Thursday, October 22, 2009

You can't win if you don't play

It is hard to keep a blog about Kayak fishing updated with fishing reports and such when you aren’t out on the water. Since the beginning of this month, I have been travelling, and that puts a little bit of a damper on getting the boat out and trying for fishes. That, and the fact that when I have been in town for long enough not to be sleeping off a plane flight the ocean conditions are too rough for me (and everyone else). Gale force winds and 16 foot+ seas aren’t too friendly for a 30+ ft boat, let alone little old me.

But there was a brief, really pleasant window at the beginning of this week on Monday. I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures – I upgraded my Iphone from a Gen1 to the latest 3Gs – which means I can shoot videos and take better pictures, but the waterproof housing that I had for my Gen1 doesn’t fit the latest Apple offering. Oh well.

Got out to PC at about 7am - had a late (430) start. Weather across the Coast range was fog and rain, and then as I came out into Tillamook the rain stopped and the sky lightened up. Got down to PC and put the drysuit on. Drove down onto the beach, and realized that I should probably park in the lot instead - tide was out but the high water mark was almost to the ramp.

So back up in to the lot I go, and took my time watching the surf and gearing the boat up. Dragged the boat down the beach to the north end for launch, and stood in the surf to get an idea of what was going on.

Tide was out, water was a funky tea color with alot of foam. Waves were breaking at about chest high, with not much of a lull between sets. I pulled the boat into the surf and dropped the drive in, and dropped the rudder. Started pedaling in knee deep water, and made it into the break. Which was pretty darn exciting. Hit several waves as they were breaking apart into whitewater, and then sliced into a series of waves right as they were starting to curl. The bow of the kayak cut through the face of the wave, and then the hull got lifted, and up and over. The last one in the set I hit right as it started going vertical, and slammed down on the backside of the wave. Pretty cool. Hitting a wave and riding up the face of it is a great feeling, although once the boat goes past 25 degrees off horizontal you begin to worry a bit about going ass over teakettle.

Got out past the impact zone and started setting up the boat. I only took one rod with me yesterday, knowing that conditions going out and coming were probably going to be a little rough. Got the rod setup, and went to tie on the shrimp fly dropper. Poked through the tackle box, and realized that the pre-tied loops I had set up were in another box. So I ended up just tying on a jighead/swimbait.

Pedaled out to the zone inside and north of the haystack, and started fishing. Tap, Tap, YAAAANNNK!. Hauled back on the rod, and started reeling. Whatever was on the end of the line was pulling hard. hard enough to get the rod tip into the water, and strip out line. Excellent. Heavy pull, some headshakes, more stripping. Finally got the fish to the boat - 25"+ in Cab, with a nice greenish-blue hue. I didn't bother measuring it, since I didn't want to know - can't keep it, no heartache.

Headed out to between the haystack and the buoy. The surface swell was choppy and erratic, but there was almost no wind and very little drift. Felt a couple of bumps on the jig, reeled up and got hit on the way up. Set the hook, and kept reeling. Brought a nice little Ling that was just keeper size. No sense in tossing the first keeper back, especially since I wasn't sure whether I was going to stay out much longer in the washing machine.

I decided to stay out until at least 10, and see what I could bring up. The next was another 22" ling, which I CNR'd, and then a 24" Ling. I thought about keeping it after measuring it, seeing how it was a bigger fish than the first one, but I wanted an upgrade. Since I had already pulled the gills on the first one, mister 24" got CNR'd. I would have gotten an shot of the fish, but no camera. Oh well.

Bumped around for a bit, and the chop subsided. The swells started to smooth out, and by 10am the sun was peeking out from between the clouds. There was almost no wind, and at some points it felt like I was on a lake. I was bumping around in the east lee of the haystack, and there was about a half a mile of completely slick water the width of the rock, edged on the north side by very small wind chop (more like ripples) and on the south side by a mile long line of foam that was 15 feet across. I played in that section, getting the occasional hit, some fights, and alot of the “halfway to the boat, a headshake and let go”. Pulled up a couple of respectable black rockfish, a female Kelp Greenling that I CNR'd, and then headed a little north of the buoy. I managed to snap my mono topshot at the albright knot connecting it to the braid on either a snag or a really hard strike (I just know I felt a tug, and I hauled back to set the hook, and felt the leader give way). Fished around on an area that was 100'+, and brought up a bunch of underlings, as well as two more largish black rocks. headed back into the zone between the haystack and the buoy, and brought up a small cabbie, a couple more underlings, and then the last fish of the day, which was a slightly larger just legal ling. I caught a glimpse of another ling that had followed that one all the way to the surface (right as I dipped my net into the water). I started back in around 1:30.

Got back into the impact zone after stowing everything, and sat and watched the shore break for a while. There were a couple of good lulls between the sets, and I stowed the mirage drive and rudder. Grabbed the paddle, and waited for a set. I managed to get into the tail end of the set (I think), and rode the back of one wave, got picked up by another (and got to lean back), which then turned me broadside to another, and I got to try my hand at a low brace. I got myself turned back perpendicular to the beach, rode one more wave, and hopped out of the boat into what I was hoping was hip deep water. I figured I might as well just walk the boat in, since I was pretty sure the next set was going to hit me and exceed my skill level. The water was just deeper than my hip, and then the next wave came in an lifted me off of my feet. I managed to hang onto the boat through another two waves, and then lost my grip on it. Which of course, meant that the boat broached and rolled over. At some point the waves or sand pulled the rudder out of its stow position, and snapped the shear pin. Which, I guess, technically did its job (breaking before the rudder does).

Got out, packed up, and headed home.

Four black rockfish, all at least 16", and two keeper lings, one of which has that cool mint green color to it. All in all, a great day.

The rudder pin is a $3 part, and Next Adventure has them (somewhere in a box, they just opened a new paddlesports wing). So I'm off the water until next week.