Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Speck of Luck for a change

Every year I volunteer and participate in the TKAA Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament to benefit Heroes On the Water and Project Healing Waters.  This year was to be the same, but work commitments threw a wrench in the works forcing me to miss the volunteer setup on Friday of the event.  I ended up arriving right before the Captain's Meeting was about to begin.   I was exhausted and hungry, so I checked in, gathered my captain's bag, finished the meeting and grabbed a bite to eat with fellow Hobie Fishing Team member and Hobie Sale Rep Michael Garett.

As the 5am wake up neared, I was stoked to get my kayak back on the water after a long hiatus.  I launched into a slight breeze and started seeing finger mullet bait busting all over - never a bad thing!!  After a couple hours of bite-less action, I ventured into a protected cove and switched tactics to a suspending presentation.  Almost immediately, I started getting some takers.  Finally after two hours, my first measurable fish was on the board - nothing special but nevertheless a fish!

A short while later, I managed to get a significant upgrade in a 17.5" speck!

Things were looking up and so was the bait activity in the cove! I kept at it for the next four hours with a trout literally every 5-10 minutes - several undersized with a total of 17 trout, 12 keepers but none upgraded the one above.  I lost three sure fire upgrades, including one over 24" that spit the treble as I was lifting her into the kayak and one over 20" in my lap but she had other plans and literally flipped out severing the 15lb fluorocarbon leader and escaping.  I later learned that fish would've secured me at least 2nd Place in the Trout Division.  No worries though, still a great day on the water, learning a pattern, applying it and catching fish for a successful outing.

In the end, I never was able to successfully measure an upgrade, but at least I stuck to my plan and literally fished until I had no time to spare and was forced to head in and load up to beat the check-in window of 4pm.

But the story doesn't end there!  My stress level was put to the test in a way I could have never imagined as a fisherman.  At some point, most if not all of us as fisherman have lost or left something of value at the launch, broken something on the water, etc..  Well for me, I somehow absentmindedly left my three Bull Bay Rods at the launch! How does that happen you ask?  Well, I was loading all of my gear into my car and loading my kayak onto my trailer.  While doing this, my Mirage Drive and rods were drying off after having been rinsed off just a few minutes earlier.  When I finished loading all of my gear into the car and secured my kayak to the trailer, I loaded my Mirage Drive into the car, closed the rear hatch and drove off.

I went back to the hotel, took a shower and went to the load my dirty clothes into the car when I realized I had left my rods back at the launch - over a half hour away.  With a sickening feeling, I drove back to the launch fully expecting to see my rods gone or even worse, run over and broken/destroyed by another vehicle/trailer.  When I arrived, my heart sank when I didn't see my rods.  As I was about to pull away, I noticed a piece of paper taped to the railing where my rods were drying off.

I was floored - the note read, "I have your three fishing rods, if you left them call me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and describe them to me.  My heart raced with excitement like a kid on Christmas morning.  I dialed the digits and went through a few preliminary niceties and then proceeded to describe the unique features of the rods.  The man who found them was a fellow kayaker and a former Navy Senior Master Chief, basically a man with integrity and honor!  We met a few minutes later and went about talking about each of my Bull Bay Rods and how much I enjoyed them and designed the specifics on each rod.  He confessed honestly admitting that he partially hoped the owner would never call, so that he could have a nice rod or two for a change.  I could tell he really wanted one for his own, so I gathered his contact info and let him know not to worry.  I'll have one made for you as token of my appreciation for his actions.

It was nice to have a speck of luck work in my favor for a change both on and off the water!

Tight lines one and all!

Equipment Used:

Kayak: 2017 Hobie Revolution 13
Lures: Trout Eye Jig (short shank) with Z-Man MinnowZ and Mirrolure suspending jerk baits
Rods: Bull Bay Rods Stealth Tactical Inshore and Tactical PRO spinning rods, custom bait caster
Reels: Shimano Stradic 2500FJ, 3000FJ and Abu Garcia Revo Inshore (GEN3)
Line: PowerPro 30lb Hi-Vis Yellow, 20lb Sufix 832 HiVis Green, P-Line Flouroclear 15lb.
Other: Astral Ronny Fisher (PFD) and Loyal M's (footwear)
Accessories: Yak Attack VisCarbon Pro, GT175-12 on a Crate Rail and GTTL175-04 Top Loading GearTracs

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Warming Trends

Weather temperatures have you confused? Annually here in Central Virginia, it seems like each February there is a temperature spike with a 4-5 day warming trend that really gets the fishing juices flowing.  I was fortunate enough to spend two days chasing a bite at a local pond.  While the air temperatures were in the low 60's, the water temperatures were still in the mid-40's.  As the picture above clearly depicts, I was not venturing out without proper cold water layers - thank you #Kokatat!

The bite was fairly slow, but I managed to convince a variety of species into the kayak using some trusty PTL JP Hammershads on the end of the line.  The winning ticket on both days was a slow retrieve over submerged wood with the bait smacking into it and then a subtle pause/drop afterwards.  Since there were no storms of late, the shallower areas had crystal clear water and required a greater level of stealth.

The new Hobie MD180 Mirage Drive (which I borroed from my 2017 Hobie Revolution 13) was crucial in these moments as I was able to reverse my motion with one simple pull of the cable.  I could then make a longer cast to the target area and work it over slowly and methodically.  While I didn't have tremendous success, I did complete the two trips with 4 Largemouth Bass, 2 Fliers, 1 Bluegill and a massive Chain Pickeral that was well over 22" and fat but snapped the lightweight leader too easily when he choked the Hammershad and made a snap turn.

Gear summary:
Kayak: 2015 Hobie Outback
Rods: Bull Bay Rods Stealth & Tactical custom medium spinning rods
Reels: Shimano Stradic FJ3000
Line: PowerPro Braid Hi-Vis Yellow and P-Line Flouroclear leader
Lure: Powerteam Lures 3.6" JP Hammershad on a 1/16oz Jacked Whacker jighead
Photomount: YakAttack GearTrac GT-175 (4") and the Dogbone Camera Mount

A great weekend nonetheless! It felt amazing to be back on the water again.  Bigger fish are on the way - I promise!

I'm already looking forward to my next outing!

Stay safe and get on 'em!

#paddleva #becausewefish #yakattack #hobiefishing #bullbayrods

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"Ring"-ing In the New Year

This year is one in which I plan to make a more concerted effort to get on the water more.  Last year was brutal for me with various issues plaguing my fishing endeavors.  Time to turn over a new leaf and start this year off right.  What better way to do that than with a new hull!!  That's right - new to the fleet this year is the 2017 Hobie Revolution 13 with the Vantage CT seating and MD180 Mirage drive!  My first Hobie was the Revolution 13 and helped me get on several new species and several quality fish, so why not give it another go.

My first fishing related activity was representing Appomattox River Company, the Hobie Fishing Team, and the YakAttack Regional Fishing Team at the annual Richmond Fishing Expo held in January each year here in Doswell, VA.  While working this expo, I had the opportunity to share the floor with several other skilled anglers that I look up to and admire.  Kayak anglers such as: Kayak Kevin Whitley, Rob Choi and William Ragulsky (all from Ocean Kayak and Johnson Outdoors); Aaron Dryden and Mark Lozier (Wilderness Systems); Dinver McClure and Eric Schrock (Feel Free Kayaks); Josh Dolin (Jackson Kayaks) and Grant Alvis (fellow Hobie Fishing Team member).

We spread the knowledge of our respective brands as well as helped the expo attendees understand the benefits and limitations of each hull relative to their fishing style.  During the expo, Vic Sorensen led a couple seminars on "Choosing the right kayak and rigging it for fishing".  Eric and I had our kayaks on display and helped the seminar attendees understand the thought process for our respective rigging options based upon our fishing styles.

Once the expo was over, I was already formulating my first trip of the year and figured weather permitting, the best option would be yellow perch.  After checking with a couple of veteran kayak anglers, my thoughts were confirmed - Yellow Perch (aka Ring Perch) was the target.  With a favorable weather window and a pass from my lovely wife, I loaded up and headed out to one of the two perch locations I had fished in the past.  My goal was to catch the last of the incoming and ride it to planned spot, then fish the slack and ride the outgoing back.  Only someone must have reversed the tide charts, because they were opposite of what was displayed on the tide app on my phone.  No biggie.  I was determined to fish regardless.  The air temps were low 30's and their were remnants of the previous night's freeze still evident.......

I loaded up the Outback for this trip, since it was the only hull I had with GearTracs and the PowerPole Micro installed.  I figured it was the best option given that the winds were forecast to pickup as the day wore on - I'm glad I did!  The winds were a tad blustery for sure and made the float back to the target area very cold.  After setting up at the first spot, I was watching a family of river otters frolic up ahead when I felt the line go heavy.  I set the hook and was rewarded with my first fish of 2017 - a feisty 10" yellow perch.

Once the otters came closer to investigate my Outback, the bite died off as you could imagine. So I moved to my primary spot and was greeted by a stiff wind, but I was determined and dropped the Power-pole Micro and held fast as I dropped my offerings into the murky depths.  Not five minutes later, another bite and another healthy yellow perch, followed by another and another.......cookie cutters but they were fish nonetheless......

That was until a stronger hit came about an hour later and the light drag started pulling - could this be the long awaited big one?  The magic mark is 12" for a VA Freshwater Citation in the Yellow Perch species........ Alas, it was not to be, but at 11" and fat, this was a nice fight on light tackle and a light drag.

I fished for a couple more hours and basically landed a fish on average about once every 20 minutes with several misses in between.  On the day, I ended up landing 12 fish in total - 11 yellow perch and 1 white perch of all things....

It was a great day, albeit very cold.  If you are going to be heading out for any water activities, make sure you are properly outfitted for the trip.  I was armed against the cold with my trusty Kokatat dry suit, and the proper winter layers underneath.  I even had a proper hat in case the winds turned too nasty and strong.  When in doubt, ask a veteran kayak angler that has fished in cold weather or consult the good folks at Appomattox River Company.  They have all the gear you need to hit the water safely and comfortably.

Until next time - stay safe and warm!