Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Can't Get Enough

"When you experience the feeling that you knew so well, yet you have been so longing can't get enough of it!"

It didn't take long to fill the "on the water" void since all of the craziness of traveling has pretty much passed. The awesome thing is that my kick-ass wife, Amanda Kaye, joins me in our Old Town kayaks whenever our schedules and Mother Nature allow. It now feels weird when she doesn't accompany me. I love having a dedicated fishing partner and it's even more amazing when your fishing partner is your best friend and wife!

Some like fishing solo and some like having a small Navy go out in force. There are days when I like going alone and then there are days when I love some company. Needless to say I will always go fishing when I can, whether I'm solo or not.

With having a month-long red snapper season, you have to get after it while you can. It's got to the point that I drag my kayak to work and pray that the wind lays down in the afternoons so I can sneak in a quick offshore session after work. Recently I brought everything to work and 4 times in a row I never fished since the forecast would go straight to hell and keep me from launching. On one promising afternoon, I finally got a 3 hour window and took full advantage.

The conditions were right and everything was working out. I caught plenty of cigar minnows, sardines, and hardtails to cover my livebait. I also had pre-cut frozen bobo meat to rain down on the reef. Not long after catching bait, I saw bonitos crushing baitfish. Obviously I wanted to catch a couple for fun and for added snapper snacks. 

It took no time to get bobos in the fish bag. I could have kept catching them, but my daylight window was closing and I needed to get to the reef. I decided to troll a frozen cigar minnow and within 15 minutes had a screaming reel. I was pretty stoked to see that it was a good spanish mackerel.

Damn salty lens cover
As time ticks by, I finally get to the reef with a little less than 1 hour of snapper fishing time left before I needed to head back to the beach. The reef was loaded with fish high in the water column. The annoying part was it was a lot of trigger fish. It was a chore to get baits passed these things!

I could see red snapper below the dozen-plus trigger fish so I cut up frozen cigar minnows and tossed some handfuls over the side. The raining fish chunks got the snapper fired up! I caught a smaller, yet keeper sized snapper and he immediately went into the "Fish Tomb". I saw 3 good sized snapper among all the fish and had my sights on them since I only needed one more to get my limit. I previously threw out the appetizer, now it was time for the main course...fresh cut bonito! I cut some up, threw it out, and watched my Humminbird Helix light up.

The passing seconds felt like an eternity as I was watching good sized snapper pick off the falling bonito chunks. As my bobo tipped circle hook fell out of sight, my line started ripping on!

Landing a good sized snapper to finish off the limit (and the evening) was the icing on the cake. It always feels good when an impromptu plan comes together like how you drew it up in your head.

 After my last-minute evening trip, I went out the first morning that I had to opportunity. This day was not nearly as action packed as the previous trip. The weather was HOT and the bite was NOT! I caught my limit of snapper and that was it. Nothing on the troll which was weird. 

Going back to having my wife as my main fishing partner, it was time to upgrade her kayak and get her the latest boat in the PDL driven family...the Old Town Topwater 120 PDL. I already took it out in the surf and this boat handled great without any issues. I'll have a write up about the new machine once we put it to the test during a full day on the water, 

As the Florida red snapper season nears it's latest stages, the urge to get on the water when the opportunity arises is only getting stronger. Having a couple of extra days off for the upcoming FREEDOM DAY (4th of July) and a friendly looking forecast, we might just have to set the alarms and load the gear to get back after it. Have a Happy 4th of July and enjoy your FREEDOM hotdogs washed down with some FREEDOM beers! Remember...freedom isn't free! God Bless America!

Until next time...See ya on the Water!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Father's Day Red Snapper

"Blowing the dust off...back from the dead...knocking the rust off...getting back on the horse...whatever you want to call it, the long periods of absence from boarding the cockpit of my Old Town Predators are over, Thank God!"

The last 26 months have been a whirlwind of craziness, insanity, and madness mixed with a little bit of uncertainty. Out of those 26 months, I have been home for 5 of them...5! Between numerous temporary duty trips and a year long deployment, kayak fishing and writing about it was an afterthought. 

Fast forward until now, my family and I weathered the storm and we finally have started to feel a little bit of normalcy again. Along with that, the drive and desire to get back to the "old kayak fishing me" has been non-stop, and I love it!

My wife, Amanda Kaye, and I recently scouted out a couple of new bottom spots with the month long Florida red snapper season on the horizon. A couple of the spots were duds but the last one was loaded with fish! Triggers and red snapper were swimming everywhere. It didn't take long to get some good pullage!

Once red snapper opened and the both of us had a shot to get out when the weather cooperated, we didn't hesitate to get after it. Fathers Day was our first time out during the season and I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend the day. We hit a new spot out of the gate and caught a couple small snapper and triggers. It didn't take long to make the call to head back to the spot that produced on the last trip. 

Photo Credit: Amanda Bekolay

Photo Credit: Amanda Bekolay

I got on the reef and marked our little friends all up and down the water column. I had some cut up bonito and old cigar minnows so I made it rain! Just as the dinner bell rang, we had fish everywhere. Triggers were everywhere but a few big snapper pushed them out of the way. Amanda Kaye hooked up to a STUD...and she got owned! This fish wanted to get away more than OJ driving a white Bronco!

We decided to keep the first 4 legal snapper since it was our first trip out of the year and our time is limited. Amanda had the hot hand of the day as she was hooking into fish left and right! Numerous triggers and red snapper graced us with their presence.

With a 2 man limit of red snapper and day full of laughs and smiles, we headed back to the beach. On the way back in, I couldn't help to think that I have been gone away for 20 months since May 2017. A person doesn't realize how much "life" occurs until you're gone. Sharing your passion with your partner in crime in indescribable. We could only think of one way to reminisce of our first day of red snapper season...Fish Whistle IPAs at the Pier Bar!

Until next time...See ya on the water!