The end of the year, its been a good one! But this isn't a 'year in review' report, we caught fish this week! The size of the stripers have normalized, like the size range of last year. 38" to 44"ers are the norm. The numbers and the action is heating up. In the new year the bay will be empty. Not of fish, but of boats. The season closes in the bay. The hundreds of boats that were there this week, will all be out in the ocean. The fish will stay for the few who are just looking for a fight. I meet up with Lee, Zack and later, Ric. We paddled out after sunset and Lee had missed two hook sets and on his next run he tried to tear the face off the fish. We set the drag real tight to stick'em and loosen up during the fight. Lee hit this fish so hard he snapped his rod in half. He still fought the fish and landed a unworthy 38"er. . Lee missed another one while Zack joked him. There were a few other kayakers out and one through the ally from us hooked up. I paddled over to watch the fight. The one fighting the fish was saying "I lost it." I asked "It got off?" "No I lost my other rod." I asked " But you still got the fish?" His buddy wasn't looking and the fish ran the angler into his lines and kayak. The fish was tangled. I told the buddy to cut his lines and he did and the angler was able to land his 42"er. He had it across his lap and the fish slid right into the water. Luckily it was still hooked. The night ended with a skunk. FRI. Lee and I planed on doing the 'drift' along with the thousand boats. The wind was a little blowy from the SE and it would be tough getting back, Lee had to land by 4:30. We saw some boats off of sunset beach so we decide to paddle down the shore line, two miles and drift back. It was a cool scenic paddle. We saw two bald eagles, and a big dead washed up dolphin that was getting picked buy buzzards. We made a few drifts and saw two fish caught but nether of us had a run. We paddled back and had a half hour to drop eels at the usual spot. Zip-zip, five fish between the two of us in a half hour. I had a 40"er pull me through the ally! SAT. Meet Ric and his brother Roger. Ric gets the first run and lands a 43"er. I land a 43 and a 41"er. Ric and Roger caught a double, and Roger landed his first citation striper. Its as easy as that! The catch and release season is the kayak striper season we will have it all to ourselves.Come on and GET ON'EM. kev
wayne with a 39"er, his biggest yet. next one will be bigger!
3RD WEEK OF DEC Lee lands a 54 pounder!!
Lee with his record breaking 54lb 4oz striper
THURS a few of us paddled out on a perfectly calm night, Lee in a brand new boat. We sat around till the tide change. Lee's rod was the first to go off. The first thing he said was, " Its not a big one." But it hadn't gotten mad yet. When it finally got its momentum, Lee was out and heading down current. His other rod goes off while on the ride, but only for a split second, the hook was imbeded into the eel and the fish let go. I paddled to Lee side and asked, "What ya got there?" He said " I don't know man, it feels heavy, its just cruising on the bottom." Lee slowly worked it up and easily landed it with a double grip scoop. I break out the measuring tape and get a good look at the beast, "Dude, that might be a 50!" We took the measurements, at least 48" long, the key is the girth, it was the minimum 30". Zacks was the same and weighed 50.7lb. Mine was 49" long, 31" girth and weighed 52.2, so Lee's had to be at least a 50. Chris's bait and tackle was closed so Lee put the fish in the back of my truck and paddled back out and continued fishing. The rest of the night Lee kept dogging me,"Its going to be a 53 pounder!" I answered " Nope! 51." The next day at Oceans East Lees 54lber easly beat my 52lber! As the tide continued to go out the stripers got hungry. Chad landed a long 49"er while Lee and I where dealing with a technical double. Lee was taking a picture of my 44"er and his rod goes click, and landed a fish while I release mine. This happened twice. Both times I caught one, Lee matched it. It was hot for about an hour. I had two 44's, Chad's 49"er and Lee's total, two 44"er and a 54lber. Not a bad way to break in a new boat. TUES night Ric, Greg, Zack and I dropped eels. Zack's the only one to land a striper at 43". Ric lost a est43"er at the boat. Greg had a real nice one leaderd at the side of his kayak. The fish was at least 46" and shaking it head. Allot of fish get away at this moment, if you don't lose it in the first five seconds. I said," You better get that fish in man! What are you doing?" As he fumbled around his deck he answered, " Im trying to get my lip gripper." I yell " Forget your lip griper, grab that fish!" The fish sawed through his 60lb leader and swam away. I didn't even have a run that night. FRI Ric and I paddle out in a bit of a NE wind. Again when the tide changed and began to ebb, they turned on. My first run, the eel was balled up in the stripers mouth and my hook got in the eels back and didn't hook the fish. My second run was a 41"er. Ric landed a his 44" release citation for this year. The bite seems to be on the outgoing. Time it out correctly and you'll GET ON'EM. kev
people always ask,"how do ya get those fish in?"
2ND WEEK OF DEC.
1ST WEEK OF DEC A week of 50 pounders
Kayak Kevin's 52.2lb striper
Its been a big fish week. Zack and I became members of the 50lb club. Mine on Wed. morning between the ships and the buoy and Zacks closer in on Sat. Lee hooked a 47"er with a free lined eel, 15 feet in front of his boat and the fish came out of the water and shook its head like a speck. On Sat Zack was wearing them out and I hadn't had a run in two days. Every time Zack or his buddy Lewis landed one, the other hooked up. I never had a chance to fish, tacking pictures the entire time. Finally I hooked up and landed the smallest striper of the night, but big enough to go into the fish box. Over all, 4 guys with 9 fish from 41" to 49" and 50.7 pounds. They're there, although on and off, Fri we got skunked and Sat we wacked'em. Just go as much as you can and put your time in and you'll run into them. Just stick with it and you'll GET ON'EM. kev
Zach's 50.7lb striper
Lee bowed up!
double grip scoop
Zach 48" release
Zach with his 50
4TH WEEK OF NOV. They're here!!!!!!
Lee ready to land a 45" striper
The moment the leader broke! Photo Ric Burnley
3RD WEEK OF NOV
Sat we had two targets, tog and stripers. Lee, Lee's buddy Zack and I headed for the concrete ships. We fished the entire morning without one tog bite. But we did catch some monster eels. We landed at noon, Lee had to leave for work. There were some kayakers that had landed a 38 incher early in the morning. Zack and I felt confident as we paddled out for what we hope was going to be an afternoon bite. We caught nothing, skunked on two targets. Big stripers are around. Some citation size were caught at the buoy 18 and at the high rise. So get geared up, it wont be long before we all can GET ON'EM. kev
I was waiting for the water temperature to drop to the tog friendly mid 50s for a few weeks. I needed a break from the thousand cast with light tackle for frustrating specks. I needed to set a hook! I kept a close check on the buoy reports for kiptopeke. When it dropped to 57 this week, it was time to go. The only window between blows was Fri. Lee and I took the opportunity with a dozen crabs each. We launched out of Kiptopeke and paddled out to the concrete ships. Lee set up over the large opening and I behind the small doorway.
We began hooking up immediately, and the pace quickened. Although they only wanted the freshest crab chunks. Once they bit it a few times and I missed, they were done with it until I rebaited. I couldn't rebait fast enough. They would hit before I could get my reel set and ready. Lee caught at least a dozen, with only two under keeper size of 14", his top was 19". I caught 20, with five undersized and one at 21", ( small fish box). I was against the wall when I hooked into the 21"er. Like the big one I caught last year, he didn't fight until he was near the top. That's when they turn on the power. When they want back down, there going down. The fight went from "This feels like a good one" to " Oh no!", when half of my rod went into the water and my line was peeling off to the bottom. Plus he had me on the wall and headed to the door. It was a hectic fight and at any time that fish could have broke off on all of the sharp structure. Lee said after watching the fight," I thought that fish looked heavy, then when it really started to fight , it looked big!"
I caught a tagged tog and Lee caught a tog that I tagged a hour earlier. We went through a dozen crabs by 1pm, 60 pieces of bait.
Back on the southside Ric was going to Lynnhaven, since the wind forecast was blowy for the next day, I met Ric. It was the top of the incoming and the water was the clearest I have ever seen it. We stood and paddled back staring into the five foot crystal clear water watching razor clams push themselves along with there foot. I found a deep water area that was cloudy with small silversides. I began casting and hooked up too what I can definitely say felt like a trophy speck. After a long fight he got off before I could see it.
Ric found the sand bar he was looking for and began wading and casting. He started to catch nice specks. I paddled to the edge of the bar and found a 19'er then a near-citation 23" speck. Those are the only two I landed while Ric landed a half dozen, it was a good day, GET ON'EM. kev.
Lee Williams, 16" Tog
Lee Williams, 19" Tog, Nov. '07
2ND WEEK OF OCT
5 days after the citation croaker
I wasn't getting any hits at one speck spot so I decided to paddle down to another area. I thought I might as well troll my gulp to see if I could pick anything up. There's at least a chance I could get a croaker or small flounder. I cast my 3/8 jig with a smoke gulp curly tail out way back, loosened the drag even looser and began to paddle. The water got deeper and I let out more line. I hear zzzzzz, zzzzzzz. the line was pealing off fast. I turned the boat and grabbed the rod. My braid was almost down to the backing, 80 yards, and the fish was still running. I was shure I had a 30" red with the steady run. I slowly and lightly fought it to within 20 yards of my boat. With its sweeping head shakes and short darts, it felt like a striper, but I didn't tighten down I kept up with the speck fight, real light. 10 yards from the boat, it was a speck, and definitely a trophy. I suppressed the adrenalin shot and my excitement and concentrated on landing the thing. Next to the boat I was ready to lip'em. I knew a regular flounder scoop wasn't going to land that speck, so I was ready to take the stitches for that caliber of fish. He flared his gills and I had my opening. I grabbed it like a shark, behind it head. With my leg, leader, and shark grip I tossed it into my kayak. The hook popped out and flew into the water. The speck flopped and I layed on'em.
I knew it was at least a 25 incher. I put the tape on'em and my eyes followed the numbers past 25, 26 and ended on 27". Bigger that any I caught in Florida, the largest I've ever held, the biggest speck of my life. I set my camera, got the shots and weighed it on my hand scales, 6lb 14oz. If it wouldn't revive, it would weigh. The minimum is 5lb or 24" for the release. I held on to it by the tail for 10 to 15 minutes until I felt it was strong enough to survive. It kicked of slow but strong. For the rest of the afternoon I caught 10 more from 16 to 21 inches. The next day, nothing. The next day, 8 including a 24"er. The next day 2 12"ers.
Last years specks averaged 15 to 18 inches. This year, they seem to be 19 to 21 inchers. Last years occasional 22 inchers are now trophy 24 inchers. Speck fishing is up and down, day by day. If you have a spot were you've caught specks before, even if they've been small, hammer it every day you can, the larger will come around. Constant fishing, after hours of casting and thoroughly working an area, you'll GET ON'EM. kev
27" Citation Speck,
1ST WEEK OF OCT.
It's been an interesting week on the lower Chesapeake Bay. Strong easterly winds had most boaters inside, the resurgence of the algae bloom, the red tide, has the bay streaked with brownish red algae, and the water temperature has risen from 73 to 76 degrees. It may not feel like fall with highs in the mid 80's, but the fall run has begun. The fish are following their migratory patterns into their fall feeding areas.
A wave of small specks, 9 to 11", have moved through providing me with a great tagging opportunity. I tagged 6 to 8 each afternoon I fished. A few larger ones have been swimming around.
This is the time of year I target silver drum, aka big croaker. Yea, that's right, I target croaker. I don't use the conventional double bottom rig and bloodworm's. I use light tackle, a half to 5/8 ounce jighead and gulp. I hover with the one arm paddle technique and vertical jig for them.
I've been hunting for a citation croaker for three years. They have to be 20" for a release or 3lb's for a kill citation. I've come close every year, many times. I've landed fat 18"ers that weighed 2lb's, 14 oz and long 19.5"ers, but never big enough.
Lee laughed when I said "Let's try for the silver drum." "Were going to target croakers?" he asked. I answered " Yea man, big croaker." I drop in and land a 18"er, then a hefty fighting 26" red. A little while later I set into a heavy head that din't budge and my rod doubled. It slowly rose a few feet and pumped to the bottom. I new it was a croaker and not a red, a red would have ran off horizontally. Big croakers fight down like a tog. Just not as fast and hectic. They also lean against you like a black drum. I got him within site and it was big, it had to be a 20"er. I was ultra excited when I landed the silver drum. I put the tape on it, it was only 19". I was let down "Man, I thought that was the one."
A 19" croaker is totally picture worthy. I was ready to release it when lee reminded me that he wanted to keep a few. He put it in his cooler. Later, I pulled out the fish to show a buddy and it seemed a lot fatter half dead than when I was holding it all flared up for the picture. I remembered I had my hand scales. It read 3lbs. I didn't trust my scales, Lee said," That's to close." I said " Dude, we gotta go."
We get to Oceans East Tackle Shop and it weighed exactly 3lbs. I was shocked, I finally caught a citation croaker. If it wasn't for Lee wanting to keep some, it would have been released.
Trophy spot should be here in a matter of weeks. I can't wait to GET ON'EM. kev
Kayak Kevin's 1st Citation Croaker, Oct. '07
20" Speck, Oct. '07
LAST WEEK OF SEPT.
The inshore fish are getting bigger and fatter, preparing for their move, their metabolism is speeding up as the water temperature slowly drops. From the peninsula to the southside, mid 20" range reds, specks and silver drum, aka croakers over 16", are putting on the weight and are all over the area. The only fall fishery that hasn't started is the citation size spot. They're getting closer though, I've caught some up to 11". It wont be long, last year it was mid to later Oct when a few showed up.
The big croakers have been fun. Someone chuckled when I said I target croakers. But they are truly a lot of fun on light tackle and a trophy one is hard to get, Ive been trying for a while. I've gotten close alot with fat 18"ers and long 19"ers. I don't fish your standard bottom rigs for them, I jig and cast the usual gulp on a jighead. Vertical jigging in deep water they fight like a cross between a tog and a small black drum. In shallow water they peal line like reds. I love them silver drum.
What are you doing behind the computer, GET ON'EM. kev
3RD WEEK OF SEPT
I'm working on my way to recovery. Paddling doesn't hurt, but jigging and retrieving the lure irritates my entire shoulder. Five days of strong northerly winds kept me inside pretty lake this week. Between Sat and Tues something dramatic happened. The temperature dropped six degrees from 80 to 74, in three days. That a fast drop, I was worried that would cause temperature shock to the fish or it should cause the fall run to kick into gear. In pretty lake I caught a small 9" speck and 14" red. A few ladyfish were around, I jumped two.
Fri lee and I fished the coal piers. We cast on a few points with no takers. We paddled to one of the old piers and jigged down deep, 20 to 30 feet. We hooked up to some hard fighting reds. 20 to 24". We had some great pulls as they ran away from the pier. It was allot of fun working them out from that depth, they were strong. One gave me ugly fight, raping around a piling. I got him out of that, then he runs under a horizontal pile while Lee laughed at me. He came out and yanked me under the pier. I planted my feet on the wood and kept him from going further in. They were all as fat as they could be, big and heavy, mean and still hungry. I caught a nice white perch and Lee caught some small flounder. We both caught medium croaker.
I will be speaking at Bass Pro Shop on Fri and Sun. Fri and sun at 3pm on kayak fishing for striper. Sun at 5pm will be the Florida tour show. Come on out and check it out.
The water temperature is on the decline and the fish are fatten'ing up. Fall has begun. GET ON'EM
Lee Williams Sept '07
Kayak Kevin's 50" 31" girth, Black Drum, Aug '07
42" black drum
Last week I had a schedule change at work. I was needed on the afternoon shift. Lee works in the evenings so we jumped out to the 1st island for sheepshead and black drum. We had been tracking them for weeks. First they were at the 3rd and 4th islands. A month ago they were at the 2nd island. Then I began hearing reports about the 1st. Ric landed a 46"er two years ago and last year they did'nt even show up.
I took my JB custom rock fishing rod ( tog, sheepshead) and a 6'6" cape fear rod, rated to an ounce and a half. My reel is a quantum, accurate pt low profile bait caster spooled with 20lb braid to 30lb fluorocarbon leader, and a 1oz jig head which I baited with the new 6" gulp curly tail. It's half the gear I like to fight big fish with, but I landed a 40" striper and felt fairly confident with it.
We launched at 4:30am and fished the rocks till 9. I caught two togs at 14". Lee landed 4 from 14" to 21!"
I slow paddled 10 yards from the rocks. I had never seen the big blacks on the islands before and dint know what to look for. I went 10 yards and " oh there thay are!" they were surprisingly easy to see. They were light tan against the dark background, and looked like a light colored rock that moved. I put my paddle down kinda loud and scared them. I pitched infront of the direction they took of in. The line came tight and began pealing off the spool. All while Lee was saying " what? where? you got one on !?!"
I had no control over that drum, it was bear hunting with a switch! lee was shooting video as the fish pulled me back and forth at lee. Slamming my kayak into his three times. I like 40lb mainline and 60lb leader and my big rods to battle that caliber of fish. With heavy tackle I can horse them around and put up a better, more exiting fight. This fish had its way with me and I just held on.
Lee said "I'm going to look for one" I said " go ahead, this is going to take awhile!"
After 20 to 30 minutes he finally came up. I had him foul hooked in the pectoral fin. I got him beside the boat, he was facing away from me. A voice in my head yelled "he's right there, grab him!!" I gripped his tail, my fingers did'nt even wrap around all the way. I got my leg under him and tried to slide him up. He was just to heavy and and his huge head and shoulders were still in the water. I leaned back as far as I could, it wasn't enough. Lee yelled over "what are you doing!" I dropped him back into the water and he ran to the bottom. I winched him back up and grabbed his lower jaw, got my leg under and heaved him in!. My kayak listed hard to the side. He measured out at 48". I did'nt get a girth measurement but I am estimating him at least 50lb.
SAT we went to the 1st island again. This time I brought out the big guns. I staked them for hours. I suspended a clam just to be eaten up buy baby black bass. I was just enjoying watching them swim around the rocks like they were little minnows. "They don't know they're that big" Ric says.
I stalked behind a group of 6 swimming along. I made a cast in front of them and hooked one. I sat down and got adjusted and ready for the fight. The big black swam steadily with the school, pulling me along. He did'nt know he was hooked. For a full 2 min he pulled me completely unfazed buy my puny hook. I tried to yank on the line to make him run, but pulled the hook.
Lee had to head back for work and stoped at the Yancey. Within 20 min he almost had a ' rock' slam. 26" sheep, 17" trigger and lost a 22" tog at the boat.
The east wind messed up my hunting so I anchored for sheepshead. No bites, I got skunked! but I did learn a better standing paddle technique, and really observed their movements. Getting skunked always sucks but learning something new and gaining knowledge from observation will help me on the next trip to GET ON'EM ! kev
Lee Williams, 42" Red Drum,
41" Red Drum
MAY 30- JUNE 3
The big red drum grand finale. Three days on the Eastern Shore, three days of getting beat up on the Fisherman Island Shoals. For the last 5 weeks my main target was the big reds. Each week was its own wild adventure! Not that I won't go to the shoals for a try, but usually May is the prime time for that area. The May full moon is the time that crabs shed. I think that is what attracts the reds to those shoals. The fishery will continue on the nine foot and middle ground shoals for another month, too far to fish from a kayak. My season in the washing machine is done. Final tally;after 55 hours, I caught six reds, 41", two 43", 44", 46", and a 48"er. Two blacks at 30". Lee had three reds at 40",42" and 47" , and one black at 38" which was caught six days later at buoy 13. Ric had a kayak-caught red at 45" and a boat-caught red at 47". And Jay Beeler on his 1st time on the shoals and his 1st cast landed a 46" citation red.
THURS, I make a quick escape from work after a near $80 disaster with our peelers, the last peeler crabs around. I put them in my to frosty fridge and nearly killed them. I revived them at work and back on ice thay went. I evacuated the southside across the CBBT and met Lee at the launch at 1pm. We paddled out to the shoals with perfect timing as the outgoing tide ended and the flood tide began. The wind was from the south up to 15mph. The waves were rolling in at 3to 4 feet with a little wind chop. 15 min after putting out the baits, the line moved with slow steady clicks. I gradually thumbed my spool, hooked the fish and he ran hard for the breakers. my anchor rope broke loose as usual, I was heading for the breakers. I grabbed my anchor rope and started that tug of war again.
" Forget this!" I yelled and lighted up on the drag. The wind held me of the shoal while I kept pressure on and waited for him to come of the shoal. I engaged my other reel so I wouldn't have allot of line out, so i wouldn't get tangled in it during the fight. The fish eventually ran to the deeper water and i tighten down the drag and went after him. Winching down on him, moving fast, POW! my other rod gets hit hard! The tip was nearly in the water and line was getting striped from my spool, loudly, my clicker was still on. I looked down to se my rod holder flexing my kayak! l had to loosen the drag so the fish wouldn't rip it from my boat. Then my clicker really started to scream.
I called Lee on the radio "Lee I've got a double and he's spooling me, get over here and get this fish!!"
The two fish held me in place, one heading for the shoals and the other going inland. I handed Lee the other rod. " This is a nice rod" he said about my JB big fish custom rod. finally I was free to fight and land my 41" red. I tagged him as lee fought and landed the 42"er. The waves grew as the tide rose then lee hooks up. I drop my anchor rope and float back for some shots. The full moon current was cranken. It was hard work hovering with lee as he fought the fish on anchor. It was a tough fight against that current. He would get him close to land him and he would keep going forward against the current. He eventually landed the 47" citation red.we fished for another 3 hours with not a bite.
FRI Ric and I were filming with Barclay Shepperd and his TV show ' the smoking gun outdoors show' this was our second shot. We tried for cobia last year and got skunked. We felt confident since they were there the day before. We mother-ship on Barclay flats/bay boat. We loaded up and launched from Kiptopeake. We unloaded into our kayaks behind the shoals. It was windy and choppy, with a raging current. we were all jumping waves. Eventually Barclay couldn't stay anchored in position after almost taking a wave over the bow, and retreated to deeper water. I was ready to throw in the towel, but Ric moved closer into the shoal. I hovered around Ric yelling, "there's no fish here today!" No other boats were catching and I was well over the beating, and after two more white rolling walls of saltwater slammed us, he was ready too. That was the first skunk in 5 weeks. And the 2nd skunk trying to film with Barclay. Ric and I camped at the creek launch, loaded up in case we had an opportunity to get out for the early morning incoming tide.
SAT 4am came early as Ric and I woke to low winds and we launched. Ric was way ahead of me as usual in his prowler 15. when I came around the Smith Island Point, I hit the incoming current. I called Ric on the radio, " I just hit the current wall, I think we are to late."
He called back, "It's not that bad out here, just come on!"
I padded at a snails pace, 1mph and crawled out to Ric already set up on the shoal.
"Yea, its not that bad out here" and that was the problem. The waves were weak, the water was too clear, no turbulence churning up the shoal. And the temp had dropped 5 degrees. By 9am the current should have been cranken, but it was flowing like a half moon tide. We both had sweet spots. I was right on the edge of the shoal, the breaking waves within 10 feet. I was luckily over a small hole, waves would break infront of me, then reform under, then break behind. As the water level rises, the waves are able to keep their energy over the outside bar. They don't break over the same shallow area when the water was lower. They keep their form and break further in, where we are anchored. We always have to move to deeper water toward the top of the tide. As the peaking waves would almost break and roll over, I would think, "I'm probably going to have to move". Not long after, I looked up at a wave that rolled in from a different angle. It was bigger than the others.
I thought, "that's not going to break there."
It peaked up to the limit and broke. I yelled "no way!"
I tried to paddle fast up the wall, but it was already too late. The wall of white water hit me square in the face! I slammed down the back side and looked at Ric through the water running off my hat. He was singing the Hawaii Five-O theme.
It would have been nice to have a grander grand finale, like a 50 incher, but a double on Thurs was wild! But that's the way I like it. I fish a place hard until I get skunked. Next on the list and in our sights, cobia! One was weighed at Wallace's late last week, it has started. Until then, I am getting ready for a short tour from VA beach to Cape Henlopen, Delaware. And all the inside fishing spots have fish, it's all on -so GET ON'EM. kev.
Lee Williams, Fight'n the Reds,
May 25- 30
I know I sound like a broken record when talking about the 'shoals', burliest fish, burliest place,blah,blah,blah. And it seems that every week I've got another crazy story from the eastern shore. Well, it's a wild place! With big wild fish! Only experienced kayak anglers should try.
After posting on the tkaa.org forums, there was a small fleet of kayakers going, there was Lee, who has fished with me alot in the last year, sheepshead, tog, striper (check out the fishbox page). If it's big and burly - he has fished for them with me. There was Linstad, who has fished with Ric and I a number of times in imperfect conditions. He is always cracking smart jokes in his North Dakotan accent. There was Jay and Rick C; 10 year fishing partners, pier and surf guys who in the last two years have put alot of time in the kayaks. A good crew, experienced in the water, in their kayaks, and prepared for big reds.
I get a call the night before from a guy who wanted to come down and hit the shoals with us. I basically interviewed him, " what's your kayaking experience?"
He said, " I just got my kayak and I've gone in my creek a few times."
I said, "dude, you don't want to paddle out to the shoals! You need at least a year paddling before you even think about going out to the shoals."
I spent the next 15 minutes trying to talk him out of it. But he was real persistent about going.
He said, "I'm a young guy."
I said, "It doesn't matter. It's your skill level and ability I'm worried about. It's how much you can take. Haven't you read my reports (here and TKAA)? It is the burliest place we fish and they are big and mean!"
He still wanted to go. I thought to myself, what is this guy thinking? I guess when you look at the pictures of us holding big reds in relatively calm water, it doesn't look bad. But those pictures are taken after the fish has already pulled us away from the shoals. So he was going to come out. And I wasn't going to tell the dude, no you can't go. I just wanted him to know what he was getting himself in to.
"Do you have any kids?"
"Good, no dependents. You're going to be a liability to us out there, if you go in, one of us is going to have to risk his life to save you."
FRI we paddled out with the crew. The newbie was way under-geared, with medium weight tackle. I pointed to the other guys' heavy tackle and said, "If you hook one, he will spool you on the first run. If you do get lucky and get to fight one you'll be back at the launch by the time you land him."
We went over a tiny boat wake and teh newbie said " whoa."
Lee and I laughed. Not trying to be mean. Lee said to him "you don't know what you've gotten yourself in to."
Luckily, the newbie got sea sick in a hour and paddled to Smith Island to recover along with Rick C. who also had gotten sick. Lucky he got out before the tide changed and it really got crazy. I know some of you sickos wanted some carnage story about teh newbie, but him getting sea sick so quickly was the best thing that could have happened.
I always get scared approaching the shoals. Scared of missing the slew and getting closed in a shoal with the out going tide and getting sucked into the breakers. You never know what its like until it's to late and you're in them. Plus the added pressure off all my buddies following me into the teeth of the monster. But again I found the same spot at the right time.
The current was slacking and we all did the pitch and drift technique. One of Jay's first pitches put it right into a red's mouth. Unanchored, he fought that fish with the slightest drag so not to get pulled into the shoals. He had just enough pressure to keep him on until he ran for the deeper water. He fought it so lightly I doubted he even had a fish. Incredible, expertly executed drag control kept Jay out of the shoal, and disaster. Jay tighted down on'em in the deep water and landed his first kayak 46" citation red!
When the current began to flood back in, it brought the waves. They began to grow, 2 to 3 foot. We anchored up, in a line next to the breakers. Lee was tucked in tight into a small deep hole. Waves were breaking in front of him, reforming and breaking behind him. When the waves grew to 4 feet, I think I saw Lee get vertical a couple times. My problem in those waves is my anchor rope cam. With the sudden jerk of a wave, my rope gets released. I'm usually riding the waves with the rope in my hand like a rodeo rider.
The crab on the line in the wash began to move. Slowly my reel began to click. Linstad was within hearing distance, I called to him, "here it goes!" I slowly tighted down my drag. the fish really picked up speed as the circle hook worked its way in to place. He was heading deeper into the shallow, shallow water. A 4 foot wave nearly broke on me, and pow - my anchor rope is out and I'm heading into the breakers. I could have loosened my drag put my rod in the rod holder and paddled out, but he felt like he wanted to go all the way across the shoal. I didn't have enough line for that. On instinct, I grabbed my anchor rope with my left hand. With my kayak broadside to the peaking 3 to 4 foot waves, and a tough red steadily trying to pull me into a deadly washing machine, I was in a life threatening tug of war!
The fish was digging in like a pit bull trying to break its chain. I kept my drag tight holding my ground with my rope. My line went slack a couple of times and I transferred my rod to my left hand. The rope burned as it slipped thru my hand with the pitching waves while I reeled furiously. This ugly fight seemed to last 10 minutes.
I wanted it to end. I wanted to land the fish! It was a long stand off. I was tired, but holding on. The waves were breaking so close it was just a matter of time, one would break on me. My muscles strained as I held on.
He finally ran to the deeper water, then it was my fight! With tight drag I winched down on'em, to the boat and he would burn drag, sprinting away. Spin me to the left, to the boat, splash! Tail wash! And out 20 yards! I'd wench back to him, he sprinted at my boat, blam! He rammed my hull, spinning me to the right. It was like two heavy weight fighters exchanging brutal body blows. He wrapped me in my other line a dozen times, but I worked it out. And eventually worked him out. We measured the length and I was shocked that he was 44". Don't get me wrong, any fish 40+ inches is a prize catch in a kayak, but a BIG red is 50" and up. I just got my butt whipped by a moderate size red. And I was beat.
The rest of the crew headed back and Lee and I moved across the slew to the other shoal. We had the perfect conditions and shoal structure but no fish the rest of the tide. We had the current and the wind on the way in. I practically paddled lying on my back.
This coming weekend is the full moon, prime time! And fast, fast currents. I'm sure another wild weekend on the shore is on its way, and if the weather will let us, we will try again to GET ON'EM. kev.
Jay Beeler, 46" Citation Red Drum
Kayak Kevin, 44" Red Drum,
May 18- 24
I don't call the Fisherman Island Shoals the burliest place we fish for nothin. Maybe we should rename it to 'hold on for your life shoals' or 'trauma wave shoal.'
SAT; low tide at 6pm. the forecast nw 10-15 dropping and shifting to sw 5-10 in the afternoon. Betting on the forecast, Ric, Lee and I committed, buying crabs and preparing. After the Wild River Outfitters kayak demo, we headed over, the wind dropped at the right time. Driving over the CBBT, there were big smooth breakers on the 9 foot shoals. I knew it was going to be a wild wave riding evening. We took our time gearing up and drifted out. I get nervous on the approach to the shoals, they always look like there breaking all the way across, and there are no openings. I wanted to get in the same spot as last week, and some how again, found it. The current was finishing up the last hour of the outgoing and I wanted to try a new technique. I put on 2oz and baited with a whole peeler crab. Drifting along the edge of the shoal, I looked for an opening in the breakers, then paddling hard into the temporary opening, hit the breaks, and cast as far as I could in to the messiest water. I kept my reel in free spool and backed out fast. With the 2oz, the bait drifted down the shoal with current. i did the same with a little controlled drift. It felt cool but no hits.
When the tide switched the waves began to grow and grow. We anchored off in a row along the edge of the drop, in 6-8 foot of water. Occasionally a set of 5 foot swells would roll thru and break 10 feet away along the shoal. We were out of range of the breakers, barely. But not out of range from the rest of the almost breaking, peaked out, slightly deeper part of that wave. I watched lee in front of me as he climbed the growing rolling wall strait up. His bow in the air, then over and disappearing behind. And then my turn, I paddled forward over my anchor rope giving it some slack. The climb up the wall seamed to take forever, like when I use to skateboard the local vert ramps. I could see daylight thru the thin, over vertical, wispy top. Busting thru with a spray of water. With my bow completely out of the wave, I'd only crash down the back side after the wave past the mid section of the boat. A few times I didn't give enough slack on my anchor line and it would snatch me down thru the wave, scary. I turned around to watch Ric disappear then explode over the top, entire bow air borne. He was smiling as he slammed down the back side.
After a while, I was beginning to think we were going to get skunked, then Ric's clicker screamed. Lee yelled" that sounds like a red!" Ric left his clicker on so we could hear the entire fight. We watched as Ric transferred rods when the fish circled his boat. An amazing thing with Ric and big fish is his ability to land them on anchor, he did it with the cobia, and he did it with this 45" red. At sunset Lee hooked up and landed a beautifully red, red. We through in the towel at dark. Inside Fishermans Island Bay we unknowingly paddled onto the Raccoon Island flats. The swells were keeping their strength over the now deeper shoals. I didn't see it but I felt my boat get picked up. I gave one good paddle stroke and I was gone. The super fast ride was unexpectedly long and real wet from the spray. When I finally slowed I looked into the darkness and saw Lee's light bouncing fast in the night. Lee caught a ride but Ric got broken on, swamping his boat. He was wet but not swimming - the "swamp yer' boat shoals!"
Some flounder from the First Island area came in at work this week but not alot. There was a school off 40" stripers working a bait pot near the Second Island on Thursday. Lewis on the 'hooked up' had an interesting catch this week. He was flounder drifting along the Hampton Bar area when his rod bent double and the line screamed off. It was no flounder. After a tough fight a 7.5lb tog was in the net.
I will be back on the shoals this weekend and next. Then its cobia time. Two more weekends on the 'death defying shoals' or the ' is your life insurance up to date shoals' or the ' fish worth risking your life for shoals' absolutely, without a doubt, wish us luck and hop we can GET ON'EM. kev.
Ric Burnley on the Shoals
Lee Williams on the Shoals, May '07
May 11 - May 18 What happens when you test a "what if " situation? Sometimes it turns into the perfect situation.
FRI morning I drove over the CBBT in thick fog, in 100' visibility. I set up my tent in Kiptopeake state park campground and went to the launch. The fog was breaking up as I got ready. I had to be at the shoals by 10am, when the tide changed. So I wasn't in a hurry. Paddling out to the Fishermans Island Inlet, the fog blocked Smith Island and the shoals. I crept up to Fishermans Island in case the fog rolled over and I had to land. As soon as I could see the lighthouse, I set out with the light as my heading. The shoals appeared from the fog, the waves were breaking all the way across the inlet. I saw an opening and paddled around a small shoal and back up and into a deeper slew. I measured the depth with my paddle, 4 foot, 5 foot, then over paddle deep. That's the good deep water I was looking for. The shoal to my south had a long line of breakers, perfect transitions from deep to shallow. I set my anchor in 4 to 5 foot of water, just too deep for the ocean swells to break on me. I was baiting my second rod when my 1st went off. I fought a little black drum up, he had another little black beside him trying to steal the peeler from his hooked mouth.
The current started to run in and I had to deal with dog shark after dog shark, some big, 40" or so. I missed something and was reeling my bait up fast to check it. A 45+" red followed it up and tried to grab it on top of the water with a loud thump. I was startled, and knew they were there. 10 min later I hooked into a nice one and fought him to the boat. He got off as I fumbled to release my anchor rope. 50 dog sharks later line began screaming off my spool, no doggie this time! I fought the monster red up and around my kayak. He ran deep then up into the shoals, then back to the boat. I thought he was done and dropped my anchor rope to land him, but he wasn't done yet, pulling me for another 20 minutes and nearly a mile away. When he was finally done I landed my biggest red yet, 48" and fat. It was ridiculous trying to get pictures of the beast by myself. It was a long paddle back to my anchor buoy. After more doggies, I landed a 46"er and a 43"er. Near the end off the tide, I was tired. Being anchored up into the current and fighting dog after dog behind me, wore me flat out! I came in with the last part of the in-coming tide. I called Ric and he was at the Kiptopeake ramp going out for the evening bite with Fisherman Magazine editor, C.D. Dollar, on his boat. I called Lee and he was mad "you always wack'em when you go and' test monkey' a spot! I'm taking off work tomorrow!"
SAT, met Lee at 8am at the launch and the same conditions as the day before, fog. We took our time to get to the inlet by 11am. We paddled way around to let the fog burn off. The current was running strong as we approached the shoals. The breakers were hard to see, but I was able to find the same spot I was on Fri. The current was a little scary, I did'nt want to hook a fish and get pulled out to sea. At 11ish the tide slacked off and we moved in closer to white water. The current just started moving when I hooked up to a 43" red. Lee hooked up 40 minutes later to a nice 36" black drum. The wind shifted ENE and it got choppy. We probably caught 100 doggies. I looked back at Lee, he was wrestling the hook out off a 30"er and it's tail was slapping him in the face. They don't fight too hard, but they go crazy at the boat. We want our hooks back, but they wear you out. When you grab them, they writhe and spin with alot of strength and stamina. I've gotten shark burn on my arm from their skin.
Toward the end of the day and bait, Lee hooked up to a big red but it breaks him off at the boat. Justin Hurst was across the shoal from us and had the net out every time I looked over. I ran out of bait before Lee, so I put on some gulp peeler crab and caught a 30" black. I shouldn't be surprised, I use it for everything on inside fishing spots. I'm not going out there without gulp again.
We wait all year for these fish and I'm glad I had the chance to get'em. Don't be afraid to try something new or be a 'test monkey'. You might just happen to GET ON'EM. Kev.