After days of working behind the computer on the DVD, which is coming along and looking real cool, I had to get out on the water. Lee and I hit one of the local inlets one late afternoon. On the way out we saw a guy catching 10” spot two at a time. The water was extra high and we were casting in an area that is usually shallower. We started to get the usually 10-12 incher spike specks, then Lee lands I nice one. We were doubling up there for a while with not the biggest specks, but the biggest we’ve caught this year. From what I’ve seen and heard from other fishing reports, the hurricane triggered the start of the fall run. Larger spot have been in the inlets and larger than spike specks have been caught on the Southside. But it ain’t fall yet! Not to me, I am resisting and still targeting sheep and spades. Daimien, lee and I headed for the island, the water was not muddy but sandy. Not the best conditions for our targets, they like to see their prey. Plus the three foot swells from the hurricane off shore made fishing the pilings effectively, the kayaks are pushed three to four feet away and back to the pilings with every wave. We headed to the tube and anchored off as the outgoing current began. We fished with no bites, and then the wind came up from the west. With the water a not good for fishing color and the sudden and unforcasted wind, we called it a half day and paddled on in. The DVD should be sent to the manufactures by the beginning of next month, and it takes a month to come back from the manufactures. The DVD should be ready for sale by Nov. then I can be free to fish and GET ON”EM!
small but bigger than spike speck
3RD WEEK OF AUGUST Mothership cobia attempt
42 inch cobia, boat caught.
The sight casting cobia fishing has been great the last few weeks, but the area is a little out of a safe kayaking range. Ric and lee have been getting on’em for the last few weeks off Ric’s 21’ jones brothers boat. So we loaded up mine and lees kayaks, got a bucket full of eels and headed out to the bridge. The visibility was too hazy to sight in the open. We rode up and down the pilings between the second and third islands. We saw nice schools of spadefish when the current was slack. As the current started we saw our first cobia. Instead of dropping the kayaks we decided to get this one from the boat, lee cast the eel and the line came tight! It didn’t fight too much and lee pulled it to the boat, I was filming and was even able to get the camera in the water for some shots. Ric got the gaff; he hit the fish in the gill plate. He pulled the fish to the gunnel and it started to go nuts, the gaff ripped at its gills and blood sprayed everywhere! It was crazy but it didn’t get off the hook and now it was going to bleed out in the water and not in the boat. At the scales it weighed 67lbs!!!! I got into the kayak four times and had multiple shots a big cobia that just didn’t want to eat. Or I was getting to close and spooking them. It started to get rough and to choppy to stand it the kayak so we continued on from the boat. We saw a total of eight cobia on the pilings and only two where under 50lbs. one I saw swimming on its side going around the pilling. He was doing loops, so we got into position and a cast the eel a foot in front of it, the eel swam down, the cobia turned and we could see the gills flair. I said” does he have it” Ric and lee both said “Yea!” I set the hook and landed the first fish I have caught from a boat in five years, a 42 inch cobia. It was fun!! So now I’m totally contemplating paddling all the way out to the third island for cobia. It’s gotta be the perfect day, perfect winds and the right currents to do this safely. Well see if we get what we need to paddle out and GET ON’EM!
1ST WEEK OF AUGUST More spades
Only one day on the water this week, and it was a good one. Justin Mayer (fishing fanatic) and I started off, with minimal mole crabs, targeting sheepies. After no bites and except croakers nipping away, we decided to try to get out to the island before the current started running at full blast. We got to the pilling’s where we caught some spades last week about the time the current made it unfishable. Jay and his wife were heading on in and reported nothing but small bluefish. That was the same result I had when I dropped the clam down. Rob Choi (angling-addict) showed up looking to break his personal best spade of 12”. I headed for the island. I sighted nothing along the rocks and tried to jig for flounder bear the tube. The blues were so thick the 1.5oz jig head hardly made it to the bottom before getting demolished by the blues. I was done till we could hit the pilings again. I hung under the bridge watching rob catch non-stop baby black bass and blues. Justin even had one hit a combo, yea the snack. The current slowed we hit the pilings. It started off slow and with small fish, then as the current died the bite picked up, and so did the size. My two biggest of the day were two crazy fights. Both ran around, between, and through the pilings. Had to free spool the reel, paddle through and figure out where my line and the fish was. I love those crazy spade fights, I love reacting to the insane spadefish fight. We were running out of clams, and my wrist were screaming at me, not from all the fish but from one arm palling, well my right wrist from paddling and my left from fighting. Rob was on his next to last piece of clam and finally hooks into a real puller. He got lucky and the fish ran away from the pilling’s. But when they run to the bottom you’ve got a good one. Rob landed and got his personal best spade at 15.5 inches. Justin landed spades up to 14” Spades are so much fun, totally worth the paddle out to GET ON’EM!
Rob Choi 15.5 incher
Justin Mayer 14 incher
4TH WEEK OF JULY Target: spades
This week the mission target was spadefish. I did a short guided fishing trip for Kiptopeake state park this week. I took two guys from Richmond croaker fishing around the concrete ships for two hours. Then my plan was go for a paddle and catch some spades at the high rise. I had a outgoing current which would take me to the bridge. It’s a little bit farther that the wise point ramp but I wanted to paddle. I timed it out and landed on the bridge on the turnaround of the current. I worked around the pilings until I had a tap. Then I hovered on the spot and had a solid tap. I set the hook and the rod tip was under water with line ripping out. Luckily he ran away from the piling. Its been two years since I caught one over 12”. I had a lot of fun! Landing 6, four of them 14 and 15 inches. The next day Lee and Jay from VAkayakfishing and I headed out to the bridge for the mission of the week. We set up and jay said with a bait in the water, “I can see them.” I said “why haven’t you hooked one yet?”we got on em hard for the entire current change. There were some tiny ones landed, but the majority of them were great fighting size, Lee had the biggest ones with the top at 18”, jay had nice ones up to 16.5”. I landed more but were all 14” or under. The winds came up and we went in, mission accomplished! We GOT ON’EM!
The usual position during a good spade fight, rod tip in the water.
and a 34" red
3RD WEEK OF JULY Stone Mtn and my first bass
My first bass ever. photo:Jean McElroy
This week I worked the Johnson Outdoors Dealer Conference at Stone Mountain Georgia. I went two years ago and last year I was on tour. The Johnson Outdoors owns Ocean Kayak, Necky, Old Town, Carlisle Paddles and Extrasport PFDs. They invite kayak shop owners to the Stone Mt resort to show off the new kayaks and gear for the upcoming year. It’s a lot of work for the prostaffers, we set up the rooms and haul the boats. But on the down time a few of us had an afternoon or two to go fishing. Ocean Kayak pro from Jupiter Florida, "Irish Jean" McElroy hooked up in the deep water of the lake. She hollered at me in time for me to see a nearly 15" bass come flying out of the water. It was an explosion of water, but she lost it at the boat. Jean, like me, is a saltwater only kayaker, so both of us were way out of our element.
Standing in the new OK Tetra kayak. I could see small bass along the shoreline, but they could see me and swam away from me. I worked my way around to some rocks. I cast a small spinner bait on top of a rock and pulled it off. When it dropped I hooked up. It was a small bass but it was my very first freshwater largemouth bass I have ever caught.
The rest of the conference was great. I got to meet and hang out with alot of kayak shop owners, ( to the guys from Memphis, send me an email and ill get the dvds out to you)
I had alot of fun this week and meet some cool folks, got to hang out with my friends and fellow pro-staffers, and catch my first freshwater bass. Now its back to the saltwater to GET ON'EM!
Jean McElroy casting for bass
Some of the Ocean Kayak Pro Staff crew, Jeff Anderson, Jeff Herman, Jean McElroy and me
On the water demo of new kayaks
Stone Mtn after a rain
Towed in by the Torque, Greg Bowdish, Sean Fields, Jeff Herman, Dave Sanford, me, photo: Jean McElroy.
1ST WEEK OF JULY Sheepshead and reaching Master Angler
Back in 2004 we had a phenomenal spot run. I was in long creek loading up my kayak with big spot. A friend Scott Cole was fishing from his boat, and suggested that I weigh one of my jumbo spot at long bay point, right there on long creek. That was the first one. Fast forward two years later, and Ric and I began to question ourselves whether a kayak-only angler could land the six citations in a year needed to achieve the expert angler award. We began for formulate the plan, the schedule of fish to target throughout the year. The expert chase was easily one of the toughest challenges I had ever done. It was tournament fishing every day on the water. It wasn’t fun, it was highly stressful. After five citations, I was on the tog, burning vacation and sick days to get as much time on the water. It paid off with extreme relief, a 24” Tautog, completing the yearlong paper chase and a promise to not try to do that again. The next year i followed the knowledge gained from the expert challenge, having fun and chasing my favorite fish. I targeted and landed trophy striper in January, reds in the spring, sheepshead and my first big black drum on the island during the summer. Then while having fun with the fall silver drum run (croaker over 16”) I landed my first ever croaker citation. Five days later I landed the biggest speckled trout I ever landed a 27”er. It was a good year! The Master Angler award is comparatively easier than expert. There is no time limit with master angler, just a long term collection of citations to get to 25. I finally landed that last one this week with Rob Choi (angling-addict.com) as my witness and a 24” sheepie was released from my kayak. With a six year long challenge completed it was fun fishing time. Rob hooks a sheep on his first drop and straightened out the hook with his drag locked down, but recovers and lands a big 25 incher. With the days target landed we targeted spadefish. My buddy Ryan Jones (Jones art) was wearing them out. The current was strong and difficult to fish but I hooked into one. Last year was a slack year for the spades with very few over 12 inches, which I was expecting from this spade. It nearly ripped the rod from my hand but I backed off on the drag and landed the 15” spade. I got over the current and headed to the island. Big black drum were tailing, routing around in the rocks. I shot some footage before I started the hunt. Drum on the island are notoriously skittish when anything that floats down from the surface and tough to get to bite. I don’t like to spend a lot of time on‘em because they can be incredibly frustrating. I was pitching a Berkley powerbait shrimp with a rattler in the tail. I saw one slowly moving through the rocks I cast the shrimp way out in from of him anticipated his path. As he swam near, I twitched the shrimp making the rattle do its thing. The drum swam over to it and my line came tight. He pulled me out then circled back near the rocks. Then back out circling back to the rocks again but this time violently pushing himself in shallow trying to rub my line off on the exposed rocks. I pulled hard angling him out and it was over. We paddled around more or less just watching these giants suck on the rocks and doing head-stands routing in the rocks. As the current died we hit the pilings again for the spades. Rob quickly changed gears and dropped a fiddler down to the bottom. He hooks up and I watch expecting a sheepie, to the surface came a large tog, an almost citation 22.25”er. The next day out lee was with me. We started out the day with small black drum and ended with a sheepie each. Lee with a 25”er and my 26.5”er Damien and I headed out the next day and I was the hot rod with three sheepies, two large, 24” and 26”, and one small at 19”. We had a good week, first sheeps of the year, quality fish all around, and a six year long kayak citation collection completed and being named the first all kayaking Virginia Master Saltwater Angler. The sheepsheads are on and remember our citation sheepies are 20 to 35 years old. If you’re looking for a meal, keep the under 20”ers and release the 24”er for your sheepshead citation when you GET ON’EM!