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.


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