3RD WEEK OF AUGUST Fightin thru the sharks, puttin my time in.
waiting out the wind
I needed to get back on my quest for summer drum. The reports have been decent, and I had four days of forecasted good days. I packed my camping gear, my big fish rods and headed to the eastern shore. The full moon was this week which was bad for me and the strong currents, but good typically because it’s a second peeler crab peak is usually on the august full moon. I paddle out the first day and just get to the spot as the current is shifting. I set anchor, catch a few croaker and roundhead and send them down on circle hooks. I hook the first shark, then another. This was pretty much the theme of the week, fighting off little sharks. I paddled to the shore during the maximum current time, and then paddled out for the evening current turnaround. I did the same on the second day, fished the mid day and evening slack currents, and did the same thing with feeding baits to the little sharks. The evening session was cut short as the winds came up. The third day the wind machine was on, which gave me a needed chill day. I set up my blankets as a shade canopy by tying them from my tent to my fishing rods and waited for the winds to drop, and it did. I paddled leaving my tent on the beach with a flashlight pointed out as a beacon. As I approached the spot, I saw an explosion of water and thought to myself, “I figured there would be big sharks out here; I just haven’t seen them yet.” I set up and start losing baits. But I was getting quicker on pulling the baits away from the little sharks. They would bait chunks off the live baits; this gave me a chance to pull the line away from them and not have to fight em. I drop a fairly large roundhead down. The egg singer hits the bottom but the line was still movin out. As I set it in gear and set it into the rod holder the tip began to bow over. I pick it up and the line comes tight, to something much much bigger. Then it began to move, and it felt like it was moving up then, the line was loose. I reeled the rest of the rig in to me. The line was bit with a few nicks above the end. This was no little shark that could only bite as the baits. This was something that has a mouth big enough to take the entire 8 to 9 inch roundhead and the hook and some of the line. Coming back in after dark I soon noticed my flashlight beacon on my tent had burned out. There was only one light on a dark two mile stretch of shoreline and that wasn’t my tent. It was the house a mile away. I didn’t worry, I trusted in my internal navigation and I deducted the currents pushing me, the shape of the silhouetted tree line to get me to where I thought my tent was. I pass the last inside sandbar, turn on my headlight, turn my head to the right and there’s my tent. I was 50 yards off. The last day rain was on its way, so I stayed closer to shore, casting around some near buy rock breakwaters. My main target is big reds, but I am always happy with finding some smaller ones. I told lee that I didn’t expect to go out there and get into em, this is a new fishery to me and I’m looking at this just like the shoals. Its look us a season before we finally caught one, so I know just like anything else on the eastern shore, I have to put my time in, just as its always been. I know I will eventually have a summer big red come across one of my baits, before a shark gets to it, I will finally GET ON’EM!
one of the lil reds along the shoreline
1ST WEEK OF AUGUST In the inlets
big drum, little drum, any drum.. I love em!!
home inlet little red
4TH WEEK OF JULY Great Kipto day and a monster
Once a month during the summer I help guide a few folks fishing around the concrete ships for Kiptopeke state park. We have done this for a few years now and usually everyone catches croaker, roundhead and spot, ocean someone will hook into a decent founder, but this Wednesday was a real good day at the ships. We had a good crew, usually just park interpreter Rebekahand I are the guides. This time, new park ranger and eastern shore local fisherman Ryan was helping out. The trip started out as usual we tucked out of the current, in the eddies finding a steady supply of croaker. Ryan started to work the alleys of the ships and hooked into a decent flounder from what the rod tip looked like, and then the fish dropped the hook. Rebekah snuck in there and after a few minutes a 19” flounder grabbed her hook and doesn’t come off. Ryan gets back in there and pulls two more flounder out at 16” and 18 inches. Next up was Steve Williams who came all the way down from Maryland caught a 15” flounder right before ending time. That was our best day yet and a lot of fun with everybody. Afterward I headed out to the barrier islands to see what was going on. The wind picked up and I headed into a creek and cast around caught a small red until the tide got very low. Luckily the winds dropped out and I was able to paddle around. The water clarity wisent optimal for sighting, so it ended up being a nature day. Nature days out there are fine; it’s always good to get some miles in and to take mental notes on the constantly changing shoals. This nature day will stick in my memory because I saw a true sea monster. Sharks are a totally common sight on the eastern shore; it’s a wild untouched place. We have seen em at least to the 9 and 10 foot long range. I was trolling along off 10 to 15 feet off the breakers it 5 to 6 foot of water. Ahead of me, a little further out, a see the tip of the fin and it submerges. I angle my kayak in the direction of his path and stand up to get a better view in the low afternoon light. I see the shape some into view just below me off my bow, then his whole body. This shark was every bit as wide as my trident 13, and as long as my 13 foot kayak. I shuddered as I exhaled and I sat down, I look behind me and see the boils on the water surface telling me the shark scooted off. I sat there still in a bit of shock realizing I just encountered the biggest shark I have ever seen in person. The noise of me sitting down spooked him; otherwise if he wanted to make a move on me, I really wasn’t going to be able to do anything about it. I paddled away, feeling like an animal that was lucky enough to pass by a predator. I paddled and caught the current back in, and my nature day wasn’t over, 100 yards away I say a spinner shark launch out of the water twisting as water spiraled off of him and he splashes back into the water. Nature days are not full of thrilling fights but the sights can be memorable and intimidating. That is the eastern shore, awesome even when I don’t GET ON’EM!!
Park ranger Rebekah with the biggest flounder of the day 19"
Park Ranger Ryan with a near 18"er
Steve Williams from Maryland with a 15"er
3RD WEEK OF JULY Four days on the bay
1st night camp
With still no report of big reds, besides out in the middle of the mouth of the bay, in which mothershipping is the option. I headed up north a bit on the eastern shore to do some exploring and more detailed fishing. I have passed this area before twice on tour. But on tour, I only fish on opportune moments. Unless I am dedicating a day to fishing, I am paddling. This area is lined with cool beaches behind vast Florida style grass flats. If you have the “Chesapeake Bay Tour” DVD, I launched from the marina that Shante meet me when I destroyed my tent trying to move it after a storm. The winds where forecasted to be light for the four days. The winds were up a bit as I launched later in the afternoon, I just got to a beach for the night. Launching in the morning I headed north, trolling a weedless saltwater assassin behind me. I carved the shoreline, eyeing beaches for this night’s camp. I paddled up to a small creek I saw on the satellite shot, I made a few cast and caught a small striper. I stood on the sandbar and made a few more cast, ate lunch and paddled on. I moved over a super clear grass flat and thought “this looks really fishy here.” a few more paddle strokes and my rod went down. I began the fight and knew it wasn’t a red or a striper, felt like a speck and it felt like a decent one. I turned on my stern cam and landed the 23” speck. Our trophy speckled trout start at 24” so that was a good one. I paddled forward into the small breeze to set up for a drift, so I could cast the area. I caught two very small 10”-12” stripers. I padded I little further north, cast on a creek mouth, caught a few more striper on a spinner bait, then headed for a beach a few miles south, trolling all the way and catching a few more striper. I was casting a gulp and to keep it hydrated while paddling I had it dangling in the water. I had a small striper swipe at it right at my kayak. I got to a great beach in a cove and set up for the night. The next morning the winds where pushing a bit so I took the opportunity of trying to catch a striper from the shore line. It took a while but I caught two small ones for the cams. When the morning winds laid down enough to comfortably paddle into them I headed south, and west. This time I had a thought out trolling set up happing. I had the bass assassin on a way back cast. That one was under the water. On the other side I had a ripple mullet gulp about 15 to 20 feet behind me. This has a blunt nose compared to the bass assassin so the gulp was gunging on the top, slightly diving under the waves. The short was the striper lure and the way-back was for the specks. The striper hit both along the paddle and a small speck hit the way-back. I saved the best for last, as I approached the last camp for the week. I paddled over amassing clear flats. Had a few more baby striper hit the top water troller. I landed on the end of the spit, ate then lunched again to fish the area. I saw striper but dint hook up. I landed to enjoy my last night on the beach, which is one of my favorite all time beaches. As I explored I saw that sandy and the super west wind that was on this point, totally reshaped and transferred sand. The point where I camped in the tour DVD was underwater, 50 yards off the beach. The winds came up in the afternoon which kept the bugs like mosquitoes and no-see-ems, but the horseflies can navigate in any wind. The winds continued after sunset and the horseflies stop hunting after dark. I was able to fall asleep with my tent fully open, at the very end of the spit. The last day the winds where blowin, but I was on the lee side, and in the calmer water. I started trolling; well it was a controlled drift being pushed by the wind. I stood intermittently, just to get an eye full of the flats. I saw a red scoot away in the grass and I started to smile. As I was moving along the top water rod got slammed. I grab the rod and immediately notice it’s not a speck, it’s not a striper, and with the runs he was ripping, it was a red I trolled back against the wind, then drifted back and caught another red. I got excited and paddled back and set up to cast. I anchored in the sand holes and fan-casted with the wind. I caught more baby striper and had a red follow the lure but I ran out of room as he came to my kayak. He turned and sank into the grass, like a small blimp floating down and disappearing into clouds. The winds got stronger as I paddle back to the marina. I was trolling hooking striper on every point but had to eventually hug the marsh grass to get out of the 20 mph steady wind. I did have to cross a section of open water and that was a nice little challenge at the end of the trip. Angling wise I really really enjoyed the totally different technique of weedless lures in that area. And camping I one of the things that I love to do and practice. And it always makes good trip when you can GET ON’EM!!
1st fish of the trip, nice lil striper
2nd night camp
trolled lil speck
3rd night camp
red on trolled topwater
winds came up on the way in
1ST WEEK OF JULY Few days outside
The plan overall is hunt for big reds in the bay this summer. But, with no reports in a few weeks, my confidence was low, but I wanted to go camping anyway. I brought the gear for big reds, and a light tackle rod. On the way out I had a school of baby striper blitzing baitfish within casting distance. I made a cast in, and caught a 10 inch striper. I was happy to be able to get the skunk off the trip so early. I released him and they blew up again and I caught another one. I have paddled this area of the eastern shore before, both times on tour so I was just passing by. Now, I could take my time and explore a little. I found a good camp site and set up for the night. I had a few little bush stumps around my site but I marked them with stuff to keep my attention on them. I knew the wind was forecasted to blow 10 to 15 mph, so I wasn’t in a hurry the next morning to do anything. A long sand spit extended from the beach I was on. At the end of the spit was a channel where a small bay empties. This had a nice cut out deep ambush point for predators. I walked down and started casting. I fan cast to get a mental picture of the bottom, and find snags, and break off a jig head. I walked back to my camp, retied and I come back with some extra stuff. I try to remember that structure and started casting again. Then I found a red, a fun fighting 20 incher. Then I caught a decent size speck. I hooked a red and fought him to me and saw he had a speck under him trying to grab the tail of the jig. I quit fighting the red but held him high and they both chilled in the current right in front of me. Half of the specks face was black, the other side of his face and the rest of his body normal color. I really wanted to catch that fish for a pic. I was standing and my feet were getting tired, I walked back to my camp, ate lunch and grabbed my chair. I sat there and caught about a half dozen more lil reds before the wind dropped out and I saw a window to paddle, I broke camp. As I was packing gear in the boat I moved my stump markers, and sure enough, I raked my foot across one. It got me good, jaggedly filleted a good layer of skin on the arch of my foot. It hurt, and I was pissed, as I walked it packed with sand and I launched. It stung in the water but quit hurtin after that. The winds came up again but were at my back. I was able to stand and scan the water outside the last sandbar. There was too much floating grass to troll so I just scanned. The sun was getting low and the wind was coming up and I searched for a beach. Found one but the Canadian geese where using that beach and I didn’t like walking around with an open foot wound geese turd soaked sand, I moved on. I stood up to fish a nice little cove with a grass bottom and a speck shoot out of a hole in the grass. I found a great beach and set up camp. That evening there were a few boats casting around, I seem to be in a good fishy area. The next morning it was windy, but before I launched there were a few more boats casting around. I launched a put out the ¼ oz jig and trolled. I didn’t get 100 yards before my rod went down and a baby striper was on. On the way in I stopped on a little shoal, there were dozens of crab walking around in the shallow water. I ran around a caught and released about a dozen just for fun. Even though my main target wasn’t seen, I still got my time outside. I should have plenty of opportunities to eventually GET ON’EM!
Trolled baby striper
one of the crabs, most where peelers
small shoal island
4TH WEEK OF JUNE Still windy, targeting closer to shore
first sheepy of the year
Can’t hunt the main target, its summer time and there are plenty of targets to go after. With the wind blowin, I had to stay within the lee of the land. Sheephead were the target. I dug mole crabs for bait and got on the pilings of the CBBT. I piling hopped and might have had a few bites that might have been sheepies, but never hook up. The next day we had a little less wind in the morning forecasted to blow us off the water at noon. Lee, Zack L and I gave it a shot. It was slow again but I managed to hook into a baby sheepy for my first one of the year. Hopefully I can get a forecast that will allow me to get out after the big reds next week. But it is summer and there is a lot to target so GET ON’EM!
3RD WEEK OF JUNE Windy summer start
To windy to get out after the big reds, so I hit the inlets for some small ones. A red fight is a red fight, just had to GET ON’EM!
2ND WEEK OF JUNE Rays rule the waters
Giant Ray. Photo: Tex
Tex and I headed out to look for the reds. We caught croaker sent them down on a circle hook also cast out a swimshad started trolling. We didn’t get too far before I snagged the first monster. Not a monster that we are targeting, but the monster rays that move in this time of year. This was our day, loosing rigs cutting them off attached to these monsters. My confidence quickly left me. My only hope was to sight the reds. There has been many times we’ve trolled them op without seeing any evidence in the water. Without being able to troll the catching possibilities drops in half. Tex switched to flounder and caught a 22 incher, I switched to anchoring a bait and sat there. The rays rule this time of year, and the techniques have to be changed and now I have to move up the bay, as I try to target the big red all year. Hopefully ill get a chance to GET ON’EM!