In the middle of May Steve and I headed South to the Va. Beach area to fish for giant Reds - weather permitting. Weather only permitted the last of three days. The other days we fished the back bays of Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets respectively. A cold front had just moved in and apparently shut the bite down. We set up camp at First Landing, which was convenient and pleasant, in spite of the noise from the military exercises.
Unfortunately, between the two of us we only managed one keeper Spec in the back bays, and one snagged ray out front off the point of Cape Charles.
small Rudee Spec
Fast forward, then rewind a little, and a little bit of fishing redemption from a spring full of lack-luster trips, forgive me if I might slip a little early June into the May report.
first week of June:
Eventually KGB and I found the bluefish at the sedges.
Gator blues in the back
It took some time and a lot of moving around to find them, but we did in a couple of spots.
I figured if I put some time in on some South Jersey waters with a pink fin-esse and a jig head I'm bound to get a weakfish, however small. I'm sure my odds would be greater if I fished the super early hours of the morning, but that hasn't been an option for me yet. Also, I've been hitting spots that I haven't been to much; going on exploratory missions.
Unfortunately I haven't yet hit my target species, however I did have some action with schoolie striped bass.
The first of the two trip was to Skunk Ditch, in Cape May, where Steve and I had fished only once before. I wasn't getting any action in the creeks, and the tide was low, so I ventured into Cape May Harbor to try and find some deeper holes.
Cape May Fish Plant
It was in uncharted territory for me with no fish finder, just using common sense to find the fish, and I did get some hits and a fish at some points and along some walls.
Cape May Schoolie
Otherwise, this was an all-around slow fishing trip. I wasn't really feeling like I was going to have any more success and I didn't get any fish after that, even though the conditions felt really good as I was casting along the sod banks at high tide and sunset.
My next trip planned was to Launch at Great Bay Blvd and fish into Newmans Thoroughfare. The weather forecast that day had changed for the better, from chance of thunderstorms to overcast, and so I had a chance to stay a little longer than planned.
Abandoned Fish Factory, Great Bay
Again, I didn't have any hits in the creeks, but when I got into the main channel and fished really tight to the banks I found more small bass.
One of at least ten
I found a couple of random fish along the banks, but really found a nice school of feeding bass as I was heading back, super tight along a bank, and they weren't giving up. Usually they will be spooked after two or three fish get pulled from the same area, but these fish were staying there. After a bit of fun catching fish after fish, I headed back, again, with no weakfish.
Again, I know that if I were truly serious about my weakfish hunting I would have to go out and hit some holes, and current, in the middle of the night, and I may still have a chance yet in the first half of May.
I have been eager to put a bend in one of my heavier rods. It's been a while, and between the wind and my own schedule my chances have been slim to none. On a side note - I have , however, been trying to get into Trout fishing on the Fly rod as there is a stocked stream behind my house.
Back yard stocked trout
Monday April 22, 2019:
I arrive at the port of Keyport around 6 AM. The top of New Jersey's coastal waters. Raritan Bay is calm.
I have two rods, both have Mojo's rigged up, one for deeper water (over 20') the other shallower water. I get my first fish as soon as I hit about ten feet of water. I'm just guessing depths based on past years. (None of my fancy electronics are working anymore.) Salt air and water kills everything.
My second fish was after almost two hours and a lot of pedaling. Conditions were getting worse. The wind picked up and it was coming straight from the opposite side of the bay giving plenty of time and distance for the waves to build.
I had a third fish that came unbuttoned next to my boat, and since I wasn't planning on keeping any of these fish, as more than likely they all had eggs in them, and because it was really choppy....I was fine with that.
Tuesday April 23:
The Bottom of New Jersey (almost)
I launched at Sunrise at Shell Bay Rd.
My plan was to target Weakfish in Turtle Gut. I forgot how low low tide is at the Shell Bay Launch. I couldn't find the entrance to Turtle Gut, there was no water anywhere. I dragged my boat in the mud until I reached about two inches of water. I made my way out towards Hereford Inlet. I made a million casts with a pink finesse.
I caught two stripers.
Someday I'll figure out the elusive Weakfish bite. I feel like I'm getting closer and closer. In the meantime, stripers will have to do.
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)
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.
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 p.s. in the end, my hunter friend didn't get his deer
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
"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).
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.