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9.16.2014

Biggest King Salmon of the Year

Last Friday night was gloomy, cold, and rainy. I felt pretty much the same as the weather. I was still tired from Thursday night's concert with the wife, worked later than I hoped to on Friday, and I wasn't even on the road until nearly 6pm. 

To make matters worse, the traffic was horrendous for almost the entire drive. A drive that normally takes a few minutes less than two hours, ended up taking three and a half hours. The weather was supposed to be right around 50 degrees and the rain was supposed to stop around 8 that night. Well, shockingly, the weathermen were wrong and it was teetering right around 40 - plus still raining. I just flat out wasn't into it and would have been OK if I had just stayed home but since I sat in traffic for so long, I went for it anyways. 

My friend Tom H was already out there along with a couple of other friends. Everyone was catching fish but Tom was killing it! When I got out there, he already had landed five or six. It didn't take long until I had my first fish on. I didn't really set the hooks so he was gone as quickly as he came. 

0 for 1

Not too much longer and I had another one. I got the hooks set, rod out of the rod holder, and started to reel as fast I could. This fish was coming straight at the kayak and I just couldn't reel fast enough. 

0 for 2

By this point, I was already starting to feel cold to the core - especially my feet and hands - but the action is keeping me mentally warm enough to keep at it. 

I get another hit, set the hooks, get the rod out of the rod holder, and start the fight. The fight is good and all but not that impressive compared to most of the other kings I have had on this year. It took all of four or five minutes to get it in the boat and I was surprised at the size. It looked to be at least 36 inches which is a 17 to 18lb fish on average. After heading to the dock at the end of the night, it ended up at 38" and 20lbs on the scale at the cleaning station. I had bled the fish when I first landed it so I'm sure it lost a few tenths in weight. 


After that fish, I had two more good hits that I just couldn't stay connected with. I was cold, tired, and ready to leave so I did just that. 

Ended up 1 for 5 with a 38" tuna. Tom caught his personal best ever that night. That fish came in at 40" and weighed a staggering 26+lbs! Friggin awesome!! 

On a semi-related note - I sold the 2013 Outback on Sunday. All the new parts for the 2014 are on the way so I can get it rigged up for a Sunday daytime outing. Can't wait to get some fish slime on the new outback!!

9.08.2014

Final Results of the GLKFS Salmon event and overall series!! EPIC!!!

This past Saturday was the final stop in the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Series and the target fish was my absolute favorite freshwater fish to chase in the kayak - Chinook Salmon. Going into the final event, I was in 4th place for the overall standings and 47.5" behind first place. Quite frankly, that seemed like an unsurpassable amount of inches to make up! With that, ultimately, my goal for this stop was just to win the stop and rack up some more points for kayak wars - and obviously have a ton of fun!! The latter was pretty much guaranteed - the first two not so much.

Teddy and I carpooled all the way up to Manitowoc, WI after I got home from work on Friday. We arrived at the campground on that night around 7:30, set up the tent, grabbed some grub, and were on the water by about 8:30 to start prefishing. As we peddled out of the marina, we ran across a couple of other competitors who were coming in and they told us that the guy in first was out earlier. "Did he get any fish?", I asked. I was not feeling good about my chances when one of them responded,"He got two. "

"Good for him" I thought as we continued on our way. Truth is, he's a younger guy and could definitely use the new 2014 Hobie Outback that the winner of the series would get. As soon as we hit about 17 feet of water, we started dropping lines. For the next three hours, I switched out lures every 20 minutes so I could find something that worked. While I marked a ton of fish, I couldn't get a single one to bite. I was realllly not feeling good about my chances now. Still, I was marking spots where I found good concentrations of fish on my maps so I could go back the next morning.

The alarms on our phone were blaring at 4:15am which felt entirely way too soon to wake up. I hit the snooze and grabbed an extra 10 minutes before finally mustering the energy to actually wake up. Since the truck was already loaded, we had enough time to stop at McDonalds for some coffee on the way to the Manitowoc Marina where the event was being hosted.

Shot gun start went off at 5:30 and we were all off to the races!! I'll fast forward from this point until about 9:30am when I finally had my first fish strike! I peddled to set the hook, grabbed the rod, and got ready for what turned out to be an almost ten minute fight! I was trolling with 75 feet of line behind me so I had my work cut out for me. At first, I was gaining line pretty quickly. Once the fish saw the boat, it quickly took me back where we started. This happened twice more before I was able to get her into the net!! I was beyond stoked!!


She ended up coming in at 37" long which was a stellar start!!!

OK - 1 down and 2 to go!!

It took until 12:30 for me to get another salmon into the kayak thanks to a couple of drive-bys and a stupid mistake on my part. As a note, if you are trolling more than one line, focus on the line with the fish instead of trying to clear the other lines. I never saw the fish, but judging by the line it was taking out, it was bigger than the first fish.

Anyways, around 12:30, I got slammed once again. This time, I said to hell with the other line out - I'll deal with the mess later! This fish, unlike the first one, did everything it could to escape the kayak. It was another epic ten minute battle but at the end, she was tired and ready to accept her fate as I reached down, grabbed her by the tail, and brought her into the kayak!!


She ended up at 34" and left me needing just one more fish to get my limit for the tournament!! I still didn't think I had any chance of winning the overall series but I did figure if I could get my limit, I'd at least have a shot at the tournament! Come on fish number 3!!!

The official time to get into line was 2:30pm.  Every minute after that would cost me an inch so time was definitely running out.

Finally, right around 1:45pm, I got rocked! I set the hooks, grabbed the rod, and watched for two minutes as a bright silver fish put on a display that could only be rivaled by a tarpon. Every time this fish launched out of the water, fellow kayak anglers and boaters alike all let out cheers and encouragement as I prayed its strategy to spit my lure didn't work. Finally, the acrobatics stopped and the fight turned into a tug of war. I had the fish in front of the kayak this time and it was pulling me forward at a little over 1 mph. That's when I heard another friend and competitor yell out, "YOU GOT A DOUBLE!!!!" as he was trying to reel his lines in so he could come over and give me a hand with the second fish. I peddled forward as fast as I could to hopefully get the hooks in well enough to buy me enough time to figure out how to land both fish. After a short time, the second fish was gone. Honestly, I was kind of relieved as I was still focused on a fish that was giving me one of my top 3 fights of all time.

With a grab of the tail, an absolutely gorgeous 36" - barely starting to turn - silver king salmon was in the boat!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THAT'S 3 BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES YES  YES!!!!!!!!!!

The fight was so epic that I never had a chance to turn the GoPro on so I don't have any action shots but here she is about 20 minutes later at the dock for registration.


After getting my three fish measured and registered, it was now just a waiting game for the last anglers to make it to the dock.


After everyone was in and had all their fish registered, it was clearly a great day of fishing for a lot of people.


After all the calculations were complete, it was results time!!!! The butterflies were definitely strong in my empty stomach.

In order of the announcements:

Big fish goes to Nick Doumel
WOOHOO!!!! I was beyond excited!! The prize for big fish was an awesome Bubba Blade Fillet Knife!!

Next up is the results for this tournament.....

In 3rd place - Pat Skerrett (I forget his total inches)
In 2nd -  With 101.5"...Teddy Wozny (WAY TO GO WOZ!!!!!)
and the winner of the tournament - With 107".....Nick Doumel

No friggin way?! Can't believe how it all came together!!!! So friggin excited!!!!!

1st place trophy in the Salmon Event and cash donated by Fish Hawk Electronics
Finally, the overall top 3 for the entire series
In 3rd place - Jared Chinchilla (Also forget his total inches for the entire series)
In 2nd - With 125.5" in all 3 events....Teddy Wozny (So happy for Woz!)
and the winner of the 2014 Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Series with a total of 142.75" in all 3 events.....Nick Doumel

I seriously couldn't believe it. Woz and I both came into this event without any real thought of winning the entire thing. We definitely both had hopes for this individual event but a 2nd place finish for Woz on the entire series and a 1st place for me was a shock. Even as I write this post - 2 days later - I am still beyond excited.

Trophies for 1st in tournament and 1st in the overall series
Ultimately, I have so many people to thank including my personal sponsors - especially Lucid Fishing and FSA Custom Rods. I also have to thank this crazy group of friends that chase these fish from kayaks every year who all teach each other everything they know. Its a tight-knit group that has a ton of knowledge when it comes to kayak salmon.

I also have to give my hats off to Colin Belle and Rob Wendel who worked their butts off to put this series together. Between the planning and finding sponsors, they had a full time job on their hands.

Speaking of event sponsors...

Quest Watersports - Manitowoc MarinaSailing World

Thanks for hosting the events!!

Hobie
F&H Decals
Lucid Fishing
Fish Hawk
Bubba Blade
Korkers
RailBlaza
MTI
Gear Grabber
Rep Your Water
Hoo Rag
Yak Gear
TheRodCondom.com
Backwater Paddle Company
and I'm sure Im missing a few...Thank you so much for all of the gear and cash prizes throughout the entire series!!

Of course - Thanks to my wife for letting me fish so much!!! It's something that I truly love and am so happy to have a wife that let's me get out there as often as I do. Celebration dinner is coming!!!

Finally, here I am with Colin Belle (the organizer and Regional Midwest Hobie Prostaff member) and Anders Larson from Manitiowoc Marina with the grand prize for the series winner - a brand new 2014 Hobie Outback!!!!


I've had a blast fishing this series and have met a ton of great people and kayak anglers. 2014 is the first year that I decided to start fishing competitively so I am beyond shocked at how well the year has gone. Can't wait until the 2015 season to start!!!!!!!!

For the rest of the year, I'll be chasing salmon and musky until the end of October when my family will be welcoming the newest edition to the family...our 2nd baby boy!!








9.04.2014

They're heeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!! It's king season, baby!

I made a last minute decision - after a bit of nudging - to run up north on Lake Michigan for some early run king salmon action last night. I have a bunch of new tackle that I wanted to get wet and familiar with for Saturday's salmon tournament. Last night was my first and only real chance to do so, so off I went.

The winds were strong out of the south which isn't ideal but it's better than north winds. I was trolling crank baits the entire time from 8pm until midnight. I pretty quickly noticed that the fish weren't in big numbers all over the place. Instead, they seemed to be in sporadic pods. I marked about four areas that had some good size pods on GPS and just kept trolling over those spots.

If I didn't get hit after a lap, I changed out the crank bait to a different color. Around 9pm - and my third color change - I got my first slam. One of the things I really love about the Hobie is how fast and easy it is to accelerate when you get a hit just to make sure those hooks are set. Once they were set, I grabbed the rod from the rod holder and held on! At first I was almost thinking I had a steelhead because of the awesome full water clearing jumps. Generally, the fish was coming right at me so there wasn't much drag singing. Within a minute, the fish was next to the boat and out came the net.

That's when the fight got fun!! This thing was going completely berserk next to the kayak. It took me five tries with the net to actually get her in there. Needless to say, I was soaked by the time it was over!

Side note - I made sure to remember my GoPro, to charge it, the mount, the remote, and the waterproof case...What I didn't remember was to put the memory card back in it so I had to rely on my fishing friends point and shoot camera. So, as a disclaimer, the pics aren't the best but they get the point across. There will be plenty of salmon pics to come over then next few weeks!

Anyways, here's a shot of the fish that tipped the scale on my Lucid Grips around 12lbs. Not too bad for the first king of the run!! So now I had one working color combo so far. Time to change out the other rod to find another...



Sometime around 10pm, and my fifth color change, I got slammed again. This time the entire fight was well away from the boat. I was trolling with 75 feet of line behind me and after the initial run, my line counter read 105 feet. Awesommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmme!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It took a while to gain enough line to break out the net but once I did, it only took one swipe to get this one in. I like that better. So, the lesson here is to try and tire them out BEFORE they get to the side of your kayak. HA!

I didn't get a shot on the water of the fish since my fishing friend was rather far away. Secretly, I think he was mad at me for landing two. He had been broken off a few minutes earlier so he was probably still mad - can't blame him!

Instead, here is a terrible shot from on the dock! This fish read right around 20lbs on the scale! It was too close to the 20lb mark on my grips for me to officially call it a tuna but it was still a big fish!!


In the end, I went 2 for 3. Not a bad way to start the run! Now it's time to wash the salmon slime out from the hull of the kayak and get ready for the tournament.

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