He lives on the James River near the James River Bridge, so I was excited as this was a new stretch of water for me to try.
|The James River Bridge.|
We met right after work and the first thing I noticed were a dozen turkey buzzards all sunning themselves on the beach in the late afternoon sun. Is that a good sign or not, I wondered to myself....
"What is this, Buzzard Beach? I asked?"
I should have known better. As we walked down to the shore, I saw the fish carcasses from his previous ventures. The buzzards were simply cleaning up after him. He was hoping the resident bald eagles would come clean up, but the buzzards beat them to it. No sooner than he said that, however, when a majestic mature eagle flew right by, seeing that there was nothing but bones.... It flew on.
We prepared for launch, and the first thing I noticed was that my friend had the Hobie Mirage fishing kayak -- the Rolls Royce of kayaks, in my opinion. It has the wonderful advantage of allowing the user to pedal instead of paddling -- or sometimes, in addition to paddling, for extra speed....
|With a seat that rivals my La-Z-Boy recliner, and enough cargo space to carry equipment for a family, the Hobie is the "Aircraft Carrier" of kayaks -- compared to my little orange "Destroyer"....|
We launched and paddled (or pedaled) down river towards his "spot". Enjoying the evening on the glassy river, we talked and took it all in. It was an incoming tide, and we could already see the swirls of puppy drum coming in to feed. My hopes were rising....
When we finally arrived at his spot, it indeed looked ideal. A "cut through" where the water flowed through the grassy shoreline to a break in the river. A place where predator fish would just lie in wait for bait to come by with the current. We cast a few times, and sure enough, all of the sudden he had a fish. A couple minutes later he brought in a fat healthy 20" red. A couple minutes after that, I felt the tap of a hit and pulled one in, myself. Then he caught another. Then I caught another. We'd already caught 4 fish (which was about what his spot was good for, he said) and hadn't even tried too hard yet.
Pausing for a drink, I asked if he'd had success further down river. We can try, he said. So another 5 minute paddle and I came to a spot where the grassy shore stuck out a bit. I could see a red waiting there, I thought. I cast. And BAM, sure enough, I pulled in another, to the laughter and joy of my friend. He then admitted he'd never had luck there, so was encouraged to see they were there as well. Just then we saw another red jump about 100 yards further down, right by the shore. I paddled over to the area and looked back. It was a beautiful evening sky, I realized, so I paused, cast my rod and got out my camera phone for a photo.
|I paused to take this shot of the evening sky and river. That's the Aircraft Carrier, USS Hobie, on the right.|
|The colors of the 3 reds I kept, were stunning in the setting sun....|
|My 4th pup of the evening was identical to the other 3: a healthy 3 year old 20" fish. But this guy will get the chance to see 4 years old -- and hopefully be caught again, when he's 24" long next year....|
As the sun was getting low, we paddled back to the "spot", which he said should be good for "one more fish now". Along the way I cast again, and hooked a 12" flounder. More laughter from us both, as I released the small flattie to grow up. My friend said in addition to the reds and small flounder, this is a great spot for trout and striper, too, when the season is right. I believed it.
|What a beautiful, stunning sky, to highlight a perfect evening, I thought....|
|My 5th pup will also get the chance to see his 4th birthday, as he also got released to grow some more....|
When we got back to his beach, we put away our equipment, I threw my kayak in the back of my truck and then we went up to his kitchen to clean the fish. The stomach of each pup was full of fiddler crabs. These fish had been feasting on the plentiful crabs that dotted the shoreline everywhere.
|My son and I had made this beer early in the summer|
|The label really seemed appropriate after a wonderful evening of fishing for pups on a warm, sunny evening....|
And now that it's Striper Season, we just need some cooler weather to bring in some schools of my favorite pinstriped pals. Until then, however, I'll happily keep catching the one-spot wonders on the James....
Until next time,
P.S. I ate some of the pups last night with some friends. Tried a new recipe which including baking them with melted butter, lemon juice and diced onion. Some salt, pepper, paprika and a little cajun spice added a kick. But having had some flounder recently with Parmesan cheese baked on top, I decided to sprinkle some Asiago on top of the redfish fillets in the pan. Wow! I can't wait to try this recipe again -- but with rockfish next time. :)