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 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...
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!


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!"


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Drum n' Sheep

61 days...
1,464 hours...
87,840 minutes...
That's how long it has been since the last time I hit the water. Not cool, not cool at all!
With the next outing beyond overdue, it only made sense to go all out! I worked second shift this week so I planned to go after sheepshead in the morning, go to work in the afternoon, and then target big reds at night, all while fighting off a miserable cold.
Lets do this!
As any angler knows, the feeling you get when you finally get back on the water after a lengthy hiatus is pretty much indescribable. It's beyond awesome! I headed right for the bridge structure armed with a couple dozen live shrimp and a mind full of confidence.
It didn't take long to feel the ever so subtle "sheepy bite". After a couple of swings and misses, I finally drove the hook into the toothy critter!

The carolina rigged live shrimp were not only irresistible for sheepshead, but black drum couldn't swim by them without having a snack as well.
The bite really picked up as the wind and clouds rolled in. Couple with moving current, the conditions were perfect! At one point, I didn't go a minute without a bite! I stayed on the same set of pilings with a rubble mix below. Catching a good sized sheepshead is fun, but catching multiples is a blast! I ended the day with double digit numbers of sheepshead up to 21" and 2 black drum up to 25".
I went to work feeling pretty good about the day time bridge bite from earlier. Even though I was working, it was impossible not to think about an evening bridge bite just as good, if not better than the earlier one. Yeah, I wasn't going after sheepys and black drum this go around. Big ole' orange pumpkins were next on the list...Florida's big red drum!
Once my shift was over, it was a quick turn with clothing and gear and off to the bridge again. The outgoing tide was already moving as I got there so I knew the fish should be hungry! I paddled to the first light that I normally target during outgoing tide. While standing in my Old Town Predator 13, I quickly spotted a pair of reds. I hooked up on the first cast but quickly came unbuttoned. I wasn't too phased since I knew that I probably wouldn't have to wait long for my next chance. I hung out in the shadows of the bridge like a hunter waiting for his prey. As 3 more reds cruised in formation waiting to annihilate anything that swam in front of them, I lead them a with a perfect cast about 10 feet past and 10 feet in front of them. When the first one saw my PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer, he rocked towards the bait to steal if from his buddys...FISH ON!  
Over the next 3 hours, I hooked up with fish at every light I fished. I lost more than normal, but 10 fish still graced the cockpit of the Predator, ranging from 31" to 38.5". All were caught on a 1/8 oz jig and Swinging Hammers. I didn't break the 40" mark this night, but I saw a handful that were every bit of 40" or better. 

Wiping the tears from my eyes and the snot from my nose, I drove home half asleep with a scratchy cough. Even though I was tired and sick, the sweet smell of fish slime put a little smile on my face. The long break really made me appreciate the time I spend on the water. I don't think I will be waiting 61 days again any time soon...

~See ya on the water!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hammering the Bulls

One of the seasons that I have been anxiously awaiting is the arrival of the bull reds at the local bridge complexes. Having experienced this a couple of years ago when I was down here to visit, (see Battle of the Bulls), I was left with the burning desire to get back to it.
Last week, I headed out with Marty Mood, Brandon Barton, Matthew Vann, and Butch Newell for the first trip of the year. The conditions were nice, almost too nice! You want current moving and a little chop when you're doing this type of fishing. Anyways, we all got into fish but not the numbers we were hoping for.
I had an open window the other night after work. The wind and tide matched up perfectly for a late night rendezvous. I planned on catching a couple of white trout to put on a circle hook so I could Carolina rig a live bait on the bottom while I casted soft plastics under the lights. Well, that plan didn't go as planned...
My 3.6 PowerTeam Lures JP Hammer Shad was meant to bounce the bottom for white trout. On my fourth cast, the Hammer Shad got pounded about 5 feet down in the water column. With crazy headshakes, I knew it was no white trout. Since I was using my medium action rod with Shimano Stradic FJ 2500, I knew I was in for a treat...
I had the 37 1/2" red in my lap, go to turn on my Olympus camera only to find the display reading "Battery F%$&ing Dead"...or something like that. Go figure, a nice fish in the lap and the only camera I have is the one on my IPhone. Well, something is better than nothing.
 Boy oh Boy, I was licking my chops!!! To hell with the Carolina rigged live bait, I was going to hammer these fish with meanest paddle tail out there...the

The Swinging Hammer, pictured above, in Electric Chicken (top) and Bubble Gum Flash (bottom), stand out big time under the lights. The over sized tail provides a crazy thump and believe gets the attention of the big reds!
While I was adding the paddle tail to my 1/2oz jig, a red started crushing bait on the surface one light down from where I was at. Man, it's getting better and better!
As quick as I could get to the light and a bait in the was on once again!

I proceeded to absolutely wear out the reds! It was non stop action! 10 minutes never went by without setting the hook into a feeding bull.  
At one point, I actually caught 4 in 4 casts. I made my fifth cast only to have a minor knot in my Curado baitcaster. This meant my bait was dropping to the bottom without me being able to do anything.
Oh crap, please don't hit it please don't hit it...
BAM, zip zip...$#!@
I smoked the drag down and put the screws to the fish. I made sure that the fish never pulled enough drag to get to the knot. It worked out in the end.

In 4 hours, I caught over 25 reds between 33" and 39.5". Nights like this don't happen often. The right conditions have to be present and most of all, the fish have to cooperate! Living less than 30 minutes from the bridge means it won't be the last time I drop the hammer...
 Man, did I pick the wrong night to bring a dead camera.
~See ya on the water!