Winter… It is increasingly becoming a period of long, cold days here in the mid atlantic. We dont have much to hope for other than those warming south east winds and longer days which thaw us out, bring in warmer water, and break us free from our winter doldrums. While there is still some kayak fishing to be had, the tides of spring bring us the highly anticipated return of the Redfish. Many of these first schools contain reds that often break the 40″ mark. These are the fish that we are after, and what we look forward to upon their departure in the fall.
With our northern lattitudes and the sucesses of the Sciaenops ocellatus as a species, I consider myself extremely lucky to have the oppritunity to target, chase, and land such an amazing species. It is what I long for. That first five minute fight and monstorus headshakes are my sign that spring is finally here, and my vacation bank is about to be sucked dry.
What is even more allureing about this fishery is the speed in which our spring season comes upon us. This was never more evident than in 2015. I find myself partaking in a bass trip one evening after work when I get the call. Jay Brooks is on the other end of the line when I hear “Our scouting trip turned in to much more”. For me, The only question running through my mind is “are we still on for tomorrow?” The answer was “hell yeah we are!”, and thus my season began. Jay’s better half Meghan stoked the fire with a great story of her first bull (and the first kayak caught bull of 2015 that we know about). Trip one for me ended with a skunk, but sometimes you have to pay to play.
Not even a week later, Jay and I pull up to the ramp to find RMFC and Lockhart chillin in their car. On this trip, Jay struck 1st with a 47″ red, followed shortly by a 46″ landed by Lockhart, and a 48″ landed by RMFC. I had a heartbreaking encounter with a red in that same class. When i got the big ole mamma yak side, I noticed terrable hook placement which ultimately resulted in the fish sliding over my leg and through my hands. My attitude was terrable and it was one of the only fish that I have lost that made me physically ill. But in the words of Ike, NEVER GIVE UP kept ringing through my head, and for a second time in as many hours, RMFC found me a school, and put me on the fish!
|Lockhart’s First Bull|
|Photo Credit – Rob Choi|
You can read more about that day over at Angling Addict.
A few days later Jay, Tex, and I go out on the back side of what was a stellar day for Kevin, Lee, and crew. This day will forever be known as “Cloudfest 2015”. Not even a peek of sun through the clouds, with the occasional shower didnt stop us from conducting our search. We paddled from here to there and back for hours on end with nothing to show for our efforts. It appeared all the fish had just dissapeared. That is until I hear Jay wisper “2 o’clock, 100 yards”. These fish were moving fast towards us. We coordinate our efforts, get inot position, and bomb casts into the cloud of fish. I was the first to hook up, but that didnt last long. Paddle, cast, hook up, curse. That was the name of the game for what seemed to be an eternity. I got lucky and broke the streak and managed to stay hooked. With my drag cinched down, I went right for a ride through the school, and they dispersed. I was able to keep eyes on a smaller school, and sent Jay and Tex to them. As I am landing my fish, Jay and Tex both hook up, but Tex broke off. Much to our pleasure, we had found some dinosaurs without the help of an palentologist. Jay and I both boated Stripers in the 41″-42″ class.
Photo Credit – Jay Brooks
|Landing a Dinosaur|
Again, just a few days later I went out looking for fish on the fly. My buddy for the day has hooked into a handful of bulls chucking bugs, but has yet to come tight. We decided to maximize our efforts and add sidescan to our arsenal. Thank god we had it because there was absolutely zero clarity. We work a few areas, and I know I went over fish, not quite knowing what I was looking for. About halfway into the day, I smell the smell I was looking for. REDFISH FEEDING! I pull out the fly rod and make some solid casts in the right areas, but never hooked up. I began to get discouraged, grabbed a baitcaster, and got bumped. I called my buddy over, he casted his switch rod to no avail, while I hooked up to a solid 47″ red that we tagged and released.
Side Imaging scored me one more fish on the day that was around 42″ that quickly came in for a quick photo opp, and went back to be caught another day.
Work, finances, and the like made my time chasing these beasts short this year. I am always psyched to get out there and be given the oppritunity to have good fishing with great friends. I will say that my success chasing bulls is not typical, I still find myself in awe of some of the greats in this fishery, and find myself watching them fight and land fish more than getting in on the action myself.
Im extremely thankful that the tides of spring are here, bringing with it more opritunities to do what I love!