A new personal record Freshwater Drum

The holiday weekend provided an opportunity to get back out on the kayak. I wanted to get out in Lake Erie but was worried about the wind and subsequent wave height. For once, I felt like I made a thoughtful well calculated plan, and chose to put in at Emerald Necklace Marina on the Rocky River. It was close enough to the mouth that I could paddle to the lake, yet if conditions were bad I could just stay in the river. So I put my plan into action and sure enough the lake was far to choppy for me to feel safe. I did not use good judgment as I was compelled to go out and ‘test it’, but dumping would never be a good way to say, “yes I was right, too poor of conditions”. My novice status as a kayak fisherman was also evident by my failure to realize I had left the scupper plugs in. A self bailing sit on top does no good when getting drenched if the plugs aren’t out. Lesson learned.

CWF052515drumThe largest Freshwater Drum I’ve ever caught, 27 1/2″

While I was disappointed to be heading back into the river, I still had great expectations of good fishing and maybe would get into some Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, or Common Carp.  Reports had all of these species being picked up in good numbers recently.  While highly unlikely, I also thought maybe I stood a chance at a Steelhead heading back out to the lake.  As the day went on and the fishing was slow, I went from wondering what I was going to catch to wondering if I was going to catch at all.  It may have been due to all the boat traffic and recreational paddlers, maybe the people and dogs splashing in the water, but the end result was nothing happening as far as fish.

I’m never one to give up easily and after multiple lure changes, I settled in on using a Blue Fox Super Vibrax.  I’m a big fan of inline spinners and this is one of my favorites.  After 5 or 10 minutes, I felt my first nudge of the day and a few casts later I had my first fish, a small drum.  As slow as the fishing was, I appreciated anything willing to bite and that included a small non noteworthy fish.  I also have to say that any catch from the kayak is celebrated, as it is a newer experience.  I decided I would just keep throwing the same lure and it paid off in consistent catches, albeit small to medium sized drum.  They fight plenty good for their size and I wasn’t looking for a meal, so it suited me fine.  I remained optimistic that eventually something else would come along, but if it didn’t at least I was catching.  As I was nearing my time to quit for the day, I had a massive strike and my drag immediately was screaming.  I was pulled to the center of the river rather quickly and was fortunate that traffic was light at this time.  A few recreational yakers moved out of the way and proceeded to have some entertainment, I also noted a considerable amount of shore fisherman and onlookers watching the battle ensue.  I figured it was a drum as it was reluctant to do anything other than hug the bottom as it fought, but it was remarkable in it’s ability to change direction and I found myself fighting it at various times from either side of the kayak.  Landing it was no easy task, but after 5 or 6 minutes I got it in the net.  I have to admit I was not expecting a fish of this size and it was truly the most fun fish to catch in a very long time.  I put the fish on a stringer just to help control it for the photo ops and it also proved to help me when making sure it was revived and ready for release.

No success getting a photo while it was perfectly straight on the Hawg Trough

While I know a good majority of angler’s will simply say, “it’s just a drum”, I love catching the rough fish and less widely accepted and targeted species.  This was the largest I have ever caught and a welcomed upgrade on my life list.  It far exceeded the 22″ necessary for Fish Ohio Award and gave me quite the memory.   Call it a Sheephead, Reef Donkey, or whatever you want, I’ll call it a trophy.

‘Launching’ into kayak fishing

Behind the scenes, for at least a year, I had been considering getting deeper into the sport of kayak fishing.  While I have had a cheap recreational kayak for many years, it was a big decision to fully invest all the resources necessary to take it to the next level.  Kayak fishing has evolved into a niche within the angling community that you could literally devote every aspect of your recreational time to.  While I am still just scratching the surface of custom- ization and all aspects of rigging, I am far enough along that I made a trip out, had success, and wanted to get the readers up to speed on this endeavor.

Before I get into my first excursion report, there have been numerous entities that have helped in one way or another to motivate me into the sport.  Although I am fearful I will inadvertently omit someone, my ‘shout outs’ of appreciation go to; Brookfield Angler, CLE Kayak Anglers, KFGL, YakAddicts, Hook1, Lucid Fishing, Ocean Kayak, ACK, NRS, and The Backpacker’s Shop.  I know many people will be curious what yak I bought and why.  While that could be suitable for an entire post itself, I will just say the decision largely came down to the following… 1. Kayak weight vs. kayak weight capacity 2. Ability to handle a decent day on Lake Erie, yet small enough for creeks 3. Size as it relates to transport and storage when not in use.  Other aspects were considered as well before making a final decision.

My 2015 Ocean Kayak Trident 11 Angler in Orange Camo

A few weeks ago, a maiden voyage took place, but it was for an overall familiarization with the boat from comfort to safety.  Today’s trip was for getting down to serious fishing business.  I knew Wallace Lake (Berea, OH) had been stocked the prior week for a kids fishing derby yesterday.  I was optimistic that the snotty nosed little brats (err… I mean little angels) hadn’t fished everything out the first day.  My species of choice would be Rainbow Trout, but more importantly I just hoped to catch fish.  Everything would be catch & release, other than the trout.  It is doubtful there is much, if any, carryover.  The first few hours on the water were not overly productive as I only caught a few small panfish.  I saw a number of Largemouth Bass, some rather decent, but nothing could convince them to strike.  I also came across a nice catfish resting in the submerged timber that I was only successful in waking long enough to swim away.

So much of fishing success is knowing when to switch techniques or a pattern.  It suddenly occurred to me that if I kept doing the same thing, I’d get the same result.  I then paddled to the deepest portion of the lake, put a split shot above a small inline spinner and started casting.  This was something completely different than I had tried all day.  After letting my spinner sink for a few seconds, I began a slow retrieve.  After 3 or 4 casts, I felt the smack of a fish hitting the lure and a minute or two later I had my first ‘real’ fish landed from the yak.  It was a dandy 15 3/4″ stocker Rainbow Trout.  My experience with most trout stocking events is that the fish are 10-12″ and often drab in coloration and markings.  This fish was nice in size and plenty handsome, I was thrilled.  The next step was getting an opportunity to test my solutions for kayak self photos, and overall, I was pleased with the results.

CWF061715rtroutThe first noteworthy catch in the new yak

The ACK Hawg Trough removes all doubt when it comes to measuring fish

CWF061715troutThe second trout was a clone of the first

A three fish trout limit was exactly what the author hoped for

While I was content with the catch, I was eager to see if I could reproduce the success again.  Fifteen minutes later, a second similar sized fish was guided to the net.  With complete confidence, a third trout was landed within 30 minutes of the second.  My day was complete as I had my 3 trout limit on the stringer, but I did fish a bit longer.  A fourth trout was caught and released, and I called it a day, I had achieved complete contentment.  As I paddled to shore I thought about the fact that people could argue there are far more exotic locations and fish out there to be had, but this moment, this water, this day… was perfect to me.

Making the most of little time

Time is a commodity I don’t have much of these days.  Between a demanding career and family, fishing has been few and far between in 2015.  Along with very limited outings, getting the time to even do a brief write up has proven difficult.  On the up side, when I have made it out I have had some good success.  Most notably, I made it over to the Sandusky River White Bass run and timed it perfect.  It was non stop action with a real nice class of fish.  Plenty of bonus species made an appearance to also keep things interesting.

CWF05032015wbA 16″ Fish Ohio Award White Bass

The pond has been fishing well, and of course gets the majority of my attention as it provides a quick fishing ‘fix’ when there is no time to get anywhere else.  For the most part, I just have been working on my fly fishing and seem to be getting more proficient.

CWF05032015pumpkinPumpkinseed are quite beautiful

CWF05032015flybassA few Bass get to the fly before the Bluegill

Only a single trip was made to the various spring trout stockings and even on that day I didn’t have much time.  I was happy to at least get a fish, a rather decent 12″ Rainbow that under the circumstances, made my day.

CWF05032015troutInstagram trout selfie

I’m not feeling very worthy of calling myself a fishing blogger these days with so little time for fishing and writing.  I appreciate the folks that still stop by and/or follow on Facebook, even a small following makes me want to continue doing this.  I hope everyone out there is having a fun spring and making some great catches!

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