Thursday, March 15, 2012

Return Trip From Cloud 9

So it's been a few weeks since my last post, but not that long in between outings on the water.  I would love to be able to sit here and write fish tale after fish tale about the biggest crappie in the lake, or a striper the made my heart skip a beat, but that's not the case this time.  Yes it's official....I'm back from Cloud 9!
I actually contemplated on what I was going to write here since I knew this post would not be filled with obese bass, or gator sized specs.  After thinking about it, I said to myself, "You're a fisherman and EVERY fisherman has had to experience a "come down" at some point in time!"  So here it goes:

Not long after my great day bass fishing I found myself one the water with PhillyJoe and Doogie chasing some crappies.  As my Mom knows, crappies are one of my favorite fish. That's another story for the future. Ok, back to the report. With cool air temperatures and overcast skies from a low pressure system, I thought we were going to pull them in one after another.  I mean, the last time the air temp dropped in the upper 30's low 40's Doogie put a hurting on some slabs.  So needless to say, Schwigy was feeling pretty good about this outing.  Plus not to mention this was the first snowfall that stuck on anything this winter. The fishing that night was nothing to brag about, but we didn't get skunked either.  The fish were VERY finicky!  If the bait was not 6 inches from the bottom, you were not getting hit.  The bite was so subtle that half the time you didn't even know you had one on.  Actually some of my better fish that night came off my jig resting on the bottom while I was dinking around in the boat.  We were fishing in 20 feet of water so a fishfinder today was just as important as bringing bait. I felt like I was back in my ice fishing days in Wisconsin with the size of jigs I was using for these cold water crappie. I had on 1/32oz jigs (smallest I could find) on 4lb test, tipped with a 1" Gulp Alive minnow in black shiner and chartreuse shad colors.  The chartreuse shad produced almost all the fish. The biggest one went a little over 13". I ended up catching around 12-15 crappies that night. A few did come home with me for the freezer. It just wouldn't be right for this Wisconsin boy not to have a crappie fish fry for the family.

After my crappie outing, haha get it..crappie outing...Anyways, I get the HRBT bug again.  It has been a couple of months since striper season closed and I figured that some schoolies were just dying to play "Catch, Photo, Release".  I call my buddy Dave and we plan on hitting the light line after work to go jostle around some rockfish.  I call PhillyJoe at the last minute and what do you know, he's in as well.  This guy fishes as hard as me, if not harder which is rare!  We fish a strong incoming tide with W/SW winds which actually helped fight the current.  Fishing was tough that night.  I saw a handful of fish in the light line and they had a severe case of lockjaw.  The one fish that I managed to bite my 4" grub got off the second I set the hook, BLEEP!! I knew that this was going to be one of those nights that I hate!  Just as I am simmering down I hear PhillyJoe over VHF say, "Fish on!". At least somebody knows what they're doing cause it sure as hell was not me that night.  More time goes by and more stripers with lockjaw are staged in the light line.  I couldn't get them to hit to save my life.  I wish I was armed with an RPG launcher and a hand grenade because I was at war with these fish.  Just as I am not screaming at the fish, "another fish on" comes over the VHF. Now instead of screaming at the striper I direct it to Joe.  "Philly Sucks!!!" That was the story of the night. Joe ended up with 5 well deserved fish.  What's that smell??? I have not smelled it in a while, oh yeah....ITS A FLIPPING SKUNK!  There I go, mad about it again. 

Less than a week later the weather is beautiful and the forecast for this evening is warm with SW winds around 5 knots all night long.  Oh yeah, it's time for revenge on the evil stripers!! JIHAD with Rockfish!  I call up PhillyJoe once again to wage war with these fish.  As usual, he says, "Let's do it!"  As I come out of the tunnel on I-64 East I am greeted with flat-water, low wind, and warm temp. We paddle out and just take in the blessing that God has given us. Not just the chance to kayak fish with friends, but this beautiful weather at this time of year.  As quickly as the night began, it ended.  The fish were non-existent!! Nothing in the light line, nothing feeding on the bottom, nothing.  We even tried fishing out of the light line and still got a big giant nothing!  We maybe saw 10 seagulls the whole night.  Joe even said that it felt really weird out there.  I guess the fish were at resort drinking mojitos instead of waiting for my jig in the light line.  Wait I know that smell from last week, SKUNK #2! 

Another week goes by and I was planning on not doing any fishing because my buddy Dave was retiring from the United States Air Force on Saturday, March 10th.  Guess who messages me on the Friday night before and says they wanted to change it up and try for some specs at the Elizabeth River?  Yup, that's right..PhillyJoe!  I wish he didn't like to fish like I do because I wouldn't be tempted to drop everything and go fishing.  So what do I do...I drop everything and go fishing!  Here is the kicker though, we didn't hit the road until 11pm.  We hit the water around midnight and was accompanied with 37 degree air temp, fog, slight wind, and nobody else in sight.  It took us a long time to mark any bait fish, let alone trout!  Joe picks up the first one not far from the Hot Ditch.  Congrats to Joe on his first fish on a Mirrolure! It was a only a 14" spec, but still a spec.  I started to mark a lot of bait fish mixed with bigger fish near the bridge and decided to throw everything I had at them.  I had a feeling there were specs in there and I just had to figure them out.  I threw everything I had and finally, THUMP!  I finally reel in a 19.5" spec! 

A few casts later, another 16".  Just as I thought the fishing was getting good, the bait moved out and I couldn't track it back down.  The specs must have started feeding and drove the bait schools out of dodge.  We ended the night with a few specs which is better than that freaking skunk that I spoke about earlier.  To cap my night off, I didn't get home until 6am and needed to be at Dave's retirement ceremony at 2pm.  Long story short, it was a good time fishing with PhillyJoe topped off by a wonderful retirement to my boss but more importantly a great kayak fishing partner and friend.  Congratulations MSgt David Cook on 20 years of proud service to your nation!  Hats off to you my friend!

That basically sums up 3 weeks and a few trips.  Not every trip will yield Bassmaster Classic style catches.  Not every trip will end with 30 stripers in the boat.  But every trip will end with another day on the water, more knowledge gained, and a reminder that trips back from Cloud 9  are some of the reasons why we pursue the sport that we so love!  Tight lines my friends!

See ya on the water!


  1. Great post Richie! Thanks for asking me to join you on some of those trips. Good times!


  2. Nice post my son. You have a real (get it) knack for writing. Nice fish. Wish I was in a canoe with you on the lake catching crappies. Those are very fond memories. Now get some sleep. Love ya, Mom

  3. Nice crappie! Good work. Keep it up!

  4. Excellent read. Thoroughly enjoyed that. And we all know about them skunks. I just had one the other day too. Man, I hate em.

    It looks like you and Joe have the same style Justin and I do. LOVE IT!
    So I know I don't have to tell you to keep it up, cuz I know you will :)

  5. Thanks guys! Joe, we need to get out again soon! Mom, I need to get you down here so we can slay more crappies. Justin, we need to meet up one of these times. Rob, sleeping for a couple of hours to fish really sucks but you forget about it when you set the hook into something solid! The fishing addiction never sleeps!