Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Decisions Decisions

The one down side to living in Navarre Florida is that it really tests the fisherman's decision making skills. I mean think about it...
 
How the hell does a guy decide between sight fishing redfish in skinny water, casting topwater for big trout, or venturing offshore for pelagics and reef dwellers?
 
 This puts an angler in a predicament...make a decision. Unlike work, school, or home, this is one decision you don't mind having to make.
 
 
First up was an after work session consisting of hitting a flat before the sun going down, then to dock lights under the cover of darkness. It didn't take long to get a slot redfish to crush a Spook Jr. in bone color.
 
 
Not long after the sun disappeared behind the trees, certain dock lights activated a vicious feeding frenzy. While approaching the first set of lights, you could hear the trout ambushing baitfish in between paddle strokes. The spotlight on the water consisted of baitfish skipping along the surface followed up with angry swirls breaking the silence. Catching a 20" trout on the first cast set the tone for the next 2 hours. Oh yeah!! 
 
23.75" on a PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer
 
Big fish of the night went 23.75". Catching 20 fish in less than 2 hours is an awesome way to decompress from work.
 
Now, it's time to hit the gulf!
 
 
The first trip out was a dud to say the least! A few bonita and a sweet sunburn was all I had to show for the first offshore trip of 2015. The dolphins must have felt bad because they put on a show for about 20 minutes. Normally I dislike dealing with dolphins but they acted like they were shaking their heads playing around with me.
 
 
 
 
The decision about where to fish on the next trip was easy.
 
It's red snapper season and the seas looked great!
 
Marty Mood, Benton Parrot, Elizabeth Saylor, her son Matt, Marty's neighbor, and I went out in full force after the "endangered" red snapper. The fish took a while to cooperate but we ended up getting on them. Cutting up the bonita and chunking him over the spot made the snapper rise up in hurry. They couldn't resist! 
 
 
 
We all caught fish and had a blast doing it!
 
 Catching a limit of red snapper and a king mackerel provided plenty of eats in the Bekolay house.
 
Smoked king mackerel

red snapper sashimi

The decision for next time around will be pretty easy as long as it's during snapper season.
 
See ya on the water!
 
 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Exploring New Flats


Life as a Florida resident has been everything I thought and hoped it would be!
 
The seafood is great, the people are great, the weather is great, and well...
 
the fishing is pretty damn amazing!
 
 
The downside of moving to a new location for the angler is pretty obvious.
 
All of the spots that you took the time to learn are a thing of the past...time to find new ones!
 
 
I do a lot of my homework on the internet when it comes to scouting.
 
For flats fishing, being able to read the bottom and surrounding areas can make a huge difference in finding fish!
 
I had a set of flats eyed up that I researched over the winter. Now it's time to find out what they're about!
 
 
Just as I had hoped, my topwater caught the attention of a pesky little flats fish.
 
Not a gator trout, but a fish none of the less.
 
 
I caught a few more smaller trout before I had a blow up of something bigger.
 
This fish missed the lure the first time, and I seen him come out of the water the second time as he
 
found his mark...
 
Mr. Psycho Redfish!
 
 
 
29" redfish

I was hoping for a big trout, but I'll take a little sleigh ride from a red any day!

It didn't take 10 more casts when I heard the ever-so-famous "roar" of a red blowing up on a topwater lure. Time for ride #2...

27.5" redfish


 I ended up with 3 reds between 27.5" and 29", and 6 trout up to 17.25"
 
Not too shabby for new grounds!
 
Until next time...
 
~See ya on the water!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

One of Those Nights

W/SW winds paired up with the incoming tide perfectly, giving the fisherman "angler arousal"
 
Bait was of plenty, flickering in the gleaming light cast down from the bridge from above 
 
And just like you would hope, the Florida bull reds were thick and they were hungry
 
It was going to be one of those nights!
 
 
It's always a good sign when the first light that you approach from under the bridge has a hungry red searching for anything to destroy. Within 75 yards from the shoreline, you can't help but to get excited! A quick cast with my PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer tipped jig and it was engulfed within seconds of hitting the water.
 

I paddled to the next light expecting to see a big red log cruising in the light. Not only is there one big red log, there were a few of them looking to pulverize anything in their path. This fish puked up gobs of bait as he was head shaking next to the Predator 13.


The conditions were a little sporty, sort of like a washing machine. My bow kept leaving the water with random swells. No joke, my Werner "Hooked" Cyprus was vital in not wasting my energy since the blade is rock solid. Any other blade that would flex would have been a pain to get from one light to another!
 
I don't know if I went one light without seeing or catching a fish! My first 7 casts yielded 6 fish, can't complain with that!


Over the past few weeks we have experienced warm temperatures which made our water temp sky rocket! My last time out I was in GoreTex bibs and a paddling jacket, fighting off cool water. This time, the water and air temps were in the 60's. Much better!!!


I ended the night losing count at 15 reds between 34" and 38.5". The bite started to slow down was the tide topped out. Even when it was slow, you still could catch them consistently. When an angler heads to the bridge for big Florida reds, you pray for a bite like this. The bait was everywhere, the water was moving, and the fish were hungry...it was just one of those nights!
 
~See ya on the water!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bull Reds in Between the Busy

Fishing these days has sadly been...well...on the bottom of the priority list.
 
MAN, it pains me to say that!!!!
 
It's not that I've lost my touch or passion, it's just part of "adult life".
 
We've all been there. One words sums it up...BUSY
 
I've been busy at work.
 
POC for an Air Force Promotion Ceremony
 
Busy building furniture
 
Pottery Barn Benchwright Series...I should say "Bekolay Series"
 
Busy in the kitchen
 
Healthy Cast Iron Cooking
 
Busy with the dogs
 
Oakie (left) and Goose (right), my two Italian Greyhounds
 
And busy living it up!
 
Marids Gras...Bourbon Street photobomb by Ms. Purplehead

Luckily for me, the forecast faired quite nice in between the busy!
 
Time to hit the bulls at bridge!
 
It didn't take long to get on the board. You gotta love it when the timer on your camera goes off just as the fish clinches up and squeezes the hell out of your hand!
 

The bite started out slow, but picked up as the tide started moving out paired with an east wind.
 



I threw one style of bait all night long...
 
 
Here is a tip for you...Swinging Hammers are not just meant for bass!
 


 
Gear used on this trip:
 
Kayak: Old Town Predator 13 (green camo)
Paddle: Werner Cyprus 240cm "Hooked Series"
PFD: Kokatat Bahia Tour
Clothing: Kokatat Whirlpool Bibs, Kokatat Full Zip Gore-Tex Jacket
Rod: All Pro 7' APX Heavy Spinning
Reel: Shimano Symetre 4000
Lures: PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammers, 1/8oz-1oz jigs
Accessories: YakAttack
 

 
 
As the night came to a close, the total ended up at 12 reds up to 38.5".
 
Not a bad way to get back on the horse, or should I say "bull".
 
~See ya on the water! 


Saturday, December 27, 2014

3 Mile Predators

Late December is considered by many to be the greatest time of year. Heck, even the popular Christmas songs say it is! Some consider is great for getting together with family, others love it for giving or receiving gifts. Well, I have to believe that if you live around the Pensacola Florida area that you may think it's the greatest time of year for another reason...
 
Bull Reds at the Bridge! 
 
 
My good friend and fellow active duty Air Force member, Jay Moore, joined me a late night bull red hunt at 3 Mile Bridge in Pensacola. It's no secret that big reds patrol the lights of the bridge during this time of year. Jay paddled the Old Town Predator MX and I took out the Predator 13, perfect platforms for spotting the big ole' pumpkins!
 
This was Jay's first time out at the bridge going for big reds. His personal best red was slot sized so my goal was to get him one that would top that mark, pretty attainable at 3 Mile. The night started out pretty slow but it didn't stay slow for too long.
 
We fished light after light without seeing or hooking any fish. We moved to a certain light that had fish waiting for us. I wasn't tossing at them until Jay hooked up. Well, it didn't take long before Jay's drag was screaming! The 3 Mile reds don't come easy, and this guy fish was no different. After 10 seconds, he shook the hook. No worries, Jay hooked up again within 5 minutes of losing the first one. This time the damn fish actually broke the clip that attached the lure to the leader. Of the hundreds of fish that I have caught on these clips, I have never had one break. I guess Jay had to be the first!
 
As we separated and fished different lights, I saw a slight glimpse of a long orange blob moving in front of my bow. The plump 36.5" pounded my Swinging Hammer as I swam it in front of him.
  
 
 
 
We paddled back into the light and Jay spots a single and makes a text book cast...
 
FISH ON!
 
 
This fish gave him a great fight; run after run, in between pilings, going underneath the kayak, you name it. Jay fought this fish perfectly! Once the red was tired, he wrapped his hand around the leader and leveraged him into the MX. Game over!
 
35" bull red in boat!

 

CONGRATS BUDDY ON YOUR PERSONAL BEST REDFISH!
 
By this time, it was getting late so we decided to make our way back down the bridge towards the launch.
 
Only issue was we left the lights with fish! The more we paddled, the more the fish disappeared. I did happen to spot a big single cruising pretty fast. This guy was on a mission. My mission was to drive a hook in his mouth...And I did just that!
 
 


This 39.5" put up a hell of a fight! When they are pushing 40", they seem to hit another gear!

The big tail swimming down to the depths signified the end of our night. All in all, it was slow but productive! We had multiple hook ups and saw fish cruising the surface. Most of all, Jay got his personal best red and the taste of bull reds at the bridge. I'm sure we will be loading up the Predators again very soon!
 
~See ya on the water!
 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the Morning Before Christmas

Twas the morning before Christmas, when Santa was in bed
Thinking of fighting a big ole' sheepshead
The Predator and rods were loaded with care
In hopes that Mr. Convict soon would be there
 
 
The shrimp were nestled all snug in the bucket
With the visions of the bait guy saying, "looks like 3 dozen, F#@K it!"
And the wife in her work chair, and I in my yak,
Had just said to myself, "kayak fishing is like crack!"
 
When on the first drop arose such a clatter
I raised the rod tip to see what was a matter
Away to the handle, ready to take the chance
I set the hook so hard, I thought I crapped my pants
 
 
 
The hook found its mark between the teeth of the beast
I made sure the drag was tight, smoked down at the least
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
A stout sheepshead, one of the biggest of the year
 
With drag pulling power, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment this was a strong convict
More runs to the bottom not ready to give in
It was him vs. me, not a chance that he'd win
 
Finally to the surface while waving the white flag
I knew I had won, it was "money in the bag"
Now line! Now leader, Now swing in the fish
"You're not going anywhere, not a chance, you wish!"
 
 
With the sheepy in hand, I said to myself
"I wish somebody would take my picture, another angler, or an elf"
I forgot my GoPro was on, I never leave home without it
It captures every moment, mounted on my Panfish Portrait
 
To the stringer he goes,  just waiting to be filleted
Blackened, baked, or grilled, I don't care how it's made
The day just started, I'm sure there will be more
We've got plenty of bait, hopefully it's sheepy galore
 
 
With a stringer full of fish and a face sporting a smile
The glow of catching a dozen could be seen for a mile
The addiction is strong, impossible to kick
Kayak fishing is in the blood, of ole' jolly St. Nick
 
The Predator and rods were loaded into the sleigh
The trip was up, time to call it a day
While leaving the launch, Santa was heard yelling with laughter...
 
"MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, we'll see ya on the water!"