As the usual conversation between Rob Choi and I is about fishing, it always seems to end with planning our next time on the water. Although I was not focused on fishing this time while chatting with Rob, but thinking about sitting in a tree stand to arrow my next deer. It's driving me crazy to watch my good friend Joe Underwood arrow deer after deer, nice buck after nice buck. I already have one deer in the freezer, but Joe is managing the heard in the entire county alone. It only took one little sentence from Rob to change my mindset..."I'm thinking about going after a paper trout, you wanna go?"
It didn't take long to run home on my lunch break to load up all of my gear to get ready for the impromptu trip. These are the type of outings that I love. No planning, just spur of the moment decisions. We weren't just going to hopefully catch some fish. We both had our mind on the same thing. We were on a mission to nail our citation trout for 2012!
The scenery at the launch was out of a Field & Stream magazine; Fading light, leaves blowing off the trees, a slight ripple on the surface of the bay, and the feeling of good things to come. We had a couple of admirers staring at our Ocean Kayaks, both heavily rigged with dual GoPro cameras, YakAttack accessories, and Werner Camano paddles. We looked like a two man team with a purpose! After a short conversation, it was off to conquer what we set out to do. It took 5 minutes of chucking my Skitter Walk to entice an aggressive 21" speckled trout. A couple of minutes later I picked up a nice 22".
|22" Speckled Trout|
|Rob Choi with a beautiful 24" Citation Speckled Trout|
At this point in time, I was both very happy for Rob but extremely jealous as well! I mean, I have spent well over 100 hours this year going after a citation trout. I have came close many of times with fish coming off or falling less than an inch short. I've even had other fishermen catch them right next to me. For some reason, I can't seem to shake this "monkey" off my back. I just had to tell myself that the night was still young and to remain positive.
I decided to change tactics up and try something new. I ditched the top water and opted to troll a couple of shallow running crank baits. I used a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow and a Rapala X-Rap to invade the strike zone. I wanted my lures to provide a good thumb and swim around 3-4 feet down which was the depth I was marking baitfish. Slow trolling at night is a great way to cover water and to locate fish. I started to find a pattern right away which would prove to work out the rest of the night. Making pass after pass on a certain drop off was triggering strike after strike. After landing a couple around 20" and under, I thought my chances may be running out for the citation. Finally, BANG, big fish on!! I knew from the minute I took the rod from the holder that it was a good fish. Strong head shakes, followed up by drag burning runs. This was the moment that my heart started to beat faster and my mind went into autopilot. I have rehearsed this scenario in my head many times regarding what I would do in this situation. It all came together as the fish entered the net. Finally, a BIG trout!!! I knew the minute that I landed it, CITATION!! This big girl measured in at 25.5". I can finally say that I caught a citation trout!
|25.5" Virginia Citation Speckled Trout|
|Sitting on Cloub 9|
It all finally came together! The hard work, preparation, planning, determination, and remaining positive has paid off. I was saying to myself, "If I would have not gone with Rob and decided to go hunting instead, this would have never happened." How could this night get any better? I just caught my biggest speckled trout to date. We still had around an hour left before it was time to call it a night. What to do, go in or stay out? Obviously you keep on fishing!!
I picked up where I left off, catching fish! A few more between 18" and 20" were boated on the crank baits. Just as planned, I passed over a school of baitfish on my fish finder and slowed up the paddle speed to keep my lures in the strike zone longer...BOOM! Another big fish on! This fish felt identical to the citation that I just had caught. Not an hour after my first citation trout of the year, I land my 2nd!
|25" Speckled Trout. Citation #2|
Being at an all time high, I didn't want to stop. I didn't want this night to end! We fished for a little bit longer and each person picked up a few more trout but the bite had slowed down. We both lost count at 15 trout a piece for the night, all between 17" to 25.5". As time ticked away, I reflected on the night that we just experienced: Rob made the decision, threw out the invite, and was rewarded with his citation. I didn't give up, remained positive, and caught not one but two citations! This is a night that I won't ever forget! We succeeded in what we came out to do. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
~See ya on the water!