Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rudee turned not so family friendly!!!!

I took the day off on Friday to get a kick start on the holiday weekend.  After getting my gear ready and packed, I got down to Rudee early to mid morning.  As I get ready to launch I talk to one fella who reports nothing but a couple dink's being caught in the morning.  I then run across Kayak Kevin who was waiting for Lee to show up to go attack the flatties.  We chat a bit then it is time to launch.  I paddle over to the cop docks for a bit and get no love from the fish, then work my way out to the front.  Once I get to the bridge, I get a little love but nothing major.  After a while, Kevin and Lee show up and then another kayaker shows up, but everyone is having about the same luck.  I move over to the other side of the bridge and set up with my foot anchor on the oyster bank and cast into the bridge.  I start catching the flounder.  They are all undersize but damn there were a lot of them.  The biggest I got was right around 17".

After a bit I caught a tiny croaker and wondered what to do with him.

I saw that one of my rods was still rigged for catfish and decided to put the croaker on the the 10/0 circle hook and let it soak for a bit.  I fished for another 30 min or so when my rod doubles over and the fight is on.  I had no idea what the hell could have gotten the croaker.  It was pulling drag like mad and it took a bit to coordinate myself to fight the fish.  Just as a line of Jet Skier's were going out, the fish made it's first appearance as it did a tail dance just by the wall of the bridge channel.  One jet skier stopped to watch as the fish did two more tail dances.  The head on this fish was enormous.  My heart was pumping because this would be the first serious fish of the season that I have fought.  I get the fish closer and it takes a dive for the oyster wall, then comes back up.  He does the a couple more times before becoming spent and finally succumbs to my fight.  As I lift the tip of my rod up to pull his head out of the water so I can get my lip grip's into his mouth, the line snaps and the fish slowly sinks before reviving and swimming away.  Having caught several big fish in my life, I would estimate this to be a bluefish over 35".  I had a tough time identifying it as a bluefish because it seemed a lot taller/fatter than a blue, but after reviewing photos online to match to my memory, I have come to the conclusion that it was just a great big blue.  When the line snapped, I shouted out a few words that turned Rudee into a less than family friendly environment.  The fella on the jet ski shouted over to me "I saw it, I saw it.  You had a monster.  I saw it."  It made me giggle but was still upset at the line break.  At least I got it to the boat.  I would have loved to have gotten a photo but it was fun just fighting the fish.  

I was able to catch my first red of the season though.  Here is a photo of it:

All in all I caught a couple tiny croaker, a bunch of undersized flounder, and almost landed a monster blue.  It was a great day!!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hobo Camp? What hobo camp?

Last night a friend (who has asked to remain anonymous for reasons of national security) and I decided to hit the river and see what we could find swimming in the waters.  Before we hit the river with our rods, we needed to get bait, so I remembered what my good friend Dan mentioned about getting bait down at Anncarrows Landing.  Lets see, he said, park to the right of the boat ramp, follow the path around to the right, pass the hobo camp, a little further down you will pass their piss bucket, then you will come up on a clearing where you can net lots of fish by the discharge.  Now, I have known Dan for a few years and I knew that he has a dry wit about him and he likes to flavor a story a bit with bouts of hyperbole and various other verbal spices.  So my friend, we will call him Agent X, and I began to walk down the path.  As we turn a bend and round the corner of a thicket of trees, no shit, there it stood.  In all it's splendor, was the hobo camp.  Now I didn't want to disturb it's inhabitants because having not run into this species of mammal before, I was unsure how it would react to us nosing around the camp.  At the same time, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to document this species in it's natural environment.  Alas, the illusive hobo would not exit it's shelter, however, I was able to document it's nest.

Many apologies for the blurry nature of the image, but I was moving quickly as to not alarm the hobo(s) as I had come unprepared to present an offering.  Next time I will prepare with a quick stop to the ABC store.

Anyway, after throwing my net many times to little success by the discharge, we returned to the ramp.  My arm was beginning to tire from multiple throws from the cast net and unfortunately threw the first couple throws rather poorly.  It was at that time that I heard the voice of an Anncarrows siren.  It was a voice that beckoned from above in an accent and cadence that confused me as it was not accompanied by banjos as I was so used to.  The voice said, "Hey man, you aint gonna get no fish like dat.  Gimme that there net and I'll get some of them der fish."  So I figured, what the hell, and let him have the net to do his best.  The first throw was about as atrocious as the two that I had.  He said, "Damn man, I gotta get down there, I'll be right der and Imma gonna get some of dem der fish."  I figured, whats the harm.  So he came down.  Now this is where it was interesting, he really wasn't that good at throwing the net but he had an ego that told him that damnit, he was the man.  Also, if he was able to throw one good one every four or so throws, I was more than willing to let him tire out to feed his ego.......and my bait bucket.  So after a while, we had several bluegill, perch, river minnows, and a gizzard shad.  We were ready.  We thanked the lad and were on our way.

We headed down to the Mayo bridge.  Now when we got there, the bridge smelled like a turd.  Not like when people say "Oh it smells like shit here", but it really smells like old food or some other not really fecal matter smelling item.  No this actually smelled like a log of fecal matter.  I don't know what is wrong with this city, but damn it was nasty.  We set up to fish anyway.  After a bit of a wait, Agent X had his rod go off.  He fought for a bit and then brought in a nice 20"ish blue cat.

After catching it, he asked what he should do with it, and I advised him to present it as an offering to the overseers of the bridge and pointed to the fella with a 5 gallon bucket to our right.  Agent X made the offering and the overseer was pleased and allowed us to stay.  Within a few minutes of catching that fish, Agent X was bowed up again.  And like before, Agent X lands another blue cat.  

Unfortunately, that would be the last of the fish for the night.  Before leaving, Agent X hooked up again, and this time it was something huge.  However, in and effort to bring him to the surface, Agent X tightened the drag a bit too much and the river monster broke free, taking a nice piece of jewelry dangling from it's lip.  

All in all it was a great night on the water.  I caught nothing, but was pleased to spend such a great night with my friend Agent X.  It was great seeing the joy in his face with each strike he got.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ragin' James!

Today was a busy day at work.  We had many distractions not to mention a taco party to celebrate the end of the semester.  While there I played around with photographing the food, but secretly I was pretending that I was trying to get a photo of a trophy fish.

After busting through the day, I was elated to see an email from one of my friends and co-workers Kamnab.  He was heading down to the Mayo Bridge to fish for catfish, and striper.  I made short order of packing up, picking up my wife, and rushing home to change before heading downtown to meet up with him.  I got there and the fella's had their lines out but nothing much was happening.

The water was murky and raging as storms were brewing on the horizon.

After being there a few minutes, one of Kamnab's friends caught a small blue catfish, then another, followed by another.  My line was rather lonely and feeling ignored.  All of a sudden one of his friends rods went off and a lot of commotion was going on since finally the prize of the night was on the business end of the rod.  With assistance from a drop net, the prize was landed.

I wish I would have gotten the name of the fella that caught this so I could give him proper credit, but his smile tells the entire story.

The sun was beginning to set and I had a feeling that the bite was about to turn on.

Sadly, I was wrong.  I went home skunked, but I did have a good time in a new fishing location.  I will be back because this was a very easy to reach location close to my work.....and who can argue with views like the one right above this????

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Non-fishing report

This past weekend would have been a fishing weekend by schedule, but I had something more important to do.  Gasp!!!!  Yes there is something more important than fishing.  This past weekend my son, Jake, got awarded Best All Around in Virginia Beach.  The day started off with Jake looking really sharp.

As we entered the Virginia Beach Convention Center, they handed us a pamphlet describing the awards ceremony as well as giving the program for the day.  

The stage was flanked with two screens projecting the winners of this years Best All Around.

The stage itself had a table filled with the trophies that would be distributed later that day.

The ceremony got underway.  There were two high school students who were acting as Co-MC's for the  ceremony.  They spoke about the history of the event and then turned the program over to an Urban Theater company.  The theater company put on a performance art piece speaking of to the horrors of bullying.  After the performance, lunch was served.  Not expecting much, I was amazed how good the food was at the Convention Center.  They treated us to salad greens, grilled BBQ chicken, fried fish, beef brisket, beans, veggies, and much much more.  After lunch, the mayor of Virginia beach got up to speak about the award and then to present the award winners with their trophy and certificate.  

27 children ranging from elementary school up to high school received awards and a few adults received awards.  Only two fourth graders received awards and Jake was one.  He was ecstatic about winning, and meeting the mayor.

Jake was presented with a really unique star trophy as well as a nice certificate of appreciation. 

I always knew he was a great kid but to have him recognized for citizenship at this level is something really special.  His mother, step-parents, grand parents, and all other family members are so proud of his accomplishment and he makes us proud every day.  

Now that could have been the end of the weekend but no, it was only the beginning.  I ended up having such a great weekend.  Jake and I spent time that afternoon and evening with my parents at the beach.  We had a great dinner and then spent a little time walking the boardwalk, listening to beach music, and having ice cream before the storms came.  

The next day the weather was predicted to be rather nasty.  However, that was not to be.  Jake and I decided to head up to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.  We made it our mission to ride all the rides we normally DON'T ride.  We had a blast.  Buddha defined nirvana as the perfect peace of the stat of mind that is free from craving, anger, and other afflicting states.  Had Buddha been with us this day, he would have simply taken a picture of the two of us and put it in the dictionary beside the word nirvana.  

So despite not fishing on my weekend, I could not have imagined a better way to spend the weekend.  I am fortunate, my son is also my best friend.  I do truly love being on the water.  It is one thing that brings true happiness to me.  However, there are few thing that make me not want to be on the water, and  spending time with Jake is one of those things.  

I will return soon with a fishing tale, but for now despite not having the tug on my line, I am as content as I could be.  I had a spot of heaven without being on the cerulean playground.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lynnhaven Fishing Report

Little BRB (Jake) had a double header in the late morning/early afternoon so I didn't get free until later.  After doing some errands dropping off things at DV8's house for next weekend's demo day, I finally made my way to Lynnhaven.  I launched and fishing the entrance to Crab Creek and back along the grass line and picked up a few short flounder.  Though the action was not great, it was fun getting a little pullage.

After a while I paddled over behind the little oyster bar near Chick's and tried for some pullage over there.  Unfortunately the only things biting over there were the gnats.  They were everywhere.  I didn't spend that much time over there as a result.  It was too bad because I love that spot.  Never catch too many fish over there, but it is just a nice place to paddle around.

I let the outgoing tide drift me out to the bridge.  Out there I got a couple of really tiny flatties, actually thought they were hogchokers becuase of how small they were.  The sun was setting and it was beautiful out there.  I ran into a fella named Cory who goes by the name Sandy that reported the same bout of undersized flounder.  Anyway, the sunset was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and despite a lack of good fish, it was a great day on the water.

Product Review: Precision Pak CRatePak

I have been rather well known for my lack of organization as well as my general pack rat nature while on the water.  My new years resolution for kayaking involved changing this reputation.  After careful review of several products, I decided to give the CRatePak by Precision Pak a try.

First things first, the simplicity of the pack is really nice.  It goes over a standard 12"x12" crate and secures by 8 velcro straps.  There are no zippers to corrode.  The assembly was very easy.  Next challenge was to figure out what goes where.  On the two sides, there are two well sized pockets with velcro straps to secure your gear.  On one I put my top water bait tackle box.  On the other side I placed a few odds and ends that I need easy access to.  On the one side there is a place to store your knife.  This is really useful as it is within an easy arms reach for when I need it.  On the front is a slim pocket that I am using to keep my license handy and beside it is a pocket perfectly sized for my spool of flouro leader.  

There is a top flap that is secured by really strong velcro.  This will keep your gear safe in the unfortunate case of a turtle.  While I have yet to truly turtle, it could happen at an instant and I want my gear safe.  The center of the top flap is another pocket that I have several soft plastic baits as well as a couple frequently used tools stored.  This will make for easy access to many of my commonly used items.  Finally on the back there is a three rod holder secured by a backing board.  This will allow for three rods to easily be transported on my yak without using my trolling scotty mounts or other mounts which may get in the way of me reaching for my gear.  

There are four rings at the top corners of the pack which are used to either bungee your crate to the kayak, or to hang your tools off of.  I will be using them to bungee my crate to the pack.  Over all I am very pleased with the ease of assembly and the options for organization that the Precision Pak CRatePak offers me and would recommend it to anyone looking for a better organized experience on the water.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rudee this weekend

Got out on the water and caught fish....the end.

Nah I can't leave it like that.  First day out I hit the water to find out that this will be the first day of the year without a dry suit or waders.  Water temps were in the low low 60s and comfortable.  Paddled over to the Cop Docks and found two blues pretty quickly.  The first was a smallish fish but over all fun to catch.  The second was a complete mess.  It looked to be 20ish inches long.  Fun fight pulling drag.  However when I got him up over my boat, the fish came unbuttoned.  Then the fish dropped to my deck and started flopping around, jaws a chomping WAY too close to my twig and berries, so I reach down and grab the tail to get him in control.  This just pisses him off more and he launches from my grip doing a triple back flip with a twist and does a perfect reentry into the water.

I fish a bit longer and nothing happens so I move on.  I paddle over to the grass island and run into Tom V and his friend Kevin who was on the water celebrating Kevin's first day of retirement.  We shoot the shit for a bit about various things and I move on.  I troll the grassline and get no love.  I start paddling out to the bridge when I run into LivTaYak.  We talk for a bit and he heads in.  I go out to the jetty since it is kinda calm out.  I fished out there for a bit but the wind starts kicking up and throwing me into the rocks so I figure it is a good time to get back in toward the bridge.  Once over to the bridge, I run into Matt and he and I fish the bridge.  We both got into the blues and Matt is just bailing fish right and left.  They really liked his gulps.  They were less interested in my crystal minnow, but I do manage several fish.  I would show pics of all of them, but damn, they are bluefish.  They all look just about the same:

After the bite settles down a little, we paddle back to the cop docks.  After a bit, Matt asks if I have pliers or could help him with something.  I paddle over to see what he needed help with.  Well he asks if I could get something out of his front hatch.  I pull up and lean in and almost vomit.  He had a bluefish from the week before in his hatch.  Suddenly the entire inlet smelled like week old rotten bluefish.  I hand Matt my pliers and say, "You can get that out yourself".  With little love and an emanating stench over there we paddle over to the grass line near the launch were we see a fella bowed over looking like he is having the time of his life.  We get over to him and it is Robert (RLee).  It was his maiden voyage in a yak and that was his first fish caught by yak. There is nothing like the joy of your first fish from a yak and I could see the smile on Robert's face.  Glad you got that first slime Robert.  We all fish that area for a bit and I get one fish over that way.  I can't remember if Matt got any.  We continue to fish for a bit but it seemed to die off and it was getting dark so we packed it in.  Good fishing with you fellas.

The rest of the weekend went a little like this.  Blow blow blow......blow harder.....blow blow blow.....paddle hard....skunk skunk skunk.....see Matt again, he's got fish.......paddle hard....blow blow blow.....Then see DV8 and Alissa, and someone with them (not sure who he was but seemed like a really good lad).  Did come across a bunch of these over by the bridge:

Thought those were supposed to give you good luck, but that must only work on land.