The winds kept me on the shore everyday but one afternoon. On Wednesday the winds were forecasted to drop in the afternoon. I waited, hoping the forecast would come true. Slack current was at 4pm, if the winds dropped I could get out to B18 do a lil drift and get back before dark, then hit the ships at the 10pm slack. I waited ready to go as the afternoon ticked away, then the gust stopped being so intense, the sustained winds stared to have less of a sting, the winds where dropping and I started moving. I launch get to the ships, drop two eels and start my paddle out. I get to Buoy 18 and there is only one boat out, I see them grab they’re net, I stop paddling "I’m in a good spot" I start my drift. That net was the only action I saw. I drifted for about 45 mins till I was directly off of the ships and started and paddled in. I hit the ships for the next slack and the same, nothing. We might have some cold air moving in, so if you are planning a trip to the ships, watch the winds forecast and the water temps, hopefully they will have some more windows of opportunities to GET ON’EM!
2ND WEEK OF DEC Ripping current week
Not an eventful week, with only one day that wasn’t windy to get out on the drift. Other than the wind the biggest issue was the high lunar tides and the 3.5 knot (4mph) current. With this current, our timing for the drift had to be on point. But the slack current times made it easy. The slack incoming was at noon. Lee and I launched late in the current at 10am so we wouldn’t overshoot the area the stripers have been holding. With these lunar high tides comes a lot of sediment in the water. The extra high water pulled a lot of the mud and dead marsh grass out into the bay. So the water was muddy and the rip lines had huge mats of reeds and marsh grass. We didn’t see any action anywhere. We didn’t see a net being grabbed on any boat as far as we could see. For the evening slack current we fished the ships, it was a beautiful night, a few kayakers where out and none of us saw any action. They are still around and they have to swim by the ships sometime, they probably have but didn’t come across any eels on a line held by a kayaker….yet. This past weekend Chris’s Bait and Tackle weighed in at least a dozen over 50lb fish. The winds aren’t looking great for the upcoming week forecast, but I hope we can get a window to get out and GET ON’EM!!
1ST WEEK OF DEC More timing on the drifts
2nd 40 incher of the day
This week’s opportunities were at the beginning and ending of the week. First day there was an incoming current until 3pm. that was too late to launch from kipto, drift to cape Charles and make it back to kipto by dark. Seth and his dad Mike Wooten come up from North Carolina very year for the last couple years and get a hotel room for two weeks. The Wooten’s dropped one of their trucks at cape Charles (The Chuck) as lee has now coined a new name. I love this type of planning, the current was 1.5 knots and the wind was forecasted to be south up to 6 knots. We needed to drift to 7 miles and fish the slack tide in the plantation/cape Charles area, then start paddling in to the chuck at 4pm, to make it in by dark. If we over shot to early it we would have to battle against current and potential wind, possible having us in the open water past dark. We launched from kipto at 11am with very light winds. We trolled out to buoy 18, 2 miles out to the NW of kipto. As I was nearing the buoy I felt like I was getting into a fishy area. I started staggering my paddle strokes, slowing my pace and my rod tip gets knocked down. I spin the boat around and the fish boiled the top of the water. After a fun short fight the 40"er is in and getting his picture taken. We begin the drift. Mike gets a short strike. I had heard from other anglers that they had been short striking the eels, grabbing them and letting them go. I was on the phone with Josh Tart and have my free line rod in my forward rod holder. I saw the tip bow over and spring back. I drop the phone and grab the rod. I wait for another strike and as soon as I do I strike back. This one was big one of the week at 45 inches. We all had a few short strikes, I’ve got four or five of me missing, but I do have one that didn’t come loose. I was holding my free line rod with the drag tight. I felt a thump and snap set the hook into a 40 incher. The ended the drift at 3pm directly west of the chuck. The current began to ebb out at 4pm and we paddled in. the next opportunity we had was three days later. The slack outgoing was at 11am. We had to launch from the chuck, drift to B18 for the slack and drift back to the chuck. We had a crew, the Wooten’s were already out, Lee, Jay, Rob Choi and I launched around 8:30ish. We were a little worried when we couldn’t see any boats at first, hearing that the bite had been in front of the ships. But as we paddled out they came into view. We dropped off the edge and started a troll south. We started the drift off the plantation light, the Wooten’s had some misses so far, and we set up in the same area. The drift slowed as we were North West of buoy 18. The boat in front of me hooks one. A few mins later I hook one, fight the estimated 40'er to the surface and pull the hook on 'me. Then a few moments later jay hooks up. I paddle to jay to shoot and Lee hooks up. I turn to paddle over to lee and he’s fish pulls off. So I turn back to jay and shoot him landing a 42 incher. We began to drift north. A boat to the outside of us landed a few in a row. Rob lightly paddled over and got a run. A few years ago when we had a real good drift bite; rob though about going for a line class record. He needed one in the 46 pound range for 8 pound test record. He has hooked a few in the past and broken them off. This run was on his lite line. I get in range to shoot and he was getting pulled away from me. I did enjoy watching rob work this fight. He was able to get leverage and fight him basically like normal; he just pulled the aggression back but still fought him hard. Normally a fish this size the fight is 4 min. you would think a lite tackle fight would take a long time. Not when you know what you are doing out of a kayak, robs 44 incher was in the boat in 6 mins. The action had slowed for a while. Sometimes we can draw up a bite by trolling. While on the drift we zig zag the current. After a few paddle strokes Jays free line comes tight with a 41 incher. It started to get dark we were south of plantation light and a little over three miles from the chuck. The way the current pulled us we were spread out in the main channel. Not a good place for a little kayak to be after dark. We had lights but it still is not safe. A few boats came in on us but saw us and didn’t run us over. In the chuck harbor, there was a bright light over the water. I paddled along the shadow of the bulkhead and saw a little striper. I had a 6 inch Storm copy of a Sebile sexy swimmer that I was going to troll out there. I made a few cast and got some swipes on a fast retrieve. Then one little 12 incher grabbed the forward hook. I caught a striper on that trip. Stripers are all around and so far we have had to paddle to get to them, hopefully this week we can find them close and GET ON'EM!
Rob's 44 incher on 8lb test
1st 40 of the day
Jays 41 incher
Mike Wootens 40 incher
Seth Wootens 42 incher. photo: Seth Wooten
The chuck harbor striper
4TH WEEK OF NOV Long week and long paddle to get to them
My 1st of the season, 40"er
Knowing these fish are around, I took every opportunity to get out there and get my fist one of the season. Monday night, right after work I fished the ships. The next morning, drift/trolled the two miles to Buoy 18 and back with nothin. Then I did it again a few days later and fished the ships with Lee that night...nothin. The next day we had the current and decided to just paddle/troll to the fleet of boats and where the fish have been. We paddled four and a half miles, and to the edge of the fleet when the first rod went down and I landed my first one of the season, a 40"er. We stoped and drifted. I was concentrating on dead reckoning the shoreline to see if we where still moving since the current was slacking. I was staring at the shore and to my right and my left rod came tight. The drag was kinda tight and it threw me off balance, if it came loose I might have been swimming. This one was bigger at 44 inches. We didn't get anymore runs after a while and the current slackened up. We paddled toward the fleet then I hooked a third one. As Lee is paddling up to me he is mad!! He hasn't caught a good striper in three years and he due. He paddled up mad and I yell "What the hell are you mad at, we are in em!!!" He yelled "Because I'm right next to you and haven't had a bite!!" I answer "Well my other line is allot closer and that didn't get bit!!!" That stoped him for about 10 sec, before he when back to being mad. The current turned and we started to drift back south. Lee had one pick up his eel and run at him, he was able to get tight once then is ran at em. Lee frantically got some line up and his rod bowed over and came loose. My freeline eel ran off and I fought this one for a min before I pulled the hook. It was getting late as we drifted to B18, then we trolled into the ships. So far it doesn't sound like any have been caught at the ships. But they are just a few miles away if not closer so I dont see why they wont be there. For now ill hit the ships at night and the drift on the nice days hopefully they will move in closer this week and we wont have to paddle so far to GET ON'EM!
2nd of the season, 44"er
pickin up the 45"er
3RD WEEK OF NOV
The Plantation Light drift
Not the targeted size but its a start
A few fish had been caught north of Kiptopeake along the deep slough that runs along the Eastern Shore. Last year we tested out the Plantation light drift. We had an outgoing current untill 1ish then an incoming for the afternoon. With that current, we launched from Cape Charles, roughly 7 miles north of kipto. We paddled west out of Cape Charles, straight out into the bay. Two miles out is the drop off, within a few hundred yards the depth goes from 15 feet to 70 with a narrow 40-50 foot shelf. We tried to drift with the current staying along that 45 foot shelf. The boats where scattered from kipto to north of Plantation. we didnt see any of them with any action going on. Lee lands a 32 incher, whats funny about that is last year on this same drift Lee caught a 32 incher, but after that I landed 4 target size striper. We we'rnt so lucky on the repeat this time. The current was fast and by the time it turned around we where at Kiptopeke. but the wind forecast was right and it came up from the south as the current began to push north, taking us back to Cape Charles. Reports of a few fish were caught that day and a few over the weekend, they are around, time to GET ON'EM!!!