Monday, September 23, 2013
9th Annual New England Kayak Fishing Tournament
I recently had the opportunity to fish the New England Kayak Fishing (NEKF) 9th annual Striper Shootout in Winter Island, MA. It was a great event and while I didn't find the big fish this year, I did find some smaller fish and I had the opportunity to spend time in some beautiful scenery with some great folks.
Now, for the fishing! Fortunately for me, I have a friend that lives in Boston MA and he has an extra Hobie Revo 13 that I was able to borrow. I packed two travel rods, a few reels, way too much tackle, dry pants/top, fishfinder, visipole.... yeah I brought a lot! Since this was going to be my only trip in the MA area of the season, I wanted to be prepared! Plus, I had no idea where the fish would be/what they would be eating, or at least that's how I sold it to myself! We've all been there...
Anyway, we started fishing almost as soon as I landed. The winds were up, but the tides were right, so we decided to hit DI to see if we could find any rock around. We did not find any in the normal places, so we did some exploring. I was trolling an eel and I had a 1 nice run-off but no hook up. That was it! I was worried about how this weekend was going to go...
The next day we had some work to do, but once that was finished we headed up to the Beverly Harbor area which was near where the Shootout would be held. We fished from about 6pm - almost 3am... and despite covering a lot of ground/good structure we could not buy a fish! Paddling back in over a very shallow flat we spooked some small stripers and we finally took the skunk off by casting topwater plugs. I had one go nuts at the boat and made off with my favorite redhed zara spook! Being that I was tired at this point I opted to ditch the treble hooks and went to a single 1/4 hook with a blue/grey BKD (one of my favorite colors). This was more effective and I was able to land a couple on it. Pretty slow!
The next day was Friday so we headed back to Tomo's (second time in), picked up some worms and eels since the fishing had been so slow the night before we decided we may have to troll the dreaded tube. Let me say this up front, the tube works but it is terribly boring and I would much rather catch a fish on a jig. No disrespect to the tube guys, there is definitely a skill to it, I just don't have it! Anyway, Friday night we checked into the tournament at the campground. We were late and missed the Captain's meeting which left us feeling like we had no idea what was going on the rest of the weekend. We also missed out on captain's bags, which sucked because they had some nice tackle in them! We both signed up pretty early, but they did it by order of arrival. Oh well, like I said, I brought way too much anyway! We set up camp and hit the water by the ramp because we heard from some KFA-NY guys that there were fish in close and we did not need to paddle across the harbor for no fish again.
We headed out from the ramp and found a nice light-line where I thought we may find some fish. I saw one rock swirl under the light and I got a little excited... finally some fish! I cast a large black Bill Hurley on a homepainted 3/4oz jig right into the shadow line against the wall and let it fall. There was a light tap and I set the hook hard! It ended up being 33" and my largest of the weekend. We found a few fish later in the light line that were much smaller but still fun. They were caught on a 1/4 jighead and the same grey/blue BKD! There were tons of squid around and I think we had a hard time competing with the real thing. We called it quits late and decided to head back in to get ready for the morning.
The next day we hit Manchester harbor. If you ever have the chance to go to the Massachusetts North Shore, check this place out, it's beautiful! We fished it last year and did pretty well by following the birds and catching fish blitzing. We also hit some shorelines for schoolies on topwater plugs, so we were hoping to repeat that and just get some numbers. On the way out of the launch we were trolling some small soft plastics and we both had rods go down at the same time. Neither of us hooked up, but we were already hopeful that our decision to hit Manchester was right! We started casting and I found a low 20" fish (I should mention that I fried my phone on the way to Manchester, so no pictures of these fish) on a pink 6" sluggo. This would prove to be the lure of the day for me. We kept going out of the harbor and we did not really find any more rockfish so we decided to drop some seaworms (sandworms) to see what was on the bottom. My friend caught this unusual fish which seemed like the mutant offspring of a sea robin, oyster toad, and blowfish. It was mean. More of a surprise to me, I caught a mackerel on a 1/2 jighead tipped with a seaworm. I live-lined this (about 14") in the rocks you see to his right and hooked up with a 28" rockfish (14" / 28"??? I love rockfish).
Anyway, we kept fishing the falling tide and then some of the incoming and finally found some numbers! The incoming tide brought squid with it, which we were able to see by a nearby boat using a sabiki rig to load up on them. I started jigging my pink sluggo and figured out that the stripers would hit a slow snap and fall. It was hard to feel the hit with a 1/2 weight and the ripping current and I recall on one cast having the rock hit the jig at least 4 times before hooking up. My friend also caught some fish here, I think on topwater, plug, and jig. It was nice to find some fish! After awhile it seemed like they moved on so we did to. We found a small pod of peanutbunker getting eaten on top on the way back in on a flat and I was able to pull one out of there before they went down. All fish on this day were 20"-28". We got back late and decided to forgo night fishing. We got a pizza and passed out.
On the last day we launched at the ramp in the camp again and had another slow day. There was a lot of grass in the water all weekend which ruled out trolling for the most part so it was hard to locate fish. We found a bunch of bait in the channel which turned out to be small snapper bluefish. I was using a sabiki rig and they were biting the hooks off! I tried live-lining the snapper and to my surprise I caught a 25" and a 30" rockfish on live bluefish. There were tons of bluefish in that pod bc my fishfinder was blacked out for some distance. We didn't find any other fish and headed in for the awards dinner.
The dinner was excellent! Normally I am skeptical of Northern BBQ but this was just like we have in the South if not better! Stuffed, tired, and smelly we headed home to Boston to hose things off and pack for home. It was a great trip overall but not the best fishing unfortunately. I plan on heading back next year!!!
Here's a few pictures of the last day:
Posted by Michael Bartgis at 3:13 PM