Tuesday, May 31, 2011
First off, I have to thank Kayak Kevin for all the tips and secrets divulged to us. I know I've told you again and again, but thanks Kevin!
On Saturday Night I felt like I was a kid and it was Christmas eve. I've been to the Shoals on the Eastern shore 16 times in the past 4 years, but every time I am excited to go. The target is always the same (Bull red drum) and the results other than once (one 38"er) have all been the same...NO Reds. I never let that get to me though. I go with the same positive attitude and determination as always. Even though I knew I had to be up at 6am to meet my buddy Mark Rioux, I couldn't sleep. I had thoughts of reds swimming in my head til about 1:30am when I finally got to sleep. At 4:45 I woke up before my alarm ready to go. After picking up Mark we headed to Grafton Fishing Supply to get some peelers and hard crab. One last stop at Wawa for kayak fuel (one chocolate filled muffin, one glazed cake doughnut, 10" turkey sub, turkey wrap, a bag of chips, and some water) and there was nothing left to stop us!
We arrived at Wise Point boat ramp around 8:30am. Rob Choi gave us a greeting from the water where he was already fishing for flounder. We got in the water and began the journey to our predetermined spot (Thanks again to Kayak Kevin). The paddle out is rarely an easy thing but this time was different. The wind was minimal and the current wasn't bad at all. We kept our eyes peeled for any sign of life, but our main concern was the bronze backs of bull reds. After paddling for several miles without any sightings, my eyes started to wander and I started to pay less and less attention to the water around me. All of the sudden, Rob yells: "REDS!" Before he could say anything else, I saw a school of reds swimming all around my kayak. We were paddling right over top of at least a dozen huge reds! I took a cast as fast as I could, but all I managed to do was spook one as I rolled my swimbait over its back. Rob had one hit his swimbait but didn't manage to hook up.
After the school passed us, we tried to chase it but we couldn't seem to find it. I was going to be very upset with myself if that school was the only chance we had that day. For the next 2 hours or so my eyes were playing tricks on me...EVERYTHING was red. I wanted to see another school so bad I was hallucinating. Finally out of the corner of my eye I spotted 2-3 reds in some breakers. With my Release Reel at hand I immediately flipped a peeler crab right on top of the school. Within 5 seconds I cranked my line in slowly til there was a slight pressure then WHAM! I was hooked up and yelling like a little kid! The red started to pull me around and I showed Rob where the school was. After taking a very short video clip (I'm glad he decided to give up on it), he paddled over to the school, cast his swimbait, and immediately hooked up. We had 2 bull reds hooked up at the same time!!! After a 5-7min fight I landed my red and started to shoot video of Rob. Both fish were measured at a respectable 45". Just a mere 1" from making it a release citation.
The next 3 hours were uneventful. We beached the kayaks for a quick breather and ate lunch on an exposed sand bar. We tried to decide what to do next since we couldn't seem to locate another school. As we were trying to make up our minds, my buddy Terry Reece joined me, Rob, and Mark on the sand bar. After thinking about it we decided to try to find them in the same area. I met another kayaker (David Narr) that had seen a couple schools in the same area, but hadn't managed to land any.
I got to talking to David about fish of all kinds when all of the sudden he stopped talking and said "THERE THEY ARE! I WAS PADDLING RIGHT NEXT TO THEM!". He prompted me to cast in front of him so I threw my swimbait at them with no luck. On my second cast, I felt a heavy "THUMP!" I set the hook hard and it was on! I immediately knew that this was a heavy fish. It stripped a bunch of line til finally my boat was moving as fast as the fish and the drag stopped pulling. I was on the biggest sleigh ride of my life! After 5-6 good runs, I eventually reeled the kayak up to the fish til I was right over it. The fish was 4-5 feet directly under me but I could not lift its head! It was as if the line was a rigid pole that was attached to the fish and I was holding on while it dragged me around. After about 10 mins of fighting the fish I finally got it in the kayak! I got a few pics and a measurement then released it unharmed. WHAT AN AWESOME FIGHT! I LOVE IT!
After the 2nd drum, I paddled around Smith Island to do a little exploring. I saw some dolphin and kicked up a couple of large sharks but didn't see any more reds.
At the end of the day the tally was Rob Choi with one 45" red and me with a 45" red and a 46.75" citation red! David Narr also landed a couple nice upper 30" reds after he helped me with my biggest Drum ever!
Next up...Speckled trout...or maybe cobia? Sheepshead? So many fish, so little time :)