Saturday, May 16, 2015

The 2015 Jacksonville Classic

I have been participating in the Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic for the past four years. The folks that run the event do a great job every year. The captains meeting and weigh-in are more like a party in my opinion. The captains meeting for me is a chance to catch up and swap fishing stories from the past year with old friends and an opportunity to meet new friends. The weigh-in gives me the opportunity to swap stories from tournament day and at the end of the ceremonies to say good bye till the next year.
The tournament is actually used as a fundraiser for two charities. Originally the only charity that the Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic raised funds for was the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville. This year the organizers decided to add another charity and split the funds raised between the two organizations. The added charity is kayak fishing related is the Northeast Florida Heroes on the Water Chapter; in my opinion which was a great decision to help support a great cause related to our veterans.

Going along on this trip are my two fishing buddies; Greg and Lewis. We also will be ride sharing which means we will have to minimize the amount of fishing gear that we can take as we will be loading three kayaks into the bed of Lewis’ truck. For me this will be a difficult task. I planned on using the Jackson Big Rig with the JKrate, Power Pole Micro-Anchor and the Raymarine Dragonfly. I managed to cut down the number of rods by only one rod. I opted to not bring my rod that I use for top water action for the early morning. Instead I had two rods configured with a rig head and the Slayer Sinister Swim Tail (S.S.T.)in two different colors, two rods configured with a Trout Eye Jigheads and the ZMan Trout Trick also in two different colors, and a bait rod. While most tournaments that I’m in don’t allow bait the Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic does. So when I decide to anchor in one spot for a while I can have the ability to chuck out a part of a blue crab or a mud minnow to increase my chances of catching one of the three species for this tournament.

We departed Charleston about 4 AM early on Friday and arrived in Jacksonville at Brown's Creek Fish Camp for some blue crab and mud minnows about 8:30 AM. We then drove to the next launch site on Clapboard Creek to test out this area. Lewis managed to locate some small speckled trout off of a point into a deep hole. Greg I don’t recall; maybe he got skunked. For me I managed to have the bait reel screaming using half of a blue crab. I was sure hoping to locate an area with some bull reds. The tide was going out and the fish just was following the tide. Unfortunately the wind was blowing stronger against the tide so when I pulled the micro-anchor the fish could not pull me with the tide. I finally was blown into the grass and managed to get this fish tired and near the surface. Then I noticed that it was not a bull redfish but a huge sheepshead just less than 25 inches. After a couple of photos I decided to let the monster go to get even larger and to let another angler enjoy a good battle.

It was getting close to the time for the captains meeting so we met at the ramp to load up and head to the hotel to check in first and freshen up. At the captains meeting I learned that Jackson Kayaks was sponsoring the ‘Biggest Flounder’ division by awarding the winner with a 2015 Cuda LT. What a great prize. I visited with Drew Gregory & Charles Ganoe that were present presenting Jackson Kayaks as well.

That evening Greg and Lewis convinced me that we need to fish Clapboard Creek for the tournament. I went ahead and agreed. I thought maybe tomorrow might be a different day and the redfish, trout, and flounder might be biting better then today. We got to the ramp at 5ish AM and there must have been 15 other yakanglers with the same idea. At Clapboard Creek ramp there is basically only a single ramp; so at 6 AM launch time power boats and kayaks alternated on launches. Everyone that was in the tournament and the leisurely boat anglers cooperated very well on using the launch.
I started the morning out by checking out some docks along the St John’s River in the hopes for a speckled trout and flounder; maybe a redfish but I thought the redfish might give me a better opportunity in the creek along the grass line. There was plenty of bait but no surface action and I sure did not get any hits on the mud minnows or plastics. I must have fished 20 plus dock systems along the river with no success.

I decided to paddle back into Clapboard Creek and hit some of the smaller creek mouths and a few oyster bars in hopes of catching a slam of a redfish, trout & flounder. As the day got shorter I was feeling a skunk coming on. I crossed the main creek and hit a few other spots heading toward Cedar Point Creek. I managed to get a good hit but I only managed to land a small jack crevalle. 

Back at the ramp I visited with some of the other yak anglers listening to their fishing stories, Lewis managed again to find a mother lode of dink trout, Greg managed a few small trout as well, a legal 12 inch flounder to get on the board, and even managed to chase some slot size redfish around without any luck.

Top winners for the Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic are:

  • ·         Slam Winner: Kevin Kappel with 74.7 inches
  • ·         Biggest Redfish: Alfie Nazario with 44.3 inches
  • ·         Biggest Trout: Jake Bates with 28.9 inches
  • ·         Biggest Flounder: Tom Weil with 20.25 inches

Congratulations to all the yak anglers that placed.

1 comment:

  1. We flew home to book this venue in June last year. Absolutely loved it here and I'll be certainly waiting to go back there for more events. Regardless of the time of your event, you always get the same thing at rental halls in Philadelphia: reasonable drink prices, great decoration, & friendly staff.