I really don’t like to fish on the weekends, I usually try to work and fish on the weekdays, but with one day of calm winds I had to go into the crowds. The guys Rob Choi, Joe Underwood, Ragulsky, and Jay Brooks back from deployment, went out early in the morning. I wanted to wait; I figure it was going to be chaos. As I drove over the cbbt, boats where running everywhere. The guys were heading in for flounder as I headed out, they didn’t find any reds in the morning. I trolled around with no confidence until late in the afternoon. All the boats seemed to anchor off and settle in for the evening black drum fishing. I hunted the shoreline, the closes boat was 500 yards out. I smelled them, followed my nose to a slick, made one cast across and hook up. The fish starts to pull me thru the slick and my trolling rod goes down I loosen the drag and continue on with the casted fight. I didn’t have my cameras on but I had to shimmy up and turn the cameras on. The first one in was a really pretty 41 incher. He went on the boga grip and back in the water, so I can fight the trolled red. I tried to fight while keeping the rod low so none of the boats would run to me, so I might be able to find them again; I got this one in and took the pics of the 46”er the released em then took shots of the 41”er. I didn’t find that school again and the wind started to come up, in the direction I needed to go to get back to camp. Plus the current was against me and with the trollin rod out, it was a treadmill crawl. About an hour in on a two hour two mile paddle my rod bounces. I grab it and say to myself, “That sure hit like a red” then I felt a good head shake, “Yeah that’s a fish, that’s a red!” I land the late afternoon 45”er. I troll a little more then get tired of the resistance and pull my line up and paddle to the camp. Storms where on their way, I set up my tent in case it rained I had some shelter. The wind out in front of the storm started to pick up. Then the sand started to blow, and the sand on the beach is a super fine muddy sand, small goes into everything and sticks to it. I couldn’t move my tent and the way it was blowing, I couldn’t wet down the sand up wind of my tent. The fine sand was getting thru my no-see-em screen and covering the inside. It never rained, I so wish it did but for an hour I had to get sand blasted, and just sat and dealt with it. in the middle of the night I woke up, it was calm, I look outside and can kinda see a line in the sky, 5 min later the wind blows from the other direction, so all the sand that was drifted behind my tent is now blowing right in, I rolled up my bed so sand wouldn’t cover my blankets, sat there and waited it out. That was the last run of reds I got into this spring I ended with 10 over 40”ers, and we still have the fall to GET ON’EM!
2nd part of the double, the 46"er
The late afternoon 45"er
3RD WEEK OF MAY Just missed em
On the water sunset
I launched late on the weekend and talked to a few boater friends of mine that told me of how many drum they landed and they left em biting. I get to my camp after dark, I was thinking about fishin but the swells where bigger than I expected. I set my tent up with an hour of tide left to come in. The tide was creeping up on my beach so I had to dig my trench around my tent just to give myself an extra barrier if the water came up any more. Had to wait out the wind in the morning and didn’t get to launch until 2pm. I trolled around on the churned up water and couldn’t find them. Same thing on the next day waited on my tent for the 10-15mph winds till 2pm. watching the surf fishermen catch ray after ray. When I got on the water, I paddled around and lost lures to the rays. I started to develop a theory about the trolling speed and snagging rays. When I was trolling while I was standing and paddling I never snagged rays. Even when I was in them thick and I was sure I was gona snag one, I never did. I think the stand up paddling speed, which is way slower than sitting, is slow enough that the rays can see it coming or feel the line and have time to get out of the way. The cool thing is at that speed, reds will still attack the lure. So this week in the muddy water I found out that it only work when the water is clear, I almost wiped out the lures I brought for the week on rays. I could have fished another day but with two waiting on the wind days and the mucked up sandy water and rays, I headed on home. They were caught on the outer drop offs by the black drum fisherman, that is not the funnest way to kayak fish. So I’ll wait till next week to GET ON’EM!
E-shore surf fisherman
2ND WEEK OF MAY
Four day fights
It’s always a fight on the Eshore, either your fighting the wind, fighting the current, fighting the breakers, fighting rays or fighting big fish. If you haven’t fought it all, you haven’t felt the Eshore
I had a forecast to do four days this week, on the first day I started in the afternoon. William Raguslky was already on the outside, I started in. I worked around the area from last week but didn’t see anything but a few schools of rays. I text Ragulsky to see what’s goin on out there and he said some schools of reds and stripers had been at the shoals. So I started my way there. We trolled the shoals a bit and saw nothing then we trolled on the inside Rugulskys rod bounced hard! We slow down and a red grabs his lure solidly this time and Ragulsky was off to the races. It was a straight liner fight for a while as I paddled along side. I tossed out a grab as he landed it I could see why it was a strong fight, it was a big 49”er. Raguslky accidently had a bad release on the red so we kept our eyes open in case he popped back up again. I saw a splash and I thought it was the red, I start paddling toward it and then I start to relies there is a lot more going on, I started to see movement all over, it was a school of reds. I stop and make a cast and as soon as my jure hits the water my bait rod get taken, as I’m quickly reeling up my casted line hit gets hit, now I got my first double of the year. I leave the bait rod in the holder and loosen the drag some and fight the one in hand first. When the tension is off of the other line, the fish stops fighting, but as soon as he feels pressure he takes off again, but I have a big reel with a lot of line and there was no worry of getting spooled. I fight the first one to the boat see he is about a 43”er, I pull the hook on em at the boat, which I was fine with since I got the full fight, although I don’t count him as a catch. I grab the bait rod and wind my line back pulling myself to the red. I fought him up and landed the 45”er. While I was in my fights, Ragulsky casted a 44”er. As soon as they moved on a migration of rays moved in. My first nights camp of the week was calm. Next morning Joe Underwood was paddling out to join me for the morning. This was the full moon week. And there were a lot of calico crab sheadings all around. Me and Underwood trolled around shallow at high tide. We saw so many rays that when my trollin rod went down right behind the surf I was sure it was a ray, I was more concentrating on kicking out of the small surf than thinking about the obvious head shakes, I get it close, grab my scissors to cut the line and …it’s a red!! At that point we were out of the breakers and I could now enjoy the fight with the 45”er. after the pics I see color out in front of me, I tell Joe, that might be them, or it might be rays, he makes a cast and they were not rays, Underwood lands a 44”er. after those pics we look up and a cloud of stripers are moving in. we make our move to them but they were advancing on us, I still had my trolling line out but short, but Joe cast over it and hooks my line, as we are untangling and cutting lines we smack straight into the school and spook em, all that could be done was point the camera at em as the spooked out. We made chase and both of us get one. Underwood keeps up the chase as I changed out my camera batteries, I start to get going to catch up with Underwood and I start to find smaller schools of striper and start picking at them. Underwood heads in and I paddle around every 50 yards casting at schools, boats crowed me at one point and I cussed them out and moved on still picking at striper school, They are finicky this time of year. I would make about three cast at each school as we past each other. Out of probably 50 schools I past, I caught 4 stripers. All were in the 36" range except for one at 40" camp was windy with my evening entertainment watching kiteboarders. I hit the same area at the same time the next day, I trolled up my first red of the day around rays. Then I sighted them right behind the breakers. I got over them and spooked the ones directly under me, but since they had the water clouded up they couldn’t see me. I cane pole my lure to my side and hook one the pulls the hook. I pitch out another cast and one grabs it, but it’s a small one this time, hard fighting 36”er counted for the day but not counted as a red for the year. I reset and sighted the school again and pulled a 45"er out of the mix. I reset and found em again. I saw color and some white tips of tails. Could have been ray fins but it seemed to be to many, not the right positioning and just not ray like. I make a cast and hook a 47”er. I see a few striper schools but none were playing for me this day. Tex was a mile or so away from me and landed a 47” red and a 45" striper. Wind and fog blew in for the night. Had some blowing sand so I take my hatch cover and throw water onto the sand to wet in down and keep it from blowing. The last day of the week Damien was coming out to meet me, I tried to tell him the fog was unbelievably thick and the wind was suppose to blow in the afternoon. But he was on his way anyway. A big swell had developed over night and I had to punch thru the surf to get out. Once I got out I realized I couldn’t get close enough to the surf without being really on edge of getting hit with a breaker, and if I hooked anything it might have been dangerous, So I chickened out and came back in, Damien and I trolled the inside and we see one two schools of striper. I got to the right and Damien to the left. I get a 36”er and that was it for the morning. I was beat up by the end of my week, I wasn’t the paddling or the camping but the fights themselves, my hands where hurting, I could barely close them and my skin was chewed up from reds and stripers. it had been a long winter I haven’t felt that worked in a while, the eastern shore gave it to me and I came back battered and happy, and its only the middle of the spring red drum season, I still have more time to GET ON’EM!
Underwood 44" red
Underwood 44" striper
striper on the 4th day
windy sand control
The high tide barrier
1ST WEEK OF MAY Finally warms up.
Winter held on way longer this year water temps didnt get near spring temps until this week. Even though I have been watching the temps I have been coming over and paddling the area for the last month, one to map out the new shoal formations. And two, to get into paddling shape before the fish fights begin. On the first day this week, I went over with Rob Choi. The water clarity was low so we paddled and trolled, after a while trolling together we split up. Rob was a mile away from me but I saw him hold up his paddle and signal me. I started toward him and got distracted by a smell. I turned and paddled thru a slick on the water. It smelled like the reds themselves. A few years ago when the blue crab population was at a long time peak, I landed a big red that was pooping a lot. The next time I smelled a rotten crab smell, I found the reds. This year with the crab population at a low their smell is different, more like they way they smell themselves. I trolled thru but nothing happened, I continue on to Rob. I get to him and he had found them, I told him “I smelled them over there.” And he said he did when he was in them. We troll over to the slick on the water and my rod goes down, first one of the year a 45”er and it left me a nice scale. The next day Lee and I waited on the wind to die and met Ric for an afternoon run. We trolled the winds came up, Lee and I headed in and Ric landed a 47”er. The next day, I trolled for 6 hours and didn’t come across them. Lee and Ric get there in the afternoon. The light was good and we were spread out lookin. I see a striper dart out from under me but it looked like a dying minnow. I few minutes later I see a large splash, large enough to watch fo dolphins coming up after, no dolphins so I angled toward it. I see a slight glimmer of red in the little waves. I call to Ric and tell him the small school of maybe 10 fish is 30 yards in front of him, he makes a cast but it lands short. They started movin, I paddled parrellel with em and made a shot, and they passed it. Then the school started angling toward me. I had to make my shot count before they run into me and I spooked em. I cast, pull thru em then recast before they hit me just 15 feet out and I see a big one grab it, I was off to the races with a 50”er. After releasing the red, I saw another splash and we saw them but they were on the move. Then Lee see’s the striper floating belly up. I paddle to him and stuck my lure in its mouth and hooked him, he wasn’t dead yet and went crazy. I was leadering him and pulled the hook, he never popped back up. I might have fought him awake. I camped that night. The next day I saw schools of 30 or so reds moving thru like shoals, but they would not bite the lures. I had plenty of cast from every angle in 15 foot to water, to 2 foot of water, they would run away from every presentation I could do. One of the most frustrating days I have had out there. Good way to start, bad way to end, but the next week is a new week to GET ON’EM!!!