Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Reel Paradise Meet & Fish


 The originally schedule Meet & Fish was a week back but with the weather reports the Meet & Fish for the upper Wando River was moved to December 21st. The weather was just perfect, the water was smooth as glass, water clarity was eight feet, water temperature 58 degrees F, and the eight participating yak anglers were excited about getting on the water and do some catching.

Lewis and I covered some safety items and explained that we would be getting off the water about 3 PM or so. We then discussed the concept of taking our informal group to the next level. We tested the waters to see what type of response we would get. It appeared to be favorable but the other feedback was stated for us to just pick a date and location then post the information on charlestonfishing.com.
After the short discussion about the purpose and some goals for an organization dedicated to and education of kayak angling. It was time to launch from the Paradise Boat Ramp. Some anglers headed down river against the incoming tide in the hopes of catching a redfish or speckled trout. For me and others, we went with the tide up river in the search of the same species. Of course there is always the chance for a striper as well.
Uff da!! I almost forgot that we also planned a mini-rod tournament for the biggest fish caught on a mini-rod. Entry fee was to donate a fishing lure. The winner would take all. The definition for the mini-rod is a fishing rod that is less than 30” long. Well only two anglers had mini-rods in their possession. So Lewis and I decided to cancel that event for this Meet & Fish.
Although the mini-rod tournament was called off I decided to fish with my mini-rod till noonish. Just maybe I might get some action. My mini-rod that I was using is an ice fishing rod that is 25” in length in medium action. The reel is a HT Optimax 101 spinning reel spooled with some 20 lb power pro. I must have casted that set-up nearly a 1.2 miles drifting with the tide. I did not have any luck. I managed to come across several of the yak anglers that were heading back towards the launch. Only one reported a catch. It was a small 9” speck according to him.
At this time the Jackson Big Tuna started drifting back in the direction that I came. So I went with the flow. Uff da!! Bad pun!! This time I started using the bigger rods. Eventually Lewis and I met. He was going further up the river to the area that I had just come from. I told him that I was going to go further down the river pass the boat ramp. At this point either of us had any luck.
I worked my way along the south bank of the Wando River with no luck. Occasionally I would stop and visit with a few other yak anglers to see how they were doing. The ones that I chatted with were having no luck. I did hear a report that one angler had done very well catching some trout and a redfish. When I reached Alston Creek; my guess about 1.5 miles drift from the boat ramp; I decided to fish the docks on the north side of the river towards the launch area. I removed the rods from the rod holders attached to the YakAttack Black Pak as I planned to travel under the docks as I fished the docks. As I approached the end of the dock system I could see Lewis fishing along the south bank and decided to paddle the Big Tuna over to him and find out how he was doing. He was having the same luck that I was having.
Lewis suggested that we work our way along the shoreline back to Alston Creek and work the docks again. We came up empty handed again. So we crossed the Wando to the dock system and cast under the docks, near the shoreline, and near pilings in the hopes of a hook up. Up to this point I did not even kick up a spot tail in the shallow water. All of a sudden Lewis reported that he had just spooked a red. So we started using a little more caution as we worked along the structure of the dock system. At one point I managed to spook a red, the fish must have been pretty jumpy as Lewis had just drifted over that spot. I think that we got to a point I would estimate about three-quarters of the system, Lewis yelled “Fish On!!” It was fun watching him battle this fish. In fact I thought that it looked like Lewis was going to be pulled into the water but he kept the kayak upright. His only issue was trying to keep the fish away from the dock pilings to prevent a break off. The battle resulted with the redfish winning with a break off. Lewis was pretty bummed; he knew that he had lost a nice spot tail that had to be over the slot limit if not close to 30”. For me it was just a great opportunity to watch the battle between a yak angler and a fish. There is not much that you can do except tighten down the reel drag to prevent the fish from getting along the pilings or away from any oyster bars. This is usually pretty easy in a power boat as you can use the trolling motor to help in keep the fish away from these structures. In a kayak the problem is that while you are tightening the drag a nice strong fish can give you a sleigh ride into the obstructions. This is one of the challenges that kayak fishing provides when hooking up with a huge fish.
Although my day ended with no hook ups a day on the water with friends is always the best. Watching a battle royal between Lewis and a Bull Red made my day and memory of this Meet & Fish the best for 2013.

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