Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Event #3 Pohick Bay

I was not excited  about revisiting the tidal Potomac. I do not know what it is about tidal fishing but I just do not care for it. I need to spend more time fishing these areas to really grow my confidence. I had an opportunity to pre fish this area and I did not do well. I spent about 8 hours on the water and only yielded two very small fish. The water temperature was up and so was my confidence early in the morning. I found water in the mid 60's towards the upper end of Pohick Bay. I spotted a few large females but I was unable to get them to bite. As I ventured out into the main bay, I discovered water temperatures creeping into the 70's.
With warming water temperatures, I must admit I wasn't totally dreading the event. Mother Nature had different plans for the week of the tournament. Air temperatures dropped and I think there was a chance of rain the entire week. Not knowing what to expect the day of the tournament, I prepared for off colored and cold water.
The turnout was about the same as last year. Many of the same faces and a few new faces or some I may not have recognized. I did not hear much talk of strategy but I knew most anglers would leave left out of the launch. This area contains milfoil, a very productive creek channel and clearer waters. I decided to leave out of the ramp towards the right and fish a brush pile I had found the week before. Not far from this brush pile was also some rip rap that had a few lay downs I thought would be productive as the tide came in. With water temperatures in the mid 50's to start the day, I went with a weightless senko thinking the bass would be a bit slow moving. I was able to pull one bass off the brush pile but after a few hours i made the move towards the shoreline rip rap. I tied on a square bill crank bait and fan casted the entire bank. I decided not to travel far and really concentrate on this area. We fished an incoming tide, so I knew this area had to eventually turn on.
After focusing on the shoreline rip rap, I slowly got my limit. The bite was not constant but it seemed like the fish were slowly moving up into the cover along the bank. My largest fish on the day was 16-1/2" and I managed another 5th place finish. Thank you again to Matt Baden for putting on another great event.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

MAKBF Event #2

MAKBF event number two is in the books. This event took place at Rocky Gorge Reservoir in Central Maryland. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission deemed the reservoir unsafe and delayed its opening and we decided to postpone the tournament for 2 weeks. We were finally able to get on the water April 12. This reservoir is true to its name, it's rocky and deep. The weather leading up to the event was anything but consistent. I think the week started out in the 50's, shot up into the 70's, dropped back down into the upper 40's and then by Saturday it was in the mid-60's. Not only was the air temperature inconsistent, off and on rain forecasts had everyone guessing what the water would finally look like come tournament day.

Myself and 2 others contemplated all week about where we would fish come tournament day. I am extremely comfortable on the lower end of this reservoir. Last year I fished Rocky Gorge almost once a week in the afternoons after work. I was able to get on the water twice prior to this event and both trips yielded no fish. With heavy wind in the forecast, we decided to make the 20 minute drive up the reservoir. This section is skinnier and offers a lot more protection from the wind. We were going to need it with 20-30 mph gusts in the forecast.

At the launch, we quickly noticed that the water was a little more clear than we had anticipated. We were not looking forward to fishing muddy water with 20 mph gusts blowing us across the water. The water temperature was a little lower than I wanted to see. It started out in the low to mid 50's and slowly increased as the sun came up. I thought the bass would be a but lethargic due to the colder water temps to start the day. My strategy going into this event would be to start the day out slow and slowly move to a quicker technique as the day progressed if the water started to warm. 

It was pretty windy so a drop shot rig was out of the question. I was thinking about a football jig but I wanted a smaller profile to quickly fill my limit, not knowing how tough the day was gong to be. I decided to go with a 1/4oz shaky head with a junebug colored worm. 

By 7:40, I had landed my first fish. It wasn't big but it was a start. I found him in 6-8 foot of water around wood near large rock. This would be the pattern I would start and finish the day fishing. Some time went by and I hooked into my second fish. After submitting my second fish, I took a look at the leader board and saw there was not many people posting fish. At that point, I knew it was going to be a tough day for all of us. As I drifted passed my two buddies, I asked if they were having any luck. They both answered with a very frustrating, "no". One of them was throwing a crankbait and I believe the other was throwing a jig. We were all fishing areas with wood around large rock.

As the  day went on, the water temperature started to slowly rise. I switched to a lipless crankbait hoping to cover more water and get a reaction bite. I found a protected cove and fished it for an hour or so with no success. After a few more casts, I started to work my way back to the launch. My third fish came on the main section of the reservoir. 

As if catching this fish wasn't hard enough, getting a picture of this fish would be even harder. It seemed like every time I went to snap the picture, he would flop around some more. What happened next was very frustrating. I re positioned my kayak to keep the sun at my back, I got out of the wind to keep from spinning and was set up to get the picture. Right before I took the picture, he flopped again and as I pushed down on him to keep him in place, I snapped my board in two. Now what was I going to do? I looked up and saw another angler about 100 yards away. I placed the fish on the fish grips and got him back in the water while I paddled to the other angler. 

After I finished explaining my story to this angler he chuckled and said he had dropped his in the water earlier that day and it was gone forever. He luckily had a friend fishing nearby that was not competing in the tournament and delivered him a new board. After a few more failed attempts, I finally got the picture of my third fish. Thank you Joe D..

All in all the day wasn't a total failure. I got my limit and was able to squeak out a 5th place finish. I'm not sure what the tournament was won on, but I am pretty sure the bite was tough for everyone. There were a couple big bass caught that day and that was very encouraging to see. 

Next up, Pohick Bay on the Tidal Potomac. Not my favorite body of water...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Event 1: Lake Anna

                My 2015 tournament season did not start exactly as I planned. The first stop on the Mid Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Series tournament trail started at Lake Anna in Virginia. The lake is divided into two sides. There is a “cold side” and a “warm side”. Water discharged from a power plant creates the warm side. This side consists of three pools connected by a series of channels.   As the water travels through the 3 pools, the water temperature slowly decreases. Pool 3 is where the warm water begins mixing with the cold side of the lake, eventually making its way back to the plant.
                The tournament director decided to rent a couple of houses that would grant us access to the warm side. Not only that, it allowed anglers to get there a day early, get ready and get some pre fishing in. I was not going to be able to make it down a day early so I had to think of a way I could pre fish. After a good bit of research and gathering intel from other anglers, I decided to give the cold side a shot. The warm water discharge in to the cold side would be my focal point. I launched with another angler at a public ramp on the cold side exactly where the two waters met. The water temperature was around 50 degrees, there was an abundance of bait fish and what I believed to be striped bass. This lake is known for its striped bass population.  Landing three big fish was my goal. I started my day dragging a black and blue skirted football jig. After yielding no results, I attempted to throw a drop shot but the wind and current was a little too strong to fish this technique effectively. By the end of the day, I had caught no fish, left a rod on the bottom of the lake and had no clue what I would do the day of the tournament.

 Over the next few weeks, I tried to make it down to Lake Anna for a little more pre fishing but Mother Nature did not allow that to happen. The tournament was a few days away and it was time to make a decision. After a lot of messaging back and forth, my pre fishing partner and I decided to drag our Wilderness Systems Ride 115's over the guard rail at pool 3 and launch into the warm side. This would get us away from the crowd fishing in pools 2 and 3.
We were hoping to find water temperatures in the mid 50’s and a few hungry fish. With most of the cold side frozen, we were also hoping this would push bait down to this end of the lake. That was not the case. For almost 3 hours I paddled and paddled just looking for bait, yielding no results. Not only was there no bait fish in sight, the water temperature was below 50 degrees. We had to find warmer water. At 10 am we decided to load everything back up and head to pool 1. This would use up a good bit of fishing time but would provide the warmest water possible. We were back in the water around 11 and quickly discovered water temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees.
I started out throwing a football jig and a lipless crankbait along shoreline rip rap. I was attempting to cover as much water as possible with the little bit of time I had left. I glanced down at my watch and realized it was 2:00. The tournament was over in 30 minutes and I had almost no chance of winning. I ditch the crank and the football jig and get back in my comfort zone, finesse fishing. I tied on an 1/8oz shaky head rigged with a Roboworm and start fishing a dock near the launch. The water around the dock was pretty deep and was the last area I would be able to fish for the day. I glance down at my watch and see it was exactly 2:26. I take a deep breath and say, “This is it, last cast”. I tossed my bait to the deepest part of the dock and stared at my hi-viz Power Pro braid hoping to see it move. After what seemed like an eternity my line started to move and I set the hook. I could feel it was nothing more than a “dink” but avoiding a 0” score in the tournament was now my concern. Luckily, our series adopted an online scoring system and it allowed me to get my fish post before the 2:30 deadline.

Looking back at this tournament I wish I would have followed the crowd and fished the warmer water. The tournament was won in pool 2 on a lipless crankbait and a skirted jig. I believe both were fished around shoreline rip rap. A three fish total of 48.5” won the tournament and a nice 19” greenie took home the big bass prize. I am glad I stuck it out and fished to the very last moment. I may not have won or even placed in the tournament, but that 10.75” largemouth gave me some sense of accomplishment. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2014, Where Did You Go?

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I wonder where did 2014 go? The weather is becoming colder and the days are getting shorter. The after work "quick trips" are a thing of the past. Working only an hour from home and having my Wilderness Systems Ride 115 packed up and ready to go by 3:00, afternoon trips to the reservoir were easy. The extra time home gives me a chance to spend more time with my family, chip away at my overdue "Honey-To-Do-List" and reflect on my 2014 season. Winning the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Series Angler of The Year was by far my greatest accomplishment for the year. A look back at the MAKBF Series.

Event #1 was Mattawoman Creek on the tidal Potomac River in Indian Head, Maryland. Going in to this year, I had zero confidence with tidal bass fishing. To be honest, I still do not care for it. It was the end of April and going into the day I had no real good strategy. I ended up throwing a lipless crankbait in a crawfish pattern around laydowns. I was able to put a few fish in the Ride 115 finishing in 14th place. Looking back, running up the creek was a bad idea fishing an outgoing tide. With very little deep water in the area, the fish had no reason to be there. Unable to run tides in a kayak, I should have found deep water early and let the bass come to me. The tournament was won on a football jig and a 7" worm rigged on a Confidence Baits 1/4oz  Draggin' Head.

For event #2 we were headed back to the tidal Potomac at Pohick Bay in Lorton, Virginia at the end of May. Although I was not happy about heading back to a tidal fishery, I had a better game plan. I started my day on a laydown in a narrow part of a creek channel. I stayed on that spot for about 4 hours. Testing my patience, I was able to get my limit early. I knew the fish had to come through there to get further up the creek while the tide was high. As the day went on, the tide started going out. On the way to my morning spot, I noticed a deep creek channel that ran along the edge of a large section of milfoil. That was going to be my spot as the tide dropped. So when the tide went out, I  quickly paddled to that spot and began floating down casting the same 1/4 oz shaky head rigged with a Straight Tail Roboworm I used in the morning. On my second or third cast I landed a nice fish. What a relief that was, maybe I figured out these tidal bass after all. A 3rd place finish was very rewarding.

Smallmouth Bass on the Upper Potomac would be Event # 3. Floating from Brunswick to Point of Rocks in Maryland. We were finally fishing a body of water I have a lot of confidence in.  I Floated down the middle of the river fishing eddies and boils. Does it get any better? A Rapala DT-6 in Purple Olive Crawl caught them steadily all day. Easily a 20 fish day. I was able to win this event and win Big Bass.

Occoquan Reservoir in Woodbridge, Virginia was next on the list. This place is beautiful and looked like it was going to produce a lot of big fish. After the launch, everyone moved quickly to the banks to try to get that early morning bite. It was July and the fish were not going to stay shallow for long. The amount of recreational boaters was insane. By far, the worst part of the day were the crew teams rowing all over the place. They did not care where your line was. They were going through it and the coach was right behind them on his motor boat. It was hot and I could not find the fish. Fishing a large point with a swing head jig was my strategy for the day. Looking back I wish I would have thrown a drop shot around a rock ledge that was calling my name throughout the day. In 8 hours of fishing, I was able to land one fish. Luckily the day was rough on everyone and that one fish landed me 7th place. I caught this catfish the weekend prior to the tournament on a creature bait.

Going into the final event of the year, I had a 3 point lead in the race for Angler of The Year. With only 9 points separating the top 5, I had to fish well. And where do you think Event #5 was? You guessed it, the tidal Potomac River at Mallows Bay. That place is absolutely beautiful. Mallows Bay is riddled with old sunken ships from one of the World Wars and makes it very difficult for bass boats to navigate the area. The bay was covered in a thick grass that made it extremely hard to fish. My strategy was a Manns baby 1 minus over top the grass. Short casts were the only way to get the bait in without picking up too much grass. After grinding it out all day I was able to finish 3rd and capture my first Angler of The Year Award. The dog tags shown below are the AOY trophy. MAKBF donates a portion of each of event to Heroes on the Water.

The Mid-Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Series decided to do an off-season event in October. Where do you think it was held? Yep, you guessed it. Mattawoman Creek on the Potomac. This was a good opportunity to put everything I learned this year to the test. I figured fall bass would be chasing so I tied that crawfish colored lipless crankbait back on again. This time I was going to find deeper water at a bend in the creek along the edge of some spatterdock. I did not think they would be dug in too deep because of overcast skies. I was right. Picking them off the edge for most of the morning I was able to get my limit pretty quick. An hour before check-in I saw a swirl on the surface and immediately through that lipless crankbait towards it. It was a small school of bass and I was able to catch my largest bass of the day, 18.25". Not a bruiser but extremely satisfying. Paddling back to the weigh-in I had a feeling I had a shot at winning. Waiting around for the results, it sounded like a very rough day for many anglers. A 3 fish limit only measuring 49" did not sound like much. They announced 3rd place, 40.5". And then second place, 43.5". I did it! I won on a fishery I started out the year with zero confidence on.

Looking back on this year I have a lot to be thankful for. My family, a new born baby that was born just 25 days before the first tournament, a great fishing partner, and lots of new friends I have made in the kayak fishing community. A special thanks to Matt Baden for putting on a great tournament  series.