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.