Sunday, July 12, 2015

First few days in Florida

Yesterday I woke up in New Brunswick early and was on the road at 5:30 AM.    At 5:30 PM I was in a kayak in Melboure, Florida!   Meeting up with fellow Adventure on the Water Pro-Staff Mike Conneen, we set off in search of my first fish in Florida, possibly a snook, gar,  tarpon or one of a few other species.

If you do nothing else, watch some of this video starting at the 1:20 mark!!!

What a magnificent experience this first outing was!  I was constantly on the look out for gators, as they are all over the place down here, and paddling through thick brush I was somewhat nervous.   Mike caught a very cool looking Mayan Cichlid right off the bat but that was all we landed for a little while. 

Eventually we made out way into a sanctuary where massive manatees were swimming all around.  These things are huge!   It would be trivial for one to pop up and flip us in the kayak, but that would never happen on purpose.   Mike tells me unless you could scare one early in the morning in shallow water which could lead to a flipped kayak, but they are not at all aggressive animals.

Right in the middle of several manatees I finally got a hit from a tarpon, and then a short time after I hooked a nice one.   The tarpon took my lure and ended up running under a log, where I couldn't get him out.   Eventually the line broke and he got away.    Determined not to go home empty handed I finally hooked into a third, which I finally landed.   It wasn't as big as the second fish that hit, but it was about 20 inches.    3 hits and a landed fish in a couple hours isn't bad for my first attempt at a tarpon!

Day 2

Today I got out with Mike and a few others in Indian River Lagoon, near Titusville, FL.   The goal was to catch some nice reds.   There were tons of mullets swimming around, which I learned are algae eaters, and despite being all around, are next to impossible to catch.    Chasing the mullets are sea trout, reds, and black drum.    The lagoon is huge though the average depth is only 3 feet, which makes for a very different fishing experience than anything I've ever had before!

From time to time during the morning, I spotted stingrays and horseshoe crabs in the water.   The biggest stingray that swam under me I estimate was a little more than 2 feet wide.    Very neat!

I did manage to catch a 14 inch sea trout, and hooked but lost another fish.    Mike caught a few reds, a few trout and a pinfish, but overall it was slow fishing this morning.  

That is it for the fishing till next weekend, when a big group of Pro-Staffers will gather for some epic group kayak fishing.    It is going to be amazing!   Till then I'll be working the floor all week at ICast!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Heading to ICAST!

Tomorrow morning I head out to fly down to Orlando for 8 day to participate in ICAST, the worlds biggest fishing show!   It is a week long event bringing in all of the biggest and best names in the fishing industry.   New products are revealed, many of the celebrities in the sport are on hand, and hundreds upon hundreds of booths are set up by all of the various vendors.

My role will be as one of the Pro-Staff working at the Johnson Outdoors booth displaying and promoting Old Town and Ocean Kayak boats as well as Carlisle paddles and Extrasport PFDs.   I'm still somewhat in disbelief that I've been invited to work with such a fantastic team representing the best brands in the industry!

Last Years Amazing Crew at ICast

Not only will the show itself be one of the most anticipated events in my recent memory (coming a close forth to the birth of my two boys, and the annual day of the NHL calendar when the Leafs are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs .... typically sometime in December), but I'll also get a few days this weekend and next to fish various waters in Florida with other Pro-Staffers!  

On Sunday, arrangements have been made for a group of us to receive a special pass to bring kayaks onto the NASA site and fish around the space shuttle lanuching area!   This is a very exclusive and restricted area so I'm very excited for this!   Back in 2001, my last time in Orlando, I had the chance to get an insider tour of the JFK Space Center and remember seeing a very big gator on the side of the road on the drive there.   Not sure what I'd do if I seen something like that in a kayak, cast a line to it or paddle away!  lol

Monday is apparently setup day at the convention center where I'll be helping to put together the booth, set up the kayaks and such for display and so forth.  Then Tuesday we are off to nearby Lake Toho for a day of one the water demonstrations and activities.   Wednesday through Friday is back at the Convention Center to work the trade show booth.    Of course my birthday is right in the middle of it all on Thursday, so I expect something fun to be in the works that night!

During the week you can watch along with what we are up to at the show via a live streaming webcast!  

Finally next weekend, both Saturday and Sunday there will be several of the biggest names in kayak fishing gathered to fish, take pictures and videos, bbq, and so forth.   I'll be hoping to land my first of many species including tarpon, red, snook, black drum, and largemouth bass just to name a few.   

Finally I fly back first thing Monday morning.   With a 6 AM flight I'll likely sleep at the airport, hoping to get a reasonable rest before driving back home from Bangor later that day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canada Day Strippers! ... err, Stripers!

Happy Canada Day!

The most common spelling mistake I see on fishing forum is strippers when stripers is meant to be written.   It always makes for a good chuckle and opportunity for an off color joke!    Well, this post is about stripers, so feel free to share with the wife, :-).

It is coming that time of year again when the striped bass should start making their way up the coast and into our local world famous Reversing Falls.   Last year I caught my first striper of the season on July 1st, so I figure we should hear reports of a stripers being landed through the grapevine anytime.

The past 2 mornings, a friend (Matt) and I took our Old Town Predators out into the Saint John River just above reversing falls.   We were hoping to run into a striper, but either we were too early, or went out in the wrong conditions.    Depending on who you ask, the best striper fishing here is done either on the incoming current our outgoing (hence the name reversing falls).    We were there on the outgoing current.

However we did have some fun.    Yesterday I tried throwing down a sabiki rig in a spot I knew to be somewhere around 200 feet deep (forgot the sonar phone at home).    I started at the bottom and worked my way up and got a hit.... which turned out to be a 19 inch shad!    Never before have I heard of anyone catching a shad in 200 feet of water like that.... it was completely unexpected!

This morning, we stuck closer to our launch point and anchored down in 20 - 30 feet of water.   This time, as June is over and sturgeon fishing is again legal here, we decided to see what we could catch bottom fishing worms while sturgeon were jumping all around.   

Now the current here is somewhat fierce, and anchoring is a kayak is not at all the safe thing to do, so I certianly do not recommend it to beginners.     I ended up hooking a rather large, barnicle filled tree branch who's weight caused my anchor to drag as I retreived it.   By the time I got it up and off my line, I was in deeper water with my anchor stuck on bottom, putting me in a tight spot.... I had to cut the line ASAP.   (ALWAYS have a knife handy!)

I did have another 50 feet or so of line on me and found some old heaviy discarded chain to make a second anchor out of, this time a little further back from the stronger currents.   Fortunately I wasn't dragged around any more!   I proceeded to catch 2 sturgeon almost immeadiately, both about 34 inches, and decided to hold off on pictures till I caught a bigger one.    Unfortunately from there on in, all I got were tommy cod!

Matt and I both caught a lot of tommy cod, which I guess is what the stripers would be mainly feeding on now, and Matt also caught an eel.

Anyhow, the annual run of stripers should be starting anytime now.   They will begin with smaller schoolies, and then lead into larger fish as the water continues to warm up.    If you do plan to venture out around the waters above Reversing Falls, please be extremely careful.    Go with friends, do not plan to anchor, and stay well back from the rapids.  

There are spots out above reversing falls where kayakers can have a great time, but you really need to have a quality kayak (I do NOT recommend big box store pieces of molded plastic here), and know what you are doing.    Wind and fog are always dangers out here, so be prepared!   In waters like you'll find next to Reversing Falls you do not want to take any unnecessary chances!