And he said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Brief Summary of the Last Year. And My Latest Brief Fishing Excursions.

I'm back.
Did you miss me?

Wow, I've been bad... or busy.  It's been about a year since my last post on this blog.  I have kept meaning to put down a post or two, I guess I just haven't had the time.  But with Labor Day weekend almost over, I realized this is the anniversary of when I started this blog three years ago.  So here's a new post in honor of it.

But first a brief summary of the last year.
Found melanoma spot on me late last summer.  Got it removed with surgery in the fall.
Before Surgery
All clear.  Covered up, and 50 SPF ever since.

Trip to Austria with the kids and parents in October.  Awesome and absolutely memorable for numerous reasons.  Could have posted 600 photos, but I'll settle for one.
 The Gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral, with its 400+ foot tall spire.  We climbed to the top.

A couple of striper and speckled trout caught in the fall.  Not as many as the previous year, but after my surgery, I was limited in my activity.  So I was happy to get what I got.
A speckled trout and a gray trout on this trip
largest striper of the fall:  Just shy of 28"

I totaled my 4Runner going to work.  And then had to get another one.  Fortunately nobody was hurt.
Oops.  Day after Election Day.  
Took a couple months to find one that had everything I wanted, but here's the newer one.

Another milder winter, so we were hopeful the new crop of puppy drum were able to survive another year.  And hopeful this summer/fall would be productive again, with keepers.  We were hopeful.  It had been a while.

A delayed Boys' Weekend in February that involved drinking bourbon and shooting -- but not at the same time.
No, we didn't kill all the bottles....  But we did try a little of each.
Ted showing his prowess on the skeet.

Spring Fishing was productive for lots of spotted bass in our usual Spring spot.
Parke joined me a couple of times for some bass
Caught more spotties than any previous year....
Brewed a batch of a real nice, clean crisp Pale (Pail?) Ale with Parke.  It turned out AWESOME!
I named mine Redfish Summer Pail Ale -- in anticipation of some good redfishing this summer.
Sampling the beer on Father's Day.  It was quite a treat!  
Went Jet ski fishing for the first time -- and had success with the first legal sized pup of the summer.
Batting 1.000 when it comes to jet ski fishing....
Spent several weekends at Mark's on the mouth of the York River, with great success for fishing each time.
In the john boat...
Nice flounder and horse croaker, with Mark's "cottage" in the back.  We call it the Red Roof Inn.
Another keeper pup
From the shore...
At night....
Mike with a keeper caught during the evening tide....
From the kayak... where I even hooked (and lost...) a small 35" cobia....
First 3 pup limit of the season, and a big horse croaker, too.
And from his brothers' dock in the early evening....
several beautiful sunsets and sunrises were seen from here....
So, I would have to say that the Douglas cottage was the place to be from Memorial Day through August....  But since then, we've also discovered another section of the waters around here....  Bennett's Creek.  And it has been quite productive already.

Jerry gets the credit, as he is looking to purchase some land on the river there.  So he went out and had some success.  I went out one evening, and I lost a couple, but did land this guy.
Blackened Redfish has been eaten plenty this summer.
Then Friday of Labor Day Weekend, Jerry called.  He was taking the day off, did I want to join him kayak fishing around Bennett's Creek.  I had a couple appointments at work, including a lunch one, but told him I'd join him later in the afternoon.  I loaded my kayak and went to work.  Jerry texted me that he caught a couple in the morning paddling up and down the river.  So after my last appointment, I went to join him.

One problem... I had forgotten to bring my kayak fishing clothes.  They were still on my bed where I had left them.  I wasn't about to let that stop me, however.  I slathered on the 50 SPF and stripped down to my boxers.  I have a sit-in kayak.  Who would be the wiser?  I'm glad I have no pride, because it was a successful two hour trip.
I caught up with Jerry, and within minutes hooked the first fish.  A 19" keeper pup.  Shortly after that, further down the river, I hooked into a 20"er.  Then right before long, I had the best fight yet.  When I landed the third one (limiting out again) I had caught a 24" pup.  What excited me about that, aside from the fact it was the largest pup any of us have caught in these waters in the last few years, was that it was a 4 year old fish.  The water in Bennett's Creek is deep enough for the fish to survive the colder winters.  It was a good day.
Who knows what I have on?  But I limited out for the second time in a week.
What made the trip even better was that Jerry didn't get the first hook up while I was with him.  I'm glad he had his i-phone, however, to take photos of me, at least.

So today is Labor Day, and Jerry called this morning.  He had finally mounted his Lowrance depth finder on his kayak, and wanted to test it out on the Creek again.  Did I want to join him for a couple hours.  Sure.

We hit the water, and I told Jerry, the only thing I was keeping today, would be a nice speckled trout -- should we be lucky enough to get any.  Funny that I said that, as we haven't caught any decent specks all summer long.  Today would be C&R Day.  Catch and release.

Before long I was hooked up.  I pulled in a 19" pup.  It swam off.

Then Jerry got one.  Then I got another.  Then Jerry got another.
Jerry with one of his 2 pups today.

The largest pup of the day was 20-21" and fat.  
But then I felt a hit, and it was different.  Sure enough, when I brought the fish up to my net, I had caught a striper.  Maybe only 15", but fat and healthy none the less.  And in another five weeks, we can start keeping any of his big brothers over 18" long.  Before the morning bite was over, I had caught three stripers, with the biggest being about 16".  Their big brothers are still out in cooler waters.....  Waiting to come in....
This fat and healthy 16" striper hit the bait hard.  Give him another year and he'll be big enough to enjoy on the table.
But with all these fish around, and me not keeping any, I decided to try a trout lure.  Sure enough, after just a few casts into the deeper parts of the water, I was rewarded with a hit.  As I brought the fish to my net, I saw what I wanted to see.  Spots.  Lots of them.  It was a nice fat, 17" speckled trout.  HE was going on the stringer, to be broiled tomorrow night.
Not the best photo, but the delicious fillets of this 17" trout are waiting in my refrigerator, to be broiled with a little lemon tomorrow night.  All in all, a very good day all along the creek.
So I got the Bennett's Creek Grand Slam today.  I guess I still have yet to hook a flounder in there, but there are no shortage of croaker.  I would imagine there are some blue cats in there, too.  I'm looking forward to exploring these waters even more....

So, with that, I'm back.  It's been a long and busy year, but we're now in the thick of the best fishing time of the year.  From now until year end is my favorite time of year.  I expect to have several more posts before it's all said and done.  Until next time,

Fish ON!



So the day after Labor Day I'm at work, and I got a text message from Staff Sgt. Michael Donnelly (ret.) who I had turned on to kayak fishing several years ago.  He was out in Bennett's Creek, and wanted to know some of the secrets of fishing that water.  I told him, find deeper water and oyster beds.  Leave your drag looser, and make sure the tide is moving....  Then hang on.

He sent this photo, and said it was the best fight he had in years.  He thanked me for my advice and tips.  I always have supported our troops, and he is a good kid, with quite a story (as I've recounted in a previous post.)  So I'm happy to help him out -- especially if he's a C&R guy, too.
The second largest pup pulled from these waters... a 22" pup that weighted 6 #, per Michael.  He released this beauty to grow even bigger for another fun catch another day.... 
Then the rains came....  I asked Jerry if he wanted to go after work, when the rain cleared out.  He passed.  I decided to go for an hour or so, anyway.

So after work I launched -- only to get rained on some more.  But that doesn't stop me from fishing, as I've stated in the past.  Only heavy winds and lightning keep me off the water.  There was neither of that.  The rain stopped, but I wasn't getting the first bite.  The storms signaled a cold front moving through, and I wondered how much that affected the evening bite.  Just when I was ready to give up, I felt a hit.  A small croaker.  Oh well, at least something was biting.  Then one more bite.  A little stronger.  Could it be another speckled trout?  Well.... not exactly....  It was this 13" beauty.  Who can identify it?  My first thought was, it's a grey trout, (aka weakfish).  But the color was so yellow....
This 13" fish is NOT a grey trout, but a Sand Trout.
Spotted Sea Trout -- a common and popular fish in the region
The Grey Trout, aka Weakfish (because of its mouth):  incidentally the state fish of Delaware.... Who knew.
I had to get this image of a Sand Trout from a Florida or Texas website.... Not Virginia.  But there is no doubt, this is what I caught.  He matches the description perfectly, and it's not that unusual for fish to migrate north during warmer climes.  Heck, we've even had a manatee or two wander through the waters of Hampton Roads....

When I got home, I googled my photo, and compared it with what I suspected it may be -- a sand trout.  But sand trout are more native to Gulf Coast states -- not Virginia.  In fact, Virginia doesn't even have a regulation for what size sand trout you can keep.  (For greys, they must be 12", while specks have to be 14").  Therefore, I guess I could have kept this guy.  But after smiling for my camera, he swam away happily, back into the brown water below (which I read is where they are more commonly found -- as opposed to the cleaner, clearer waters that specks and greys inhabit).  So I learned something else, while catching a new species I hadn't caught before (at least knowingly).  One more reason to like Bennetts' Creek.  Can hardly wait to get out there again....