We had one day this week that the forecast seemed to be solid. It was forecasted to be dead calm for most of the day with a slight southeast breeze in the afternoon. It was the day to be at the first island of the CBBT fishing for tautog. Lee and I weren’t the only ones thinking the same thing, Rob Choi drove down from Richmond, Jay Brooks and Tripp Seed from virginiakayakfisherman.com, my buddy Rob from my old job at the marina, and lee’s buddy jimmy all had tog on the target. We all paddled out in a calm wind and started to fish the pilling’s. After quickly getting tired of the current I headed for the island. I found a hole, dropped a hunk of blue crab and caught the first tog of the day. Lee caught a small black drum and a red drum in a row.When the current dropped out we headed to the rocks over the tunnel tube. We anchored up and caught a few more good quality togs from 15 to 19 inches. From our position over the tube was saw guys casting on the rocks and landing a few small striper. The wind came up more than forecasted so we retreated to the island to cast for striper, lee caught a few schoolie sized. Rob Choi continued to whack the tog as lee and I headed back to shore. I’ve heard from my friends up north that the striper migration is slowly tricking in to the New Jersey area, so they are still far from the bay. So for now tautog is our target. If the winds cooperate we can get out and GET ON’EM!
Lee with a lil striper
Rob Choi with one of the many tog
a speck from last week
3RD WEEK OF OCT Specks and found a red
The winds were forecasted to blow too much for any open water fishing this week but being that I finished the DVD editing this week, I was real ready to get out on the water. We headed out to one of the inlets to try to get on the decent speck run that is in full swing. We found a few little ones on our first are we tried. We stuck to that spot and started catching them one after another. They started to reach into the 16 inch range when Lee wanted to go find some bigger ones, but I wanted to stay right there knowing the larger ones are in the mix. A few 14"ers later i hook into a near 20" speck. Then lee landed a 17"er. After a few more 14"ers the bite in that spot stopped. We moved around a found a few more in the 16 inch range. That evening we headed out to the CBBT to see if any of the big reds where hanging around. We couldn’t catch any bait so it was all about jigging gulps. Right as I was thinking they are probably gone and we are not going to see any, I got the big thump on the jig. I found one, a pretty 48"er. That was it for that evening but Damien and I tried for the next morning slack but we had no action and the winds ended up pushing us off of the water. The DVD is at the printers and I will find out this week if the copy I sent is going to work. Then it will be three weeks before I get them back and out to yall. Now that I am free from the editing computer, I can get back out on the water and GET ON’EM!
1ST WEEK OF OCT “So, apparently we can just come out here and do this.”
With the winds forecasted to blow all week, I resolved to sitting behind the computer editing the DVD. I should be able to send it out next week. Ric called and said “The winds are dying out, let’s go!” I had gotten a lot of editing done but we didn’t know if the reds would even be there. This fishery is still new to us so we don’t have any previous data on this spot, so we have to go when we can to figure it out. What we have figured out is that it happens around the change of the current, so that’s when we try to be there. Ric and I arrived in good time with the current breaking down, bluefish where swarming everywhere. I caught one and put it on the bottom with a circle hook and a 5oz weight. I caught livelier blue and send him down; within 5 mins a red had ‘em! As expected in this fishery, it was an exciting, nerve-racking, through the pilings fight. After releasing the 45”er I call Lee who was on the sandbridge pier fishing for the reds. When he answered the phone I said “So, apparently we can just come out here and do this.” Lee asked “What?” I answered “Yea, apparently we can just paddle out here and catch big reds.” The current crawled to a stop, I put up the bait rod and starting jigging. It took about 20 min for my jig to find one and another crazy fight was on. After we took the pics I looked at it and said “This one looks really long, let’s get a good measurement on this.” My 48” measuring tape fell short, it was a 51”er, my longest red so far, he was lean and mean, but I still consider my biggest red the 49” full-of-crabs red I landed in June. That was a beast. As the current shifted, Ric’s bluefish baited rod goes off, and Ric executes the fight through he bridge beautifully and lands a pretty 49”er. Ric was up next with a beasty 48”er on the jig that luckily for Ric, swam near the pilings but eventually was landed away from the bridge. Before we headed back I hooked another at the base of one of the piles and instantly broke off. The next morning I paddled out but was late for the turn around. I caught a pigfish and sent it down on the bait rod. I began casting the jig up current next to the pilling and bounced it back to me. On the second cast a 46” red grabbed it. I was on the back end of the pilings from the current so I got lucky and this one ran with the current, pulling me away from the bridge. Mark Wheeler paddled out but we didn’t have any more fish action that morning. I paddled out again for the afternoon slack tide and had my baits demolished by the swarms of bluefish, but no reds, which was alright with me because if I caught another one I would have had to go out that night. After that afternoon, my body was tired and weak. I’m glad I didn’t have to go back out. We don’t know if they are gone, we don’t know how long they will stay, we won’t find out unless we are out there, we will just keep paddling and hopefully GET ON”EM!
Ric and a 48"er
landing the 45"er photo: Ric Burnley
Releasing the 46" Red
4TH WEEK OF SEPT Big bridge reds
Lee and I had the window to paddle to the CBBT this week and target sheepshead. Along with us was kayakfishingradio host Mark Wheeler. For the last two weekends a few big red drum reports have been coming in from the bridge from folks drifting for flounder. So we had some heavy jig heads and giant gulps to bounce the bottom just in case. We set up sheepie fishing, after about 20-30 min of absolutely no bites we thought something is weird. We didn’t even get croaker or spot bites which usually are ferocious, Lee and i had a bunch of soft shell mole crabs, they usually don’t last long at all. Then lee hooks up, I paddle over to him and it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have a sheepie. We thought it was a big black drum but when it did the "cut back" that reds do during a fight, we knew what it was. It spun him around a few times and then made a direct line for the pilings at full speed. At the last second the fish went left and Lee's kayak went right with the momentum of the pull and the current; he couldn’t get turned around in time before the fish wrapped up the line in all the oysters and growth on the pilling. Lee as mad at loosing that fish, I could understand, we really don’t loose fish after that long of a fight, but this is a different fight all together. We are use to fighting big reds in 5 foot of water with no structure to contend with. At the bridge, it’s a tougher game. Its 20 foot of water and the bridge has a gauntlet of pilings that a big red is without a doubt, going to run through. I rigged my other rod with a 2oz jig head and the new giant 6" gulp curly tail and had it in my flush rod holder with the gulp just hovering off the bottom while I went back to sheep fishing. Lee had to start paddling back; he came up next to me to give me his left over mole crabs. I put the rod up into crate rod holder which is just PVC zip tied to the crate. As soon a Lee pulled away my rod doubled over and before I could grab it, it snapped the zip ties and the rod with the rod holder plunged into the water speeding away down into the water, all that was left was a bubble trail to the depths. Yea I was mad and shocked! First, that I lost a $200 rod and reel and two, I lost a big red. I looked at lee and said, "You don’t feel so bad for losing your fish now, do ya?" My anger turned quickly into intense purpose, I was going to catch one today. I clipped the sheep rig off and tied on a red rig and sent it to the bottom. Lee jigged around for about a half hour before he had to go, Wheeler and I kept at it as the current stopped. Just as the current started to move my line was hit heavy at the base of the pilling. I didn’t want to put allot of pressure on the fish as close as i was to the pilling, I just held tight to him, one arm paddling around the front of the pilling. He slowly turned down current and moved beside the three pilings as i inched along, keeping my line vertical and the fish directly beneath me. When he pulled away from the pilings he started to figure out that he was hooked and started to get angry. He head shook and made a short sprint to the pilings; i used my foot as a rudder and leaned on ‘em, to rein him from the pilling. He veered right and picked up forward speed in the middle of the bridges. I knew what was coming as we headed at full speed to the pilings. As we approached, i closed my distance on the red that was still 15 feet down by short pumping and inching myself over top. I used my feet to rudder the boat straight through the set of pilings, right in line with the fish. Now in open water i put the heat on ‘em and landed the 46" birthday red (it was my bday) and redemption for the lost rod. Wheeler hooked up briefly, and it was a good one until it broke off. Once the current started we headed on in. Rob Choi and Justin Mayer drove down that night for the midnight slack tide and rob landed a 48"er and Justin had one come unbuttoned. Angling Addict The next evening Damien, Lee, Chuck and I headed out with the big guns, heavy rods, big tackle and prepared to catch live bait. I found a pilling that was loaded up with spot and we all had a one down. Before the current ended Damien hooks up and the fish runs into the set of pilings, splits with Damien and his line gets wrapped up in the structure and is irretrievable. I hook up right between two pilings and this fish immediately runs out. I wasn’t in the best position to follow, i was kinda stuck on the pilling but was able to get out before he got too far away, and i was able to which down on ‘em as he shot through the set of piles with me hot on its tail. This one was the 43"er and the last one of the night. Lee and where planning on hitting the bridge again for the next morning slack current but the night before i gave myself food poisoning. The Mt Dew bottle i was drinking had a little bit of cooler water on it and i drank some. If you ever want a good gut cleaning, drink some nasty cooler water. That will clean ya out. A strong cold front has hit and the fall run is in full effect, spot, specks and reds are all over if you get a chance to dodge the wind get out and GET ON'EM!
The guys ready to launch
3RD WEEK OF SEPT The TKAA tournament
This weekend was the TKAA tournament, so i needed to get out on the water and find out what was happening with the target species for the tourney. i took a break from the DVD production to get out and do some pre-fishing. Every year i want to go after big reds for the tourney, either off sandbridge or on the e-shore. But every year during the tourney the weather conditions have been too rough to target the big ones effectively. So every year i stay close and fish my home waters. I got out one afternoon, hit a few spots for some reds and caught a white perch. That meant the backwaters where a little fresh from all the rain. i paddled out to the inlet and the water got clearer. I began to hone in on the spike specks, eventually finding them and literally, catching them on every cast. All were in the 10 to 12 inch range except two at 14" and 17". I jigged around for flounder and reds, no bites. I jigged in the croaker hole at the slack tide and pulled a 15"er in. on the next drift i pulled a 17" croaker in. Damien had a rare Saturday off and fished the tourney. At the capt meeting director Wayne mentioned a new fun division with a croaker and spot slam and an any fish division. Mark Lozier was sitting next to me and i turned to him and said, "I can win that! I know exactly where they are right now!" not like the reds and flounder which have been a little aloof in the last few weeks, plus just being about to target something different. Damien targeted the multi fish division, so he had to catch as many different species of fish that he could. He caught a 9 total. It was a lot of fun doing something different for the tourney. Damien was padding around catching sea bass , oystertoads, puffers, and anything else he could land counted for the tourney. i hit a spot spot first and landed a 9.25 incher not what i wanted but alright to start off with, then out for the croaker. It was slow going but i finally hooked the one i wanted and my reel came un hinged from the real seat, WHAM! It slams into the first guide. i wrestle with the real getting it back and secured all the while a big croaker is dogging down like a tautog, trying to get to the bottom. As soon as i landed the 15.75"er i knew that was the one i needed. But i still wanted to upgrade my spot to a 10"er. We paddled back in, Damien trying to find a bluefish or anything else he hadn’t caught yet and i fished another good spot spot. Right before we had to paddle back i hook into a nice spot. In the boat he measured out to 10” that was what I needed. Damien won the multi fish division and i won the croaker/spot slam and had a lot of fun doing it. Plus the satisfaction of achieving a planned out goal always make it a great day, and that satisfaction will last... until the next time we go out and get skunked. But that is fishing, its always good when you can GET ON'EM!
When you get those clean bites on you Gulp, thats puffers.