Wednesday, November 21, 2018

November 2018, ups and downs and ups

I've been working pretty hard to get a quality size fish this fall. The ocean has not been benevolent in this regard.  Between two ocean trips were two Sedges trips.  A varied array of kayak fishing techniques. One Sedge trip with KGB the other  with Perchman.  Both ocean trips were solo.  My ultimate goal was to catch a keeper striper in order to keep my end of a bargain - striper filet for venison, pound for pound, due date - thanksgiving.  Things were really getting tight. 

I chose to launch at the el jetty at Avon By The Sea, AKA Shark River Inlet.  This is by far the easiest ocean kayak launch I've found on the Jersey coast, and rumor had it that the fish were still in this part of the Ocean.  (They hadn't migrated further South)  When I arrived, a fleet of boats was just off shore, near my launch.  I went straight to them trolling a Mojo.  I didn't see a single boat pull a fish over the side, and the only gossip I heard on the radio was about trolling at the three mile line.  (and about the coast guard checking on boats past the three mile line)
the fleet

I trolled a mojo for about four hours.  I trolled it in waters between 20 and 50 feet.  As the day was coming to a close, I did manage to snag a bunker closer to the inlet. only to have a shark eat it in half.

the shark was holding on up to my boat

I was in the ocean two separate trips, and there was a whale, and there was a bunker, and there was a shark....but not a bass in my sight....

Always a nice sunset at the sedges

I also went to the Sedges twice.  I knew I'd likely catch shorts during the day there, and possibly a bigger fish at night.  Anyone who has read this blog over the years knows this is a thing.  It happens.  The bigger fish are there during the daytime, I'm sure of it, but it seems to me that they only become active hunters in the middle of the night.

sedges short

The first of the two trips there we launched during the day and fished until 9 pm.

I had two 25" fish on live eels after sunset.

The second trip with Perchman we didn't launch until sunset. A dedicated fishing in the dark hail Mary to get a Thanksgiving bass.

25" night bass
Another repeat from the week before.   Another 25" bass.  It was getting late.  The currents made no sense.  There was NO wind.  The weather and conditions were perfect.  It was a beautiful night.  We made a move to deeper water.

Am I snagged?  I swear I was snagged on what used to be Seal Island (it's gone now.)  Perchman paddled up to me.  A heavy weight bent my rod.  It's been since the Spring that I've caught anything of any size.  Perchman turned his headlight on so we could see what I'm dealing with.  In the light I could see; it's definitely a thanksgiving bass.  That was it's last run.  I legged it onto my boat.
33" sedges Bass
Another back bay beauty from under the stars.

the end


in the end, my hunter friend didn't get his deer

Sunday, October 28, 2018

First Fly Striper, Alexi

Friday October 26th, 2018... report...

It was nearly a full moon.

The currents would be strong.

The tides extreme.

The wind mild.

The air brisk.


A little rain.

in other words, fishy....

I almost forgot what a magical place the Sedge Islands behind IBSP were.  ALMOST.  This is the first year in....HOW MANY???? that I didn't get a year pass.

First Fly Striper
 I looked back on this blog, (because at as certain point one chases their own reports, as it should be) and I looked at all of the Octobers, and I knew there would be 20" stripers at the Sedge Islands.  I didn't really hear of any other solid bite anywhere else, so I went for it with KGB.

KGB at Snake Ditch
and we caught some fish.

20" Striper 
On topwater

on sub-top water

on bass assassin...on other random soft plastic that's kind of look like a pink finesse...

....sure we could have gone into the ocean and caught some small bluefish like this...

previous trip's ocean bluefish (Belmar)
But really...?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October Tides: fishing with Nick, by Alexi

Wendy got me Karl's Mystery Tackle Box for my birthday this year.  It's like a subscription, they send you a box of lures once a month.  My goal was to just use these lures on this trip.  Because we ended up finding small bluefish, it was easy. 

Nick and I arrived at Shell Bay Blvd.  A great place to launch a Kayak directly into the grass flats and winding creeks of Cape May County to target Striped bass in the 20-30" range in early fall.  Unfortunately, it was low tide.  There was no water and the wind was ripping across the length of the bay at an unwavering 10-15 mph.  Change of plan.  I did a quick search on my phone for kayak launches in Avalon and found one that looked perfect.  At least we would try something slightly new.  I could tell from where the launch was on Google Maps that we would be protected from the wind by houses for most of the trip.  We hit the lights by the docks in Avalon.  We caught tiny bluefish.

Nick's Bluefish
Fast forward to a week or so later, and tide and wind are a major consideration.  The wind was forecast to be under 10 all day, and high slack was around noon.   We went to good old "shitty launch" -  that's next to the bridge between Grassy Sound and the Island of King Nummy.   We hit the bridge with green crabs an hour before high slack tide.  I've tried Togging before and must admit I don't know a damn thing about it.  We've tried and tried, and never had any luck.  But somehow, with my new bottom sweeper jigs, I had some confidence, and we had bites right way.  I wasn't sure whether I should be setting the hook or letting the fish set the hook themselves, and still I'm not exactly sure what worked.  But I did manage to catch my first Tog.

Nick's Tog 
Here is a wikipedia link: Tautog 

This is a rough size and age chart.  These fish grow slow.  Ours were roughly 12", so, 4-5 years old.

 3.0 ------1 
5.5 ------2 
9.0 ------3 
My first Kayak Tog

Eventually (or rather, pretty quickly) we ran out of crabs.  The tide started moving out, so I headed to the sod banks and the flats for some topwater Striped bass action, (what I had been hoping to do earlier in the week.)  Truth be told, I really just had a new light tackle set-up I wanted to put the screws to. 

Mystery tackle box, Badonk a donk

New shimano Stradic CI4+ 2500, Gloomis ESX  7' medium MOD-Fast 1/4-5/8 oz inshore series, 15lb power pro, 20lb flouro leader. 

22" striper, topwater, flats

A couple of fish came unbuttoned after a fight, but a few got in the boat as well.  The new set-up casts light topwater lures like a dream, and the drag is super smooth!  I tagged a couple of fish for the American Littoral Society.

Nick also had some topwater bass along the banks.

Nick sent me this while we were fishing

While it wasn't an epic day of fishing, it was a plan well executed that proved fruitful and satisfying.  Tight lines.

the end

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

3rd Annual Janes Island fishing/ birthday extravaganza, By Alexi

    "A Toast to George."  It is with great sadness that I must say my dear father has passed away not even a month before his 80th birthday, and our annual joint birthday party at Janes Island, which is the main subject of this blog post.  Luckily we were able to get together in August for his 50th Anniversary at the outer Banks and get out on a charter boat for some Sheepshead and Black Drum fishing. 

George Papadopoulos  Sept 14, 1938 - Sept 5, 2018
 Maybe some other time I'll write about the two boats we had when I was a kid in the 80's that we'd go out on the (Chesapeake) Bay every weekend of the summer, and weather permitting anchor up next to the Thomas Point Lighthouse and fish with bloodworms for spot or bluefish or whatever else might have been around, or endless hours hand-lining for crabs, but this is a fishing blog, and I'd rather stick to the facts of the moment. 

We didn't cancel the trip to Janes Island.  In attendance for the weekend were myself, Wendy, Elias, Jon, Steve and Janessa (and Maisey).

the party

I had several days there before anyone else showed up (I was there for almost a week) and at first the fishing seemed slower than usual.  The main target species is 'Rockfish', AKA Striped Bass.  The size and creel limits in Maryland bay waters this time of year is two fish.  One can be slot 19-28", the other can be 19" and up.  Almost every day I managed to catch a fish over 19", but most were right around 15".  All of the Specs (Speckled Sea Trout) I caught were exactly 12".....and the size limit on them is 14".

site 57

The water was extra high when I got there.  But the guy at the Camp Store made a point of saying that it was definitely not high due to global ice melting.  Believe what you will, here is a link to recent article from National Geographic about Tangier Island.

underwater docks
I know it was recently a full moon and that there was a low pressure system off of North Carolina, but there is another reality, the docks were under water and there was no hurricane.  

The first few days were windy, and that made accurate casting a challenge, but I always managed a few fish in the usual spots.  On the corners.  On the grass flats at high tide.  In the creeks at the bends.
overcast windy days
As the week progressed, the weather improved, the water cleared up, and so the fishing improved.
Steve also did well every day
A couple of days, while floating down the channel in my kayak, and passing some friendly folks on a dock, I learned that there was going to be a fishing tournament over the weekend.  Was I there for that?  No. It was the CCA Md. chapters annual Red/ Trout tournament.  In fact, I cringed at the thought of tons of boats out fishing over the weekend ruining my peaceful time.  My fears were proven false, as there was barely a boat to be seen during the tournament.

"Banner Day"

My brother-in-law Jon had a good two days of fishing, even though nothing exceeded 19" he got one just at that that we released for good luck, and he did very well casting the Zara Spook jr,  giving it a "walk the dog action," and watching fish explode on it!
Jon had many fish

After everyone left I had an epic last day of fishing.

I pulled a bass out of a school of fish I spooked on a flat.

A top water white perch-

Zara spook Jr even catches a White Perch

I found fish along the banks, 
I found endless micro bass feeding in a rip,
I found a bluefish in a rip,
A perch on a flat,
turtles, herons, egrets...

And finally I wrapped my last day up at Sunset on a flat casting tight into a bank, catching my PB for Janes Island, a 26" Rock Fish.

It literally inhaled my lure, and made a bloody mess of everything.  

After everyone left, as I stood by my kayak at my campsite getting ready to go out, a Janes Island regular came up and asked me what was perhaps the most pertinent question of all, "What is my favorite lure?" I stood there stunned.  What a difficult moment to be asked that, normally I would be very quick to answer- Topwater, Zara Spook Jr.  However, just at that moment, from the previous days results, I had already tied on and was prepared to fish all day with what has possibly become my new favorite lure - MirrOdine Suspending Twitchbait.

possibly my new favorite lure

calm waters and a sun sets on the flats

and an earlier Sunset from Rock Hole

in loving memory....

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Somewhat Annual Middle Lake Saranac camping/ fishing report, by Alexi

Martha Reben's Lean-To

 There is so much to say about this trip, but I will be brief:

 We reserved Tick Island on Weller Pond for one week in July.

Weller Pond looking toward Middle Saranac

Other sites at the same time were reserved, coordinated months in advance with friends and family and friends of friends from all walks of life.

There was a bear scare.

and a Bear
Barry by the fire

 and some pike
Whopper Plopper Pike
I had set a few fishing goals for myself.  A smallmouth and a Pike on the Whopper Plopper,

and any fish on a Rapalla Sliver.

I did not accomplish the latter.

Whopper Plopper Bass
The fishing was slow but steady for me.  On only one outing was I skunked, and I usually went out two or three times a day.  I had decided to try and use many of the same lures I was using in Louisiana for Redfish.  Well, that's what was around, and, at this point for fishing to be fun I need to fish topwater lures.  The Zara Spook JR, the redfish magic spinner bait (one gold spinner), and the Whopper Plopper were my "go-to" lures. In fact, besides these three, I only fished the small popper briefely, and the Rapalla Sliver (trolled whenever moving from point A to B) in addition to those. 

Redfish Magic Spinner bait pike
We don't use nets. 
Steve with one of many lost pike
The weather was picture perfect.  In prior years we have been on the lake, trying to cross it in storms, and it is not fun, especially when loaded down with gear.  I know it's hard to tell what's going on in the picture below, so I'll explain;  I am seated at thee stern of the canoe, Maisy the dog is at my feet, Wendy is on the bow.  Behind us is my Hobie fully loaded with gear and trash, about to be  towed and used as a trash barge.  We paddle for an hour and a half, slow but steady, across open water, to return to the truck.
Hobie as Trash Barge

The somewhat annual trips to the Adirondacks keep getting better year after year somehow. 
If you want to make eggs, and you forgot your spatula, there's plenty of wood around to carve one.


Friday, June 22, 2018

New Orleans, June 2018

When a good friend says "You want to come down to New Orleans play some shows and fish for a few weeks and have a free place to stay with a pool?"  Your response should be "Yes".

I drove down to New Orleans with my Hobie on my truck.  I don't have A/C in my 91 Toyota Pickup truck.  There were storms and it was hot the whole way down.  Not a good combo.  I stopped in Knoxville on the way down and on the way back up.  Eight-hour drives on google maps easily turn into 11- to 13- hour drives in my reality.

My first trip was to Lacombe Bayou on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain.  It was evening.  I was skunked.

Bayou Lacombe

While there, I ran into two kayakers, David and his friend, who were kind enough to point me in the direction of Delacroix. 


I did a solo trip there the next day.  I did pretty well.

Large Mouth Bass - brackish

decent red

personal record smallest red

another decent red

It was tough getting used to the small size limits.  Most of the Reds ranged between 16" and 26".  The salt water large mouth bass were a surprise to me.  They were all fairly small.  Most of the Specs were small, and there weren't too many.

I believe all of these fish were caught on my faithful Zara Spook Jr with upgraded hooks for Stripers. 

The rumors were that the water was generally low, and it was really weedy, so whenever I got a good cast in I had confidence that there would be a fish.

I didn't know exactly how scared to be of the alligators.  And the Nutria were everywhere. 

From nose to eyes in inches = feet in alligator length

The next day I met Dave and his friend Sonny down at Delacroix at 6 AM.  It's about a 45 minute from mid-town, where I was staying.


Sonny and Dave

Sonny is losing a big red

topwater red
 Redfish go for $15 a pound at the market down there.  At one point I definitely had ten pounds of redfish in the fridge....
Dave's 27" red

Sonny - alligator alley

I fished Delacroix a few more times, and also started launching at Shell beach, which was a slightly different body of water.  It was less flat and more dynamic in types of structure.  In other words, I could get more casts in without weeds.  Also there was a castle there called Fort Proctor.

Gar were everywhere, and while I thought after the first day that an alligator had attacked my kayak, in all likelihood it was just a large Gar giving my Kayak a tail swipe.

The lure of choice for dave and Sonny was a weedless gold spoon.  While I tried this, and it worked as half of these fish were caught on it or a gold spinner bait, I still went back to throwing my Spook Jr. whenever things slowed down.  I am always more confident in at least getting strikes on that lure than anything else. 










I liked this ones spots

Biggest spec of the trip

the end

except the blues gigs, we were Lee Tiger and the Broken Blues Band