Wednesday, August 15, 2012

HOW and a family packed weekend.....

This past weekend was one that posed not only logistical challenges for me, but also physical challenges.  You see, the weekend for my family was to say a little hectic, and by the end of it, I was physically spent and put nearly 1,000 miles on my vehicle in three days.  I started the weekend off on a Friday with my scheduled day off.  So of you have already read the tale of how I chartered a kayak guide for my son on Friday.  Well, that was only the beginning of what would be a non-stop weekend of events for me.  Friday night was family night, so I treated my wife and son to an evening out to go and watch our first Cirque du Soleil show, this one was Dralion.  All I can say is WOW!  Those folks have some serious skill.
The show was amazing and my son fell asleep believe it or not towards the end of the show.  So, we headed home, but the stay was short lives since I was up at 4am to head to Rudee Inlet for a Tidewater HOW event.  We had a handful of veterans joining us this morning, and we wanted to get them on some fish.  So I arrived just as the sun was peaking over the trees and headed out to pre-scout the water and locate some fish.  Unfortunately, it was right at the peak of the slack tide, so except for the occasional breeze, the water was very still and the morning took on an air or tranquility.
I figured since I had arrived a little early and the fish weren't active yet, I would pedal about and check out the various signs of life that might be up and at 'em this early in the morning.  Along the far side of the inlet, there is a grass flat with some oyster beds and small channels that flow through them at high tide.  When low tide is present; however, all of the small critters are exposed and the stalking predators like herons, egrets and the like are out in full force looking for an early breakfast.
At low tide, it is a great opportunity to explore areas and their respective natural features that you would normally not know existed when high tide is upon you.  I was able to see various cuts and lay downs I did not know were there.  I even took notice of the depth changes around the grassy out cropping to get an idea of how much tidal influence there really was like the image above and the one below.

As the morning wore on, it was time to make my way back to the launch and help unload the heroes kayaks for the day and get ready for the event.  By the time we launched, it was close to 9:30am and the incoming tide had started to run.  The wind decided to blow in the opposite direction of the current, so fishing the incoming tide was not as easy as we had hoped.  After a few unsuccessful drifts and casting perpendicular to the current, we found our way over to a spot where everyone could get a break from the wind and still cast a line.  We set up on the shallow oyster bed and cast our lines in the water.  Almost immediately, everyone started getting bites albeit from little puppy drum, but a fish is a fish!!  Almost every cast had one of the participants, including volunteers hooked up with a fish.

Even our fearless leader, Tom Vanderheiden the Tidewater Chapter President, got in on the action with several puppy drum and a surprise fish for the day - a baby black drum!!
It was a great way to round out my morning, but alas I had to part company with these folks, skip out on lunch with them and make my way westward.  I had to go home and pick up the family for phase two of our Saturday, a second HOW event, only this one was with the Central VA Chapter.  I made it home and loaded up the family and hit the road.  We arrived at Sandy River Reservoir a few minutes late, but no real worries since Mother Nature had decided to rain for a bit anyway as we nearing the site.  Once the rain passed, we launched with my hero and his grandson.  This was only the second time his grandson had ever been in a kayak, but he seems to be making headway and getting the hang of it.

The winds were blowing straight out of the south which makes fishing the normal spots along the western banks and northern pockets a tad difficult.  We sought out refuge in the coves until the winds laid down enough to make our casts easier and more accurate.  The sudden change in weather and the winds made it a tough day on the water.  My son didn't let it bother him though, so I staked him out in the back of a cove and showed him how to sit side saddle and cast out into the open cove.

He persevered and toughed out a day with difficult conditions.  Each time I head out with a hero, I try to impart some form of knowledge or tactic that might increase the odds of catching a fish.  On days like this, I had traditionally found that largemouth do not like to hang out in exposed water with no cover, so I headed back into a protected cove and started targeting outer edges of grass lines.

On the very first cast, I hooked up with a smallish 12" largemouth.

I re-rigged my soft plastic and made a second cast to the next set of pockets and found another hungry participant, this one was the same length but a little chunkier..............
I made my way over to the opposite bank and started punching the grass mats though the open holes and found a third hungry bass.  This one got hung up in the grass pretty deep, which is always a possibility when using this technique.  Since I was using my finesse spinning setup, I couldn't power the fish out of the grass for fear of the leader snapping.  I pedaled over and found the fish entangled in the grass mat and had unhooked himself and was just laying there.  He was the same size, so I didn't bother with a photo and just freed him to go about his business.  While my hero I was paired with didn't catch any fish, he did have some bites, and his grandson caught his very first fish from a kayak - a small channel catfish.  I was too far away to get a good photo in time before the fish was released, but you could see he was content.

Unfortunately, the outing was cut short by the dinner bell, so we all headed in.  Today's meal was provided once again by Charley's Waterfront Cafe.  Today's meal consisted of a chicken and sausage fettuccine dish with french bread and fresh watermelon - YUM!!!!  I finished off the weekend with another family outing on Sunday - a live concert for my son and wife.  I went sort of old school, well for me it was.  I took them to see Def Leppard and Poison - my son loved it and asked me the next day....."Daddy, when can we go see that concert again?"

Great times indeed!!!

Be safe out there, tight lines and make time to spend with your own family, whoever they may be in your life!

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