Friday, March 21, 2014

Kayak Kings

The idea has been in my head since I heard about mother-shipping offshore. Several years have gone by with missed chances, bad weather, unfortunate scheduling, no funds, bad weather, bad weather, and BAD WEATHER. Then FINALLY, a trip that seemed perfect, a great forecast, money in my pocket, and five other kayakers ready to go. It was really going to happen! 

I worked the entire day before making the five hour drive down to Hatteras Island. When I got to the hotel at 12:30am, I thought I might be lucky enough to get three or four hours of sleep, but I should have known better. This was the trip I’d been looking forward to for years! I got in the bed around 1am and stared at the ceiling and my phone for the next two and a half hours. Christmas Eve was three days prior, but it sure didn't seem like it to this giddy dude. I stirred, flopped, and daydreamed about king mackerel for hours. I ended up with about an hour of broken sleep, but it didn't matter. When five o’clock rolled around, I was as chipper and as energetic as I could be. I had enough energy to easily paddle myself the 20 miles offshore!

We loaded our six kayaks into the roomy stern of The Runaway and headed out of the inlet in search of bait. It was a long and unfruitful process that ended with only a single bunker for bait, but we had plenty of frozen ballyhoo and we were told that they would work well. After a short run offshore to the spot, we were chomping at the bit to get out. Jack Daughtry was the first one in the water and it didn't take him long to show us that the fish were there and biting. Within five minutes of trolling his ballyhoo, he hooked up to a false albacore while pedaling to the boat to get his other rod. Soon after that, I landed my first ever false albacore. They might not be any good to eat, but they sure do fight hard for their size! I was so excited and anxious to get on some more fish that I didn't even take the time to admire my newly caught specie. I just grabbed it by the tail, un-hooked it, and dropped it head first like I’d seen so many times. Within 20 minutes of fishing, Mike Basnite hooked into something good - how could I tell? Because even though I was almost 100 yards away, I could hear him yelling, screaming, cussing, and whooping, as clear as if he caught it right next to me.

I immediately paddled after him to give him a hand or get a picture for him. As I got closer, he finally shouted, “It’s a freaking KING!”

 I was coming up on his kayak and had my hand on my camera prepared to take a picture, then as soon as I stopped and bumped his kayak with mine, my SG Release Reel started SCREAMING. I put my camera back and said, “Sorry, Mike! I gotta take care of this!” with a huge grin on my face. 

That fish ripped over 100 yards of line off my SG in seconds. The line started getting low in the spool and I  wondered if it was going to stop or if i was about to lose this fish. I slightly thumbed the spool but it didn't seem to help at all, then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. It went from screaming drag to a stop in just a matter of seconds…blood-pumping, adrenaline-filled seconds. 

The rest of the fight was not dull, but I could tell the fish was done. I cranked myself to the fish and fought it vertically for a couple minutes, careful to not pull the hook. It made one more attempt to run, but only made it 10-15 yards this time before going into a death spiral up to my kayak. I grabbed it by the tail and lifted it into my kayak (with its head full of jagged teeth pointing away from me) and let out a WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! My first king mackerel, all fought from my kayak at that! That was it- I didn't even need to catch another fish all day… but I did. 

At first I was catching mainly kings, then later on in the day I was catching nothing but false albacore. They both fight extremely well for their size, but the crazy drag-ripping runs from the kings are addicting! I missed six to eight fish throughout the day, with some of my baits coming back chomped in half. One of my albies came up along with a small hammerhead on its tail. I pulled it away from the shark, but not before it got a nice slashing chomp on the bask section of the little scrapper. Throughout the day I saw a couple loggerhead turtles that let me get within ten feet of them, but wouldn’t hang out long enough for a good picture.

It was amazing being around five other guys that have never caught a king from a kayak and seeing each one of them land one. Their smiles were priceless. We fished the same area from 10am to 3pm and ended up catching twice as many fish as any other boat that day.  Each kayaker caught at least three kings up to 25-30 pounds and the false albacore were slightly more abundant than the kings. 

The drive home was not easy. I was running on about 1 hour of sleep for the past 2 days, but luckily I still had the adrenaline from the trip keeping me awake!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Running Amuck

After hearing from 3-4 different people about stellar local reports, I decided to take the day off and try my luck on some cold speckled trout. I scouted on Google Maps for a launch the night before, but my buddy Jack beat me to it. At 9am we met at the end of some power lines ready for some trout action. There was one small problem...the water was about 150 feet away...through briers, brush, a steep hill, down a six foot drop, and into the marsh. After we hit the marsh we still had about 50' to the water. It was not fun. After crawling through marsh mud to the water, we were on our way!

The fishing started out very slow...except for the gizzard shad! They were everywhere. Nearly every cast for an hour we either snagged or bumped our lures on a gizzard shad. After fishing for about 2 hours without anything but snagged mud shad, we started to get slightly discouraged.

Thankfully, Jack landed a small trout and gave us hope. We threw mirrolures all morning without luck, so Jack decided to switch it up to a swimming super fluke jr. on a 1/16th oz. jig head. That lure ended up being what we caught all our trout on! The trick was to slow troll them...for whatever reason they just were not hitting very well on casted lures.

The bite was pretty steady from 2pm-5pm. We probably lost half the fish that hit, but that still was not bad considering I landed 15 trout and Jack landed 25!

21" Fighter

Around 2pm Jack landed his first citation of the year, a 24" stud of a trout. 

I was lagging behind Jack in numbers and size, but then I hooked a SOLID trout. I could tell by the strong drag pulls and the head shakes that it was a big trout, but I had no idea how big it was til I saw it flash on me. It was the kind of fish that makes you go from calm to scared $Hi!LESS instantly. I was so nervous that I had to remind myself to stay calm so I wouldn't lose her. It was the longest fight from a trout I've ever had and the closer it got to me the more nervous I got. She came next to the boat 2 or 3 times and each time she took off and pulled drag, but finally gave up after a while. The fight was nearly over, but if you've ever caught trout before, you'll know that they can come unbuttoned at the boat very easily. I went to grab it behind the head as I have to countless trout before, but she slipped right out of my hand because she was too fat to grip! On my second attempt I grabbed her under the belly and flopped it in the boat.


I knew it was easily the biggest trout of my life. I kept saying "I hope it goes 30 inches" and "I think it's 30 inches!"


30 inches on the button!!!!

Look at that beautiful huge tail!

After that trout, nothing mattered. I was so excited, I kept randomly pumping my fist and gritting my teeth, while muttering "YEAH!" for the next ten minutes at least.

Soon afterward, in nearly the same spot, I caught a 25" speckled trout that dwarfed the 20" trout I had in the boat, but still looked like a minnow compared to the 30 incher I released.

We left the fish biting around 5:30pm and hoped we would catch the tide high enough to keep out of the marsh such luck. We barely made it back to where we launched and when we did it was no easy task tromping through the mud to get to solid ground. At one point Jack was on all fours dragging his heavy Hobie behind him. I stepped in mud that made it up past my knee several times. It probably took us 20 minutes to walk/crawl/slide across 50 feet of mud and marsh grass before we got to the steep hill of briers and brush.

It was worth it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life and stuff

So, over the past 6 months, I've moved twice and got a new job. The first place I moved had no good internet options, so I decided to use my phone as a 3g hotspot... It was not the best, but it worked. I am now in Reedville, Virginia. AKA the middle of nowhere. Internet options are the same...garbage. So here I am, using my smartphone as a hotspot and waiting forever to upload anything... It's pretty discouraging writing updates on my blog when I know it takes minutes just to post a picture or hours to upload video.

Although, other than the internet issue, things have never been better! I moved into a townhouse right on the water... and when I say "on the water," I mean I can walk to the dock without stepping on grass. It goes from my back deck, to a wooden walkway, to the dock! To some people that's no big deal, but to me it's halfway to heaven. I have caught white perch, red drum, spot, and silver perch, right off my dock, not 60 feet from my back door. I only have two full time neighbors out of the 10 units that are here. For the most part, old people show up on weekends from time to time. It is a very peaceful place to live. The fishing is slowing as winter closes in, but I'm looking forward to fishing the area this spring.

My first fish off my dock!
10-11" white perch

Perdy little drum 100 yards from my home.


After bugging the guys at Release Reels for a while, they finally gave in and gave me a job! I went from busting my butt for 8 years doing tile work to working in a machine shop building fishing reels! How cool is that?!?!? Now I'm completely immersed in fishing! I work it, I live it, I play it, and I write it! (I dream it sometimes too.)

So far the job has been great! I have learned tons about CNC machining and keep learning every day. The reels are beyond amazing and I love thinking about how to make them better. We are not a huge shop (yet,) but we have a huge demand and are getting closer and closer to filling that demand every day. I can't wait until we are running 100% and the orders start flying out the door. I can't explain how excited I am to be a part of this great USA manufacturing business! 

Check out this stuff!


Main gears
Pinion gears and thrust plates

Assembly table
Work table Kenny and I built.
Chop saw table I built (It has stain and poly on it now)
1st operation on the reel main case.
 I'm glad I have a new job.
SOLID GOLD!!!!! I mean brass cams.
2nd & 3rd operation on the main more operation to go. Those things are a lot of work!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm not dead...nor have I stopped fishing (Picture heavy post)

I am ashamed of myself...

I have had ample time to write up reports over the spring/summer, but I got used to not posting after a while.

I guess instead of writing up reports for the entire summer, I'm just going to post pictures and comment on them as needed.

I'm going to try to keep up on my reports from here on out.

Sorry for being a slacker.

Enough of that! On to the pictures!

New Point Comfort sunset

New point speck

The tide came in a little strong that night...I drove through water for about a mile!

Porcelain tile plank.

Beautiful job...Still fighting to get paid on that one.

25.5" sheepshead caught on that spinning rod! 
24" Sheepshead caught within 10 mins of the last!

Baby spade caught at Wolf Trap Light 3+ miles out in the bay

Spades following spades

The paddle back from Wolf Trap Light

Tons of these guys around this year

Stupid Marsh Marlin (houndfish) 
They were thick this year

Tagged a bunch of these little guys this year

By the skin of its teeth!

My personal best summer time striper

My personal best smallest speck!

Caught this pole spear while fishing for flounder at the CBBT

21" speck caught on my ultralight at new point

Juvenile Blue Runner

Buoy off of Sandbridge 2+ miles out

Little sandbar shark

Rob Choi not wanting to launch in the nasty surf. It might not look like it in the picture, but it was 4'-6'
Here is a great report by Rob Choi from that day

45" Red!

38-40" Red (smallest of 3 that day)