HRBT Light Line 6-29-2011

29 06 2011

I emailed my buddy Chuck from KBF earlier in the week and said I was interested in some night fishing. I was thinking we’d fish Sandy River Reservoir or maybe Briery Creek. Chuck suggested the HRBT Light Line and while the Striper fishing isn’t thick this time of year, you can can still get into them. Considering an HRBT Light Line trip was on my list of things to do, I couldn’t turn it down. We had some logistical issues that were tough to work out, so I almost bailed on the trip. I’m glad I stayed the course and made my first trip.

I leave my client’s far west end offices and head to Hampton via I64 around 4:15-ish. Leaving this time and hitting Hampton around rush hour, I expected to get there close to 6:30 or 7pm. Even hitting a few thick showers, my pace wasn’t slowed and I got there around 5:45. I then spent the next 30 mins hmm-ing and haw-ing about where I wanted to park and launch; I finally pulled myself together and just did it. I threw aGulp! 4″ New Penny shrimp on a 1/4oz jighead and started fishing. There was a slight breeze but nothing awful to contend with at this point, probably blowing around 10mph.

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Off the shore about 40 yards, I start banging the HRBT pylons hoping to hook into anything that will take my offering. Within my first few casts, I’m getting all sorts of nibbling on my hook. I keep whiffing on the hookset, so I’m chalking it up to blues or some other small bait fish annoying the hell out of me. After 15 minutes or so, I get my first solid strike and I swing for the hookset…FISH ON!!! A short fight later and I land my first fish at the HRBT, a small croaker.

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I throw it back and get to fishing, changing up my retrieve from subsurface fast retrieve, to bouncing along the bottom, letting the current and wind pushing my yak, work my jig for me. I hook into another croaker, a small mud toad, and a small flounder.

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About this time, Chuck has showed up and is now launching. We both begin to work the Pylons some more, waiting for the sun to completely disappear so the HRBT lights will work their magic. There is a storm on the horizon and even though the wind, the surf, and the outgoing tide are starting to pick up, Chuck assures me the storm should miss us. He has his marine VHF with him so I’m going to defer to him. We both catch a few croaker when Rob Choi and a buddy of his shows up and join us. I eagerly look forward to speaking to Rob. I haven’t met Rob but I’ve read numerous blog entries and KBF reports of his, he’s a very accomplished angler and fishes the area frequently; I knew he had some tips for me. We all continue pounding the pylons waiting for night to fall, so we can begin our Striper chase.

I make one cast right into a pylon and start the retrieve, I get a solid bite and I swing for the hookset…FISH ON!!!! My rod doubles over and whatever is on, is certainly larger than anything else I’ve caught so far. After about 5 seconds of fight, the large fish goes air born, shaking its head vigorously trying to dislodge the hook I have in its mouth. It’s dusk so I can’t quite tell what it is, but I think it’s a speckled trout…and if so it’s a nice size one. I continue the fight and the fish makes several, hard runs, almost Redfish like. At this point, I think maybe I’ve got a Red on (never seen or heard of a Red going air born). I finally get it to the side of the yak and realize I’ve got a sweet speck on my line. Put it on the board and it measures a little over 19 inches!!!! SWEET! My camera takes horrible night shots (as you can see in the album linked at the end of the post), however Rob got a hero shot of me holding my speck.

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I release the speck and now I’m pumped. I’m ready to get into some Striper now and the daylight is almost all but gone.

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Unfortunately, so has most of the decent fishing conditions. The wind is now blowing at a 15mph to 25mph clip, with some stronger gusts. There’s lightning off in the distance and it’s getting dark, but Chuck still believes the storm is going to miss us. The surf has become rather choppy (that’s putting it lightly) and combined with the wind, has become rather difficult to fish in. All the anglers have spread out, looking for striper hunting for baitfish in the light cast down from the HRBT bridge lights, so I can’t tell if anyone is having any luck. With the poor paddling conditions, I’m struggling. After 45 mins or so of doing a lot more paddling than casting, I make my way over to Chuck and let him know I’m going to paddle in and take a break and see if the storm pulls away from the area, along with the horrible wind and surf. I start to paddle towards shore and I get about 30 yards or so before I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder. What the….POW. Hit again, now my knee. I look around me and see big splashes forming all on the surface of the water…HAIL!!!!! I make a bee line for the cover of the bridge and all hell breaks loose at that point. The hail only lasts about 20 seconds, but then the intense rain starts.

There’s not much to talk about here as I spend the next 45 minutes, in the same place, constantly paddling…battling the outgoing tide, wind, and surf (all working in the same direction) to try and stay under the bridge and out of the elements. The swells had to have been 4 feet or so, maybe more. I know I had water breaking over the bow of my kayak on nearly every swell. Usually when a heavy storm rolls in this fast, it rolls out just as fast. It never did.

When it looked like we could safely paddle to shore, Chuck and I follow the bridge in to take a short break. The rain is still pouring, but the wind has let up a little bit. We wait about 30 minutes to see if the storm passes but it doesn’t let up. I had planned on quitting at midnight if the fishing wasn’t hot….it was 11:30 and I had no desire to fight the rain, wind, and current anymore so we packed it up and headed home. Fun trip and I’ll definitely make it again, but I’ll keep a closer look at the weather before hand and make trip changes based on the weather.

When I got home, I looked up historical doppler images and found this. For those of you unfamiliar with the HRBT, I’m fishing above the P where the ride line cross over the body of water. Wait for what moves in that area around 10pm…

All my pictures

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