Sunday, June 23, 2019

Hello Darkness My Old Friend......

......I've come to chase you once again!

That's right, another Friday off from work and off I went looking to up my personal best snakehead!

Today's tools for the trip were simple:

Kayak: 2019 Hobie Outback
Stakeout: Power-Pole Micro Shallow Water Anchor
Electronics: Lowrance Elite 7 TI2
Accessories: YakAttack Omega Rod Holders and Lowrance FF Mount
Rods: Bull Bay Rods Tactical Assault and Custom Flipping rods, and an Orvis 8wt Clearwater

Non-sponsored equipment I was using:

Reels: Abu Garcia Revo Inshore GEN2 & GEN3 baitcasters, Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor IV
Lures: Stanley Ribbit, SPRO Popping Frog, Rebel Pop-R and a Cohen's Manbearpig
Lines: Sunline FX2 Frog Braid, and PLINE 20lb Flouroclear
Other Items: ANGLR BullseyeEGO Slider Landing Net and Fish Grips

I went back to the same spot as last time but explored other areas.  I found my first taker oddly enough on a Rebel Pop-R.  I was working an area and drifting with the wind when I heard a huge flush behind me.  I tried the frog but no luck as the wind had picked up and made the surface a little choppy.  So I switched over to the Pop-R which I had tied on to try and entice bass that were in the area.  I worked the Pop-R back with vigor making a ruckus that would surely irritate a snakehead I hoped.  As the bait approached, I saw the ominous shadow approaching, so I paused my retrieve then gave it one more twitch and that was the ticket.  She inhaled it and immediately started fighting to unhook both sets of trebles buried in her jaw, but to no avail.  First one on the board and it was a nice 25" fatty.

Not a personal best but a decent start after fishing for over two hours and only one half-hearted swipe at my Ribbit and a lazy follow from a short one on the fly.  I kept working the area until the winds picked up in earnest to the tune of 10mph which is normally not bad but in a narrow creek, it creates a wind tunnel effect.

I drifted along and found another shortie that fell prey to a SPRO Popping Frog and measuring in at 18" but the coloring on this one was amazing.
I kept the wind at my back and kept drifting and casting.  I finally found myself in water that was too shallow to proceed, so I made my way slowly back working every little pocket and was rewarded with two more quality snakeheads - another 24-25" chunk

 and my new personal best measuring in at a whopping 31"+.  I say plus because my measuring board tops out at 30" and this was over an inch past that mark.

The rest of the day was a bust, because the winds started blowing stronger making casting windows less than optimal, so I packed it in and headed back to the launch.

All in all a good day - landed 4 and had two other opportunities that fell short.  If you haven't tried chasing snakeheads, you should.  I know I'll be back at it again and soon.

Until next time, tight lines and stay safe out there!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Frogs, Flukes and Snakes....

Another Friday off from work and another morning on the water.  Today we were back at it slinging frogs and chasing snakeheads.  These creatures are not for the faint of heart or those that prefer light tackle.  They have a mouth full of teeth that will shred light lines and destroy your lures.  It can be a frustrating yet very fulfilling adventure when you chase these beasts.  My last outing, I was fortunate enough to catch, photo and release my very first snakehead measuring in at 23.5".  My goal today was simple - beat my previous personal best.

I was in my trusty 2019 Hobie Outback again decked out with YakAttack Omega Rod Holders, my Power-Pole Micro shallow water anchor, my Lowrance Elite 7-TI2 and three of my trusty Bull Bay Rods.
The first cove I ventured into had some activity and I quickly found a willing follower, but the snakehead was a bit small and not fully interested in my Ribbit.  I kept probing that creek arm and heard some more thrashing activity, but I was cut off from the area and had no casting angle.  I had a tip on an area to try, so I double-checked my source and with a quick text was pointed in the right direction.

Once I made it to the area, I kept looking for ambush spots and making targeted casts to those areas.  I was rewarded with a vicious fight that found this beast wrapping herself all in the thick of some pads then under a submerged fallen tree - I basically held pressure but loosened the drag slightly to allow a little leeway to the fish in the hopes it would free itself.  She finally came free and relaxed long enough to slide the net under her - that's when she got her second wind and proceeded to thrash and splash giving me an impromptu morning shower.

After a few minutes of this, she finally relaxed long enough for me to pry her mouth open with my pliers in order to get my lip grippers on her.  I was finally able to get her on the board and measured for what looked to be at least 27.5" - later confirmed to be 28.25" and a new personal best snakehead.

 I was ecstatic - she was hefty, too!! She was wider than the measuring board and so thick that I had trouble getting my hand around her at her thickest point.  I let her relax on the lip gripper in the water for a couple minutes, then when she had fully recovered, I released the grip and she swam slowly away no worse for wear.

I moved back over to the same area and make a couple more casts to see if there were any more takers and was rewarded with a more vicious strike only this time is was a bowfin or grindel as some refer to it.  As I got the bowfin closer, I could see she was barely hooked.  I knew if I tried to put the gripper on her, she would thrash and throw the hook.  I couldn't reach for my net either because I was trying to bring the fish through some pads and sticks which would impede the net.  My only choice was to try and hoist the fish in quickly.   This bowfin would have been another personal best - she was every bit of 24-26", but alas she thrashed as I lifted her and she escaped.

It was then that I realized I hadn't turned on my video camera, so I couldn't even prove I had the fish on the line and was lifting her into the kayak when she escaped.  Oh well, lesson learned.  I missed a couple more over the course of the next two hours until I found a nice secluded and protected area that looked prime.  I made a cast and immediately a thrashing strike as another bowfin reared it's ugly mug, but she didn't come tight.  Another cast closer and I hooked into a strong snakehead that was a little smaller than my one from earlier but still chunky and strong.  I got her to the kayak as well, but found myself in another predicament, I was too shallow and couldn't get any closer to the deeper pool where the snakehead was anchoring down in.  She managed to come off right at the kayak even though I managed to slowly drag her across the mud.  When she came off, I didn't see where she went.  A couple casts later and she apparently had taken up residence right where she came off.  She freaked out when I made another cast and startled me as I watched her scurry across the mud in the open air and right back into her protected pool.

The rest of the trip was filled with swings and misses of bowfins and snakeheads with at least 10-12 never coming tight.  I even switched up things by throwing a fluke for something completely different, then followed that up with a hollow-bodied frog before switching back to the Ribbit. which turned out to be the only lure that produced.  Oh well, the topwater strike on a moving frog is a pure adrenaline rush and a technique I highly recommend anglers learn.  Once you get your first topwater frog fish, you will literally be hooked.

With the storm front moving in and rain very close, I headed in and loaded up.  As I was making my way back home, the skies opened up.  Missed it by that much!

Trip Summary:

Kayak: 2019 Hobie Outback
Stakeout: Power-Pole Micro Shallow Water Anchor
Electronics: Lowrance Elite 7 TI2
Accessories: YakAttack Omega Rod Holders and Lowrance FF Mount
Rods: Bull Bay Rods Tactical Assault,  Prototype Spinning and Custom Flipping

Non-sponsored equipment I was using:

Reels: Abu Garcia Revo Inshore GEN3 baitcasters and Shimano Stradic FJ3000 spinning reel
Lures: Stanley Ribbit, Evolve Hollow-bodied Frog and Zoom Fluke
Lines: Sunline FX2 Frog Braid, PowerPro Hi-Vis Yellow Braid and PLINE 20lb Flouroclear leader
Other Items: EGO Slider Landing Net and Fish Grips

Until next time, tight lines and stay safe out there!