Saturday, October 18, 2014

Seeing Red.......

As of late, I have not had a chance to get on the water as much as I would have liked to, so I apologize to those of you that follow my adventures.  I had longed for the chance at a bull red, but my spring schedule didn't afford that opportunity.  The fall run would be my last shot for the year until next spring.  I ended up getting two chances - the first trip was at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and the second off of Sandbridge.  Both times I launched at first light and spent a good portion of the day with two rods deployed, but neither trip resulted in the big red I have longed for.  Although I blanked on both trips for that elusive big red, I did manage to catch my first trigger while bait fishing for spot and croaker.
I was using two combos for these outings.  The first was the new Release Reels SG combo I won from Boca Bearing with a live croaker on a standard fish finder rig, and the second was my Bull Bay Rods custom heavy/extra fast flipping rod for jigging a PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer.   I was joined a little later by Jay Brooks and was front and center for him catching a beastly red.  You can check out the full report on "Change Up" here: Jay Brooks Fishing.  A little later, Kayak Kevin showed up, and he caught a nice red as well that I sat and watched.  I still managed to bring home that trigger, and the nice 19.5" flounder Jay had caught for dinner later that night.

Later in the week, I decided to give it a shot off of Sandbridge.  When I launched, the breakers were rolling in at about 3' in the surf area making the launch a little sketchy.  It took a few minutes to break through, but I finally made it out albeit dreading the return trip to the beach.  Once I was clear of the surf zone, the ocean swells were easier to manage and made for a peaceful drift as the sun eclipsed the horizon.
I spent the first hour or so trying to find some bait to use for the big reds that had been reported in the area, but all I could find were small croaker in the 6" range.  I finally managed to find an 8" one and quickly baited him and dropped him in the zone.  While I didn't get that red I was searching for, I did manage to break in my new SG on a decent sized skate using the croaker I caught.

As the morning rolled on, the seas continued to build in advance of the upcoming storm.  I had hoped the seas would settle a bit as slack tide moved in but that never happened.  While I was fishing, I noticed the surfers had shown up and were paddling out.  I checked the radio one more time and realized I had made an error in judgment leaving shore.  The seas were forecast to build even more as the day wore on from the 5-7 foot rollers I was riding to a wave height of 8-12 feet.  When the surfers told me they were waiting for the larger sets, I began to worry to be quite honest.

I decided to head in, but I first stowed everything I could in the lockable storage beneath me and in the front hatch.  I secured my rods in the horizontal rod holders and bungeed them down.  The only items left out were my dry box and my Hobie soft-sided cooler.  As I waited for the right moment between sets, I felt uneasy and a little unsure of myself.  I finally saw a break in the sets over my right shoulder, so I stood on the pedals of the Mirage Drive and made my move into the washout zone.  I thought I had it timed right until I felt the Pro Angler lift and start to teeter.  I had failed to take into account the breakers coming from the left.  The left hand swell hit me as I was riding the crest of the the right hand wave.  In an instant I was launched out of the PA and directly into the surf zone about 20 yards from shore.  The next wave rolled the Pro Angler right on top of me.

This is not a situation I recommend for others to try.  I managed to grab the front handle of the PA and take a quick visual scan of my situation.  I was afloat and uninjured, and I could see my paddle, the YakAttack Dog Bone camera combo, the dry box and cooler floating in the surf.  I wasn't in trouble, but I was still stuck in the turbulent surf zone.  I maintained my composure and rode each breaking wave closer and closer to shore.  When I was about 10 feet out, a beach goer came to my aid and helped me drag my PA out of the surf.

I thanked him and righted the PA.  The few items that had been launched out of the PA were easily recovered, albeit a few items short from my dry box.....all my hooks, sinkers and jig heads.  Other than that, I didn't lose anything of value, and I managed to not get injured.

Lesson learned - the quest for a citation fish is not worth causing damage to yourself or risking your life.  Next time, I will make a better decision and choose safer waters.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Slow Start....

The day started off with hitting the water at 7am as the sun crested the horizon here in Richmond, VA.  I had family commitments that required me to stay close to home today, so I opted for the local neighborhood pond again.  As I pedaled out across the pond looking for signs of life, I started seeing shad busting everywhere and a few top water strikes.  Armed and ready with my Bull Bay Rods and PowerTeam Lures, this had the makings of a stellar day.  Unfortunately, the bite was nowhere to be found for some odd reason.  I was in search mode and was swimming/twitching a JP Hammershad,  twitching a weightless Sick Stick as a topwater wake/slash bait and even wacky rigged one - no dice save for one hard swipe at the Hammershad but it didn't come tight.

I worked every lay down, overhang and brush pile I knew of in this pond and nary a bite was to be found.  I knew a storm front was fast approaching, plus the start of the full moon cycle was in effect, so I was going to have to work for this one today.  After five hours of no action, I took a quick pit stop to recharge with a bite to eat then back at it.  I decided to change tactics and slow down and revisit the spots I had already powered through previously.  The tactic worked.

I switched over to flipping and pitching a PowerTeam Lures 4.5" Food Chain Tube Texas rigged and started covering every nook and cranny I could find.  Basically, I staked out using my trusty YakAttack Parknpole, then proceeded to pick apart every inch of a brush pile or overhang.It was painfully slow for my tastes, but it worked.  I made repeated flips into the deeper pockets tucked closer to shore and there was where the fish were lying in wait.  After 15 minutes, I was rewarded with a smallish bass of 14", quickly followed by a fat 19.75" chunk that weighed in over 4lbs using my new EGO Grips.
When that side of the pond failed to produce any more bites, I moved over to the opposite side and repeated the same approach.  I landed three more in the next hour of fishing - a 15" bass was first up on this side followed by a couple of fat 17" feisty bass who were none too pleased to have a 5/0 Gammy EWG buried in their lips.....

All in all a decent day, albeit long.......Total seat time was right at 9 hours, but it was worth it to get on some fish.  I also was pleased to break in my new Bull Bay Rods custom flipping stick.  It was broken in properly as you can see!

Tight lines!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I just realized that I hadn't provided a summary of my last freshwater trip, so I apologize.  Life can get hectic with a child learning to walk and another child engrossed in a variety of summer activities and camps.  A couple Fridays ago, I found myself with a narrow window to fish, so I hit the James River.  I launched at Reedy Creek and made my way out to some slow flows with lay downs along the banks.   It also gave me a chance to try out the new AFTCO fishing shirts I received as part of my Hobie Fishing Team package.  Let's just say that I've found out that the AFTCO clothing is top notch and will become a staple in my fishing clothing from this point forward!!

I was using a variety of PowerTeam Lures offerings on the day rigged on my Bull Bay Rods arsenal.  I had a Food Chain Tube, a JP Hammershad and a Seibert Outdoors jig rigged with a Craw D'oeuvre trailer for my outing.  I launched into Reedy Creek and started working a couple lay downs right away.  Not even 10 minutes after I launched, I had landed a spunky river largemouth that nailed the JP Hammershad as it bounced across a forked lay down.

Made my way over to another lay down with some rocks around an island and landed a little smallmouth at the tail end of the island as the Food Chain Tube bounced along.  A few minutes later, another little smallmouth hit the FCT as it bounced around a large boulder.  Eventually, I made my way over to my target area and started drifting with the meandering James and came across a huge lay down with a significant amount of push water and a nice trough behind it.  I worked the FCT through the push water a couple times to see if anything was waiting.  I wasn't paying attention and started to look around and take in the beauty of the James.

When I looked back down, a gar of at least 40" in size had bit my FCT but not realized it was hooked.  I applied slight pressure to turn him, but he freaked out and turned into the lay down.  When he did, the line wrapped around the scales behind his head and snapped the leader clean.  I was rigged for smallies an only had medium gear with 8lb. leader.  If he had turned left, I had a chance, but alas it wasn't to be.

I kept working the lay down and the trough and was rewarded with my largest freshwater fish to date out of the kayak and a personal best for the species - a healthy 29 1/4" channel catfish, 3/4" shy of a Virginia Freshwater release citation.

A short while later, I added another personal best and species to the list of fish caught - a 22" gar.  In total, I only landed six fish on the day (1 LMB, 3 SMB, 1 channel cat and 1 gar), but it was still a great day on the river.  Here's a video compilation of the outing.


Tight lines and stay safe!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sunday Funday

Rain, wind, cloudy skies........"Absolutely we're going!" was my reply to my son when he asked if we could go fishing this past weekend.  Granted, the conditions were not favorable sandwiched between two storm fronts and rain on the way down, but we went anyway.  I opted for the Hampton side of the the bridge complex that way we could get off the water quickly in the event a storm popped up.  The bridge also provided a slight albeit minimal wind break from the easterly winds that were building.

I rigged his rod up with a simple dropper rig (single dropper loop and a 4oz. bottom sinker), a couple bags of fish bites and some spare leader and sinkers and headed out.  I took a couple of my rods in the event that a wayward cobia or surface blitz popped up on the day.  I positioned us behind a group of pilings and dropped his line.  First drop and a nice 10" Norfolk Spot came tight.  As I was handling the fish for a picture, it flailed about, flopped back in the water and snapped the leader.  Must have nicked the bridge piling as he was being reeled in.

No worries - a quick re-tie and another drop right back in the same spot resulted in an other nice spot hooked up.  A 9" spot made it's way in the foot well of the Pro Angler, but I skipped the measuring board pic and just snapped a quick handheld picture for size reference and released him back into the water for another day.

The winds picked up and made positioning a little challenging, but my son managed to keep landing fish.   Next up was the best fish of the day.  As my son bounced his bottom rig alongside a piling, the line came tight and the fight was on.   This one I could tell was a much better fish and fought hard pulling some drag.

In the end, a juvenile flounder made it's way into the foot well.  It was my son's largest flounder to date at 15 3/4".  Not a keeper, which he was visibly disgusted about, but he was happy none the less.

Next set of pilings and a new species was added to the list on the day - a baby sea bass also known as a bait stealer!  Nothing of any size, but it didn't matter to my son.  He just wanted to catch fish.

As the winds picked up, we drifted to the western span of the bridge complex and took shelter in the lee of the island.  While watching a pair of cow nose rays thrashing about, I saw some nervous water and fired off a cast for my son.  Before the bottom rig made its way to the floor, it was hammered hard this time by another species on the day - a croaker.

My son proceeded to catch croaker after croaker for the next few minutes totaling seven on the day.  Lots of fun and good fighters on light tackle for him.

The highlight of the day was when we were hanging out behind the island for a few minutes while I re-baited his hook with a fresh fish bites morsel.  A cast was made to the rocks parallel to the island and the line came tight instantly and started peeling off of his reel.  Right away, I knew what it was, but I wanted my son to feel the surge on the end of the line of a ray.  After a few surges and nearly losing his rod, my son asked me to take the fight on for him.  We fought the ray for five minutes and used the Hobie Mirage Drive to stay on top of the ray and save as much line as possible.

I was finally able to get the ray alongside and grab one of it's wings.  It was easily 30" across from wing tip to wing tip.  As I reached for the circle hook, it flailed angrily and snapped the line as it made it's way back to the bay floor.  My son even got splashed by the ray to christen the day as a success.

We ran into a fellow kayaking friend of mine, Jason, and chatted a bit.  As we both made our way to the other side of the island, the winds started blowing in earnest.  We decided to call it a day at that point in the interest of ending on high note.  Total count on the day: 2 spot, 2 sea bass, 1 flounder, 1 cow nose ray and 7 croaker.   Definitely a Sunday, Fun day!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Blessed beyond compare and a long overdue day on the water....

For the last two months, Mother Nature has toyed with my emotions and my fishing time, and when she wasn't the guilty culprit, work and family life intervened to draw my attention elsewhere.  But first. let me rewind a tad.  For many an aspiring angler, finding equipment and gear you trust and use is a long and sometimes arduous process.  Countless amounts of money can be spent in the search for what works for you.

Over the last three years, my loyalty to PowerTeam Lures is without a doubt the one brand of fishing lures that will always be in my arsenal when I hit the water!  I take great pride in this relationship and will continue to do what I can to help Bob and Katie spread the word about their innovative plastics!!  In turn, they have entrusted their belief in me as a person to continue as a member of their Promotional Staff for another year.  Thank you so much.

Another relationship that I have developed over the last year is one with Kelly and Dustin Phillips of Bull Bay Rods out of Florida.  They build custom rods for both fresh and salt water anglers whether you fish from a boat, kayak or shore, they can build a rod for you and customized to your specifications.  Over the last year, I have added a custom casting rod, two Spectrum Professional spinning rods, a custom live bait jigging rod, two Tactical Series rods (one casting and one spinning) and one flipping rod.  I recently even ordered a custom Tactical Series spinning rod for my son to replace his current rod that he has outgrown.  I believe in their rods so much, that I have sold almost every other rod I own with only a couple left to get rid of.  When I head out on the water for the day, I only have Bull Bay Rods on the water with me!  I was surprised a few weeks ago when I was added to their Professional Fishing Team and Promotional Staff.   Another huge 'Thank you"!!

The third fishing related blessing I was offered in the last few weeks left me literally speechless and came completely out of left field with no prior inclination.  I was offered the opportunity to represent the Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchor company with their new Power-Pole Micro recently released.  Needless to say, I was literally at a loss for words.  One of the biggest challenges I face on the water is boat positioning in wind and current.  Well, the new Micro will definitely help solve those issues for certain!!  I look forward to representing Power-Pole and the new Micro.  The Hobie Pro Angler is an awesome fishing platform to utilize this innovative product on!

Finally, another honor was being added to the Hobie Fishing Team for a third year in a row!  Morgan, Keeton and Kevin went all out this year and showed why they believe in their promotional staff.  They partnered with AFTCO to provide us with quality and innovative technical fishing clothing to use, as well as some awesome headgear and buffs.  I couldn't be more proud to wear Hobie attire when I am out and about and on the water!

As a promotional staffer for major companies, you are the public face representing the name for these companies.  And what better way to represent them than at a Demo Day!!  Recently, Appomattox River Company held their annual demo day for the public to come out and try their hand at the latest offerings from almost every major manufacturer in the paddle sports business.  From PFDs, rack systems and paddles to SUPs, hybrids, SOTs and SINKs.  If it's out there, ARC can likely get you into it!

Thanks Brian Vincent and Kam Goodrich for the awesome photos!

When the opportunity presented itself recently, I took a day off from work and hit a local pond for some Largemouth action. I only had a half day to work with, so a close location was the key. Rigged up my BullBayRods arsenal with four different PowerTeamLures offerings: a 3.5" Food Chain Tube, a wacky rigged Sick Stick, a Swinging Hammer and a Siebert Outdoors Jig with a Craw D'oeuvre trailer. I worked the overhangs by skipping the tube and stick underneath of them and followed them up with some casts parallel to the bank to work the drop offs with the Sick Stick and Jig-n-Craw D.

When I saw bait fish busting the surface, I would fire off some casts with the Swinging Hammer. It was a hot day with not much in the way of relief from the direct sun. The few scattered clouds did little to dispel any direct sun. I knew it was going to be hot, so I was sporting the new #AFTCO Fish Ninja shirt to keep me cool. It worked! Ended up catching ten Largemouth Bass in 5 hours. Eight on the Food Chain Tube (7-Wicked Berry, 1-Gold Digger) and two on the Sick Stick (Red Shad) ranging in size from 16.5" to a fat 18.5" chunk. Most were 17-17.5" but chunky and good fighters.
I know I don't get as much time on the water as many of my friends, but I do try and produce some quality fish when I do get out there.  Even if you only have a few hours to make it happen, do it!  I appreciate the support bestowed upon me by all of my sponsors.  The tools I use are the ones I believe in!  I will do my best to represent you in the best way possible!

Feeling blessed with a loving wife, beautiful children, and sponsors that believe in me!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love and Inspiration......

Do you love to kayak fish?   What a silly question to ask a kayak angler, but is it really that silly?  What is love?  As it pertains to kayak fishing, it is the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration according to Webster's Dictionary.  In that regard, yes, I do love kayak fishing.  I have a strong devotion to the sport of kayak fishing and try to do my part in sharing the knowledge I have gained whenever possible.  I admire those that have laid the groundwork and foundation for the sport that I love so dearly today.  But you might ask, "Was it love at first sight?"

In short, no......well, not at first.  You see, I was looking for a way to re-live my days as a kid when I had nothing more than a fiberglass rod, a Zebco 202 and a Plano mini tackle box loaded with a few Beetle Spins, a couple Rooster Tails and the infamous Rapala Mini Fat Rap.  I caught more fish than I can remember on those three lures, and I longed to experience that joy again.  The love for kayak angling was nurtured and cultivated from this feeling of nostalgia, as I harkened back to those simple times in my youth.

It was during one of these bouts of day dreaming that I began to ponder a way to recapture that simplicity and sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.  Like many aspiring anglers, I ventured to the local Bass Pro Shops and salivated over the possibilities of adding one of their boats to my household.  Those dreams and desires were quickly quelled when the cost factor made it's way into the equation.  I also looked to the "Pond Prowler" and "Bass Raider" options thinking an electric only vessel would be more cost effective.  The cost was reasonable, but the ability to transport this type of watercraft would be a challenge.  While pondering this dilemma, I happened to watch the episode of Hank Parker Outdoors where he was fishing using a Hobie Outback, and the light bulb went on immediately.

After countless hours on the internet researching every possible forum post and online review, I finally located Appomattox River Company, a local Virginia company that specializes in kayaks, and decided to attend their free demo day to test out the various kayak models.  I gravitated at first to the Hobie tent, since they recently had released the now famous Pro Angler and even tried the Outback.  I was hesitant to pull the trigger at first due to limited funds.  So I left that day without a kayak, but the seed had been firmly planted in my mind.

I eventually pooled together enough disposable income to get my first kayak, but I was a novice when it came to fishing away from shore having been a bank fisherman up to that point.  Since that time, I have learned more in five years that I ever could have imagined and my skills as a kayak angler continue to improve.  I am fortunate in that I have the privilege of sharing the water with individuals that the kayak angling community would say are some of the most talented anglers out there.  It is these individuals that contribute to my love of the sport and are the source of inspiration to push myself to achieve more and catch quality fish.

Anyone can surf the web and pick up a trick or two, but there is something more personal and meaningful when you can look the person in the eye and hear it with your own ears or see it with your own eyes in real-time.  Each interaction over the years has revealed a new tactic or tidbit of information I could file away in my "angler's toolkit" for future reference.  While they are sources of inspiration to me and to this day have had the most profound impact on my fishing skills and knowledge, they are at the core my friends.  My angling friends in short are my inspiration.

I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the inspiration I find in the countless number of current and former service members domestic and abroad protecting the freedoms that you and I are afforded.  I try and volunteer as often as I can with both the Central Virginia and Tidewater HOW Chapters as time permits.  Where possible, I also include my son on these outings so that one day he may find the same feeling of satisfaction I do from the time spent with these magnificent individuals.  Maybe he too will one day find inspiration to give back like I try to emulate for him.

Do you love kayak angling?  What inspires you as an angler to better yourself or learn a new tactic?  How you as an angler characterize your love for the sport or how you find inspiration is unique to you and is a feeling that you should take tremendous pride in and hold on to as if it was a family heirloom.  I know I do.