buy a fishing kayak and learn how to fish. Unfortunately, I didn't have alot of time to hit the water with him, as he moved 10 days after buying his Tarpon 140, but the guys he was moving in with would be able to teach him the basics.

Jerm finally made it out on the water yesterday and caught his first fish from the yak, his first redfish, and his first flounder!I was stoked for him when he text messaged me the pics and called him right away. Him and Chris decide to fish the Wando River for a couple hours before work after some helpful info from TKAA member Eric Miles. They were working popping corks with live shrimp underneath and slayed 'em! Jerm caught 6 reds up to about 18" and a healthy keeper flounder. I am super proud of him and can't wait to wet a line with him.

                                                                               Jerms First Red Drum Ever!!
                                                                                 Jerms First Flounder Ever!!
                                                                           Jerms Personal Best Redfish!!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Speck-tacular Day!

Its no secret the speckled trout bite is hot right now. With that said, I was itching to bend a rod, so me and Alex headed down to meet William Ragulsky at Wallace's Saturday morning. We were late getting out of Richmond, so Billy was waiting for us at the ramp ready to go. It was after 7:30 by the time we hit the water, but we headed out optimistic. To make a long story short, we saw very little bait on the flats and even fewer fish. Billy managed 2 specks, but around 11:30 we decided to pack it up and head over to Lynnhaven. We took our time getting there, allowing the tide to turn. We headed out of crab creek and back through the marsh towards Bayville, and it didn't take long to find fish. Billy hooked up first.
 They were dinks so we kept moving in search a school of larger fish. As we came out of one of the creeks, Billy and I both heard a huge splash is a small cove in the marsh grass. Seconds later I see a large Redfish shoot from the grass and crash a school of bait, slashing the surface in the shape of a "z", then disappearing back into the grass. We both pressed in our Stick It pin's into the mud and to the fish, but it wouldn't take anything we threw at it.

Trout had began to bust the surface all around us, so Alex and I switched gears and started working the cork, while Billy headed on in search of more Reds. First cast, we both hooked up. They were small Specks @ 10-11" but we didn't mind- it was fun fishing.

Every other cast one of us was landing a trout and I lost count of how many double we had. 
The bite was slowing with the tide and Alex didn't have a light on him, so we had to leave as it got dark. We made a few more casts while waiting to meet back up with Billy, and found another school of spikes. They were a little larger than the others but no keepers.
 We trolled our way back to Crab Creek. About half way back Billy's pole bent over and we could tell this was a better fish.

After a short fight, Billy landed a healthy 19" Speck. He was kind enough to ask if I wanted the fish for dinner, and I graciously accepted. Both Alex and I ended the day with close to 20 fish. I never got a count from Billy but I'm sure he did better than us. Lure of the day was the Marsh Works Bayou Thumper. We hit the road and were home by 10. Great day on the water.... and a great dinner Sunday night. (broiled the trout with a little butter, salt, and pepper. DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Its been a while

Things have been real busy lately, and though I have done quite a bit of fishing since my last post, I just kept putting off writing about them. So here we go...

My brother finally decided he wanted a fishing kayak( and to learn how to fish) since he was moving to Charleston, SC at the end of September. He found a great deal on a Tarpon 140 rigged and ready to go. Since he was leaving a couple weeks after buying the boat, and had lots to do to get ready for the move, we didn't get a chance to hit the salt. The rainy weather broke for a few hours on Saturday(9-05-11) so me, Kamaron, and my brother Jeremy hit the James River looking for some whisker kitties. We decide to stay close to the bridge since there was still a good chance of scattered showers.
I showed him how to tie off a fishfinder rig, and we put out some extra large minnows to soak. He hooked up with something, but lost it seconds later. Not long after, I had a solid thump and set the hook. Turned out to be a 5 lb bucket mouth.
                                         A little while later, Kam picked up a  little smallmouth. It was her first smallie.

The sky started getting dark so we packed it in and called it a day. Its too bad Jerm didn't decide he wanted to kayak fish earlier so we could have spent some time on the water together. I love teaching someone how to fish, but I would have really enjoyed teaching him. He's living with a couple guy that fish and one of them owns a yak, so I'm sure he will have someone to show him the ropes. His plans are to consistently catch bigger fish than me( remember he is in Charleston) and rub it in my face. Nothing like competition between brother, especially twin brothers.

The Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association held their 7th annual Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament on Sept. 23rd. This is a great event benefiting the Heroes On The Water. The weather sucked the entire week prior to the tourny, as well as the day of, but it didn't keep anybody away. This year, with 220 registered anglers, it was the 2nd largest kayak fishing tournament on the east coast. Kamaron and I decided we would fish the Poquoson area even though we didn't have a lot of experience there. All in all, it was an extremely slow day for both of us. Kam hooked up to a big trout early in the morning (on the same Mirrolure that Forrest kept getting stuck in his hand), but 15' from the boat it broke off and took the suspending twitchbait with it. I landed 1 dink trout that went 12" later in the morning fishing a Bayou Thumper under a Marsh Works cork. That was all the action we had and headed to the "weigh in" empty handed. We had a great time and were glad to help out such a worthy cause. I understand our tournament raised $10,000 for Heroes!
                                                          As sad as it sounds, this was the only picture I took all day.

Two weeks later on October 8th was the NCKFA Oak Island Classic. Kam's family has a house down there in Holden Beach, so it was a no brainer to fish this one. Instead of defending his title at the Poquoson Seafood Festival Fishing Tournament, William Ragulsky was itching to get back to the Cape Fear area after winning the trout division in the TJM Charity tournament in August, so he decided to join us. We threw his kayak on the trailer and headed down a day early to pre-fish. The wind was blowing 15+ on Friday, so we didn't cover much water. We did locate some fish but were unable to hook up. It was announced at the captains meeting that the King Mackerel division would be cancelled due to the small craft advisories offshore, but the Hobie prize would be converted to a prize for the biggest fish if the day. After weighing our options, we decided to fish the Caswell Beach area. Initially, we considered crossing the Cape Fear over to Buzzards Bay, but with the wind forecasted 15 with gusts up to 25 mph, we knew that was out of the question.
Launch time was 7:00am. We left the ramp optimistic we could find some fish. I found a very shallow oyster bed(got stuck and had to walk my boat 30 feet) with the tide ripping over it and decide to drop a carolina rigged finger mullet as I came over the back side where it dropped off about 4 feet. It didn't take long beofre I got a bite, but I knew right away it wasn't what i was looking for.

Billy was the next to hook up, and boated a small red about 15" fishing a small point where the current ripped over an oyster bed. That was followed by another redfish about the same size. In between Billy catching his fish, Kamaron was yelling to us, but with the wind blowing the way it was, I could just barley hear her. Turns out the saw a fish busting bait on the surface, cast her cork and hooked into a healthy 24" red.
         Although she tried not to get her hopes up, all three of us thought this fish would be competitive. I anchored up near hear and tossed out the carolina rig to soak while I worked my popping cork/thumper combo. After just a few minutes I see the rod with the mullet bend over. FISH ON! This one has some shoulders and I'm excited. After making a run for deeper water, I get the fish up....
                                                                                Sting Ray!?  Damn it!
We moved on around to the next creek. the tide had turned and we could drift back towards the ramp. It was getting late and we didn't have much more fishing time. Billy was after trout now and picked up a speck while trolling a Thumper. It wasn't huge but it another fish in the boat. He immediately headed for deeper water and quickly picked up a small flounder to complete his Slam. I heard him yell and paddled that way to hear the good news. He had his slam and Kam had a competitive fish so we paddled hard for the ramp. Ties are decided by who "weighs in" first.
    The results were disappointing- Kam's redfish was 1/4" out of placing. She made a comment about how bitter sweet it was to get beat by so little. There were 4, maybe 5 other slams caught that day and Billy's didn't place. None of us thought there would be that many people that caught all three species. There were a couple of joke divisions, Slum Slam(trash fish), smallest fish, and a Sting Ray/Skate slam. Anybody who caught a sting ray had there name put in a bucket and 1 winner was drawn. All three of us had caught a stingray, but Billy chose not to write his down on his score card. There were only 3 names and we knew me and Kam were in there. Guess who won the string ray slam? Yup- yours truely.  Billy errupted with a very mocking "YES!!!!!" and the room filled with laughter. I was awarded a trash can to hold my trash fish, and a rubber stretchy sting ray. We ended up making out like bandits with the raffle and brought home a new Bending Branches Slice Angler paddle, along with a Astral PFD, and a slew of tackle including Mirrolure's and an entire set of various sized Hopkins spoons, and a bunch of soft plastics. 

We fished the next day near the house in Holden Beach where we caught a bunch of redfish and flounder earlier in the summer. It's not very active fishing, soaking bait and waiting for a bite, but it consistently put food on the table this summer(refer to previous post). Billy landed 2 reds that day. One went 22"ish and the other got away while he was trying for the hero shot. We had Cajun blackened redfish for dinner. The weekend was over and Sunday we left North Carolina.

A week or two later, I headed down to catch up with Billy, his buddy Tommy, and Tom VanderHeiden, to be a croaker choker for the morning. Tom had the big silver drum pinned down and we were gonna get on 'em! As soon as we drop lines we are getting bites. I was using a medium action St. Croix Triumph spinning outfit. I lost count of how many big croakers we caught, but they were all in the 14-17" range. Man they were fun! The bite died later in the morning and we searched for reds and trout the rest of the afternoon. I managed 1 trout about 17"(again on the Bayou Thumper), but the hook just barely got the skin on the lip and I lost him at the boat. That night me and Billy wanted to go to the CBBT and try for the big Bull Reds that Rob Choi and Kayak Kevin had been catching, but the weather didn't look great, so we stayed inshore and went looking for pups. We were unsuccessful- tides were all wrong for the area we wanted to fish.

The light line is heating up and the water is full of Specks right now... I'm itching to get back down to the beach and hit the water. I will try to be more timely with my posts in the future. See ya' on the water.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nice, Long Vacation with a Tourney mixed In

My girlfriends family owns a house on the ICW in Holden Beach, NC, so we get down there a few times every year to fish, including a long week in August. This year I had some extra vacation time so I figured we should go for a long couple weeks( 17 days to be exact). Why the hell not, right? With the TJM Celebrity Kayak Tournament scheduled the week before our normally scheduled trip, it just made sense. The plan was to relax and fish Holden Beach for a couple days, catch a Donavon Frankenreiter concert in Wilmington, then head to the Kure Beach area start pre-fishing for the tournament on the 30th. William Ragulsky and Wayne Bradby were heading down early to pre-fish too, so the plan was to catch up with them and hit Fort Fisher hard. One thing led to another(one beer led to another) and I never made it out to pre-fish. Luckily I was familiar with the fort and Billy and Wayne were kind enough to share some info. The morning of the tourney, after sleeping for about 3.5 hours, my girlfriend Kamaron Owens, and my buddy Alex Britland, and I were at the ramp @ 5:30. Billy and Wayne were already there and counting down the minutes til they could launch at 6:00, along with about 10-12 other yakers. Before long, watch alarms started going off and the tourney had started. After gathering plenty of finger mullet for bait, we headed out to hit some holes where we had previously found fish. Billy had already caught a 17" trout  along the wall and was optimistic that it would place.

           Wayne had also picked up a 16.5" spec and they had moved on to chase a different species.
We worked out way down a grassline fishing finger mullet and soft plastics, letting the tide move us towards the Cribbs. Kam was the first one to hook up and it was imediately obvious she had hooked up a Red. After a short fight, the fish was landed and picture taken. Though it was a good fish @ 20" we knew it take take a bigger fish to place.

It wasn't long before Alex hooked up with another Red @ 19", and Kam pick up another about 20". I decided the right thing to do was let Billy and Wayne know we had found a school of smaller reds, so I gave them a shout on the radio. Wayne had already picked up a small flounder and decided to come over our way to see if he could finish off his slam. While on the radio, my rod with a live finger mullet bent over and I was hooked up... turned out to be a ray. Very disappointing, but I got right back at it and 20 min later the rod doubled over again, this time with an obvious redfish, but again too small to place.
 We decided it was time to switch gears and head over to a flounder hole we knew about. I figured that with our smaller fish, the best chance we had at the prizes was to catch a slam, which I have never done. Again, finger mullet was the bait of choice.On my first pass through, I was hooked up. I could tell I had a flattie and unfortunately, I knew it wasn't very big, but all I needed was to pick up a decent trout and hope nobody else caught a slam.

                  Billy had picked up a good sized redfish  @ 24.25"

and was taking a smoke break when Wayne came over the radio to tell us he had picked up a 26" red right where we had been catching them earlier. Damnit! Should have stayed.

Wayne had his slam and could relax alittle. Kamaron had picked up a small flouder and went back to the wall to find a trout, even though at this point we knew beating Wayne's slam was highly unlikely. Billy moved around to where I had been catching flounder in hopes of catching a flounder bigger than Waynes, as they were both very close in total length. Wanye came around to where me and Billy were and it didn't take long before he was bowed up. Turned out to be a nice flounder and measured in @ 19.5".

At this point, I headed over to catch up with Kamaron on the wall. She was still hunting for a Spec, but had been so far unsuccessful. We spent the next couple hours looking for trout, but the day ended uneventfully, so we packed up and headed to they weigh- in. Billy's trout took first place!
         Trout Division winner!  Artwork, Dry-gear, Carbon Fiber Paddle, Native Ultimate 14.5 Tandem

Wayne had caught the only slam of the day, a whopping 62" total. All 3 fish would have taken 2nd place in their specific divisions, if allowed.

              Slam Division Winner! Go Pro camera, Trophy, and Artwork


After a day of rest, Kamaron, my buddy Ramsey, and I spent the next few days fishing near the house in Holden Beach. We focused on flounder and redfish in the backwater near the inlets. We had very little luck with the flatfish, but we had great luck with the Red Drum. Since Ramsey was without a kayak, the fishing was to be done from a 1968 13' Boston Whaler...beautiful little boat.

                                          Beautiful isn't it?

                                          Kama with a nice red!

                           Ramsey with his biggest of the year @ 26"

                                    Kam with another nice one!

           My biggest red to date and my first N.C. overslotter @ 28.75" Man did this pig strip drag!

                                        A good eatin' fish

 All in all, it was an epic 17 days and the beach!Can't wait to get back.