Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to the Saltwater

This year, I have spent most of my time freshwater fishing, and it has been awesome.  I have had some great days, but I could feel the saltwater calling me back. The saltwater scene has been hit or miss here in VA but down in NC the bite has been consistent. I was super excited for my yearly vacation to the Wrightsville Beach area of NC.  I had seen promising reports from my Werner Paddles teammate Will Ragulsky weeks in advanced, so I loaded up the Kraken, Cuda 14 and the SUPerFISHal and went on down. 

We always time our vacation so my Dad and I can fish in the annual TJM Kayak and SUP Charity Tournament.  I have fished in this event four times and it is always a blast.  There are 4 divisions (redfish, flounder, speckled trout, and slam) and the longest fish for each division wins.  Hook, Line, and Paddle puts on the tournament every year and do a very good job.  This tournament is a lot of fun and there are a lot of great anglers that fish it.  Check them out at

I only had one day to pre-fish, but I was confident in my spot.  Tournament day came around and I was incredibly excited. At 6AM I launched and within 10 minutes I was at my first spot.  I throw out a popping cork rig and after a few pops the cork was gone.  The calm water was stirred by a big school of red drum.  My fish pulled the Kraken around I could tell that this was a GOOD redfish.  I worked the fish to the kayak and leg swinged it in.  I was stoked.  The redfish filled my footwell and when I laid it on my hawg trough, the tail reached just past 30”.  On my first cast I had a big redfish, and the rest of the day I had a huge smile on my face.  I couldn’t find a flounder or a speckled trout to complete the slam, but I was hoping my redfish would place.  After a few hours of anticipation the results were read.  My 30.25” redfish had tied with another fisherman, but I won the tie-breaker. 

The rest of the week, my Dad and I went back to the same area and everyday we caught 10-15 redfish between 20-28”. We would use lipless crankbaits and topwaters to find the schools of redfish each morning, and catch them on an assortment of lures.  I even took the SUPerFISHal out and landed a few on it.  The final day of vacation was a little slow.  We had caught a few smaller fish, but couldn’t find a good school.  I was throwing an Egret Baits Vuu Doo Shrimp when it was nailed by a big fish.  I could tell this was a better fish, because it took off for deeper water and pulled a lot of drag.  I brought the fish into the kayak and it was even bigger than the one I caught on tournament day.  This redfish was 32” and very healthy. 

The SUPerFISHal is a sweet platform for the flats,
especially when paired with the Orion 25.

Throughout the week I used two rod/reel setups.  The first one was an Ardent Apex Grand paired with an Ardent Denny Brauer Crainkbait series rod.  I used this for my larger topwater, popping- cork, and crankbaits.  I also used an Ardent Wire 2000 paired with an Ardent Edge rod.  Even though this is a small reel, the drag is super smooth and it is what I used to catch my 32” red.  I highly recommend both of these combos if you are in the market for a new rod/reel. 

32" Red on my Ardent set-up.

When I got back from vacation I prepared for the Catchin' For Kids Club Challenge Tournament.  (Catchin' for kids is a great charity, for more info go to ) This tournament allows the seven local fishing clubs to compete for bragging rights.  TKAA is the only kayak club, however, and the rest of the clubs are in powerboats.  It is normally a challenge to beat the boats, but this year was especially challenging.  The weather forecast was 25-30knt winds out of the Northeast.  Even with bad conditions our kayak club beat the boat clubs for the second time in three years. 

TKAA's Winning Team


  1. Dude, as always an enjoyable read and NICE FISH!

  2. It would really be fun to go there to fish. NC seems just the right saltwater spot for that. You certainly have a lot of catch there that, fishing tourneys or otherwise, would feel like a win for how glorious-looking they were. And a trip wouldn’t be as fun if you don’t spend it with friends who also love to fish. Thanks for sharing!

    Kent Garner @ Whites Marine Center