the crew: Shante Fosket, Lee Williams, Rob Choi, Jim Sammons, Will Richardson, Kayak Kevin, Damien Hall
I finally convinced Jim Sammons and Will Richardson producer of the kayak fishing show to come back to the bay and fish for the big reds and film with us. We filmed with them 4 years ago with the Game On movie and couldn’t catch the target. This time if we couldn’t find the reds, we had backup targets.
When we started to talk about dates, i wanted them here a few weeks ago when the reds are predictably in the shallows. This time of year, they can be inside, or out in the deeper water. Those outside areas are out of our paddling range. The date was set for this week, so they could kill two birds with one stone. Jim and Will scheduled a few days with us and then drive up and spend a few days in New Jersey chasing striper.
Well, this was one of those weeks that the reds were not concentrated on the inside. The winds and higher tides caused the backwaters to mud up which made any sightcasting opportunities imposable.
The first day the winds were blowing from the east, not good for any open water paddling but fishable at the ships. The target for the first day was tautog. Jim has not caught one before, the water temps were reading in the low 60's at the ships and that’s still within good tog biting range. Jim, Shante, will and i get in the ships, and Shante gets the first bite. That gave me a bit of confidence; a few minutes later i catch a small tog. Then Jim gets a nice one for the ships, i felt relieved. I couldn’t get him his first striper, but i did put Jim on his first red back 4 years ago, and now his first tautog. And another species....oystertoad.
We moved to another spot and Shante lands the biggest one of the day. Shante and Jim caught two each and i caught three. We paddled in and i felt like we were off to a good start. The winds died enough in the evening to get back on the water for flounder. We caught a few then Jim hooked a ray. I paddled in for the shots, for me it was really cool to watch Jim in a fight, in person. Last time we didn’t catch any big striper so to see Jim work, even if only a ray was a thrill. Even better was to watch it on my bowcam.
The second day Damien came over and Shante, Will, Jim and i paddled out to the high rise. Since the fish were in deeper water this time of year. I figured it might be a good shot at them jigging the pilings where we could work down from the shoreline to the 50 foot and cover a good bit of area. Although we have not caught any on that side of the bridge, we did catch big reds last fall on the south end of the bridge, so the technique works.
We jigged out to the channel with no action. Then we hear Shante yell, she was still close to the shore. We paddled in to finder bowed up, but not moving. "You got a ray" i said and it was a stubborn one. We tried to get her pumped up, but her gear was breaking down on her. Her $30 reel and $20 rod couldn’t get the heavy ray to the surface. We hung out, ate lunch and planed the rest of the day as Shante slowly worked on the ray. After about a half hour i convinced her to let me try to finish of the fight. I grabbed the rod and the reel seat was about ready to come right off the rod. I tightened everything down and short pumped the ray to the top. I got him to surface twice for will to get a shot and palmed the spool and broke it off.
The sun came out, the swells where rolling a little large as we paddled around looking for clear water. We could see it but it was about a mile out. Not a good area to try to come back from with a 2 knot current in your face.
The third day the plan was kept simple. Sweep over a flat looking for big reds, there was a very low chance to run into them. Then hit a creek for medium sized reds with a moderate chance of finding them. And we did, Rob Choi saw a 30+"er as did i and lee, but with the water clarity cloudy we were on top of them when we saw them. in that situation with individual fish, it is nearly impossible to get them to bite.
The next stop in the day was to flounder fish, that was the fall back because the flounder where on. Lee starts off with the lee flounder show, landing at least 4 in a row. Even feeling the bite, call over to Will, waiting for Will to start rolling and then.. set the hook!
Overall was caught at least 15 flounder with only about 4 under undersized. One of those small ones grabbed the hook right under me in two foot of water.
i think will has enough to make a show, not the best example of what we can get into around here, but for me it was about being able to work, fish and hang out with the guys and the two guys that basically got me into filming. My experience with filming the “Game On” stuff and not catching the target gave me the push to get into filming. Will’s knowledge was invaluable as i got started. But just being around the guy is fun. He should be in front of the camera, he is a natural comedian. I should have been running a camera on him the entire time.
Looks like this week we are going to have some tropical storm like conditions. That will be like a change of seasons for us as we change our fishing ground from the e-shore to the CBBT and the summer time species. Spades, sheeps, triggers, black drum summer time to GET ON'EM!
Will Richardson and shante in the Ships
Jims first ever Tautog
One of Jims Flounder
1ST WEEK OF MAY
Eyes open, ready to snap in.
In the last few weeks, the winds have only allowed us one day a week on the water. This week we had three. The winds were forecasted to be light and we were going to be putting allot of time on the water. This is where all of the off season training comes in to play. The miles sprinting on my bike to the store, strengthening my legs to be able to stand and sit a hundred times a day. The yoga practice I have been doing to keep my stamina up for these long paddling days, and the arm workout I do to prepare for the battle with the big reds all came to be relied on this week. Although the winds ended the clouds hung around all week, Jay Brooks and I paddled out for the first afternoon. My friend Harry was out and ran into a school of low 40 inch reds earlier. We paddled and trolled around some, and drifted some making blind cast. Jay was blindcasting with a top popper lure and out of nowhere it gets blown up and Jay is fighting a 40" red. I tried to see where the fish was running toward and make a few cast, but no hits. I tossed out a lure and trolled the short distance over to jay. I got to him, was grabbing my cameras to shoot the fight, and my line came tight. "Got one!! Ha ha ha!! I’ll see ya later!" As I was pulling away from jay, the school got spooked and about 20 reds torpedoed to the surface and rocketed passed us. The fish i was hooked up to joined the school and for a second there, i was running with the school. Jay and I landed, and took pictures of our 40"ers and looked for more but never ran across them again, that day. The next day was Jays birthday and we paddled out again this time with his wife Allie. We spooked some striper but couldn’t get them to bite, Jay was working the top popper and had one blow up at it but didn’t get hooked. We came into an area where i knew reds would be possible. I was telling this to Jay when my trolling line went down with a 47" red. I got that all on camera. We paddled around, Jay saw a flash and made a cast with the popper and a red took a swipe at it. I cast into the area and hooked up with a 41"er. Justin showed up as we were paddling back, we run into the striper and Justin hooks one on a top water walk-the-dog lure. We paddled around standing and looking and I was getting worn out, so I headed back in. The next morning Lee, Damien and were running a little late, so I had a few minutes to get a little morning yoga time on one of the Kiptopeke walkways and prepare for another long day on the water. We launched out and paddled, for a long time. We saw a bunch of rays; Lee snagged two in a row while trolling. Later in the day, as we paddled along, I noticed a sand boil rising from the 5 foot deep bottom. I looked to my right and saw some color, slightly off color from the rays. As I made the short cast I said, "Please don’t be rays." then... Thump! And I was in the fight; the guys sent the lures in! Bombs away! As I was getting pulled away my trolling rod bent over with another red, putting me into a crazy awkward fight. One fish was trying to pull me one way, and the other was pulling against that. I backed the drag off on the trolling rod and left it in the rod holder, I yelled to the guys to grab it but Damien hooked up, and then Lee gets one. So I was on my own to deal with my double, one at a time, first fish first. The funniest thing about the sequence of events was Lee. If you have the DVDs, you know Lee, and I have all of this on film. I hook the first one, Lee: "BLEEP!" I hook the second one: "BLEEP BLEEP!!" Lee cast with no hits "AHH come on!!!" and "Really???" as more cast are untouched. Damien hooks up and Lee is about ready to lose it! Then his line comes tight and he shuts up and has that grin on his face. He even takes a sip of his Mt Dew, as the boat with all the fly guys look on. When I finish the first one, I put him on the boga grip and left him in the water. I picked my trolling rod up and the fish was 100 yards out. I have never had a fish that far away from me. As I started to winch myself to the fish and gather my line back I said, "Man, I wish one of yall would have grabbed this rod." Lee had the biggest at 45", Damien was next with a 44"er and my two were 42"ers. That was it for the day, and that’s a good day, we goofed around, paddled all day, but kept our eyes open and where able to snap into fish mode the moment one of us happens to GET ON'EM!!!
Jay's 40'er on a top popper
my 40"er out of the school
called out 47"er
one of the double, 42"er
4TH WEEK OF APRIL
The season might have started a bit early for the reds, who follow the water temps. But for the spawning striper, who follow moon phases and the lengthen day light in the spring, they have been right on time. The biggest issue this time of year is the winds. And this week, we only had another one day window.
We had a bit of a crew out, Jay Brooks, Justin Mayer, Miles, Ashley, Mark and I paddled out into what was supposed to be a calm day. It was a little winder than forecasted but not enough to keep us off the water. Being this is the usual time for striper, that was the main target. We paddled to the same area as last week. To my surprise, the water visibility was a lot better than I thought it would have been with the wind and rains the last week, we could actually see this time.
We got around the area where we saw them last week. I saw my fly fishing buddy, Kendal Osborne, a few 100 yards away on his flats boat. He looked pretty active. That gave me a 'something gona happen' feeling, I set up my bow cam. Not a minute later, I jump the school. I made a few cast into the spooked section of the school, then reset on a non-spooked fish. It didn’t take long and one was on. It was a strong striper. I held on to him as he headed to the back of the school while I yelled for Jay and Justin to catch up to me before I disturb the school too much for them to get a shot on them. Jay came up made a great cast and hooked one, but it quickly came unhooked. As he was skimming the lure back on top of the water, it got nailed by another striper. We got pulled away from the school and dealt with ours while the rest of the guys casted.
I got mine to the boat first. I dint take it out of the water, just boga griped it to my anchor trolley and grabbed the camera to film jays fight. Jay landed his and nearly rolled, we shot jays first, which was a nice healthy 45 incher. Mine was a lean mean 44"er.
The school got scattered with one of us jumping a few here and there. Justin gets one on a top water lure and 30 stripers explode out of the water around it. Then they disappear from us for a while.
We began to troll and paddle back. I saw a shadow on the water. A school of striper looks exactly like a cloud shadow. First thing I do, before I get excited is look up. No clouds making that spot on the water. I reeled my trolling line up, looked over at Justin and Jay to see if they was seeing what i was seeing. Then I started sprint paddling.
I didn’t cast first, I waited till we were all in line, and within distance to get a good cast and we fired at the same time. We were bouncing through the school, but they didn’t want to bite. I’ve been in this situation before, when we beat up on the school in the morning; they don’t want to play in the afternoon. So I changed up my retrieve from my usual slow-roll to fast-reel and stop. That got ones attention and I peeled off from the school behind a 32 incher.
Back on the moving school, Justin and I both foul hook one. Mine was in the very back in on the dorsal fin, and it was a heavy pull with my medium rod. I had to point the rod, thumb the spool like I was trying to break it off, and slowly pull up. I finally got ahold of the leader and released the striper.
We looked around for reds later and saw a lot of rays. So far the wind is looking very unforgiving for the next week. Waiting for another shot to GET ON'EM!
Jay's 45 inch striper
Jay almost rolling on the landing
3RD WEEK APRIL
Windy ship tog'n and running over striper
Lee's 43" striper
Shante and I headed over with hopes of hunting reds, but the wind reality on the first day had our plans changing.
Even though the tautog season is closed, we can still catch and release and the water temps are still good for them. We had crabs for the reds, I had 3/0 hooks and some rods to fish for them, we were good to go. With an easterly wind the ships where fishable. Although there was a swell from the north from the previous few days, the ships where sketchy, but fishable.
We started to get bites right off the bat, but they where very small tog. I was using my light tog rod and Shante using a heaver musky rod. She was having a hard time feeling the bites of the tiny tog at first. Its was more difficult hook'n the tiny ones, even more difficult than the usual hard-to-feel tog bite.
It was allot of fun though hanging out in the ships and fighting small and some medium tog, then I hooked one that wasn't small and things got serous. The fight was hectic but I pulled in a 21 inch big female tog, the biggest I have caught at the ships.
We took a lunch break and headed back out. This time Shante had her light spinning rod. This light rod was sensitive enough to feel the nibbles and hook baby tog.
What makes tog fishing the ships dangerous is when the swells roll around the walls the threat is getting pined under a ledge or...........Shante was along the wall, I was next to her. A swell came in and lifted her stern onto the ledge then the swell receded. The back of Shante's kayak rolled onto its side. She tried to grab the wall and leaned on my kayak. All I could say was "Don't go in!!" The water level came back up and I was able to lift her boat off of the ledge.
She landed an oystertoad and was unhooking it. She was being gentle with it saying "I don't want to hurt it" I said under my breath "That thing want to hurt you."
Then I hear a loud "YYYEEEEOOOOWWWW!!!!" I look to see the large oystertoad dangling from Shante's finger and outstretched arm. She shook it off and we laughed hard for about 15 min.
The one calm day we had a crew, Lee, Damien, Shante, Rob Choi and I paddled out to very muddy water. We stood and scanned the water but it was impossible to see anything in the water. We all had our trolling baits out and Shante said "We need to troll the shoreline."
Rob was up front a ways up from me and in the light. I saw his kayak turn then a splash behind him. "Does Rob have one on??" Then I saw him scoot up and turn his camera on, "Yep! Robs got one."
From the way the fight looked, splashy and didn't take rob on a ride, I figured it was a striper. And it was, Rob lands the first striper of the spring. as the rest of us were paddling up we spooked a bunch of them and it was bombs away with the lures, but no hook ups. we continued to paddle and troll. We had gotten away from the area where rob caught his. we look back at that area and saw the stripers was blowing up with them, we turned and paddled up current and into the wind back to them with baits behind us.
Lee's rod slams down, his boat turns and is in the fight, and from the look of it, this one looked like a red, to our surprise, Lee lands a tough 43" striper. Then Damien hooks up but loses it as the fish came out of the water with a head shake. Then Lee hook another one, smaller this time estimated at 32 to 34".
We paddled to some shoal islands at low tide and took a break. The water clarity got better and we got back to hunting, but we didn't see anything. Rob and I searched some other areas, i spooked two and we made some cast, but the sea weed salad floating around made it nearly imposable to fish.
This weekends rain might put allot more muddiness in the water for the upcoming week, but hopefully after everything settles get can GET ON'EM!
Fat 21" female ship tog
One of Shante's tog
Lee in the striper fight
The crew, Rob Choi, Damien Hall, Lee Williams, Shante Fosket and kev
Lee and his "Joe Dirt" hockey beard
2ND WEEK OF APRIL
Open window, jump through
Ric and I had a window to get out for an afternoon, or we thought we had a window of the wind dropping out but when we got to the launch it was still blowing. We launched and figured we were going to have to end up anchoring off and soaking crabs. We paddled out to about where we thought we might see them.
The water was way to cloudy to see them so we made a few blind cast. On Ric's first cast, a big red followed his lure and grabbed it at the side of his kayak. Ric followed in tow with the tight drag screaming, and for no reason from the look of the video, the fish came unhooked.
We set up with anchors and baits on the bottom. I had two crabs out and was blind casting between them. With my lure retrieved right up to the kayak, I had a hard thump and big red circled out and took off with the lure in his mouth. I had two other lines out, I frantically tried to get at least one of them closer in as I dropped my anchor rope. I got one line in and then, began the fight. I tightened down on the drag and my kayak accelerated. He pulled me strong, and after a couple of cut backs, the 48"er was in the boat.
We stayed in that spot and soaked crabs for a while with no runs. I paddled out a little deeper and set my anchor. After another long while of staring at the water, I saw something that looked familiar. I paddled over and found my anchor from last week.
We are always looking for our window to get our shot to GET ON'EM!
1ST WEEK OF APRIL
The temps are right.
Yes its is typically early to be targeting the big reds, but it has been a very unusually warm winter and the water temps over the mudflats off the Eastern Shore have been touching the 60 degree mark. That's all the motivation we needed to get over there. I had a one day wind window and was prepared to paddle a lot on a scout mission. I did just that, checking out the new shapes to the shoals and seeing a lot of muddy water. I found some clear water but no fish were roaming the area. Going on my past knowledge, reds will typically follow an incoming tide onto the flats that were just out of the water during the low tide. I paddled over to an area that I have caught them before and stood up and slowly started hunting. The water visibility only allowed for me to see about 10 feet out ahead of me, my only chance was to jump ‘em. Luckily i came up on a school, I don't know how large the school was but I saw four of them in front of me. Lucky I jumped ‘em from behind and the spooked off in front of me. I made a short cast because reds don't spook off to far. I don't even remember if I reeled any before one thumped it and peeled off to the right. I sat down and worked into my first fight of the season. I didn't even have my cameras on, this fight was just for me. I don't even remember the details of the fight itself, just the how it felt. The next day Jay Brooks dealt with the howling wind and landed one. The next day, Rob Choi and I paddled out for the afternoon. With again no real sightcasting possibilities we played around in the surf of the shoals then anchored up and pinned some crabs to the sand. The winds came up and it started to suck when Robs line came tight and went on his first spring season ride, we dropped off of our anchors and I followed with the camera, at some points Rob getting pulled into the 15MPH winds. He landed the 43"er we took the shots, tagged, revived and release the fish while we were blown about a half mile away from our anchors. We paddled back but the eastern shore ate them. That's all part of the Eastern Shore, sometimes you have to sacrifice some equipment
1st red on the season, 48"er
Surfing the shoals
Wrasslin the red
2ND WEEK OF MARCH
The Lee show
Lee's third drop 22"er
On the KFCB dvd, I like to think of the tautog segment as "The Lee show". Lee usualy outfishes us when it comes to tautog, and he likes to let us know that he catches more tog, as you saw in the dvd. This week was no difrent.
The waters finally warmed up to 50 degrees and it was time to get out there. Jay from vakayakfisherman got on em the day before, not that we needed and encouragement to go or anything. Bait on the other hand was more difficult this time of year than catching tog.
The Virginia commercial crabbing season doesn’t open until this weekend. Crabs have to be brought in from North Carolina at a steep cost. We only got a dozen between the three of us, Lee, Zach and I, which was going to make the day short. We paddled out to the first island knowing that the togs are big and hungry this time of year. On his third drop Lee fights up a 22”er. OK, that’s a good start to the day and the Lee show has begun.
I took an early lead number wise landing 8 to Lee’s 6. Then I caught two giant oystertoads and my spot was done. The current was strange, the slack/turn around was at 1pm was got there at noonish as the current was slowing. The current on the bottom was already running in the opposite direction. It wasn’t very fast at first, just weird. When the current did finally turn completely Lee found tautog central and quickly past my 8 with 8 in a row. I paddled over to get in there and caught a few more but never caught up with Lee. I ran out of bait at 12 togs, nothing big, all 16" or under and two toads. Lee, on his very last bait lands his 16th tog of the day. Zach was having a slower day, landing 3 and still had crabs. Lee and I took a break from the current at the island and Zach headed to the pilings. A few boats were also on the pilings with Zach but only one of the boaters was on them.
The wind turned into a sea breeze late in the afternoon but Lee checked the forecast and it was going to blow hard from the south in the evening. We took the northeast tail wind back hoping we would beat the wind change. 2/3 of the way back the cool ocean breeze got warm and the winds turned from the south. When we were a half mile from the beach the wind really picked up, we left at the right time.
I had a water temp reading of 52*. The temps are good and the togs will be on into the 60* range so get out and GET ON’EM!