The 2013 Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers tournament was held this weekend. This is the only tournament that I planned to attend this year, and I didn't register because I'm a great angler and felt confident about being able to land a prize-winning fish - I hadn't even fished the bay bridge or any area near Kent Island at all this year. I registered because it's a big kayak angling party with other like-minded people who gather to fish, have fun before fishing, share stories, and help two great organizations.
|The Bay Bridge from Camp Wright|
The event began for me Friday afternoon when I arrived at the camp around 4PM. The captain's meeting wasn't until 7, but I decided to go early to beat traffic and to just hang out with whoever came early. I arrived to find the CBKA staff busy finishing up preparations for the tournament with registrations and captain's bags. There is a lot of work involved in coordinating a tournament, and I just got a small glimpse of it - those guys deserve a lot of thanks for the hard work they put into it. There were also a handful of other familiar faces hanging out and talking about fishing, which I joined in on.
As more people slowly trickled in, we continued to just lounge around and talk while some anglers set up their tents to stay the night. I borrowed a 1-man tent from a coworker this year, which was kind of exciting because I haven't slept in a tent in years!
|Rockfish and Speckled Trout Masgouf!|
We finally had the captain's meeting around 7 where we went over the rules, and Shawn Kimbro also made an appearance to wish everyone luck and to share a quick fishing report from his experience. After the meeting, we all just hung out and shared more stories and some people participated in a potluck dinner this year. That was a pretty fun time...a bushel of crabs, shrimp skewers, a masgouf demonstration from Mustafa, and a bunch more food. These guys know how to put together a potluck! I hear the festivities went on through the night, but I retired around 10 to get some rest for the next morning.
I had been watching the weather forecast for the day of the tournament the entire week before the tournament, and I knew it was going to be pretty windy. Not as bad as last year's winds, but still enough wind that would make fishing the bay bridge miserable for a paddle yak'er. So I spent a couple nights studying the charts and decided to try Eastern Bay, figuring Kent Island should block the winds well enough to make it manageable. So a little after 6AM, I launched out of Shipping Creek to try live-lining on some of the ledges in Eastern Bay.
|The sun rising in front of me as I paddle toward Eastern Bay|
I paddled out in search of some shallower water to try to fill up my bucket with some live spots. I soon found them in about 4 feet of water, and quickly picked up about 6 or 7 on fish bites blood worms. I even caught a tiny croaker in between the spots - it was too bad that there was not a "Smallest Fish" division this year!
I used the GPS on my Mark 4 fish finder to try to paddle out toward some water around 15' in depth that would fall down to 20'+. While searching out these ledges, I trolled a deep diving Yo-Zuri Crystal minnow to try to pick up some fish between live lining. I caught a striper and a perch in between fishing holes on the crystal minnow. Neither fish was large enough to be competitive in the tournament, but I was glad to not be skunked! Live lining did not prove to be any more productive...I didn't get any hits from any stripers that may have been in Eastern Bay. The wind was also much stronger in the middle of the bay than it was in the channel, so it was hard staying in position to let the spot swim around freely. I was even drifting at up to 1.5 mph from the wind.
The highlight from live lining was probably when one of my spot got completely ripped apart, which was probably the result of some bluefish, but I didn't hook up with anything. The 5 or 6 other spot were really lucky, as I let them go after several trips down to the bottom of the bay. I gave up live-lining after the last spot and trolled some more to see what I could snag up. I probably paddled about 8 miles in the wind, and finally gave up around 1PM. I headed back to the launch ramp to weigh-in early and just rest.
The dinner and banquet started around 4 or 5, which is always a good time of raffling and eating good food. I actually did well in the raffles this year and snagged a couple of cool items - there were a couple big ticket items, but the most exciting prizes for me were a pair of fish grips (I've always wanted one...) and several of Woody's feather jigs (he's closing shop)! Some representatives from the two organizations (CCA and Make-a-wish) that the tournament benefits also gave some presentations. A video was played about a recent make-a-wish grant for a boy who wanted to meet RG III - he got his wish and much more! That was really cool... the evening went on until around 7:30 or so, after which we all went our separate ways. I stuck around a little to avoid the madness of the rush out, and to thank the organizers for another great tournament. This was a great event, and I will be marking the date on my calendar as soon as next year's tournament date is announced!