Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Extreme Kayak Fishing Tourney 8/16

My buddy Jack Daughtry met up with me in Afghanistan one evening for dinner, we knew each other but hadn't ever met. On that night in the chow hall he brought up the idea that some guys from up north could go down to Florida and beat their best kayak anglers in their own back yard. I was hesitant because they would have the advantage by far, but never the less he convinced me. I had a trip planned in Tampa on Wednesday, so I wouldn't be able to fish until Friday, but Jack, Matt James, Jeff Depfer and Mike Rosa had showed up early in the week to prefish and formulate a plan.

Captain Meeting
Photo Credit: EKF

I met up with them Thursday night for a back-brief of the weeks events and it sounded like they had really begun to understand the kingfish that day, with Jack catching two. We met up on the beach Friday morning at 0430, launched and Matt was the first to strike with a King. Things slowed and I couldn't believe I was fishing the same water with my $900 boat as the guys with the $180k boats with the newest electronics and all the bells and whistles. I eventually got a run and quickly gaffed my first-ever king out of the yak. Victory -- a targeted specie and a good sized one! Mike took some photos, and we all got back to fishing.


Jack, Matt and Mike all got runs fishing live drifted baits, some on downriggers some on flat lines. I got another run and this fish is pulling me around...I know it's a good one. I get it to the boat and it's a monster, sink the gaff into it and am thrilled -- Personal Best King and only my second out of the yak. Jack takes some photos and adds some filters, he got some good shots.



I watch a school of False Albies chase a school of bait and slowly position myself for a drift past them, instantly hooking up with a solid Albie, another first out of the yak.

The Release Reel SG going to work on the False Albie

We head in shortly after feeling confident that if any one of us caught that same stringer we would win.

 My Adventure Technology Exodus Super Light paddle in action all day long.  

On tourney day we were among the first to show up at 0430. I turned up the music and jammed out as I loaded my kayak down. Some people like the solitude of the preparation, but I like to get amped, talk to people and have a good time. We got everything on the beach a solid hour beforehand...Jack went and threw up claiming food poisoning, but I think it was like a football player before a big game. I knew we would get shots, but with 120 anglers launching from the same beach at the same time I knew you had to make them count. We all launched a little after 0630...

Photo Credit: Extreme Kayak Fishing
I am the paddler in the front.

My livewell went dead on the paddle out and my bait died, so I hooked one and gave out the two remaining livies. My luck was changing, but we went out to our spot only us 5 and one other yaker. The other guy hooks up to a sail within 150 meters from me. I watch, not even mad, just to enjoy the show. It was amazing and I cheered on the other angler.

I get a run and it's screaming but short lived as it comes unbuttoned. I see Matt, Jack and Mike all hook up to studs and boat theirs. I get no more runs for the rest of the day. I see Jack catch another and it's a STUD. We all know he has a shot, and he doesn't wait for the boat to come get his fish, he takes it in at that moment. The day gets really slow and I turn off my radio hearing others make catches of Wahoo, Sails and a Cobia. We call it a day with the temps rising and the lure of free beer on the beach. We get in and the everyone is bragging about inflated weights and it doesn't seem Jack will even place with two studs. We load our gear, not triumphant but knowing we had our shots.


"Maryland Boys" waiting on the results

We wait for the results and as we all do calculations we all start looking at each other...could we have done it? Yeah, I said we because it felt like a team effort and as long as one of us placed it was a victory for all of us "Maryland boys" as they began calling us. It was finally announced Jack took first by 2 lbs. He had done exactly what he set out to do in Afghanistan, won the whole damn thing. Congrats Jack!
Photo Credit: EKF

The next day I debated on going back out but decided to take it easy, so we visited Bass Pro Shops, ate at Islamorada Seafood Company and visited the IGFA Headquarters.

Overall I had an amazing time with some great friends. put on a fantastic tournament despite my bad luck tourney day. Congrats again to Jack and the "Maryland Boys"!

Here is a video Matt put together of the prefishing.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Fishing with Jason Stock

This week I was lucky enough to receive an opportunity I couldn't pass up...a chance to fish with my buddy, Captain Jason Stock of  ( ). I decided to make the long drive down because I had a kayak tourney in Pompano later in the week. I drove to Greenville SC first to the Confluence Outdoors headquarters, home of Wilderness Systems Kayaks and Adventure Technology Paddles.

I was invited to take a tour with the marketing director, Evan, as he showed me around the office to meet the fantastic team who supports our pro staff and goes above and beyond to ensure we are taken care of. It's always great to meet people who you have "known" for years and shake their hands to say thank you. I was able to take a tour, but wasn't allowed to photograph the entire manufacturing process due to confidentiality, but it was amazing nonetheless. I was shown the very secret room where they develop prototypes, move on to the molding and finishing stages, and finally end up with the finished product. It really is an impressive operation.
Confluence Marketing and Communications Manager Evan and I.

I then made my way down to Bradenton Fl to fish with Jason. I arrived and met him at the dock with the boat ready to go to work. Everything was in place, and no sooner had I put my things away, we were on our way. Jason stopped and caught bait, where he turns to me and said "I know you don't want redfish, but they should be popping." We made a couple drifts off a point and caught a small jack. Then we focused on gathering more bait for later in the day and for the reds. Once we had enough crabs, we head back to the point and he smiles and says there's the meat -- aka oversized redfish. We make some casts and the reds look but don't eat. Jason said it was the tide, as they are waiting for it to turn and as it slows the reds eat, all oversized with the largest mid 30s.

Jason bending the sticks for once!

Solid Red
Photo Credit: Jason Stock
We decided to change it up, but first we pick up Jason's buddy Luther. We head offshore and anchor, almost immediately spotting a school of big permit. He sets two lines and says I can throw a lighter set up, but I'd have to lay the wood on a big permit so I don't get wrecked up with the small set up with a 5000 series Shimano Stradic spinning reel. I set it up and we watch the clock...nothing. As soon as we begin questioning the spot, my little rod bucks and doubles over. I take over and both Jason and Luther begin coaching me through landing my first permit. Let me tell you, I was undergunned and this fish really worked me, crossing the anchor line four times! We finally got him within Jasons reach and he handles the fish into the boat. A giant permit!

We let her go and kept fishing, Jason getting one then Luther next.

Luther begins bailing Spanish Macs and we decide to make a move for snapper. We catch three or four before things start dying down. The two then tell me its been a bad day and ask me to come back later in the year when the fishing gets good. Are you freaking kidding me?!? I thought it was an awesome day!
If you are ever in Florida its worth your time to look up Captain Jason Stock on ( ), I promise it'll be worth it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catching for Kids Tourney 8/9

This week would prove to be a busy week with me preparing my house to go on the market, and well pretty much fishing every other time the wind would let me. Lee, Damian and myself went out Friday looking for Cobia. The reports had been coming back with big fish hitting the dock so we took my Kencraft Challenger out and climbed into the tower.
My girl waiting patiently for some action.
The mornings are beautiful out here, lets hope the clouds burn off.  
On the prowl for Cobia in the tower.
We began hunting for our brown suited friend, and we finally came across one that would give us a shot to cast at. I was driving and Lee was casting from the tower, Lee's first cast was on the mark and the fish dove but came back up empty handed, he fired again after I pointed out his new location and he again goes down but comes back with the lively eel in its mouth. Lee sets the hook and hands the rod to Damian who fights the fish while Lee climbs down to land the fish in the net. We unhook her and let her go, C&R with these guys today.     
View from the tower of Lee unhooking the cobia.
That was the only Cobia we saw so we went 1 for 1, not too bad even if it wasn't a monster. We began trolling for Spanish and got into several huge schools trolling spoons on light leaders. We all had things to do in the early afternoon and had the Captains meeting for the Catching for Kids Club Challenge Tournament so we came in a little early.
The largest Spanish of the day.

The next day was the charity tourney for Catching for Kids which benefits the Marine Corps reserves Toys for Tots, ensuring underprivileged children have toys under their tree on Christmas Morning. Last year the kayak club which I belong to won against several of the boat clubs in the Hampton Roads area. We had several sweeps last year including, trout, reds, sheepshead, along with several high placing fish and 4 citations for trophy fish. The rules are 5 boats per club with four anglers per boat, the rules are modified for kayakers to allow 5 teams of four, after all we are in pieces of plastic haha. We were not surprised to hear the rules had changed and now kayakers would have to be within shouting distance from each other (to prevent giving us an unfair advantage, although we can't change locations like boaters are able to do), and they got rid of the redfish division, a category that was swept by the kayakers last year....

My team was to fish the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT), we had a plan and at 6am we paddled out to fish for spadefish. The fish were undersized with prefishing catches of up to 18 inches. The four of us fished for a couple of hours with the largest fish measuring to just over 15 inches.

Can you hear me now?! Yeah we had to stay close, no rule breaking here. 

My largest Spade of the day, 15".

This same spade broke some poor fisherman's hook in the past!

As the current began to slack I dropped down, the first piling yielded no bites, I moved and immediately got a sheep bite. I looked at the guys and said I just got a sheepy bite and we joked they should all be fishing the same piling. For me I usually get several bites in a row before hooking a sheep but this fish was very nonchalant, biting only when he felt like it after sometimes as long as ten minutes between bites. At this time 4 spear fisherman come by and were actually easy to talk to. They combed the pilings and left us 2 sets to fish. I personally am against spearing  large sheepsheads because data shows they are over 20 years old, they are not simply replaced. I on a good day may catch two while most spear fisherman can spear 2 every day, but that's a different discussion. I move my fiddler on my dropper loop into a hole and feel the bite, I rear back and set the hook, to my surprise the fish goes away from the piling and it becomes a routine sheep fight with hard digging runs to the bottom. I leg her in and she measures 25.5". Unfortunately this is a kill tourney so we take some photos and put her on ice. We later noticed she had been what looked like hit with a dull spear, still had a puncture on her side.      
Photo Credit: Brian Lockwood (
The bite ended up being very short with another sheep broken off and a big trigger being caught all within 30 minutes. We began looking for triggers and while pulling up my fiddler I watch one follow it up and I immediately drop back down, he hits and tears it in two. I watch the trigger look at both pieces, one with my hook and the other drifting to the bottom, he eats my offering and before he has a chance to turn I pull him in the boat. The current begins to rip and we have an hour paddle back to the beach so we head back in. 2 hours before lines out. That's the issue with kayak fishing, when its too windy, too much current or if you have to paddle back for an hour it cuts your fishing time short. 
Photo Credit: Seth Goodrich
Since I live in Ocean View we go shower then head to the weigh in. My Sheep and Spade both take first over the boat fisherman, my trigger is taken out by the boat wreck fisherman but William Ragulsky's trigger ( places. Trout division is swept,  and won by Joe Underwood and his team, Kris Lozier wins round head division and I receive a citation for my sheepshead. We ended up finishing second only losing first by 1 single point. I can only imagine we would have repeated as champions if the redfish division wasn't canceled. Over all we all had a great time and it's an awesome event, no matter where we place! I actually had the opportunity to talk to boaters about kayaking and I am sure I can learn a ton from them.
The next day I cleaned the big sheep and donated it to the VMRC for further research, something I didn't know was actually going on. Pretty awesome stuff.     

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hooking Up

I have been planning a vacation with some of my best friends for a couple months. We all try to get out once a year and this year would be no different. We chose Islamorada for the quiet beach life, great views and world famous fishing. I wasn't able to bring the kayaks down this time so we decided to hire Buzz On ( with Capt Aaron Brower. As we were heading out he asked what we wanted and we all said Dolphin / Mahi. Well we chose the right guide because after a short run we were on schools. Ill let the photos tell this story!

Hooked up quick! 

The Capt made it seem way too easy! 

Mahi ready for a gaff!


This one was stunning... The fish! Nice catch Jeremy, Im talking about his fiancé Amy this time!

Jeff and Jamey Baker on the double!
Meghan prides herself on her fishing skills, good form.
Meghan and I with a pair of schoolies.

 Exhausted on the ride back in.

 35 Total Mahi

 Went to Robbies Marina and fed the Tarpon, it was a ton of fun.
Yep, we had some beverages in Key West, it was a great time with great friends. I am truly a lucky guy to have so many awesome friends who care about me.