Lynnhaven Inlet 9-5-2011

5 09 2011

Sitting here and looking back on this day, it’s a wonder I caught any fish as there were so many errors and mishaps along the way. The weather was not looking promising for Virginia Beach, 15mph winds with gusts up to 25mph and scattered thunderstorms. I took vacation so I could fish today so I wasn’t going to sit around the house.

I set out around 7:15-ish am for Lynnhaven Inlet. I get about 30 mins in when I realize mistake number 1, I left my hat at home. Not a big deal, I’ll just have to apply extra sunscreen to my face. About 90 mins in and almost to my destination, the big oops is realized, #2: I left my PFD at home. Now anyone who know me, knows I don’t get in my kayak without it for safety reasons alone. However, I was on my vacation and 90 mins into my 105 minute trip I wasn’t about to turn around. The other problem with this is that my PFD also contains my line snipper, pliers (for removing hooks from toothy fish), whistle, and my knife/multi-tool. I had no backups in my saltwater crate, so I was going to be fishing without a lot of important tools.

I get to Lynnhaven and go to park, it’s my first time here. I realize the spots are numbered and there is box where you’re supposed to pay to park. Oops #3, I don’t have cash. I leave the parking lot and head to the local 7-11, take out cash, buy a power bar and get some change. Head back and start unloading. I brought my YakCatch bag as I had intended to take home some trout or flounder to eat when I realized oops #4: the Ride 135 doesn’t have deck line to attach the bag to. Well, I guess I won’t keep any fish today, lucky them.

I get all my stuff unloaded and loaded on the kayak, and get onto the water. I started to paddle out into the inlet when oops #5 hits: I left my salt water license in the car and my croakies for my sunglasses. I’ve recently moved to a 2 crate system: one for salt and one for fresh. This is my first time in the salt with the system and thus the license wasn’t already in the crate. I turn around and make the paddle back to retrieve said items. I finally get out into the inlet and beach at the sandbar right across from the mouth of Crab Creek. I brought along my cast net to try and catch bait, it would be my first time ever throwing a cast net. First toss is a success, I get 4 finger sized mullet in my net! Second toss I get 5! Wow, this is going to be easier than I thought. Third toss I get 2 and the rest of the tosses are pure ugliness. No more bait, but enough to get me to fish a while.

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At this point, I’ve got to re-rig one of my rods for a carolina rig so I get to work on 20lb Seagur Fluoro leader with my teeth. Ouch. I finally get my rig straight and paddle down the inlet a bit. I go to stake out at the creek mouth when oops #6 comes in: No anchor trolley for the Stick It In Pin. This was a known oops but still it was rather tough putting a 5.5′ stake out pole through a scupper and trying to manage that. I ended up having to reposition a few times to get everything squared away but once I was finally in position I stayed for quite some time.

I put a mullet onto the circle hook and tossed it out. At this point the tide was coming in so I let the current drift my rig. I feel a slight tug so I reel it in. I pull up a rather large blue crab that has cut my mullet nearly in half. The crab falls off, along with most of my bait. I rebait and cast back out. These slight tugs and losses of mullet to crab went on for 30 mins or so. Finally I get a good strike and set the hook. FISH ON! After a short fight, I land a 15″-ish flounder! He gave me lots of side boat splashes, I was soaked by the time he was landed.

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I release the flounder, rebait my hook with another mullet, and cast again letting the current drift my carolina rig. I get another strike on the very next cast and get a little bit of surface action. This is no flounder, it looks like a trout!!! A short fight later and I get him to the side of the yak. It’s a good size! 19″ of beautiful specks and teeth!

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If I had my YakCatch bag this trout would have been going home with me. Lucky for him, I did not so he was released.

I re-baited and re-casted and let the rig drift again. Recasting and re-drifting went on for a while. One time I went to reel in and the line was heavy so I swept my rod for a hookset…FISH ON! A short fight later and I have a blue up to the kayak…only problem is, it’s gut hooked. No pliers and no way I’m sticking my fingers in there…Lucky for him (and me) the blue’s teeth had put a hurting on the fluoro leader and it actually snapped when I put a little bit of pressure on the line. I let it go but I’m unsure how long it’ll last, he’s got a 3/0 Gammy Octopus hook in its gut. I had to retie my rig again, my poor teeth.

I eventually ran out of bait and fished some weed lines and small coves, landing one more small 8″ speckled trout on a 4″ New Penny Gulp Shrimp. Some weather was moving in, the current was swift and so was the wind, so I called it a day.

When I get back to the car, my cooler had somehow toppled over and water was all over the cargo area of my car: oops #7. This just was not my day! Glad I left when I did, some heavy rains started coming down on my way home.

All my pictures from the trip

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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