Saturday, October 1, 2016

Sight Casting Monster Tarpon

Landing a huge tarpon last year left me wanting more...

Those that have ever chased tarpon out of a kayak know how insane of a challenge it is. If you do come tight with a "poon", everything has to go right, and I mean everything! These fish will expose the slightest flaw and will make you pay for it.

For 2016, I started chasing these fish earlier this summer. I wish I could have made it out more times than I have, but the times I have been out have been productive, kinda anyways. I have hooked up and jumped numerous tarpon, 6 to be exact. Every time has yielded the same result; a hooked up fish jumps like hell and spits the hook following up with profanities exiting the angler's mouth.

This trip started out no different. I wasn't on the water for more than 15 minutes when I spotted the first fish of the night. A quick cast and I was hooked up...only for him the snap my 80 braid on the second jump. The fish must have landed on the braid and cut it like a tight rubber band, whipping the line back in my direction.

Feeling pretty optimistic, I reloaded the artillery and went back on the hunt. A few more fish were spotted but quickly disappeared. I spotted another fish that gave me a great shot, and I made it count. A couple solid hooksets drove the hook into the concrete mouth and it was time for a ride.

This had to be the most exhausting 20 minutes of my life! The huge tarpon only jumped twice, then went on run after run.

The cool part is that my homie, Marty Mood, was rolling his GoPro. The bad part was the only other camera that I had was a corroded Olympus that is a pain to use.

As we were setting up for the hero shot, the fish shook it's head and slipped my grip as the hook was out of it's mouth. No grip n' grin pictures.

Words can't describe the rush that a huge tarpon gives the kayak angler. Wrapping hands around it's jaws makes you realize how massive these fish are and just how much power they possess. Thank you Marty Mood for rolling the GoPro! Until next time...

See ya on the water!


Rods: Shimano Teramar XX HVY, 8'
Reels: Shimano Spheros SW 6000
Line: 80lb Power Pro, 100 lb Fluorocarbon leader
Lures: Hogy Lures and Berkley 6" Swimbaits
Kayak: Old Town Predator PDL
Paddle: Werner Paddles 240cm "Hooked" Cyprus
Apparel: Kokatat
PFD: Kokatat Bahia Predator
Accessories: YakAttack Geartrac, YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro, YakAttack BlackPak

For more information on the Gear Used, please click on the logos located on the right side of the page.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Emerald Coast Professional Redfish Series...September 24th Event

Striking out during the June event for the Emerald Coast Professional Redfish Series (ECPRS) didn't set too well with me...which is putting it nicely!
The second event for myself, third for the series, was an opportunity to lick the wounds, bounce back, and get redemption. Like the last time, Marty Mood and I teamed up for the event. I always love fishing the Panama City area. There is no shortage of water and wilderness to explore.
Pre-fishing, as usual, was very successful.
 Marty and I scouted maps and traveled uneven roads which yielded what we were looking for.
Both Marty and I landed speckled trout over 23"...

Photo Credit: Marty Mood
Once we had the trout dialed in, it was time to search for bull reds.
Our first spot was a bust. No bait, no bulls, no action, no!
The second spot had birds working bait schools which was visible from the highway.
Marty headed out first as I was trying to cool off and rehydrate since I was fighting a flu.
The headstart that Marty got paid off with a beautiful 42" Florida bull red...
I quickly got in on the action.
After a quick pedal with the Old Town Predator PDL to the birds, you could see bull reds killing anything in their path.
A quick cast and a few twitches of a Super Spook and I was hooked up...
Headshake, power-run, repeat!
After the third run, the hook pulled...
That was how pre-fishing would end. Tournament day rolled around and we stuck to the pattern from the day before; trout spot first and bull red spot second.
When it's tournament time, I normally don't roll with Go-Pros (hence the lack of photos). I opt for the least amount of "stuff" on the kayak when the rubber meets the road.
In the first two hours of the day, I had a 19" trout and a 23.5" redfish. I knew 42.5" wouldn't win, but I was at least on the board with an aggregate length to build upon.
Marty managed to pull a 19.5" trout and a 23.5" redfish to edge me out by a 1/2" at our first spot.
Our second spot had bull reds.  We watched a couple bulls get hooked up, just not on our ends.
That's how the day would close.
Photo Credit: Benton Parrot
The totals were in and would you know it, I took place from the money!
D@#n you Marty! (just kidding.)
Congrats to the winners of the tournament.
The 4th and final event is the 2 day Championship is November 5th and 6th.
Until then...
See ya on the water!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Old Town Predator PDL...KING ME!

"If I had a dollar for every time I have given my "pedaling" friends hell, I would be a rich man!"
Earlier this year at ICast, Old Town Canoe and Kayaks released a new version of the high-end angling Predator series. No it was not another model propelled by paddle or by motor, but the long awaited pedal version. The Old Town Predator "PDL" made a big splash into the kayak fishing scene by winning the 2016 "Best Boat" award at ICast, not a small feat to say the least!

Those that know me in the kayak fishing arena know that I LOVE paddling! I truly love efficiently maneuvering a kayak by the means of a quality paddle. That will never change, I will always paddle a kayak. On the flip side of that equation, I also know that a pedal driven kayak has it's advantages! When I was informed that a Predator PDL was on it's way to the Bekolay house, I was beyond excited! I couldn't wait to get this kayak rigged up to take on the waters in the Florida Panhandle.
I wasted no time rigging this boat up with YakAttack GearTrac on the mounting plates for my YakAttack Dogbone and Panfish camera mounts. It honestly took more time getting my tools together than it did with the installation of these accessories. The morning that followed rigging day was forecasted to be cloudy with a mid morning wind shift...great conditions for an offshore trolling bite!
I was welcome by a beautiful sunrise peaking through the thick blanket of clouds. The salty breeze aroused the harbored excitement for the upcoming adventure. Mornings like these are truly what an angler dreams of. The stage was set for the PDL's "Maiden Voyage" and the opportunity to see how it handled the Gulf of Mexico.
First step of the day watch to catch bait. Finding bait was one thing, find quality was another! Numerous small hardtails and only 5 cigar minnows were the only morsels swimming in my bait tube.
I was trolling two lines; one with an 8' leader of 50lb fluorocarbon snelled to a 7/0 circle hook tipped with a hardtail (sailfish setup), and the other with a wire double hook duster king rig tipped with a cigar minnow (everything else setup). It didn't take long before the reel on hardtail rig started singing. Just as quick at the baitrunner was ripping out, it stopped...cut line equals toothy king.
A short time later the fluorocarbon leader with circle hook was taken again, this time I hooked up and caught a nice sized king. He found his way into the death cooler to be used on the smoker. Speaking of "smoker"...
The first strike on the duster rig was a good one! My baitrunner was singing so loud I thought my ears were going to bleed! Once the reel was engaged, I could feel that this was no small fish.

It didn't take long for this fish to rip most of the line off of my 6000 series spool. The nice part of the PDL was I was able to maintain pressure on the fish but also use the pedals to close the gap to gain some line back. I figured it had to be a big king with the blistering runs it was making. Once I saw length and color, I knew it was indeed a good one! I normally don't gaff kings, but I wanted to make sure that this one got to visit the inside of the PDL.

With the death cooler loaded with kingfish meat, I started to make way back to the beach. The bite was steady all day long. I ended up landing 2 nice Spanish mackerel on the way in to add to the meat haul total. I was running low on smoked mackerel fillets that I use in fish dip so I was pretty stoked to stuff the cooler bag. Smoked fish dip is one of my favorite snacks for football season, just FYI.

Alright, first impression of the Old Town Predator PDL;
  • The seat is higher on this model compared to previous Predators. Don't let that fool ya, this boat is stable! In 1-2' swells and wind, I never felt like my center of gravity too high. In fact, it almost felt like a chair which was very easy on my back and legs. Not to mention there is still a pouch on the back but now there is also a nice pouch under the seat. Perfect for sabiki rigs, gloves, sunblock, etc.
  • Plenty of storage! The forward hatch is a great size. There is a small hatch built into the drive just aft of the pedals. The hatch stayed fairly dry even after a few big waves and surf came over the side walls and bow. There is also access to the mid hull just aft of the seat. Another great area for storage.
  • The PDL drive itself is well designed. The pedals are smooth and the gearing is just right for the prop. The drive is not light, but you wouldn't want it light because of the quality of the build. This is maintenance free and it feels like it. Going in reverse is awesome! I didn't need this feature on this day, but when I do (at the bridge, by docks, etc) it will come in handy.
  • The rudder system is really nice. The steering controls for the rudder are on the left while the lever to deploy and retract the rudder is on the right. Both controls are very smooth without any binding.
  • Speed! Yes, this boat is FAST! I was shocked how quick this boat would drive into the wind and current. With the wind at your back, you can really fly!
  • The steering is not "set it and forget it". You do have to pay attention to the rudder controls because strong current and waves will alter the course and throw off your tracking if you're not paying attention.
Overall, I was really impressed with the Old Town Predator PDL! This boat will be in my lineup without a doubt. Priced at $2,799, you get a lot of boat packed with features that is priced better than most of it's peers. Check out the new PDL, you won't be disappointed! For more information, click on this link, Old Town Predator PDL.

See ya on the water!
Rods: All Pro Rods, Shimano, Ugly Stick
Reels: Shimano Thunnus 6000 Ci4, Shimano Baitrunner 6000, Shimano Sradic FJ
Line: 50lb Power Pro, 50 lb Fluorocarbon leader
Lures: Double hook Duster king rigs w/ wire leader, fluorocarbon leader snelled to 7/0 circle hooks
Kayak: Old Town Predator PDL
Paddle: Werner Paddles 240cm "Hooked" Cyprus
Apparel: Kokatat Trunks, Kokatat Paddling Shirt
PFD: Kokatat Bahia Predator
Accessories: YakAttack Geartrac, YakAttack Dogbone and Panfish camera mounts,  RAM X-Grip

For more information on the Gear Used, please click on the logos located on the right side of the page.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Emerald Coast Professional Redfish Series June 25th Report

Wiping the crustys out of the eyes following the evil sound of a smart phone alarm at 3am is normally a downright miserable experience...unless the alarm is for fishing of course!

I would say that I'm pretty easy goin' in my day to day endeavors. Though there are a handful of things that I take pretty serious; work, family, health, and fishing tournaments. The first 3 of those go without saying, but when it comes to tournament fishing...I don't mess around!

The Emerald Coast Professional Redfish Series is based out of Panama City, Florida and consists of 4 events; 3 separate one day events leading up to a two day Championship to close out the year. This is the first year that kayaks are fishing this series even though the tournament is not new in itself. Having a few weeks off of work following my deployment allowed me to have the opportunity to prepare for the 2nd event of 2016.

The "rules of the road" are like any traditional kayak fishing tournament. Scoring for this series is the aggregate length of 1 redfish plus 1 speckled trout, pretty straight forward. This is where strategy comes to play. Does an angler target speckled trout first then go for reds, or vise versa? Verifying the tides, weather forecast, time of year, etc. all come into play for an angler formulating their gameplan.

"Practice how you play" is what I go by for tournament fishing. I like to get into a mental routine during pre-fishing as if it was game day. The alarm is set before the a$$ crack of dawn, everything is rigged and ready to go, and my spots have been well thought out. Hitting the welcoming waters for the first day of pre-fishing always gives me a rush!

My good friend and fellow YakAttack Fishing Team member, Marty Mood, and I had discussed numerous spots and strategies leading up to the event. I was pre-fishing a couple of spots near our homes that we talked about checking out for good sized speckled trout. The first couple of days of pre-fishing yielded some good numbers of speckled trout up to 20", not too shabby. The only issue with this place was that the boat traffic would be a higher on a Saturday. "No Bueno" for a good trout bite!

The executive decision to fish near the weigh-in location was made to optimize our time on the water. Starting from scratch in an area that you're unfamiliar with can be difficult. Utilizing technology to the finest, we came up with a handful of spots to pick from.

The first of the spots coughed up dink trout after dink trout. Throwing the kitchen sink at them and catching the same class of fish was not helping out this spot at all. I went a little deeper while throwing a suspending jerkbait only to catch...a dink flattie. Time to pack up and move along.

The sun was pretty high, the temperature was borderline punishing, and my confidence was slightly beginning to fade. But, a new spot always brings the "you never know" feeling. I used the tide and wind to drift over a grass flat point. Less than 5 casts in, my Tactical Anglers Crossover topwater lure was crushed. The immediate relentless headshakin' that ensued had me smiling because I knew what was on the other end.

20.5" speckled trout

Shortly after releasing the speck, my topwater was blown up again by a nice fish but didn't hook up. I parked the Predator 13 and waded the point. The reason behind wading was pretty simple; big trout will not bite when they know you're there. Stealth was now the name of the game and I was figuring out the game at this new spot.

21.5" speckled trout

Knowing this spot held good fish, I moved on to scout out other areas. I caught some more dink trout and lady fish which pretty much sold me on the spot that I just left. With the top end of the incoming tide, I took the opportunity to sight fish a couple of areas looking for redfish.

As fishy as this spot looked, I didn't see a single redfish. I felt my phone vibrate in my Bahia Predator PFD and it was Marty. Opening the message gave another boost of confidence since I saw Marty with a nice Florida bull red from the spot he was pre-fishing. With a sweat-drenched buff and a luke-warm water bottle, it was time to call it a day. Even though the day started early and was far from easy, I felt pretty good going into tournament day.

Photo Credit: Brandon Barton
At the Captains Meeting at Four Winds Grill, Marty and I met up with friends; Brandon Barton, Matthew Vann, Benton Parrot, and Ryan McNeil. The beer was cold and the food was phenomenal! I think the price of the entry fee was worth the dinner itself.
Tournament day rolled around and we hit the water with a little pep in our steps. First cast at the trout spot...twitch twitch twitch BOOM...DAMN! The fish was on for a couple of seconds of headshakes before he threw the lure. I could tell right away that it was a decent trout. That set the tone for what would be a Dink trout after dink trout were the theme. I went the entire morning up until our "drop dead" time at this spot with small trout and nothing to put on the board. Needless to say, I was shocked. Marty previously picked up a slot red and managed to catch a 17.5" trout about 30 yards from the launch on our way in. It wasn't a stud, but he was at least on the board going into our spot for bull reds.
Picking up where I left off, it was another tough grind. Time ticked away with only minutes left. I was bouncing the bottom with a Gulp tipped jig when my lure was pounded. My rod buckled over and drag started ripping. This was a BIG fish! Run after run, this fish got the best of me. I couldn't keep him away from the structure and my 50lb fluorocarbon leader popped. I can't say it was a bull red because I never saw it. What I can say is that I have caught enough bulls down here in Florida to know that if it was a bull red, it was a stud! Anyways, that was it, our time was up. The paddle back to the launch left me dumbfounded to say the least.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2nd event of the 2016 Emerald Coast Professional Redfish Series. Marty pulled off a 5th place finish which has him second going into the Angler of the Year running, only behind Brandon Barton. For more information on this new kayak fishing tournament series, check them out on Facebook or look them up on the web here; Emerald Coast Professional Redfish Series.

I'm crossing my fingers that I can make the September event and hopefully redeem myself. Hell, it can't be much worse than that one. In the mean time, there will be plenty of upcoming trips both inshore to offshore, going for trout to tarpon. What will be next is yet to be determined. Until next time...

~See ya on the water!
Rods: All Pro Rods, Shimano
Reels: Lews Inshore Widespool casting, Shimano Stradic FJ spinning
Line: 20-50lb Power Pro, 20-50 lb Fluorocarbon leader
Lures: Tactical Anglers Crossover, Mirrolure, Unfair Lures, Rapala Jerkbaits, and PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammers and Hammer Shads
Kayak: Old Town Predator 13
Paddle: Werner Paddles 240cm "Hooked" Cyprus
Apparel: Kokatat Paddling Pants, Kokatat Paddling Shirt
PFD: Kokatat Bahia Predator
Accessories: YakAttack 8' Park n' Pole, YakAttack Geartrac, YakAttack Zooka Tube rod holders, RAM mount bases, RAM X-Grip

For more information on the Gear Used, please click on the logos located on the right side of the page.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Knocking Off the Rust

" anybody there?"
Hiatus, Eternity, Neglected, Vanished, Forgotten...
All of those words come to mind when it comes to the "not so" recent activity of Hook, Line, and Sinker and rightfully so. It's been a hot minute since the latest post has hit the press. I mean, September, really! Well, just as a teenager caught red-handed...I can explain!
Rewinding the tape back to last fall, hunting season combined with school and a crashed computer does not equate to fish post success. I was putting hours upon hours in the Florida woods trying to fill the freezer, and with the size of the deer around here, that's no easy task! When your hard drive $#!t$ the bed during Aviation Calculus, you want to go postal! I know, excuses excuses.
Then, Uncle Sam calls and says that I'm tasked to go across the pond to help deliver Air Power to the "Daesh-Bags" of ISIS. Those that know me know that I love my God, my family, and my country. As crazy as it sounds, I was excited for the tasking! After the new year, I headed to the middle east where I spent the next 4.5 months.
I was able to sneak in an impromptu fishing trip the week before I left. Even though I had a laundry list of stuff to do, I needed those few hours to clear the mind and warm the soul.


32" redfish


Releasing the redfish was just what I needed before I laced up the desert-tan boots. Fast forward to the beginning of June. As I was packing my bags to come back to America, I couldn't believe how fast the time flew by. I missed my wife's birthday, sister-in-laws wedding, and numerous other events during that period of time. The biggest factor for somebody coming back mentally healthy after a deployment is support while they're away...and my wife, Amanda Kaye, was my "Rock" the entire time. I have said it many times before...I'm beyond blessed to have her as my partner in crime.

Coming home is always a wonderful thing! Dorthy was spot on..."there is no place like home!" The little things in life that we always take for granted are what I looked forward to the most. Sleeping in my own bed, kissing my wife in the morning to start the day, playing with the dogs, etc. I was thankful for the opportunity to come home to all those little things.
It didn't take long, the addiction flared up again and I needed my fix!

I immediately took the opportunity to get offshore when the weather was perfect. The only problem was the weather was "too" perfect. High skies and little to no wind coupled with high temperature made the fishing tough. The troll bite was non-existent pretty much the whole day minus one run that came un-buttoned. The snapper bite was tough as well. I did manage to get a bend in the rod and a smile across my face. Even though the day was tough, I was in heaven!
Lane Snapper

Red Snapper
Words can't describe how grateful I felt being able to get out on the water. It's like hours and hours of warm fuzzies. I'm not going to lie, it felt like an eternity since I paddled my kayak! Knocking off the rust and getting after it is just what I needed! Until next time...

~See ya on the water!
Rods: Shimano Rods
Reels: Truth SG, Shimano Stradic FJs, Shimano Thunnus Ci4
Line: 50 Power Pro, 50 lb Fluorocarbon leader
Lure: Fishfinder/Carolina rig, 6 oz egg sinker w/ a 3" fluorocarbon leader snelled to 7/0 circle hook tipped w/ a livebait or dead cigar minnow
Kayak: Old Town Predator 13
Paddle: Werner Paddles 240cm "Hooked" Cyprus
Apparel: Kokatat Destination Paddling Trunks, Kokatat Suncore shirt, Kokatat Gore-Tex Full Zip Jacket
PFD: Kokatat Bahia Predator
Accessories: YakAttack Geartrac, YakAttack Zooka Tube rod holders, RAM mount bases, RAM X-Grip

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Offshore Family Time

There are a few things in life that you cherish every second of.
 Those moments are different for everybody, but in the end, everybody experiences the moment when you wish time stood still.
It's no secret that I have a passion for the water an everything that goes with it. Sharing that passion with those that are close to you takes the experience to a whole new indescribable level. It's sort of a warm fuzzy with a slight bit of euphoria mixed in.
Over Labor Day weekend, my best friend and brother-in-law, Duke Herman, made a stop at Casa De-Bekolay in Navarre Florida for a some R&R, cold beer, and a little offshore kayak fishing. Duke has never kayak fished before so it was only right to start him off by going a few miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Along with Duke, my wife Amanda Kaye, has never been kayak fishing offshore. Time to make this a family outing.
We launched with little expectations other than hopefully hooking up with a fish while spending time together. The mahi bite has been on fire so we were hoping that our trolling rigs would entice a strike.
Amanda was the first, and only one, to hook up with a nice mahi on a cigar minnow tipped duster rig. The fish gave her one hell of a fight! It was tough to try and land the fish for her so I made the best attempt at gaffing it when I came close to the surface. I struck a little of the fish but not enough to stick. Before we could get the beautiful mahi on the gaff, it pulled the hook with another crazy run. That was it for that day.
Duke and I had a strategic plan for Saturday. Since this was the second season red snapper opener, we wanted to take advantage of it. The plan was to get a limit of snapper, then troll for pelagics.
We launched at day break and caught a lot of bait in no time. Stuffed bait tubes meant it was time to head to the snapper spot. Less than a 1/2 mile away from the reef a power boat motors in, drops anchor, and sets up to spear fish.
You got to be F&#%!@G kidding me!

It made no sense to try and fish that spot so we let out our trolling lines and paddled back towards the beach. The trolling bite was tough but I was able to get a nice mahi to give us a nice aerial display. It's always fun watching a mahi give you jump after jump!
As we were trolling, we noticed the spear fishing boat headed off the spot leaving the reef vacant. We kept trolling to no avail and decided to make way back to the reef. The draw of the red snapper was just too strong!
Just as scripted, my Humminbird 698 HD SI lit up like a Christmas tree when I got on the spot. Snapper and trigger fish were everywhere! We threw out chunk bait with weightless circle hooks and held on. Duke hooked up and immediately had his rod tipped yanked into the water by a strong red snapper!

We got our 2 man limit of red snapper (2 fish a piece) and headed back to the beach. The sun was blistering and we were wore out! With a mahi and 4 decent sized red snappers in the ole' Death Chamber, it was time for some hot wings and cold beer! 

Sadly, Duke had to leave but not after he got his first limit of kayak red snapper. Well done brother! Monday rolled around and Amanda and I decided to fish the last few hours of daylight when the winds were supposed to lay down.

We launched and headed to the end of the second bar. In no time, I hear, "I got one". I paddle over to see her fighting a nice spanish mackerel. Her first fish landed offshore!

She follows that fish up with a second spanish mackerel as we paddled to the snapper spot. Damn, my wife is out-fishing me. I'm down 0-2 at this point. Amanda had the hot hand which was fine by me! I was loving watching her fight and land these beautiful fish.

We got to the snapper spot with high hopes. The sun was slowly setting and the reef was covered in suspended red snapper and trigger fish. Both armed with chunk baited circle hooks, I carpet bombed the surface with handfuls of fresh chunk bait as we deployed our baits in the mix. Wouldn't you know it, Amanda's rod doubles over. I thought it was a good snapper only to be surprised by the biggest trigger fish that I have ever seen!

At this point, I'm as giddy as I could be! It was so cool watching Amanda fight this huge trigger! The fish gave her numerous runs that pinned the rod on the side of the kayak as the drag was getting ripped out.

With an activated feeding frenzy, we wasted no time in re-baiting and getting back after it! Another round of handfuls of chunks with our baits mixed in...

Drags were screaming and rods were bowed over! These red snapper gave us a blood pumping battle to be remembered!
The sun was setting and it was time to head in. The light was fading leaving a beautiful sunset to cap off an afternoon of fishing that I will never forget. Spending precious time with your loved ones while doing something that you love is beyond words. Seeing the look on Amanda's face said it all. Not only did we spend valuable time together, we had a great an amazing experience with the double on red snapper.
What a fitting way to end an amazing weekend. Duke and Amanda got their first fish out of a kayak offshore and we were able to spend time together filled with jokes and laughter. One thing is for certain...
I can't wait to spend more family time offshore!

 See ya on the water!