Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer Mixed Bag

Dog days of summer have settled in and summer fishing has taken off.  Both saltwater and freshwater fisheries have been producing consistently and I have taken advantage of both.  With a good weather forecast, my Dad I loaded up the Kraken and Cuda 14 and headed to explore some new water looking for redfish. We paddled close to 10 miles and found some good water.  I was throwing a topwater over a grass flat when it was crushed by a big fish.  The fish made a long run and I could tell that it was a good redfish.  It dragged my all over the flat and I enjoyed the ride.  Once I finally landed the fish, I could tell it was nice.  It measured out to 35” and it was really healthy.  The fish was released and I went back to fishing.  Not long after my dad hooks upon a big fish, but after a short fight it broke off.  I had a few more blow ups, but the action had slowed down.  We started working our way back to the ramp when my Dad saw a nice red cruising the flat.  He pitched a wake bait in front of the red, and his bait was inhaled.  He fought and landed the fish, and it measured out to 34”.  We called it a day, and paddled back to the ramp.

I took the Kraken out to one of the bigger lakes in the area on Sunday. My target was gar and catfish.  I caught my bait and set up on a drop-off into a deep hole looking for a catfish.  I caught one 22in fish, but the action wasn’t what I was looking for.  I was moving to another drop-off when I found a large school of gar working a bait ball.  I could see them on my fish finder and I watched them roll on the surface.  Set out baits and the bite was on.  In a few minutes I had a 37in gar in the kayak, and shortly after releasing it I had another 34” on the line.  I fished 3 rods at a time and I had several double and even triple headers.  I caught a total of 23 gar and 7 of them were over 40” and large enough for Virginia Trophy  Citations. 

I went to another lake a few days later trying to repeat my success.  I caught several gar, with a few double headers thrown in.  I was retying one of my rigs when my live-bait rod was nearly ripped out of my rod holder.  I set the hook and could tell that this was a bigger fish.  After a good fight I landed my biggest gar to date. The fish measured out to 47” and after some pictures, was released unharmed.  After that fish I switched to catfish and landed one decent one. 

Landing a 47" Gar

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