Since my last trip this past Thursday, my son has been after me to get him on the water. Ever since he landed his first bluegill from my kayak at age 4, he has literally been "hooked". He has even hinted that I should really divert funds his way, so he could have his own kayak. Too funny!! Little does he know that the plan has been in the works for some time now. Anyway, this past weekend presented an opportunity to get him out on the water for the first time this year. Up until now, the water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay have been fluctuating in the low 60's combined with windy conditions. Just recently, the water temperatures started steadily increasing into the lower 70's in certain areas of the bay, along with very warm air temperatures. This presented an opportunity to get him on the water for the first time safely, so I loaded up the van the night before and awoke to find my son ready to go!!
Looking at the CBOFS readings (Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System) for the Thimble Shoal area one last time before leaving, it looked like the real-time wind readings and forecast for the rest of the day were not as favorable as I would have liked it to be, but a promise is a promise. I opted to launch on the Hampton side of the HRBT in hopes of keeping the 15mph NNE winds in check as a precaution. The weather updates on my marine radio also indicated that a small craft advisory was in place for later that day and for the remainder of the weekend, so that just further instilled upon me the need to keep a weather eye on the horizon as a precaution.
We pedaled out to the bridge complex and started drifting - for me, a Marsh Works Bayou Thumper in Pearl and for him a Haw River Sickle Tail grub in white with a pink tail in the hopes of locating some blues or croaker. My son's rod went down a couple times without any successful hook sets, so we moved over to a somewhat wind protected cove. I checked my son's lure and found the remains of a shredded Thumper from a voracious bluefish bite. I changed it out for him and told him to cast over to the shoreline and slowly bounce the lure back across the sandy flat. A few seconds later I hear the exuberant shout of my son screaming, "Daddy - I got one!". I turn around to see my son reeling in a nice little speckled trout.
Along the way, my son tells me he is hungry, and after a quick glance at my watch, I can see why......it was 12:30pm. Any parent knows that when their child starts hinting at being hungry, any family activity will soon come to a screeching halt if that urge is not satisfied. So we made our way back to the launch to pack up and get something to eat. As we are nearing the launch, I notice some movement near the pier and see a juvenile blue heron wading the shallows looking for a meal.
After about an hour of searching, we weren't having that great of a day. I knew from past experience that fishing Rudee the morning after a full moon would be challenging, but I was determined to try and get him on some of those feisty blues and croaker Rudee is known for. We made our way around to some of the well-known spots, but could only manage some passing bluefish strikes with no good hook sets. We drifted back past the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and took in the sights from a different perspective having visited the Science Center and outer grounds just this past fall. As we were drifting, I finally managed a firm strike and a hood hook set. The result was one of the many cookie cutter blues that frequent the area - a 13" chomper.
On our way back out into the inlet, I ran into a couple of familiar faces - Joe (AgentVA) and Mark (landingcrew). I have fished with both in the past in Rudee and knew both to be competent anglers for the area. Joe indicated a slow day as I had previously figured it would be, and Mark was heading out in hopes of getting a later afternoon bite. We chatted a bit with Mark and even spent a little while fishing with him. My son managed to land a few more crabs but no fish.