Thursday, May 28, 2015

One Hell of a Story...

I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of bull redfish season in Virginia last fall, landing quite a few in the 40-50" range and my new personal best at a whopping 53"! However, I wasn't able to get out on a kayak to try my luck and was promised a shot at making it happen when they came around again.

So, when Jay said the temps were starting to warm up and he had a good feeling about getting on the water, I made the trip up ready to catch my first big fish from a kayak. After a nine hour drive and four measly hours of sleep, we got up and jumped in the truck ready to try our luck.

We started the day trolling a large paddle tail, looking for movement in the water to indicate they were in the area. Early in the morning, Jay got a huge tug on the line, but it wasn't meant to be. The fish just spit out the lure and hightailed it out of the area.

Beautiful start to the day

After trying a couple different locations and a variety of techniques for about six hours, we decided to take a break and post up with some large chunks of crab in a spot they had been spotted the previous year. Mind you, this is VA we're talking about here, and this Florida girl thinks weather less than 85 degrees is freezing. So after about another three hours of waiting them out, we decided that if we hadn't had any action in the next 20 minutes, we'd call it a day and head in.

We aren't in Florida anymore...

Like it always happens, whether you're taking a bite of your food or swig from your drink, once you decide to let your guard down, they strike. All of a sudden one of the rods doubles over and the line takes a big leap forward. The hook is set and Jay grabs the other rods to start reeling them in while I get pulled off after the fish. 

With the water temps still a little low, this red wasn't really fighting hard. I was bummed when she only made one good run before easily being reeled in next to my kayak. However, I should have knocked on wood because this big girl wasn't done with me yet. 

I kid you not, she is maybe a foot to the left of my kayak, looks up, sees me and decides to bolt. Not forward like a nice fishy, nope -- diagonally under the boat and backwards. As I was clearly instructed by Jay before we set out, I was determined to keep my rod tip straight in front of me so that I don't get pulled sideways and over by allowing my line to turn. If only I had known what was to come...

Either the rod wasn't flexible enough or the drag was a tiny bit too tight, I'll never know. But when that fish took off I did my duty and kept the rod pointed to the bow of the boat waiting for it to turn me, but it never did. Within five seconds, my rod broke not in just one place, but two!

Guess who owes Jay a new rod?

I'm not giving up that easy, so I continue to fight the monster with half a rod, managing to reel it back up to the kayak. She clearly had a plan to get me in that water, because she did the same exact thing again...floats next to my boat for 30 seconds about a foot down, looks up, sees me and bolts diagonally across and behind my kayak! This time, there was no keeping the rod tip in front, as I didn't really have a rod tip anymore. So my arm goes left, and I go over.

If she thought she had me, boy was she wrong. I wasn't going to let my trophy go without proving I had done it. So while trying to keep it together in waders full of water and kayak bobbing around upside down behind me, I manage to reel the fish back in and next to where Jay had jumped in beside me to help out. He puts my Lucid Fishing grips on her and secures it tight, and we set off towards shore towing our boats and walking (also swimming) in cold, windy, overcast weather all the way to an oyster-laden stretch of shoreline -- pics or it didn't happen right?

My waders are full of water and every layer I had on is soaked weighing me down, so I strip down to the basics and brave the temps to get our shots. Luckily, this was the only time my fish decided to cooperate, so despite the not-so-ideal conditions, we got a few good ones before safely releasing my 45" bull redfish healthy and ready to take on the next angler -- good luck whoever you are, this one is crafty!

At the time I was cursing life, but looking back on it now...well it's one hell of a story, and I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

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