Tuesday, October 29, 2013


With water temps between 61 and 63 I knew I wanted to make my way to the island 3 miles offshore but had to wait for the winds to lay down. Last week didn't happen and we found some good trout instead but I love tog fishing. This week the winds died down and I made my way out to the island with live blue crabs ready to deploy. I was by myself so I jammed out with my earbuds in, it makes the long trip much more bearable when you don't have anyone to talk to.

 I hit the first spot at nearly 8, slack tide but only caught oystertoads, once I begin catching those I move on. I finally find a set of pilings with a tog on each set. The first tautog of the day goes 17. I forgot my camera mount at home so sorry about the photo angles. Remember if I wanted to keep em the limit is 16" min and 3 in possession.

And I kept catching them, one at each piling. Which is kind of odd, I am used to finding several at a spot then none at other spots. It just wasn't the case today.
13" Tog

17" Tog

My fourth fish today was tagged. I measured her at 16.75, and reported the catch to The Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program. I leave the tags in so the tagging program can continue to track these guys as they grow.  

15" Tog


I then caught a 11.5" Black Sea Bass that was tagged as well, so I had another one to report. 

 Little 10.5" Sheepshead, usually like em 14" bigger but he was a surprise with the cooling water temps.

Last tog at 13".
During the paddle I stumbled across a dead 5' Sturgeon. This is the first one I have seen in the wild here in Virginia so I was mildly surprised. I learned yesterday at the Virginia Aquarium that Virginia is actively trying to increase the population. I reported it to Virginia DGIF who asked for photos.

Overall it was great just to get back out to the bridge tunnel complex, I ended the day with 6 tautog, a limit if I kept them,  2 tagged fish and a small sheepshead. The cold water species are turning on so get out there when the wind lets you, its worth it!  
Gear used was a Shimano Trevala S paired with a Shimano Curado 300e spooled with 65lb power pro. I use a dropper loop with 40lb mono for the leader paired with a 4 oz sinker and a 4/0 Gamakatsu Octopus circle.    

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Recently on a local message board several members called out other members for being "elitist". Their reasoning was that several of the more accomplished fishermen in the club did not publicly share their "secret spots" on a public forum. The members also got upset that some of these guys had sponsorships that they "chased". Another member brought up the fact that since the beginning of time man had been hiding his secret fishing spots. I agree with this and would like to add that the fisherman who obtain sponsorship from companies don't get paid to fish. They still buy the products and, more times than not, just receive a discount. The individual is responsible for producing content (photos, articles, and videos to name some) in exchange for the sponsorship. These sponsored guys also go out 12 months a year, even when they don't want to, and fish hard, even taking sick days to chase fish. Its hard to explain how hard they push themselves. I have seen Kayak Kevin go weeks fishing certain points in a tide. Then rest for four hours just to go back out for two, and so on for weeks to get his trophy. As a matter of a fact, it took him weeks until he got the trophy stripers patterned and ended up catching more than anyone else that year. He was successful because of the amount of time and effort he put in, not because he feels he is better than anyone. Ill tell you right now there are a ton of fishermen in the area who can out-fish me, but the almighty equalizer is that I push myself until I reach my goal. If that is "elitist", then so be it.

Pictured above: Myself, Lee Williams, Rob Choi, Jim Sammons, and Kayak Kevin on the end.

I had been out of town with the Marines, saying my goodbyes to family but I kept seeing trophy trout posted by my friends, Richie (Hookline-sinker.net), Kevin (KayakKevin.com) and Billy (CoastalKayakFishing.blogspot.com) to name a few. Going back to "secret spots", I don't know where any of them caught their fish. I brought up the idea of heading for tog at the island, but it ended up being trout week. I waited and the winds picked up until it wasn't feasible to paddle the 3 miles for my quarry. I sent Kev a text and we decided to head out and scout for some fall specks. I immediately began hooking spike specks as did all the boaters around me. I moved on but Kevin stayed in the area. I found a boat sitting on anchor and he called out to me to come join in on the fun. I anchored and began catching a spike every other cast on the mirrO he told me was hot. I just so happened to have a blue back with green belly. After a while I thought Id go see how my partner was doing when I hooked into a solid red out of the blue. I measured him at 21". I then hooked up to a baby flounder on the same MirrO, I had my slam!

I pulled anchor, got his name and found Kevin who was having a good day himself. We continued to fish the flat and found some keepers but all were released. I got a bite and drag ripped off as I set the hook, a sign that it wasn't another dink. She immediately rolls on the top and I yell oh $h!t, its a big one. He asked how big and I yell maybe a citation. After trying to get her on the boga Kevin gets impatient and yells leg her in, get her in the boat! I did and boy was I happy to share the cockpit of my Wilderness Systems Ride 135 with her. She wasn't a citation but a trophy trout in my book, 23 1/4". We got some pics and I let her swim off for the next lucky angler.

What a great day, I hadn't been out in months and this was my welcome home present! If you want it bad enough get out there and make yourself elite, your the only one who can do it! Tight lines everyone!     

Sunday, September 8, 2013

NC Reds

I don't have a lot of time to write a full report but the skinny of it is, I got an invite from a NC kayak fishing legend Ryan Hunnicutt. He put me on a nice 38" Red that I caught on my trout set up, medium action rod, 3000 series reel and 12lb braid. The kicker is he didn't take me fishing, he took me to school catching 4 reds 44"-49". Not bad for just under 3 hours of fishing! I wish I had a chance to get back but I have a ticket to 30 days all expenses paid trip to the beautiful 29 palms for the next 30 days. . .


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor Day Stripes

I got the opportunity to get out with my buddies Lee and Joe (hookedup1.blogspot.com) the Friday before Labor Day. I knew I probably wouldn't make it out that weekend with the crazy boat traffic but Friday with light winds and current predicted we made the trip to the island for some striped fish fun. Sheep were about 40 feet down and chewing on fiddlers and mole crabs. Spades were along the pilings and you could find them by looking into the water. Once you find a school drop clam down and wait for tap and swing away. For the sheep I use a dropper loop and 40lb mono paired with a 2/0 Gamakatsu live bait hook. For the spades I use a 3/4 ounce egg sinker before a swivel. 20lb leader and a #2 live bait hook for the spades.

Boat traffic was actually fairly light for a Friday before a long weekend but it seemed like the entire fleet was coming in for the weekend. 

Joe was first to strike with a citation sheep. 

I got on the board next with a light bite citation sheep, 25.5". 

Reviving the 20 year old fish. 

Actual Release

The guys at Oceans East II baitshop asked for some spades so we delivered them. 

I turned around just in time to see a huge swell. I told Joe he might want to turn into this one and get away from the pilings. This could make your outing a bad day quick if you don't spot it in time. 

After we cleared the set, Joe looks at me and yells I couldn't see you when you dropped into the wave!

It was a great day spent with some cool guys. Water conditions were good but there was a slight red tide the first mile or so fro the beach. With the cooling temps this shouldn't become as bad as last year. Be careful out there and tight lines guys!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catching for Kids Club Challenge

You know, it really ticks me off when boaters see me on the water or at a launch and assume I know nothing about fishing because I am on a kayak. Just this weekend a guy tells me about "good fishing location for spot and croaker" with a tone that implied that's all a yak was good for. Little did he know I was fishing for those spot and croaker for my bait! I have even gone on my Wilderness Systems Profile page to say that my favorite past time is catching trophy fish in front of boaters from a piece of plastic and watch their reactions. This being said I have met some awesome boaters on the water and have often gotten great advice so they are not all bad.

As luck would have it I got an invite from Rob Choi (angling-addict.com) to fish the Catching for Kids Club Challenge because some folks had dropped out at the last minute. I gladly accepted knowing what I was getting myself into. You see, this isn't a kayak club challenge, its a fishing club challenge, meaning the other clubs were power boats gunning for pride to prove who the best  anglers were in the area. They pick out the best captains, or ringers to compete on behalf of their clubs name. The previous year Tide Water Kayak Anglers Association (TKAA.org) placed third, which was by all means a win in every ones book. This year just to match that they would have to beat out five power boat teams to place third again. The rules are four teams (4 boats if you are in a power boat) with five anglers (five yaks per team). First place fish gets 3 points, 2nd 2 pts and 3rd gets 1 pt. Highest total points wins the challenge but more important the bragging rights.

We went to the captains meeting Friday night and every club seemed confident. The winds were predicted to be heavy Sat morning and drop out by noon. Heavy winds don't affect the boaters near as much as yakers so there were no worries for them. Mark Lozier had set up the teams already, some targeting Specks and Reds like the team led by Richie Bekolay (HookLine-Sinker.net) some were headed out for flounder, others were headed to an area known for giant sheepshead, spades, and triggerfish.

The morning began at 0345 and I was up to meet the team. There we spoke about our plan to get on the best fish possible. Our team consisted of Rob Choi of Ocean Kayak, Joe Underwood of Hobie Kayaks (hookedup1.blogspot.com), William "Billy" Ragulsky of Hurricane Kayaks(coastalkayakfishing.blogspot.com) and Alex Britland. 

Joe Underwood, Rob Choi, Alex Britland, William "Billy" Ragulsky

We all headed ot with sheep on our minds but the current was pushing out at nearly max with a solid wind kicking up chop in the same direction. I had to move up to 5oz just to hold bottom for a while, I finally came to the realization that it just wasn't going to happen until the tide slacked at bit. I took cover with Billy  behind the lea of the island. He had already landed a solid trigger fish we thought may place. We fished and I began landing big spot which was another targeted species. I then hook into a fish who takes lin off my 15lb set up. I get it in and its a big trigger, measures 17 inches. We keep fishing for another hour and I land a smaller trigger to max us out at three.

First Place Trigger!

By this time Joe and Alex make it out to us and we decide the current and wind should allow us a couple hours to fish for sheep. I had already been out for sheep a couple time but hadn't been able to even get a  sheep bite. These guys are my absolute favorite specie with their digging, drag burning, piling scraping runs. I dropped and waited nothing. I moved and immediately had my bait crushed. not as in a hit but the crab was crushed and still on the hook. I looked at Joe and said that's a sheep bite. I drop down and feel the familiar grinding of a sheep bite, I set the hook and feel pressure for about a second and its gone. %$#@ !!!! I settle down and say maybe he didn't know what it was. I rebait staying on the same piling. I drop to the bottom and raise it up two cranks, this time I don't feel the griding but a slow steady pressure, so I swing hard and the fish dives for cover with my 2/0 Gamakatsu buried in his mouth. I kick away from the piling and begin to feel the fish of this 25 year old fish, he has some pent up aggression. I get him in and measure him out at 25". Rob comes up and I get him to take some photos. 

Photo By: Rob Choi

We look over our shoulders only to see Billy on the piling I just left bowed up. He lands his fish, and we are all delighted that we are on the board this early. I decide that since I just caught a fish that I would take the photos of Billy and his sheep while the others fish and before I could finish I look over to see Rob legging in a sheepshead! No way we all three of us caught three citation sheeps in under 20 min, rob measures his at 26"!

Photo By: Joe Underwood

We let the other fishermen fish for sheep but since we are maxed on those already we start on spades. These fish were not having it. I caught one at 8". I knew two 9" placed last year but I wanted more. Joe and Rob turn to flounder and they begin catching them, easily. At this point I cant believe how good the fishing has been. I begin moving to my spade hole Kevin (KayakKevin.com) showed me in the past. There was a boat and a kayak on the pilling I wanted and they were on the school of spade fish. The boat limits out and I ask the fellow fisherman if we could come over. He agrees and I tell Billy to come and call Rob on the radio. We all begin hooking up left in right.

We even start giving each other hard times for missing a hookset. I look at billy and say you gotta visualize the hook set billy, its like sports you gotta see the bite, then I nail a small spade and release him. I come back full of bravado exclaiming you gotta VISUALIZE yourself catching these fish, I get another bite and I rear back with my Shimano Chronarch with 15 lb braid on a medium rod used for bass and spades only to have it double over and have drag scream towards the bottom. Rob exclaims "did you see that bite, I don't think that's a spade", I kick franticly away from the pilings  and have to slow play this fish because I only had 20lb leader. I knew if it was a sheep his gnarly teeth would easily break our connection. I get color and can tell its a big sheep what Kevin has coined a spadefish surprise, he has had this happen a ton of times. Every one is whooping and hollering for me to leader it in but there is no way the leader would handle 10 plus lbs after being chewed on by a sheepshead. I lead the fish to Rob who cradles him in. He looks at me and says the line is real thin. He measured 23" and was tagged by Rob and released. Luck was finally on my side!

Photo By: Rob Choi

 I call it a day and paddle in. I couldn't believe how we had caught everything we tried for. Before I could get packed Billy got a call, Joe landed a big sheepshead, his first ever! He brought it in and it was easily the days biggest! 

Oh back to the tourney, out of 8 clubs total we scored 31 points, the second place finisher had 19... Yes the best boat team had 19 to our 31! We scored 6 number ones, a several category sweeps, 4 citation and a tournament record 32 points for team TKAA. Our CBBT team brought in a sweep of first through third sheepshead (a boat brough in a 10 plus pounder but the sheep we culled was still bigger then that one), first place trigger, first and second spadefish, and first and third spot, 18 points. On top of that I won a raffle of buck tails and rigs.

Photo By: Joe Underwood

The next day Rob and I went fishing but Ill let him tell that story, it was a good day.

Photo By: Rob Choi

Photo by: Rob Choi

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Slump Busting

I got an invite from a local kayak guide, Tim Taramelli (NCPierMan) to head out looking for top water reds. I needed to break my recent luck and I knew he was a guy that could help. We launched at just after day break and began looking for top water reds. This is all pretty common, fishing low light conditions with top water and covering ground. It got interesting when we didn't stop despite several short strikes. The sun rose high in the sky and we still went with topwater, crazy I thought. Tim looked past my negativity ensuring me we would find em and he was excited to see me catch one, despite our luck to the contrary. At one cove he waved me over and showed me a school, he hooked two and had a ton of missed blow ups, I tried to not crowd him but he insisted. Before I could get close enough the bite died.

We kept looking and I was thinking my luck had followed me from Charleston. Tim hooked up on two more reds, one being a hoss at 25". He offered the lure he was throwing but I insisted I would find some fish on my lure.

I finally got in on the action with three reds of my own, the first was a double with Tim besting me with a 24" to my 19.5" Red.

We kept at it until I got a fish that stretched to 26" with a pinched tail!

Tim put me on some nice fish and we had a great time in between bites. If you are ever in the Jacksonville, NC area I'd give Tim a call. He and Wilderness Systems Team member Michael Ortiz can be booked at:   www.airborne-angler-adventures.com

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tourney Troubles

I will admit to you right now, I am depressed and a bit embarrassed but let me introduce the situation first. I recently fished the IFA Redfish Kayak Tourney in Charleston. I was pretty excited about the opportunity to fish against some of the region’s best tournament kayak anglers. I specifically specify tournament anglers because these guys consistently place or win tourneys. I went down to Chucktown on the weekend prior. I found a school of reds, although easily spooked and tight lipped but plenty of trout. Trout up to 18” were pretty easy to come by. During the week the area received a tropical storm, several inches of rain and sustained winds over 40 mph.

The next Sat, the day before the tourney, I landed a nice 19” Speck, so I was pretty confident when it came to trout. I knew reds would be tough but decided to fish the area because I knew it and could easily get a scoreable trout larger than 14” then concentrate on reds. The day came and I was up at 0400, ready to launch by 0510. I had a baby gator watching me prepare for the day. It was just me and him in the early morning light.

Can you see my buddy in this pic? He kept a close eye on me for 30 min.
On the way out I had to stop and snap a shot, sometimes no matter the fishing I can appreciate how beautiful mother nature can be.
 I went straight to the trout spot three miles away and began casting, nothing. I changed from a popping cork to a paddle tail, nothing. I knew they would be there and caught them on the incoming but they weren’t on the feed. I waited for the tide change burning precious hours. In the meantime I realized the trail mix I picked up had banana chips in it (google bad luck fishing bannanas if you don't know why its bad. I have never caught a fish after eating a banana or having one on board), I pour my breakfast into the water hoping my luck will change. The tide slacked and I began getting bit. I caught 5 trout before 1000, but the largest was  under 13”. The current started to rip and time didn’t stop. I looked at the clock, addressed my attitude, thought about my 5 hour trip back home and called it a day.


I am embarrassed because for the foreseeable future if you look up the results you’ll see:

Jay Brooks           Red: 0”                 Trout: 0”              Total: 0”


I am better than that, I know it. Did this knock me down a notch, yeah for sure. Am I having a pitty party, probably. Will I become a better angler or tourney fisherman, we will see! Do I have excuses, of course I am a fisherman but in the words of my buddy Justin Mayer, that's loser talk. I either caught what I needed to or I didn't, its that simple.