Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Weekend Day 2

Day one was such a blast, we decided to do it all over again.  This time we picked Rudee Inlet because there were reports of big croaker possibly making a showing and with Redfish eluding us, we decided that maybe we could pick up points for the bonus fish of the tourney.  This time the crew consisted of Trapper, J-Boogie, Bentpole, Agent VA, and myself.  Sure we could all have normal names like Jim, Jarred, Aubrey, Joe, and Thom, but where's the fun in that?  

As I approached the parking lot, Bentpole was there ready to hit the water.  He was nice enough to wait for a few moments until I unloaded and was ready to launch as well.  Now anyone who knows me knows that it takes more than a few moments for me to get my stuff together.  This shows that Bentpole has the patience of a saint to wait that long for me.  

After we launch, I begin a drift down the first shoreline and catch a flattie in my first cast.  This bodes poorly for the rest of the day because any angler knows, that if you catch a fish on your first cast, then you are screwed for the rest of the day.  

After I unload the potato chip sized flounder from my hook, I hear some chatter going on behind me.  I turn and see that Bentpole has befriended a young lady who was paddle boarding out toward the bridge. You can tell from her brisk stroke that she was indeed enamored by BP's charm and charisma.

We made our way out to the bridge and I get my lure stuck in one of the rocks beneath the bridge.  I ended up losing the lure and spent a bit of time getting myself set up again.  After tying on a new lure, I begin to paddle to the rest of the group.  I was oblivious to what was going on around me and JetSki Brian ( took this photo of me.  Thanks for the shot Brian.  

After getting set with the rest of the crew, I cast and immediately get hooked up with a 16.75" flounder.  Now at this point I am psyched because it was a bigger class of flounder than I had been catching the previous day and my hopes for a keeper were increased.  

After getting his good Juju from the swedish bikini paddle boarding team member, Bentpole started catching some flatties as well.  Having left his camera at home, I did the honors of documenting his catch for the AOTY race at  

The rest of the day was filled with dink fish and lots of sight seeing.  We paddled up into what is commonly known as Rich Man's Cove only to find that even the crabs were not biting.  We paddled back and decided to explore the creek leading back to Ocean Breeze fun park.  As I turn the corner in the creek, I run across Agent VA making it look easy.  He sure appears to know what he is doing.

We drift back to the aquarium and that is when the action heated up.  

Hey Trapper, um..... there are people in the aquarium who can see this spot.....oh and there are a ton of windows in that building.  

Agent VA gets bowed up and is fighting hard.....he will never land that, I don't think anyone has ever landed a citation sized sign pole.  

I finally get something to bite my line and it is only this fella.  He had somehow gotten all tangled up in my line (no where near the bait, for what it's worth).  He was released to annoy another angler on another day.

That concluded the day on the water.  After that, I ran back to the condo to shower and pack for the POL Monthly Meeting at Bluewater Seafood (  Below are pics from the meeting.  There was supposed to be an awards ceremony for the tournament but since no one caught qualifying fish, the awards were not to be.  Given that the money raised for the tourney goes to a charity of the winners choice, we gave the choice to the first person to step up to sponsor this tourney.  As a result, Mark Lozier from Marsh Works Lures has asked that the money raised get donated to the Tidewater Chapter of Heros on the Water (HOW).  I have already been in touch with Tom V from the Tidewater Chapter and have made the proper arrangements. This is a great cause and I am happy to have our procedes help this worthy charity.  For more information about HOW please visit their website at

While at the seafood market, I tried my best to add some points to the Angler Of The Year Race at POL!!!! Do you think they will think they are honest catches?

Father's Day Weekend Day 1

The weekend started off well.  The Pirates of Lynnhaven were having a charity tourney targeting Redfish.  Unfortunately the Redfish did not receive the invitation.  However it turned into a great weekend after all.  I was with a group on Friday fishing out of Lynnhaven Inlet.  This was the second time this year fishing Lynnhaven and I still love the inlet.  I am not too fond of the boat traffic there, but I still love the inlet.

We launched out in search of some bait fish and were able to score a few mullet and some killifish.  We decided to head out in search of the target fish.  After getting skunked for the entire morning, we set up on an oyster bar right off the main channel and took out our ultra lite gear to take a break and catch trash fish.  And trash fish was bountiful.  I ended up catching more croaker and grunts than I could care to count.

After that I wanted to cruise over to a flat that I had much success with in the past and from the satellite photos on Google Earth, still looked to have the characteristics that I was interested in for Red's.  The fish were nonexistent but I did have some fun taking photos of the crew.  

Jim was more than happy to model his glowing green Malibu.

Dean was taking the minimalistic approach in a WS Commander.

I was loaded down with WAY too much gear on this trip in my WS Ride135.

Dave had disappeared and we found out later that he tried another flat with no success then headed in.  Jarred had just met up with us and we will have more on him later.

We headed over to the main channel and began drifting for flounder.  We each got a flounder or two.  At this time a boater in what looked like a massive old and dirty Yacht.  It was probably a good 30-35' ugly boat.  They seemed to take aim at our group.  Now typically we keep a calm and cool demeanor, but this was geting ugly fast.  Jim began yelling at them using words that perfectly matched his New York accent.  They got within feet of us at what seemed like near full throttle (it wasn't in reality, but it sure was enough to throw up a nice 2 foot+ wake in the no wake zone were were in).  Anyway shortly after this we drifted the channel by the Oyster Reef and I make one pass with no luck, but right behind me was Jarred and he scored a nice 18" flatty that he took home for dinner.  

The day was coming to a close so we paddled in and packed up for the day.  We did run into Chuck at the launch who reported that he had taken his son out and his son caught his first fish from a kayak that day.  It is great hearing stories like that, especially on Fathers Day Weekend.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Storms on the horizon!

Over the past few weeks, we have had some storms roll through that got me thinking about on the water preparation and safety in the event of a storm.  Lightning is nothing to laugh at but there are many more issues that could arise from being caught on the water in the unfortunate case of a storm.  Before I continue, let me get this out of the way.  I am only sharing personal experience and advice that I would give.  I am in no way an expert nor am I certified in anything relating to water safety.  Take what I say here as advice from someone who has a little experience in these situations and who has learned from his mistakes, but if you would like true water safety lessons, I am sure that the USCG Auxiliary has some classes available or at least could point you in the direction of a good safety course.  

Ok now onto the fun stuff.  Before I get into the advice, I thought I would share a little story about a day that I would like to not repeat.  The day started off the same as many others.  Not a cloud in the sky, and a trip was planned to hunt for redfish on the flats back in the Lynnhaven Inlet.  I met up with my friend Mike and we headed out in our quest for spot tailed fish.  We made our way back into the south eastern part of the Lynnhaven River and were rooting around the various coves that were present back in that area.  I happen to look to the west and noticed a huge wall of black clouds closing in on us.  I look at Mike and we both knew we had to abandon our search for fish.  We begin to paddle back to the launch point but the clouds were closing in quickly and before we knew it, the wind kicked up and the rain started pouring.  It should be noted that this was a day that there were no predictions of thunderstorms.  We were only about halfway to the launch when visibility became only a matter of inches and our paddling efforts were getting us nowhere.  A decision had to be made.  There were no good options at this point, but I did remember the exposed sandbar to our right.  We paddled quickly over to the bar and pulled our kayaks up to the highest point of the exposed sand.  This was a bar that was far from any trees and we were really rather perched up in the middle of the water.  We laid our fishing rods flat as not to have them serve as lightning rods and we both sat up on our kayaks and used our PFD's (Personal Floatation Devices - Life Jackets) to cover our heads from the pelting rain.  The storm at this point was right over our heads.  We would see the flash of lightning at the exact same time we were hearing the thunder.  With each crack of lightning you could smell the electricity.  One bolt of lighting hit the water just behind us.  Then just as it came, it also left.  A decision was made that despite our experience, we would continue fishing after the storm cleared out enough for us to safely paddle again.  As we were packing up our stuff, Mike looks at me and says "It's a damn good thing we are soaked from the rain."  When I asked why that was, he simply replied "Because, this way you can't tell that I pissed myself".  

So with the storms that we had this past week, I spent some time thinking about why it was that we survived that experience and what I should be thinking about to be prepared if that were to happen again.  Here is what I came up with.  

  • Remain calm!  If you are freaking out, you are focusing your energy on stress and not on figuring out the best solution to your problem.  Yes it is a terrifying experience to live through a storm like that, but people survive them on a daily basis and it is best that you keep a level head and worry more about your plan of action than what bad stuff could happen.
  • Educate yourself on safety practices.  The reason in we picked the sandbar as our safety zone was because I knew that in the area we were in, the shoreline was lined with tall trees.  Everyone should be aware that lightning strikes the tallest spot and if you are beneath a tree, it is more likely that you will be struck than if you are away from the trees.  For the same reason that we didn't sit under a tree, we laid our rods flat.  Also the sandbar would raise us up from the water level and with visibility next to nothing, we couldn't risk being blowing back into an area we were not familiar with.  
  • Know your surroundings.  If you are not familiar with the area you are paddling in, you should not venture too far away from the launch.  If you are going to a new place to fish, it is advisable that you research the area first.  There are many tools to do this.  Google Earth is one of the best since it allows you to really get detailed views of the area.  
  • Have a plan.  I know, you are thinking, I have a plan when I go out.  I know where I am going to go to get into the fish.  I am talking about having a safety plan.  It may not be the most glamorous part of kayak fishing, but you do have to be aware of where you are and how you will get to safety if an emergency comes up.  I try to plan even for wind.  I have had times where I will be heading one way and the wind kicks up so strong that no matter how hard I paddle, I am not making progress forward.  In these situations, I usually have a backup route to take that may not offer as much resistance in the wind.  I also like to have a "shortest distance to safety" plan.  This would be a general understanding of where I would go in the event of an emergency that would get me to shelter, or to safety the quickest.  
  • Technology.  While technology may not prevent you from getting struck by lightning, it will help in both prevention and recovery.  First, a radio with NOAA Weather stations available is a handy tool in preventing you from getting caught by that storm that seems to sneak up on you.  I know for a fact that had we been listening to the weather stations on the day detailed above, we would have avoided the experience all together.  While that storm seemed to sneak up on us, it did come from somewhere else and the weather stations would have given us fair warning.  Second, safety lights/flags should be used at all times.  Many people think a safety pole is only for night time.  Keep in mind that when conditions deteriorate, a kayak is very hard to see.  A safety flag will make you more visible and if conditions are not ideal, having a safety light will make you visible to oncoming vessels.  There are many brands of lights and flags, but I prefer those sold by YakAttack.  These are designed with Yak Anglers in mind.  I use a VisiCarbon Pro.  This is a collapsable light pole with a high intensity LED.  It also incorporates a high visibility orange flag.  It is a great safety light.   For me the final piece of technology that I carry is a cell phone.  Mine is an iPhone so I can use it to access GPS, Nautical Maps, and other useful items.  However the most important part of the phone is the ability to call 911 if needed.  I do keep a few numbers programmed in (Marine Police, USCG Stations around where I am, etc...), but if you find yourself in an emergency situation 911 is the best number to call.  If you have a VHF/Marine Radio, you can use the emergency channel as well, but what I have been told is that 911 is the best bet.  
  • USCG prescribed safety gear.  This should go without saying, but the gear that the USCG prescribes for kayak's is there to keep you safe.  You should have a PFD.  One thing to keep in mind with your PFD is to get something that offers some visibility in the event you become separated from your boat.  If it is not a highly visible color, it should have reflective surfaces to help aid in your rescue should you need it.  Also you need to have both a signal light and a signal horn of some sort.  This does not need to be a high intensity light and a fog horn.  There is a great whistle that Bass Pro sells that is a combo Whistle, Mirror, and Dry container.  The mirror will act as a signal light as it can reflect light from boats or the sun.  And the whistle will act as your signal horn.   

This is clearly not a complete list of everything you need to know but it should be enough to keep you safe.