Sunday, September 28, 2014

The wind wins, by Alexi

     We look at maps.  We look at the weather.  We have MANY choices.  We have time.  We have a truck.  We can launch almost anywhere.  All of the Jersey Shore is showing winds up to 25 mph.  However, Crisfield, Md. is only showing winds up to 15.

Somers Cove Marina
     We drive all night.  We arrive at the launch around 4 A.M. By 5A.M. we're on the water.  By 6 A.M. both my rods are going down at the same time.

Early A.M. calm waters
Double stripers on the troll in about 2 feet of water.  One on a small bass assassin weedless, the other on a gulp swimming mullet, weedless.  We spend the rest of the morning finding bass on the grass flats, and along the banks,  Steve finds a pond spilling and takes three in a row from there.  I had some blow-ups on topwater, and a hook was straightened out,  but no landed fish on topwater.


    By noon, it was still overcast, but the wind was picking up.   We found a nice creek that wasn't on our GPS maps.  It cut straight thru the lower half of the island.  Some crabbers had indicated it's where the bass were.  When they suggested this I thought to myself   "the bass were actually all over."   It was good to be up in this gut.
you can't do this in a boat
As the tide started moving I picked up another couple of fish and had another double.  This time they were a little bigger.  I landed and tagged both fish.
action shot from the gopro: "rod goes down on the troll"
     Just as we were exiting the creek onto a flat the wind really kicked up.  It was about 6:30 P.M.  our plan had been to camp out for the night and fish the next day.  That was about to change.  Steve dialed in the weather forecast on our marine radios.  The wind was NOT going to let up significantly.   It had been raining and everything was wet.  We hadn't slept and the sun was low on the horizon.  The wind was blowing towards the truck at about 20 mph.  The consensus was to head home.      

I tagged 14 striped bass for the ALS.   I released about four or five others untagged.  Here's the list:

18" 2lbs
16" 1lb
24" 5lb
15" 2lb
17" 2.5lb
15" 2lb
21" 4lb
17" 2lb
22" 4lb
22" 4lb
22" 5lb
16.5" 2lb
19" 2.5lb
17" 2.5lb

As we were loading up the gear at the launch we were visited by a pair of salty ghosts.  They had been going for Stripers but hadn't caught any keepers (18" in MD.)  When we said we were abiding by our New Jersey rules, and that we released all of our fish they were really flabbergasted.  We thought "How was that possible to not catch an 18" fish, there were so many?"  I guess having a kayak that can go into a creek 2 feet wide or in 6 inches of water has it's advantages...


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On the Troll, Jane's Island State Park, Chesapeake Bay, By:Steve Evans

   
traps

  It's mid September and all kinds of bait fish are schooled up and moving in the coastal bays, inlets, coves, and back creeks. The air and water temperatures are coming down from their summer highs. Seasonal changes stoke the predatory behaviors of our favorite game fishes, and signal to us, it's time to pack out our tents and camp gear, for some longer trips, later nights, and earlier mornings. Now is a time of year when fishing can be very good almost anywhere along the coast.

another striper

      With that in mind, we plan to fish our favorite regions often, and with intensity, this also is a time when we like to explore new regions. Yearly we set some days aside, particularly in September and October, to plan a few trips to new waters. Over the last few years, in addition to some different launches on Barnegat Bay, and along the Jersey Shore, we've tried a number of spots around Oak Island, North Carolina, and some on both the Maryland, and Virginia portions of the Chesapeake Bay.

calm morning backbay

      To anyone who has ever spent even a little time on any little piece of the Chesapeake Bay, I don't need to mention, the Chesapeake is at once sublime, awesome, haunting, inviting, regal, mysterious, and grave. In many ways it's like a sea, but an inland sea, framed by the skeletons of commerce, and crisscrossed by the ghosts of human histories. I count what parts I have seen, among my favorite wild places, anywhere.

If we had this we wouldn't have been lost the whole time

      Jane's Island lies along the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, to the north of the town of Crisfield, Maryland. It is a salt marsh island, separated from the land by the Daugherty Creek Canal. It is  crisscrossed by a number of canoe and kayak trails which are color coded and marked by signs at intervals. Immediately I appreciated that this place, like the Sedge Islands, is a place designated and set aside with special consideration for the enjoyment of canoe and kayak paddlers. As usual we checked out the NOAA charts and the google satellite images for the area.

Backbay sedges

      We planned to camp, and fish, for two days and two nights. We were there to find, if this launch, roughly 3 hours from home, would be a relatively close spot to target some southern fishes, specifically, speckled trout and red drum, which are reported to be there in good numbers. In fact the CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) would be hosting a "Red-Trout" tournament the following weekend in the same area. So it seemed like a good bet.
   
      We reserved a numbered pay site on the mainland for both nights which was fine, with the added bonus of toilets and a "fish cleaning station", though now that I've poked around the Island a bit, I have in mind, for next time, a few natural spots out there, which would be very comfortable, and free. 

      As for the fishing...
another of many

      The three primary lures we used throughout the trip were: bass assassin shads, in various colors, mostly the 4" variety; gulp shrimps and curly tail mullets; and zara spook topwater lures.

we caught a thousand of these

      Speckled trout were everywhere from the very start, and we caught many on gulp and bass assassins, almost all of them were under 12". I got so tired of catching them I thought it was really a shame that I couldn't live-line a few for bass (Illegal.). Plenty of bass were in these areas too, ranging from 15" to 24". Bass were on points; banks; "outside" shorelines; on flats between 0' and 3'; and in open water between 3' and 6', where birds and bait occasionally balled up and broke apart. In other words, there were a lot of bass, and bass in almost any shallow water situation you'd expect to find them in, each night we left them biting.

Striper

      The bass mostly hit bass assassins, cast, and on the troll, during the day. When we found small schools we had many hookups on consecutive casts. At sunrise and again at sunset, especially the first and last hour respectively, the topwater bite was outstanding. The higher the sun was on either end of the day the closer the topwaters had to be cast to the banks to get a reaction, until it was better to throw something subsurface.

spec

      The largest trout, the only over a foot, was caught by Alexi, with a bass assassin, on the troll. The trout measured 18". We did not hookup with any reds, though we managed to sight several while standing in our boats, one was a very large specimen which swam very close past my boat.   

Steve Stands

      In total we spent about 30 hours in our boats, and caught good numbers of fish. In 2 days we fished and paddled most of the northern half of the island, covering many areas twice. On our next trip down there I plan to spend a lot of time covering the south. I think there's still time to try for some better sized trout, and maybe even a red, so I'm already back at the maps, checking it out. I will probably plan that next trip very soon...

star wars sand people Steve
                                     


     

   



     


        

     

     

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sept 2014 in the Sedges

   This is just going to be a quick fishing report.  We've been doing a lot of fishing.   We're probably burning ourselves out before the real fall fishing starts, (as that has been the theme for the year.)  Regardless, it's been good.  Between the last post and today I've been out at least three times.  Once solo when I got into the flats bass really good at night.  I was getting strikes or hookups at least 85% of my casts.  Once with Steve where the night fishing was slow but consistent.   On this trip, we had our first camping trip of the year.  And then once with KGB  who hadn't been fishing since last fall!   All three trips were to the back of IBSP, at the Sedge Islands.  All were with light tackle throwing mostly small topwater lures in shallow water.
Steve's first tagged fish!

Night time striper on the saltwater spook jr

Summer striper!

(very) small blue

Needlefish or houndfish?

does this count?

on the troll! -Bass assassin, weedless

I can't believe it stopped moving for this picture

Blues at all the usual spots in Snake Ditch

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The last cookout

      Last week, the week leading up to the labor day holiday weekend, we would go to catch some snappers (baby bluefish) so to live-line them around the sedge islands to catch bigfootfrankenflukeasaurausrex (summer flounder [big ones]). We were supposed to leave in the middle of the night but work dragged on unexpectedly late into the night for me, strong drink and a few hours rest were needed first. Of course by the time we were there, the park was closed for crowds, we had to drive an hour around the bay to get to the 10th street barney light launch, an old favorite of ours ("I hate this launch" says Alexi.).

      Boat traffic waked our boats all day. We couldn't find the snappers so that plan never got off the ground. Do I need to mention we caught short flounder on high low rigs tipped with gulp? A cocktail blue for Alexi came from the oyster creek channel, we made ceviche from it the following day after an ocean kayak tune-up and repair session. I found some fish at night on the flats around back of the dyke by searching with topwater, lots of bait, follows and tail slaps but none came tight.

      Overall this trip gets two middle fingers and a big F U.

the best launch ever
      Later a mentally disturbed man would enter the Supremo food mart at the 4300 block of walnut to scream esoteric gibberish and lie on the floor. The manager addressed the paroxysm by saying, "If you don't leave, I will have to call the police, the police will come and put you in jail for the weekend, and you don't want to be in jail this weekend, it's the last cookout!" the hysterical man quieted, looked at the manager incredulous so he repeated with emphasis. "THE LAST COOKOUT!!"  

      We would try again, the next week, the first in September, after the the last cookout.

short fluke
      Flounder were plentiful on the drifts approaching the inlet, but all were undersize. We got some snapper blues, a half dozen or so and made way out to deep water. Tide was exactly slack low, we dropped our baits down on jig heads and were without bait shortly. Tailor blues are everywhere through the inlet now ransacking schools of spearing, our baits were bit in half by these. Alexi did set a heavy bend into his rod for a fight of a quick second or two, but the jig came free. The evidence: slow rising pumping weight coming off bottom, suggests it was probably a hefty fluke. As the clean ocean tide started to push into the inlet, billions of spearing were clearly visible everywhere.
in Barnegat inlet with snappers for bigger fluke 





       We worked around the rest of the full sedge through the hottest part of the day catching tiny sea bass and puffers on gulp pieces by the sedge house.
puffer on gulp

  













    It was an exciting finish sunset into dark out on the flats. Snappers and Tailor blues were around in numbers racing after topwater when in about 0 feet of water I had a big blow up on my cream colored zara spook. Stripes and a big square tail, I felt the weight bend into my rod for a second then off. "That was a big bass!" I yelled over to Alexi, "That was a big bass!". I tied a weightless bkd onto my other rod leaving the area quiet for a minute. I knew I wouldn't have another shot at that one but I would try anyway, with a different presentation. I pulled back up and tried again. A nice 5lb blue was there in the same spot.
sunset at the sedges