Our plans where large heading into the week, but as the weather forecast changed to un-favorable, he had to go to the plan B backups. The day we were getting out was supposed to be blowing in the morning dropping out in the afternoon. Then the forecast in the morning changed to not so calm in the afternoon. Lee, Jay Brooks and I headed the eastern shore armed with a lil bit of everything, sightfishing, lil reds fishing, flounder fishing and some structure fishing gear. We paddled to the spot where I caught bunches of reds a few weeks ago, just to get the skunk off.
The tide was getting low and we tried to take a short cut, and we had to walk and drag in. Once I was able to paddle again I started casting, and catching lil reds. As the tide lowered we sat on our beached boats and caught one after another.
The plan was to catch a few lil reds, let the winds die down and then go out to look for larger reds. The winds never did drop out and the lil reds where too much fun to leave.
Later in the afternoon, the winds where still blowin, so we wanted to try for sheepies and togs, but we had no bait. It took us 5 minutes to catch, by hand (or more specifically a dip net and scissors) a dozen crabs. We were on our way. Lee and Jay go right to the sheep/tog fishing I wanted to jig around a bit, to see what else was there. I’m bouncing around and I get a grab, and I miss. As its sinking I get another grab and I set into it, and he pulls right back. I smile as he tugs out a little drag and I work up a 14" croaker. I paddle back and jig again. The next bite I feel I set into and it’s not a croaker. It was heaver, I lifted it about a foot off the bottom and it went for a drag pulling run, now that made everything get serous, I worked the fish up and I see it’s a big flounder. Now it’s real serious, he dives down again, and I let him. I get him up, get my fingers on the leader, time his circles and sweep the 21 incher in.
Lee had seen enough and starts jigging. I paddle back and on the next drop, catch another 14" croaker. Then I went to sheep/tog fishing. I started to get the usual baby black sea bass bites, but I had a few hard tugs. Lee came over and we were drifting into each other and I get a hook into a fish, under Lee's kayak. That one got off, but it wasn’t a sea bass. A few lost baits later I hook into a solid tough fish. He came up and it’s a nice triggerfish. I caught a 13" tog a few drops later. Jay came over and caught a baby black drum and two tog, and Lee caught an oystertoad.
Lee and I planned on fishing the bridge but the wind forecast changed overnight. We looked at the winds and figured we’d give it a try, at the least we could dig a bunch of mole crabs and I could keep them for next week. And that’s what we did, because when we paddled out the winds got stronger and our patience quickly got short.
Well at least we have mole crabs for next week when we can get another shot to GET ON'EM!
Jay, Kev and Lee on the lil reds
Jay and Lee with lil reds
3RD WEEK OF AUG
Lil reds and an overnighter
This week was the last date for the kipto guide thing I do at the ships. I was glad to meet and catch some croaker, flounder, roundhead and oystertoads with everyone who came out. That's always alot of fun. Afterward, I paddled looking for clear water. I found some clarity outside one of the creeks, saw a bunch of crabs and mullet but no predators. I drifted into the mouth, stood up and saw a school of striper holding in the current in a tight school. I turned up current to sweep in behind them. I made a cast where I thought was out in front of the school but it was in the middle of em, spooking the whole school.
I worked my way into the creek and cast into the deeper holes. I knew on the first drop, the lil' reds are in full effect. I pulled along the marsh grass and kept hitting the holes for one 10-12 red after another, until the sky turned black from the storm that was over Norfolk. I called Lee "Whats this storm doing?" Lee said "Getting bigger!"
I kept fishing because the storm seem to be passing to my south. But, after a few lightning strikes within 5 miles and when my rods started buzzing, it was time to go.
The next day I was planing on hitting the same creek to get the skunk off, wait out the winds and paddle out looking for bigger reds. The winds never dropped out and there was a never ending supply of hungry lil reds in the creek. I fished all the way to the low tide, really just to see if they would run out before the water got to low to get out, or hang there. During the low tide I was bumping them in the deep holes of the creek. They stayed, but didn't want bite. As soon as the current started moving in, they turned back on. Besides the slack tide lull, I caught a red on every cast for like 8 hours.
I had taken off the weekend at work with plans, but that got postponed. So with the weekend off I decided to paddle the eastern shore and camp for the night. First this was a good test to see if I could bring enough gear in the Trident 13 to be comfortable for two to three days. The boat paddled beautifully with 5 gal of water, few days worth of food, 2 man tent and my bedding. It all fit and didn't weigh down the Trident.
Getting a late start, I had to paddle out to catch the current to where I was trying to camp for the night. The winds where forcasted to drop out in the afternoon, but the did NOT drop out, they in fact got stronger and in my face. The last 5 miles of the paddle sucked on top of an already taxing paddle.
I landed at my target inlet and set up camp, fished around the point and watched the sunset. I realized that this was the first time I've camped on a coastal island in 4 years. The last two tours have been in the bay.
A little past sunset, I was casting a small jig in the ripping current running in the inlet. Out of the corner of my eye I see something splash. I focus on the area, just 20 yards out. Then I see what it was, a tarpon comes halfway out of the water, rolls on its side and splashes down. That was a positive ID, I saw its face, its scales and its jaw, I was looking right at em. I ran back to my kayak, grabbed my heavy rod and cast. After a few cast I knew he had moved on with the current.
The next morning, I had to launch by 8 to make sure I could ride the current in. The current was running really fast and then the wind picked up from my back! I was moving through the creeks, then got to a 2 plus mile open water paddle. There is nothing better than paddling open water with a tail wind! I have paddled miles out of my way on tour to catch a tail wind. These are the days that make all of the brutal paddling days worth it.
I need to do more overnighters, and now that I know that we can be out for a few days with the Tridents, it opens up interesting and cool possibilities. in the spring, when the fish show up a little outside of a day trip range, we can potentially paddle there and GET ON'EM!
Fishing at the Ships
The hundreds of this size reds will be pushing the 20 inch mark by next fall
An inlet to myself for a night
My favoite shore bird, Black Skimmers
Sunset on the E-Shore
1ST WEEK OF AUGUST
Love the Spadefish Surprise
The "Spadefish Surprise"
The forecast had plenty of days to get on the water. The first day Lee and I headed into one of the inlets since it was the windiest of the three days. We basically used the trip to catch mole crabs for the next day, and we targeted small sheepies in the 10" range, I found a little pocket of them and Lee caught lil reds with lil sheep gear. Lee started paddling around looking for rock crabs to feed his mantis shrimp and I kept on the lil sheepies. We looked up and saw a cloud that had the potential in becoming a storm, we looked up again 5 min later and a wall of black spitting lightning and thunder was on top of us. We made it back in and looked at the radar loop. The storm had exploded and expanded within 15 mins from nothing to a ball of angry sky. The next day, Lee and Jay paddled out to the CBBT before me and had to go out pretty far to find some clear water away from the red algae blooms that streak the bay this time of year. I was a quarter way out when Lee called me and said his second drop got him a 17" spade. I paddle up start breaking clams up, drifting into the piling and I see a 26" sheepshead "Theres one!!" as I hit the piling and the sheep dives. I got a bait ready and fished that piling but didn't find a bite. I spadefished for a while but nothen. Right before the red water swept through a saw the sheep again, I drifted the spade rig to him but he sank and then the visibility got bad, we paddled out further.
I paddled to a piling that I like, Lee and Jay on the others and we started to get spade bites. They where small for the most part, with an occasional 15"er thrown in for a good fight. Lee and Jay started to paddle to the island and I get a good bite. I was between the middle and the back piling, anchored. I set the hook with the fish 6 feet down, in front of the back piling and on the other side from me. The fish goes ripping down and out away. I drop my anchor rope as i feel for the piling. I was ready to go into free spool and grab my paddle. If that fish got on the piling I needed to get the nose of my kayak past the mid piling, and fast. I thought I felt the piling for a sec but I wasn't sure. He kept lunging out and I never felt the structure. He ran up at me and then ripped drag below me. At this point I knew I didn't have a spade and kinda figured I had the "Spadefish Surprise" I was kicking my kayak back away from the piling but the fish was determined to go for it. Again I was ready to feel the razor blade oysters on the line but again he didnt get in, or I didn't let him get to it,. But really, I was one lucky dude he didn't get in, because he was right next to it and had every opportunity to break off. Once I got away from the bridge I loosened up the drag and worked em in while I yelled to Lee and Jay that I need pictures. I got the 26" sheep up, saw the hook in the side of the jaw and gingerly scooped him in the boat.
Lee was mad, he has never had the spadefish surprise and wants it bad. Its exhilarating! A big spade in the 18" to 20" range is a handful on the tackle we use for spades. A big sheepshead is WAY overpowering on spade gear. I'm always spadefishing and the surprise happens to me a few times every year. Lee sheep fishes more, if he wants to catch a sheep that day he would target them, but hes targeting the spade surprise, so he continued to target spades. We all caught spades till we ran out of bait and the south wind picked up. Lee looked at the animated wind forecast and the wind was just going to get worse. We started paddling back. It took two hours and the winds where howling by the time we landed.
The next day was not as thrilling, Jay and I paddled out and caught spades and Jay hit the island and caught triggers, but no surprises. Summer CBBT fishing can be surprising and the paddle back can test your endurance, its all part of the summer time fishing when you GET ON"EM!!
15"er, and yea I got smiley faces on my knees
Lee's quick 17"er Photo Jay Brooks
1ST WEEK OF JULY
Feels like summer
Yes!! it finaly feels like summer, targeted sheepshead last week and this week, spadefish. Nothing feels like summer to me than catching sheepshead and spadefish, I got into them this week and now it feel like summer.
The water temps and air temps have risen and all the summer fish are in the bay, cobia are being caught all over and we are seeing spanish mackerel sky and dive like a missile.
I fished two days, the first day Jay and Tripp and I fished for sheepies during the current. As the current slowed I paddled to a spot I like for spades. The flounder fisherman where out in full force in this area, but I was able to get on my piling and as soon as I dropped the bait it got taken. "Oh yea! They are here and they are biting!!" A few feed spades later and I landed 4 in a row. They were not big at 9 to 12 inches, but when a few would follow a hooked one up, iI was seeing 15"ers come up. That made me smile.
The biggest the first day was 13". The next day I didn't even spend the time to dig mole crabs for sheepies, I had dozen clams and headed straight to the spadefish. I started to get bites, I brought the bait up and a 15"er followed it up. I dropped it back down and hooked one of those big ones and he ran through the two pilings and down around the right one. I would have been alright getting through if the nose of my kayak wasn't on the right side of the piling when the fish ran on the left side. I had to execute the spadefish scramble maneuver. Reel goes into freespool and rod is put down. I paddle fast through the pilings then pick the rod back up and feel where the fish is. I've got a 50/50 chance of the fish being there, I've got no chance with tight braided line across a shellfish encrusted piling. This one shakes the hook along the piling, but I was excited that the larger one where biting
Two minutes later with my nose on the wrong side of the piling again I get another one, right through the pilings and around. I scramble through and get the line tight and hes still on! He runs back into the middle but I get him turned and he runs down. I work him up and land the 15"er.
A few small ones later iI get another run through and again, I was on the wrong side of the piling. I get through and hes off. I had one 14"er follow the bait up and grab it. Another one ran behind me and around the piling, he broke off.
Summer time and all the summer fish are here on the CBBT but be ready for the spadefish scramble around the pilings when you GET ON'EM!!!
4TH WEEK OF JUNE
On a mission
We only had a day to do it, but I was on a mission to catch my first sheepshead of the year. We launched, dug baits and paddled out. Not long after we set up we both had bites, I nipped one in the teeth during the hook set, our confidence was good.
I brought my weight a crank off the bottom and suspended my mole crabs. I felt a solid weird weight and set the hook. sheepie on!!! I kicked away from the piling as I fought and brought my first sheepie of the year into my boat. He was a small one at 20", but we think this one has a history. The one I lost last week was on the same piling, Tripp Seed lost a smaller one at the boat last week from the same piling. Lee lost one that size on leader last week from the same piling. This little sheepie has goten away from three of us, but I got em this time, took a picture and released him to steal baits another day.
Lee was up next. He was losing a few baits and then set into something. It was just heavy at first, I looked over to see his rod doubled over and still. I thought he had a drum and it doesn't know its hooked yet. Then it started to pull, Lee tried to get one arm paddle away from the piling but the fish pulled him back. Luckily and with little force the fish pulled away from the bridge and we got a look at a nice sheepshead. At closer look the fish was hooked behind the eye, not in his eye just behind it. Lee carefully got the nice 26" sheepie into the boat, and released it.
We fished through the next slack current and turn around until the wind that had been blowing all day finally got to us. we paddled back in. I hope next week the winds will allow more time for us to fish the bridge. There are plenty of fun fighting summer species at the CBBT, time to GET ON'EM!
Lee's 26" sheepie
20"er, small but my first of the year
3RD WEEK OF JUNE
Summer time and Josh Tart tours into Va.
Changing seasons and changing targets, summer time for us means time to target my 2nd favorite fish to fight, the kings of the CBBT, the honorable Chesapeake Bay Sheepshead.
I had three good days this week to target them. On the first day I hooked one and was bowed up for a few seconds. On the first full run I didn't get to the drag fast enough to pull it back and pulled the hook. That ended up being my only sheep bite for the rest of the week.
For the next three days everybody around me gets at least one. Jay Brooks gets one then starts flounder fishing landing a 23"er. Lee gets a fat 23"er that he had been feeding for 10 min before getting a hook in em.
I did have a good fight, although it wasn't a sheepie. I actually had my rod down like I was fishing the ships in Dec, I was watching my rod tip as I put sunscreen on. A small wave brought me up and my rod tip stayed down. n a split second I drop the sunscreen grabbed the rod and set the hook. For the first few seconds I thought it was a sheepie. After the first run he stayed down instead of the typical erratic unpredictable any direction run of a sheepie. Even thought I didn't get a sheep fight, a 30"black drum was an excellent strong fight.
I hope y'all have been following Josh Tart on the Great Loop Tour. He has been on for 11 months starting in Ohio paddling south around Florida and now heading up the east coast for the clean water charity Paddle for Wells.com.
This week he headed into the bay. The plan was we where going to hang out for a few days and fish, but he got set behind with the recent storms. He has to get past the great lakes before September because the winds get to bad to paddle.
We did get to hang out a little bit and for me its really special to be able to meet and talk to a guy on a tour with this magnitude. There are only a few of us who have spent that kind of time on tour and we can relate to each other in a weird "You know, you've been there" type of thing. I felt it when I got to meet Jake Stachovak when he did the great loop tour. But Josh is doing in a sit on top. The only other long distance sit on top'er was me. I was honored that we used my DVD to prepare, and watching him grow, learn and get tour hardened through his website and SPOT tracker has been incredible. Even though we didn't get to spend a ton of time, we will be hanging out when he gets done. Follow Josh on Tour on his site
I didn't get a sheepie this week but they are on, ill give it a shot next week and hopefully I will GET ON'EM!!!!