Low pressure, scattered rain, and a crap ton of wind put a damper on my 2015 Labor Day weekend. What originally started out as an amazing 3-day period of big water and even larger fish turned into a period of sadness when I felt there was a legitimate forecast. Fishing was put on a hold, and I had to deal with it. Sometimes safety comes first!
So, before the weather turned to total crap on the friday leading up to the weekend, I was given an hour off work to rush to the water. I met up with my bro Tommy Dewitt, and joined him in his chase for his first VA Release Citation Sheepshead. He had been out for a bit before I launched and ended up with a few nice fish, but not quite what he was looking for…
|Tommy’s Sheepie just a hair shy of 24″ and a VA Release Citation
(Photo – Thomas DeWitt)
|Tommy with a consolation prize – Dinner
(Photo Thomas DeWitt)
While Tommy got to enjoy some decent conditions, I launched into total garbage with a stiff NE wind, and lots of chop opposing an outgoing current. While these are not enjoyable conditions to fish, the sheepies do enjoy them. I made a few drops on a couple of pilings and was plagued by the Sheepshead fisherman’s worst enemies; Black Seabass, Puffers, and treaded Portsmouth Tautog (Oyster Toad). I move on and get the bite I was looking for. I didn’t set the hook, and brought up my rig to find a missing fiddler. I smiled to myself, re-baited and dropped, and immediately found myself setting the hook onto what would become my Personal Best Sheepshead.
|25.75″ VA Release Citation Sheepshead|
Unfortunately, the conditions were such that Tommy didn’t hear my calls, and there was not a proper picture taken of this hog. No worries… Shortly after landing this guy, the conditions got too snotty to effectively fish, and we called it a day. A personal best to end a long weekend of fishing before it started lessened the sting a bit.
Fast forward to Saturday Evening. No fishing, just talking fish with Kayak Kevin and Lee. Prior to starting, I just had to get on the beach and see how bad it really was in the bay. After seeing this view, I knew staying landlocked was a good decision.
Sunday consisted of great company and amazing beer from one of my “Unofficial” (ok, DREAM) sponsor Back Bay Brewing. Almost a growler of IPA in, the talk shifts to fishing. After exchanges over the conflicting forecast (in which Tommy and I were referred to two “Bitches”), I caved and we made plans for the next morning. The wind was still clipping which made me unexcited to wake up early and experience a day where I would be getting a whoopin’. I make it to the launch at sunrise, to find excitingly and unexpectedly nice conditions.
|Labor Day Sunrise Services… At the launch and on the water!
(Photo – Thomas DeWitt)
First order of business… make a drop and get Tommy his paper. Well, the fish gods had different plans, and I had the hot rod of the morning. Immediately, I hook a 20″ class sheepie, and as I bring him up, I notice the hook is not in the skin, but pinched between two teeth. At this point, without a net, it’s a crapshoot. I went for the sweep, and it popped off. No worries, “cause I got this… This is what I do”! Within minutes, I hook up again, and this time land a nice sheepie a hair short of 25″.
We work the grounds for a bit longer in search of Tommy’s sheep, but come up empty. Lots of baits being eaten by trash, but no sheeps means we decided to keep a few crabs each for the trip in and head out in search of larger fish. Upon arrival to “The Grounds”, I was greeted by a waiting Jay Brooks, Meghan, and the Family Seed on their respective boats. The reports were not great, but it didn’t matter. I know what I can do, and I was feeling good!
A few Kayakers from TKAA were out, and I decided to do something different from the rest of the fleet. I went to find a spot and instead of following the pack and using their techniques, I paved my own path. Each pass rounded out some different fish. Some stud Flounder, a solid Gag Grouper, and some baits for my friends on the stinkpots. It was all fun, but kinda boring until I feel a “THUD” This could mean one of two things, the not so elusive ROCK…fish, or them big, nasty bulls. I set the hook, and get into one of the oddest drum fights I have had. Not much initially went into getting it off the bottom, but about half way out, I had a strong run back down. Each time I gained more ground on the fish, but it was if the structure had an equal draw. With the drag cinched down, I made short work of the brute, but still got worked at the same time. Hard runs, but not heavy head shakes had me scratching my head, especially given the hook placement right on the nose.
|Landing the second paper of the day… A 46″ Red
(Photo – Jay Brooks)
I got the fish on the grippers to keep it fresh in the water, got an official measurement of 46″, a few pictures, and got her off. In all, the fight was less than 5 minutes, and she was out of the water for less than 2.
|A big, nasty, spawning bull released to”Get it on” and make some youngins.|