Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor Day Stripes

I got the opportunity to get out with my buddies Lee and Joe ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 (, William "Billy" Ragulsky of Hurricane Kayaks( 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 ( 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