Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5th Annual YakAttack Tournament

The 5th Annual YakAttack Kayak Fishing Tournament could not have come at a better time. Coming up short with the ongoing mission of connecting with the huge bull reds of the Eastern Shore has left me in, well...a slump. Consistently coming home with the score of "Richie 0 - Bull Reds 6" has been playing with my head like something fierce! I found myself daydreaming of ways I could have put myself in a better position to nail a bull. "Should I took a right instead of a left, anchored in the shoals during the opposite tide, or even picked a different day", were all questions I was asking myself. Either way you looked at it, it was time to clear the mind and get back on the right track!

CAMP SCHWIGY was all set up and ready to go on Thursday night which enabled a full day of pre-fishing on Friday. Briery Creek Lake was the body of water that many kayak anglers along with myself chose to fish for the tournament. Just like any other tournament, homework was done well in advance in order to give myself the best chance possible in unfamiliar water.

Pre-fish day came and went with a lot of newly gained knowledge. The game plan this year...SLAM and slam hard! Tournament goal; get a decent sized bass early and concentrate on picking up good sized bluegills and crappies. I felt like that was fairly achievable since I grew up targeting these species. I was able to find good bluegills on pre fish day along with some nice bass, but didn't find any crappies. Either way, it was nice being on the water with friends and being able to set the hook into some sweet water creatures.

Captains Meeting

The 5am alarm was not a welcomed sound on tournament day. Let me put it this way, a few of us decided to stay up a little late to enjoy the socializing. During the "social hours", Joe Underwood insisted that Rob Choi and I tagged along with him to a location of the lake that he fished the day prior. With the new intel loaded with juicy details, it was a no brainer that I was going to at least start out the day as one of the 3 Amigos.

The action started out pretty fast as it was apparent that the Briery Creek bass were hungry for top water. In fact, almost all of the bigger bass of the day were caught on top water. It didn't take long before a chunky 18" smashed my super spook.

With a quality bass on the board, my plan shifted to working on picking up a decent crappie and bluegill. I was not shy about burning my dinky sized lures next to timber knowing that these feisty panfish were fairly aggressive the day before. In short order, a 13 3/4" crappie and a 9" bluegill got their picture's taken by Captain Schwigy. Slam complete, now it's time to upgrade!

Moving to another spot that Joe had locked in proved to be the right move. Watching schools of shad coming out of the water raised our heart rates because you knew at any given second we were going to connect with some decent fish. The morning's momentum kept on pace as a big ole' mouth chomped down on my big super spook. It was quite apparent as the fish jumped out of the water that this was an obvious upgrade. The 20" was just what I wanted as it added some breathing room to slam total.

The rest of the day was rainy with off and on fishing. We continued to get fish, but nothing of any size. My overall slam total was complete in the first hour and a half on the water. At the weight in, rumors of tough fishing with smaller fish was the normal conversation. This left me feeling that my total could be a contender. Luther Cifers started out the weigh in with the first place "Slam" winner. It was a great feeling when he announced the winning length of 42 3/4". I was more than happy with the overall win, but also taking 1st for big crappie was the icing on the cake!

1st Place "Slam" Division

2013 YakAttack Tournament custom BlackPak...AWESOME!

Ocean Kayak pro staff: Rob Choi (top left), John "Toast" Oast (top right), myself (bottom)

Spending time in God's creation with awesome people sharing a common interest was by far the hit of the weekend. The Captain's meeting, dinners, socializing, camp fire, "the one that got away" stories, etc were the highlights of the tournament. I don't want to list names because I don't want to leave anybody out. Basically, everybody had fun with everybody! It was truly enjoyable sharing the same water and camp sites with true outdoors conservationists and ambassadors of our sport. I will give a giant "Thank You" to Luther Cifers and family along with Jim and Tina Shank for all the hard work in making the tournament one that will be talked about for many days to come. Your efforts did not go unnoticed! Next year's YakAttack tournament cannot get here soon enough...

~See ya on the water!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hoping and Dreaming

Virginia's Eastern Shore is truly something special. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the mid-Atlantic, it's the spring time location for an opportunity to tangle with huge red drum...The chance for a fish of a lifetime!

The weather over the last couple of weeks provided high winds and rain with little chance to catch a nice day. Planning a trip a few days in advance was like pulling the handle of a slot machine. Numerous days of 15-20 knot winds had the water stirred up so bad at times that it was hard to see your paddle blade in the water.
Even with the hit and miss weather, I was still able to get out a handful of times. In the last two weeks I teamed up with Joe Underwood, Rob Choi, Kayak Kevin, Lee Williams, Rob Alderman, and others from Maryland. Many miles over many hours were put in for the pursuit of bull reds.
From left to right: Kayak Kevin, Lee Williams, & Rob Alderman

Taking a break at Smith Island

A little self reflecting...

I named him Randy.

Fishing the Eastern Shore can be very humbling to put it nicely. It can test your patience, nerves, and ability to keep on pushing. One thing is for certain though, it can happen really fast when you get on em! Joe Underwood and Kayak Kevin have had the hot hand as of late. Both have had days of landing big fish! It's great watching your buddy land a monster 30 feet away from you, but it is a huge punch in the gut when you don't hook up that day. Check out Joe Underwoods site (link) and Kayak Kevin's site (link) for their killer reports.
Joe Underwood with a 50 1/4" citation bull red

My search for the big reds still continue on. The Eastern Shore is one of those places that can be very tough and challenging. These fish don't come easy which they shouldn't. You have to put in A LOT of time and effort in sometimes harsh conditions. Either way, I will be back out there again soon racking up the miles and hours in search of one of my favorite fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Just like I always say, "You can't catch em' on the couch"!

~See ya on the water!