Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grass Flats Redfish

Over the last couple of years, the redfish bite in Virginia has been nothing short of phenomenal! Last year showed great promise for a strong redfish population throughout the Tidewater region. The main difference in last year and this year is that larger overall average size of fish. Plenty of mid to upper slot sized drum are roaming the shallows in singles, pairs, all the way up to schools of 100+. I'm sure we can all agree, BIGGER is better!
 
"That's what she said!"
 
 
 
 
As usual, I hit one of my favorite spots in search of grass flats redfish with my good friend and fishing partner, Joe Underwood. Like I have said in the past about this spot, I know it like the back of my hand! The tide was coming in at sunrise so I knew what flat I wanted to hit first. Joe and I scratched out a plan and felt pretty confident that it would work.
 
We stopped off at a little point with current moving through to throw a few casts, like we normally do at this spot. Like clockwork, Joe picked up a nice trout on topwater, with me following up with a little striper. As we moved on to our first flat, you could see pods of bait everywhere as far as you could see. It was amazing!
 
Picture a shopping mall parking lot full of cars, and a certain cars alarm starts going off. You focus all of your attention on the loud noise and find that car.
 

Well, that was what it was like on the flat. The cars were the bait pods and the loud alarm was the schools of redfish reeking havoc on em...Yeah, it was heaven!
 

This 25.5" redfish pounded a PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer.

These fish were schooled up by the dozen and out to destroy everything in their path! They made it simple for us.
 
We hear them, we see them, we cast to them, we catch them, we repeat...
 
26.75" red

 
Joe had the hot hand of the day. He was doing more fan casting while I was hell bent on doing close quarters sight fishing. I have a crazy addiction of hunting down fish without alerting them, and making my presentation in a stealthy manner.

Bait of the day was the PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer. This lure has an over sized paddle tail which throws a lot of water around as it swims through the water. The low frequency combined with strong vibration of the Swinging Hammer calls fish in from afar. Pretty much, it's one bad@$$ paddletail and I WON'T fish for redfish without it.


If you find some time, do a little research and find yourself some grassflats near big water. I'm certain that if you find healthy grass, you will find some bait, which means you will find the redfish. Grab some medium tackle and an assortment of PowerTeam Lures and get ready to have a blast!

~See ya on the water!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Time Crunch Meat Haul

 
Is it me, or does it seem like time goes by faster and faster with the passing of each and every day?
 
Right now, the stress of the big move down the coast is pretty strong. I'm not going to get into details about it, but all I will say is that I can't wait for it all to be over with! With that being said, my job is experiencing a lot of changes in personnel. People are leaving and people are arriving. Old faces are being swapped out with new ones and the element of "change" is first hand. On this day, we were celebrating a co-worker's "going away breakfast" which pushed out my scheduled time for getting on the water. I planned on launching around sunrise, but the going-away took priority. The winds were forecasted to pick up around 11:00 so my window of nice weather was not open very long.
I was under a time crunch!


  My mission was quite simple:
 
Sight cast to redfish and haul em' back to the house for dinner!
  
 
 
The spot that I last tore them up in was a lot dirtier than the previous time. I saw a couple of reds, but only after I spooked them due to the bad water clarity. I hit another spot only to find the same thing; no fish and muddy water. Time was ticking and I needed to get on fish...FAST!
 
I decided to try out a huge flat that I have never fished before...
 
JACKPOT!
 

I was only standing for a minute or two when I came across the first school of around 10-15 fish. I knew that it was game over when I tossed out my texas rigged PowerTeam Lures 3.6 JP Hammer Shad. I threw at the outer edge of the school and made the bait dart erratically. It was awesome watching 2 fish fight for the lure.

Last trip, I noticed that most of the baitfish were very small. I used the 4.8 Hammer Shad and some fish would not jump on it like I hoped. I still caught plenty of fish, but I had the feeling that the 3.6 might entice them a little better. This trip, I packed a lot of 3.6's in different natural colors. I matched the hatch perfectly.

By the time I landed the first fish, the wind had already picked up and was continuing to get stronger. It was to the point that I said, "To hell with it", and decided to make my way back to the launch. Since the wind was blowing in the direction I was headed, I just stood up and scanned the flat. It was tough to see with the chop and grass, but I could see almost everything under the surface. The water was a little cleaner but it was still tough to see. No joke, the Maui HT lenses on my Maui Jim Peahi's made the difference in dissecting the the flat. Without a quality pair of sunglasses, sight fishing would have been impossible!

Now comes the time when it was daja-vu of the Eastern Shore. I was moving along the flat when I saw a disturbance coming straight at me, and it was not small. The surface ripples were different so I knew it was something. I was finally able to see below the surface and saw little red logs...everywhere!

Instincts kicked in and my 3.6 JP Hammer Shad was out and instantly in a reds mouth! I loosened the drag, put the rod in a rear rod holder, and grabbed another rod with a 4.8 JP Hammer Shad. At this time reds were everywhere! This was a school of 100+ fish, easy! I saw about 6-10 reds all excited with my fish that was hooked up. I threw the 4.8 about a foot or two behind my other fish and hooked up instantly! 
 
DOUBLE, HELL YEAH!
 
 
 
 
 

 

I wanted to keep at it but maintaining good boat position was impossible with the strong wind. It was pretty much pointless to stay out. When it was all said and done, I had my limit of redfish on the stringer. The time crunched meat haul was a success. Gotta love it!

~See ya on the water!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kokatat Destination Collection Review

As kayak anglers, we are closer to the action which means closer to the water. When you made the choice to paddle a kayak you indirectly accepted the fact that you're going to get wet. Face it, it's inevitable! Along with getting wet, we also feel the effects of the sun, which is putting it lightly. Most of us know that the sun's rays reflect off the surface of the water and pretty much bake the poor paddler that was not prepared for it. So, to say that quality paddling apparel is important to kayak fishermen would be a total understatement!
 
The purpose of this review is to give the kayak angler some insight on the Destination Collection from Kokatat. We will talk about; overall design, features, and if it is worth owning. At the end, I will sum up my thoughts and grade it on a 5 star scale like I do for all of my other reviews. 
 

Kokatat's Destination Collection of apparel is made for paddlers, by paddlers. What I mean, "made for paddlers" means that each piece of clothing is tailored towards the paddler. As kayakers, we don't sit still and drive our 250hp engine from spot to spot. We are constantly moving and hardly ever just sitting still. Kokatat understands that fact and designed each piece of Destination apparel with a paddling specific design.
 
 
First up is the Paddling Shirt: MSRP $90.00.  The shirt is a long sleeve, full zip, lightweight top. This top is loaded with features! One of my favorites is the vertical shoulder vents. The slightest breeze will flow right through this shirt keeping the paddler as cool as possible. The waist has an integrated bungee which allows the paddler to tighten up the waist so the top won't ride up the back and bunch up. When paddling, you won't feel any restrictions or tightness at the top of your paddling stroke. The arms are loose and very comfortable. You will also notice that when you get water on the material, it won't soak in like a cotton t shirt. It will naturally bead up like a waxed car. Lastly and probably most importantly, the material is rated UPF 30+ which means the sun's harmful rays will not harm your skin underneath.
 
Comparing this top to many others that I have used in the past, this one is my favorite. The overall comfort and functionality of Kokatat's Paddling Shirt is what I love the most. You can't help but notice how comfortable the shirt really is until you put one on.
 
 
Next up is the Paddling Pant: MSRP: $80.00. These pants have similar features as the Paddling Shirt; UPF 30+, zipper fly, lightweight, and quick drying. Lightweight and quick drying are the two immediately noticeable features. Water will bead up on these pants and does not want to soak in. I have done tests where I poured water on my pants and waited for the water to soak in. It took more than 3 minutes before my leg even started to feel the slightest bit of moisture. Most people know that having a pair of paddling pants that is loose in the crotch is a blessing! Of the hours I have spent in these pants, I have never once felt any discomfort.
 
Overall, I could not be more impressed with these pants. Like the Paddling Shirt, these pants are incredibly comfortable. I have even put them on around the house just because of how comfortable they are. I can honestly say that I don't think you will find a nicer pair of paddling pants!
 
Water beaded on the Paddling Pants. Photo taken after 3 minutes of water application.

Last but not least is the Surf Trunk: MSRP $50.00. Following suit like the previous shirt and pants, the Surf Trunk is lightweight, quick drying, and features UPF 30+. These shorts have a lacing waistband along with a button fly. The Surf Trunks are very comfortable with the loose inseam. The material is very soft and just like the paddling pants, beads water on the surface instead of soaking it in. You can tell that these trunks are high quality when you put them on. One feature that I like is the zippered, self draining pocket on the leg. The pocket even has a key lanyard so you can secure a key along with keeping your ID on you at all times.

I have replaced my all of my previous board shorts with the Destination Surf Trunks. Once again, Kokatat nailed it on these shorts. The Surf Trunks are a quality piece of apparel through and through!


Alright, that pretty much sums up my experience with the Destination Collection from Kokatat. The collection does consist of much more such as headware, hand covers, along with other styles tailored for either men or women. If I had to guess, I would imagine that everything else is very similar in features and overall performance.

After hours and hours of use, I would rate the
Destination Collection...
 
5 out of 5 stars!
 
Just like all of my reviews, this is strictly from my own experience and my opinion. I logged many hours wearing this line in all sorts of weather conditions before I formed my opinion. Just like anything else, if I use something consistently, I stand by it 100%!
 
Believe me, it was hard giving a review a perfect rating! I seriously sat there and tried to think of something that I considered a negative or a drawback. I couldn't do it. There is really nothing that I can say is a downside or a negative. The Destination Collection screams quality and I would HIGHLY recommend this lineup of apparel to anybody! Try it out, you won't regret it.
 
~See ya on the water!


If you're in the market for a new PFD, or just want to read a quality review about something that you may want to consider in the future, check out the review of the Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD by Rob Choi from Angling-Addict.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Little Break

What do you do when both the weather and work schedule give you a little break?
 
 I know what I like to do!
 

Beggars can't be choosers!
 
That's an old saying that can apply to anything. If you have a busy schedule filled with work, kids, honey-do's, and everything else thrown in the mix, than this saying probably applies to you. Take all of the above and combine the constant pouring of love from Mrs. Rain Goddess, it may be a little difficult to find time to get on the water.
 
With a few hours to burn and the Fishweather app not looking all evil and red, it just made sense to paddle some plastic. The sun was high, the tide was going out, and the winds were non existent. I hit one of my favorite spots with one mission...Sight casting to redfish.
 

 
 
 
The drag on my Stradic Ci4 was screaming within 10 minutes of searching. I expected that since I know the spot like the back of my hand. The beauty of doing hours and hours of homework is that you can have a spot that you don't have to waste time at. The redfish were everywhere and they were hungry. A lot of singles and doubles, and some schools of 20-30 fish.
 
NON STOP ACTION!
 
I only used one setup the entire time. For shallow water flats, I like a texas rigged PowerTeam Lures 4.8 JP Hammer Shad on an 1/8oz screw lock EWG worm hook. This combination is straight up deadly on skinny water redfish. The texas rigged Hammer Shad glides and darts naturally and will not hang up or catch any grass. Being weedless makes this tactic one of the deadliest ways to trigger a strike from a redfish!
 



Those unplanned 1-2 hour windows can be a lot of fun. Sometimes a guy will have no idea if and when he gets the opportunity to sneak away for a bit. If you don't use the little breaks in the schedule and weather to get some pullage, you may find yourself reading about it instead.

~See ya on the water!

Video: BADASSERY

Here is the video from "The Day of Badassery". Bull reds...Big Stripers...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mr. Brown Clown

 
It was not long ago that we were paddling miles upon miles covering as much ground as we could in search of big bull reds at the Eastern Shore. With that fishery in the rear view mirror, it was time to focus on something else...something that I have never caught before...
 
COBIA
(AKA: Mr. Brown, Brown Clown, Cobe, Brownsuit)

 
It's no secret that the Chesapeake Bay houses countless cobia throughout the summer months. This fishery is well known worldwide and rightfully so. Huge cobia are caught consistently, mainly by power boat fishermen. With that being said, catching a decent sized cobia out of a kayak is not easy at all. Most would consider it very difficult.
 
I'm not too shameful to admit that I'm a cobia rookie. I'll be honest, I have not chased after these fish like many of my friends have. This is my first year that I actually planned on targeting Mr. Brown. One thing that I do know is how to target certain species by doing homework and flat out putting in time on the water. I'm no rookie at that!
 
I met good friends Kayak Kevin, Joe Underwood, and William Ragulsky for a late afternoon cobia hunt. Chum slicks were set in the outgoing tide with hopes of getting a visit from ole' brown clown. We had a few small ones cruise through but nothing to get excited about. I decided to take a little paddle once the tide went slack. 
 
I cruised about a mile from the chum slick while trying to keep the sun towards my back so I could see anything cruising the surface. I saw some menhaden bust the surface so obviously it made sense to check it out. As I was making my way out something caught my eye in the choppy water. I saw a fin pop out on the surface about 40 yards away but the chop made it hard to tell what it was. Once I was within 20 yards, it showed up again...this time I could see exactly what it was. 
 

I saw multiple fins belonging to 3 nice cobia cruising about 20 yards off my bow. I waited until I got a good bead on their direction before I threw my first cast. I lined them up and threw out my bucktail jig. As good of a cast I thought it was, they made a slight turn and never saw it. My next cast was dead nuts in the strike zone! A few quick snaps caught their attention and they immediately went deep. About a second went by and then I felt a violent strike from hell!




If  I had to describe the fight, I would say that it's fast, intense, and violent! This fish went airborne off my bow which basically made my heart skip a beat. As I was fighting the fish, his buddy that was about 15 inches longer and MUCH wider, hung by his side for half of the fight. I quickly reeled in both of my trolling bait rods just to try and minimize the chaos.

After many blood pumping runs and relentless headshakes, I had the insane cobia on the gaff. No joke, gaffing a cobia while solo is not easy! In fact, it's a pain! As many people know, you don't want a green cobia in your lap. He's going to beat the crap out of you and everything else you have in his way. I wasted no time "putting him to sleep" with an 18oz claw hammer.






As much of a catch and release fisherman I am, I LOVE FRESH FISH! Not to mention, if I told my wife that I released this table fare, she wouldn't be thrilled to say the least. This 42.5" cobia will have a warm welcome in the Bekolay house.





A huge thank you to Joe and Billy for snapping photos and sharing the moment with me. Boy oh boy, moving in the less than 2 months is getting harder and harder. I guess my next goal is to catch one a little bit bigger...citation worthy. Either way, no matter what...I'll take a run-in with Mr. Brown Clown anytime!

~See ya on the water!