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Thread: I’m gonna need a bigger Hawg Trough…

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Cape St Claire
    Posts
    991

    Default I’m gonna need a bigger Hawg Trough…

    Part One

    All the stories about the Gator Blues that had been coming out of the east were making me crazy. I missed them last year by 2 days and was worried it would happen again. I had 2 days off from the madness at work and I was desperate to feel the pull of a freight train while listening to the music from my Stradic-caster.

    Day one was a wash… It was just too windy to fish. To top it off, I was worried that the waters at CHSP would get churned up and not be what Bluefish deemed hospitable. Why breathe mud, when, with a few strokes of your tail, you can head offshore until conditions improve?

    I was calling all the bait shops in the area to try and get some real time intel or best guesses. Everyone told me something different, but the common denominator was that it didn’t look good.

    Faced with that reality, I began to explore alternative areas that were more protected from the strong Easterlies that had been wreaking havoc with my plans. The back bays seemed to fit the bill, so I turned my attention to them.

    I reached out to some folks (thank you!) and came up with a plan that seemed to offer a decent chance for success. I was going to target the waters behind OC. I was getting excited again!

    My alarm went off at 3:15, but I jumped out of bed without hesitation and started making the 2 hour drive to the launch. The tide was almost at full flood when I pushed away from the beach which was perfect because I wanted to target the top 2 hours on either side of the high. The winds were negligible and the water temp rested at 58 degrees
.

    I set out 2 lines to explore the 3’ shallows. I needed something high floating so I opted for a Whopperpopper and a Redfin. Both do an excellent job at staying very shallow. About 5 yards out. my starboard rod got bumped briefly, but I thought is was just some floating debris. 30 seconds later, it smashed down and the drag began to peel. I was barely in 3’ of water….

    It only took a couple of minutes to land the 22”. I was stoked with the quick success and instant pullage. Little did I know, that fish was to be the smallest of the trip. Soon after, the same rod bent strongly and a 28” Gator was boated after an exhilarating fight. It was a new PB for me so I was getting elated, hoping that my early connections would not put a pox on the rest of my day.

    It didn’t…,

    I made a 1/2 mile trolling run along some structure but came up empty. I decided to return to the area of my prior success. After boating another - 34” - I started throwing topwater (super Strike Little Neck Popper) and was connecting on more casts than I didn’t.

    I would cast out, get bit, fight for 3-5 minutes, land the fish and then repeat. At one point, I caught mid 30” fish on each of 5 casts. The final one being a beat up old fish that was just odious and mean-looking. He took me for a hell of a ride and, and at 37”, turned out to be the biggest of the day (and my current PB). I was feeling pretty damn good by this point.

    The topwater stalled for a while, so I opted to get back on the troll. I worked a lot of ground without a bite, but I was still riding high. By this point I was in much more exposed waters and the wind was picking up. The fog that was supposed to have burned off lingered and gave the effect of my being the only one out there.

    The waves were starting to build when I got hit again. The fish spun me around and tangled my other line before I could get it in, creating quite a mess. While I was dealing with the 36” flopping in my boat, I noticed the remaining bait was just floating nearby and there were blues thrashing at it, but not biting. Everything was so fouled that I cut off the bait and salvaged as much braid as I could.

    As soon as I cleared the fish, I threw the popper back and immediately connected again with a 35”. It also spun me around but caused no harm as I didn’t have a second line wet at the time.

    The winds and the ebbing tide were carrying me farther than I wanted to go, so I began paddling back. I put out 2 lines, purely out of habit. Within moments, both rods were smashed and chaos ensued as the lines intertwined. I chose one rod to fight, thinking that the other would just have to wait. I quickly noticed that the second rod went slack and I figured the fish had spit the hook. I was fine with that as the first rod’s 34” fish was going crazy.

    I soon realized, however, that the fish hadn’t gotten off, but it had fouled my line in my rudder, so I tucked the 2nd rod under my legs as I feared it getting broken due to the fish pulling it into my mechanics.

    I landed the first fish, but found it impossible to free the second line so I cut it and ended up hand lining in a pissed off 33” fish. Thank god for fishing gloves! The middleweight threw the hook right at boat side, but I was glad it did as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

    By this point, I was haggard like never before while fishing, so I decided to tuck my tail and run for cover. The winds were continuing to build and I had had enough for a while. When I found myself back in the lee of some land, I took a few minutes to regroup and assess the day so far.

    I had 2 rigs that were out of commission until I could restring them on shore. I had lost 3 lures from having my line cut above the leader and my wrist was sore as hell from fighting those fish on my medium weight Avid. Still, I wasn’t complaining. Not one little bit.

    After a spell on land to recover and sort out my gear, I re-launched to a flooding tide and dead calm waters. Trolling produced nothing, nor did topwater. I did notice some tailing fish, however and started stalking them. I pulled a couple out by sight casting to them and it felt like old times. I lost the school and started to troll towards open water again. I got one mid 30s fish and began throwing topwater again.

    I quickly connected to a lazy fish that didn’t seem to care that it was hooked. That is, until it got near the boat. Then it took off for the horizon on a blistering run and dragged me for the longest sleigh ride I have ever been on. After a 10 minutes fight, I boated another 37”er.

    The winds had reversed direction and started to build again. I wasn’t interested in trolling so I stuck with topwater and landed a few more mid 30s fish.

    My final tally for the day was 20 fish. Only 2 were under 32” with the majority in the 34’-36” class and 2 at 37”. Most were caught on topwater and almost all of them were in 4 FOW or less.

    Needless to say, I will sleep well tonight once I take a fist full of Advil. I need to rest up because I hope to repeat the adventure tomorrow morning before I have to go back to work and deal with that reality….

    PART II

    I hit the water early to catch to the morning flood tide and was hoping to match yesterday’s success. As soon as I hit the hot zone I cast a big popper which was immediately smashed, leading me down the same path. All I could say to myself was, “here we go again” as a smile spread across my face from ear to ear.

    The first fish was small at only 31”. It amazes me how economies of scale can change depending upon circumstance. 48 hours prior, the thought of catching a 31” gator would have exhilarated me beyond belief. Today, it as all about getting it off the hook and on to the next, bigger trophy. Tomorrow, I will be wistfully dreaming of it….

    #1 was soon followed by 2, 3 and 4. Less than 40 minutes on the water and, from a size perspective, I had already surpassed much of my entire spring season’s success.

    A lull ensued as the tide began to ebb slightly, but I managed to land a few more. I started losing more than I was boating including a monster that took me for a ride before exploding to the surface to do a long tail walk across the water. When it landed, it was wrapped in my line and broke off taking my now favorite popper with it. I can’t be sure, but watching it boogie across the surface gave me a strong feeling that this was the fish of the trip. I can never verify it, but in my fisherman’s brain, the beast eclipsed 40”.

    The bite remained sporadic and the fog remained thick. At the end of the day, I added another 9 gators to my overall count, all of which were caught on topwater. The 2 day combined total was 29 fish, of which, only 3 were under 32”.

    This was, without a doubt, the best 24 hours of fishing in my life. It will long be remembered and appreciated as a much needed (and well deserved) diversion from current realities.

    Now it’s time to go and make the donuts….

    G0016368.jpgG0016976.jpgG0018069.jpgG0020345.jpgG0015605.jpgG0020301.jpgG0020937.jpgG0014530.jpgG0016922.jpgDSCN4504.jpg
    Last edited by EMSer; 04-27-2017 at 10:17 PM.
    Bruce

    Wilderness System, Thresher 155

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Hampstead, MD
    Posts
    654

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EMSer View Post
    Part One

    All the stories about the Gator Blues that had been coming out of the east were making me crazy. I missed them last year by 2 days and was worried it would happen again. I had 2 days off from the madness at work and I was desperate to feel the pull of a freight train while listening to the music from my Stradic-caster.

    Day one was a wash… It was just too windy to fish. To top it off, I was worried that the waters at CHSP would get churned up and not be what Bluefish deemed hospitable. Why breath mud, when, with a few strokes of your tail, you can head offshore until conditions improve?

    I was calling all the bait shops in the area to try and get some real time intel or best guesses. Everyone told me something different, but the common denominator was that it didn’t look good.

    Faced with that reality, I began to explore alternative areas that were more protected from the strong Easterlies that had been wreaking havoc with my plans. The back bays seemed to fit the bill, so I turned my attention to them.

    I reached out to some folks (thank you!) and came up with a plan that seemed to offer a decent chance for success. I was going to target the waters behind OC. I was getting excited again!

    My alarm went off at 3:15, but I jumped out of bed without hesitation and started making the 2 hour drive to the launch. The tide was almost at full flood when I pushed away from the beach which was perfect because I wanted to target the top 2 hours on either side of the high. The winds were negligible and the water temp rested at 58 degrees

    I set out 2 lines to explore the 3’ shallows. I needed something high floating so I opted for a Whopperpopper and a Redfin. Both do an excellent job at staying very shallow. About 5 yards out. my starboard rod got bumped briefly but I thought is was just some floating debris. 30 seconds later, it smashed down and the drag began to peel. I was barely in 3’ of water…

    It only took a couple of minutes to land the 22”. I was stoked with the quick success and instant pullage. Little did I know that fish was to be the smallest of the trip. Soon after the same rod bet strongly and a 28” Gator was boated after an exhilarating fight. It was a new PB for me so I was getting elated, hoping that my early connections would not put a pox on the rest of my day.

    It didn’t…

    I made a run 1/2 mile trolling run along some structure but came up empty. I decided to return to the area of my prior success. After boating another - 34” - I started throwing topwater (super Strike Little Neck Popper) and was connecting on more casts than I didn’t.

    I would cast out, get bit, fight for 3-5 minutes, land the fish and then repeat. At one point, I caught mid 30” fish on each of 5 casts. The final one being a beat up old fish that was just odious and mean looking. He took me for a hell of a ride and, and at 37”, turned out to be the biggest of the day (and my current PB). I was feeling pretty damn good by this point.

    The topwater stalled for a while, so I opted to get back on the troll. I worked a lot of ground without a bite, but I was still riding high. By this point I was in much more exposed waters and the wind was picking up. The fog that was supposed to have burned off lingered and gave the effect of me being the only one out there.

    The waves were starting to build when I got hit again. The fish spun me around and tangled my other line before I could get it in, creating quite a mess. While I was dealing with the 36” flopping in my boat, I noticed the my remaining bait was just floating nearby and there were blues thrashing at it, but not biting. Everything was so fouled that I cut off the bait and salvaged as much braid as I could.

    As soon as I cleared the fish, I threw the popper back and immediately connected again with a 35”. It also spun me around but caused no harm as I didn’t have a second line wet at the time.

    The winds and the ebbing tide were carrying me farther than I wanted to go, so I began paddling back. I put out 2 lines, purely out of habit. Within moments, both rods were smashed and chaos ensued as the lines intertwined. I chose one rod to fight, thinking that the other would just have to wait. I quickly noticed that the second rod went slack and I figured the fish had spit the hook. I was fine with that as the first rod’s 34” fish was going crazy.

    I soon realized, however, that the fish hadn’t gotten off, but it had fouled my line in my rudder so I tucked the 2nd rod under my legs as I feared it getting broken due to the fish pulling it into my mechanics.

    I landed the first fish, but found it impossible to free the second line so I cut it and ended up hand lining in a pissed off 33” fish. Thank god for fishing gloves! The middleweight threw the hook right at boat side, but I was glad it did as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

    By this point, I was haggard like never before while fishing, so I decided to tuck my tail and run for cover. The winds were continuing to build and I had had enough for a while. When I found myself back in the lee of some land, I took a few minutes to regroup and assess the day so far.

    I had 2 rigs that were out of commission until I could restring them on shore. I had lost 3 lures from having my line cut above the leader and my wrist was sore as hell from fighting those fish on my medium weight Avid. Still, I wasn’t complaining. Not one little bit.

    After a spell on land to recover and sort out my gear, I re-launched to a flooding tide and dead calm waters. Trolling produced nothing, nor did topwater. I did notice some tailing fish, however and started stalking them. I pulled a couple out by sight casting to them and it felt like old times. I lost the school and started to troll towards open water again. I got one mid 30s fish and began throwing topwater again.

    I quickly connected to a lazy fish that didn’t seem to care that it was hooked. That is, until it got near the boat. Then it took off for the horizon on a blistering run and dragged me for the longest sleigh ride I have ever been on. After a 10 minutes fight, I boated another 37”er.

    The winds had reversed direction and started to build again. I wasn’t interested in trolling so I stuck with topwater and landed a few more mid 30s fish.

    My final tally for the day was 20 fish. Only 2 were under 32” with the majority in the 34’-36” class and 2 at 37”. Most were caught on topwater and almost all of them were in 4 FOW or less.
    Needless to say, I will sleep well tonight once I take a fist full of Advil. I need to rest up because I hope to repeat the adventure tomorrow morning before I have to go back to work and deal with that reality….

    PART II

    I hit the water early to catch to the morning flood tide and was hoping to match yesterday’s success. As soon as I hit the hot zone I cast a big popper which was immediately smashed, leading me down the same path. All I could say to myself was, “here we go again” as a smile spread across my face from ear to ear.

    The first fish was small at only 31”. It amazes me how economies of scale can change depending upon circumstance. 48 hours prior, the thought of catching a 31” gator would have exhilarated me beyond belief. Today, it as all about getting it off the hook and on to the next, bigger trophy. Tomorrow, I will be wistfully dreaming of it….

    #1 was soon followed by 2, 3 and 4. Less than 40 minutes on the water and from a size perspective, I had already surpassed much of my entire spring season’s success.

    A lull ensued as the tide began to ebb slightly, but I managed to a few more. I started loosing more than I was boating including a monster that took me for a ride before exploding to the surface to do a long tail dance. When it landed, it was wrapped in my line and broke off taking my now favorite popper with it. I can’t be sure, but watching it boogie across the surface gave me a strong feeling that this was the fish of the trip. I can never verify it, but in my fisherman’s brain, the beast eclipsed 40”.

    The bite remained sporadic and the fog remained thick. At the end of the day, I added another 9 gators to my overall count, all of which were caught on topwater. The 2 day combined total was 29 fish, of which, only 3 were under 32”.

    This was, without a doubt, the best 24 hours of fishing in my life. It will long be remembered and appreciated as a much needed (and well deserved) diversion from current realities.

    Now it’s time to go and make the donuts….

    G0016368.jpgG0016976.jpgG0018069.jpgG0020345.jpgG0015605.jpgG0015605.jpgG0020301.jpgG0020301.jpgG0020937.jpgG0014530.jpg
    An excellent report, and if I wasn't slightly injured, and didn't have jbay coming up in a few weeks, I would probably be fishing for big blues right now as well. If they're still around not this weekend but the one after, I may be making a trip to get into them. I'm glad you documented the best trip of your life, to which I reply "best trip of your life....so far"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Midway between Baltimore and Washington
    Posts
    1,755

    Default

    Outstanding! I'm headed to the OBX and they are catching them there too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Salisbury, MD
    Posts
    1,061

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    I saw you out yesterday as I was arriving. We crushed them too. What a great night! Nice write up and report. Glad you got some hard pullage.
    ___________________________

    Hobie Fishing Team Member
    Survival Products, Salisbury, MD

    2017 Camo Hobie Outback
    2015 Olive Hobie Outback

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    197

    Default

    Snapper blues! What a great report!

    Were you bait fishing too?

  6. #6

    Default

    Glad you had a productive fishing trip!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    3,847

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    Congratulations Bruce. You were overdue for a good trip and you sure got it. Those big blues can tire a guy out. I'm not sure how you hung in for so many large fish. Enjoy the memories -- as you know not every day is a super trip like those.
    John Veil
    Annapolis
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Baltimore-Annapolis
    Posts
    368

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    Quote Originally Posted by EMSer View Post
    Looks like an amazing time, and some awesome gopro video footage!

    Did you keep any eater size? Reviewing MD DNR it looks like Bluefish is Daily creel limit of 10, and 8" min length?

    Reason to ask is i've heard they must be bled/gut immediately and iced? Curious, they are on my bucket list to catch!
    First Lady: Hobie Ivory Sand Dune Hobie ProAngler 14 Lowrance Elite 7 ti TotalScan

    Backup Babe (Girlfriends Ride): Carribean Blue Hobie Outback Lowrance Elite 5 HDI w/ Pumpkin Spice Latte holder

    Learning the Ropes & Living the Dream

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    72

    Default

    Nice report. Now I'm going to have to find a way to convince my wife head to the beach a day earlier than she wanted!
    "Fish on a Dish" - 2017 Jackson Big Tuna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
    Posts
    2,821

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    Bruce,

    Incredible experience for you and it couldn't have happened at a better time.

    Congratulations on your stunning results.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

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