Monday, September 30, 2013

Bringing Home the Bacon

     Every year in September, the Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association hosts the 3rd largest kayak fishing tournament in the country. This event draws hundreds of anglers from as far north as Maine, and as far south as Florida, to the tidewater area of Virginia to see who can bring home bragging right, a new kayak, and more importantly, raise money for a good cause. In 2012, TKAA donated $15,000 to Heroes On The Water, an organization committed to helping veterans by using a unique kayak fishing program, which allows the participants a chance to decompress from the stresses associated with combat and the physical rigors of rehabilitation. 

     As so often is the case, the weather for this years Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament looked dismal, but that wasn't going to stop us. We take this one pretty serious since its in our own backyards, not to mention the fact that Kam, Billy, and I had all placed in different divisions last years and wanted to better our finishes this time around. Having had her 1st place finish taken from her at last years weigh-in due to a loophole in the rules, Kam was especially driven this year.
     Billy and I had picked a spot that he was familiar with, and we thought would be productive, and fished it hard the weekend before the tournament with great results. Seven days later Billy, Kam, myself, and Alex paddled away from the launch confident that we would catch fish, and hoping they would be competitive. Redfish were plentiful this year, with huge numbers of fish in the 18-22" range, and we knew we would find them with ease. Good numbers of larger Speckled Trout were being caught in the area we were fishing, and though the Flounder bite wasn't as good as in years past, I figured we could bounce a jig in the channels til we found one. 

First fish of the day was a healthy 20"er, and my biggest Redfish of the day.

 My attitude toward the Flounder may have been to lackadaisical.
It wasn't much but it would have to do.
The Specks didn't want to come out and play. Although I had missed a couple much larger fish on topwater at first light, this was the only that I landed.... embarrassing.


     Kam had a bit of a different strategy than the rest of us. That was because, the Female Angler Division would be given to the largest Speckled Trout, Flounder, or Red Drum caught by a female. She figured that the winning fish would be a Drum, so she fished hard for them all day and was rewarded with fish after fish, the biggest of which went 21.75"

These two swallowed the hook and were destined to be blackened and seared.

     We packed up and headed for the weigh-in hoping that Kam's 21.75" Redfish was enough. She was trying not to get her hopes up, but I was confident she should place again this year. We had dinner and a few beers while the judges checked and double check all the paperwork. The tournament committee does a great job of soliciting donations, which makes for the biggest kayak fishing raffle I've ever seen- it takes hours to get it all raffled off. After a few more beers and a long wait, it was time for the results to be announced. We knew Kam had placed, because she had been called back to turn the pictures of her fish for final judging, and when the third place fish was announced at 19.25", I knew she had it. Kamaron had finally taken 1st Place!!!

I am so proud of her. She has the same passions for fishing as I do, and she's damn good at what she does. She's an awesome fishing partner and an even better life partner. Love you babe.