"Old Man and the Sea" - Texas Kayaking

Posted by Colin on Sep 20, 2010

 

More like the 'not so old' Man and the Sea...   
by Eric Ozolins

  Well, we finally had a weather window again... not sure what would become of it... conditions had picked up a bit earlier in the week, dirtying the water a bit. We were going to just do another basic beach trip... with a main emphasis on kayaking. Kip, Kevin, and I would roll down searching for inshore monsters. Kip and I left late Monday and rolled down the beach with fairly decent driving. The tides weren't moving much, but just enough to make driving good at low tide.

  Come early morning, Kip and I were in the yaks as the sun broke the horizon, meanwhile Kevin just hit the beach and was fixing to catch up. The water was a bit dirty in close, and actually abnormally cool. The temp I took was 75 degrees... way cooler than it should be.


  When we get out there, there are birds and bait everywhere. We had to go well over a mile offshore to find them and even then the water wasn't the greatest in visibility, perhaps 10'. However, what lacked in water quality was made up for with hungry fish and random feeding frenzies. First thing in the morning Kip hooks up to a Blacktip.


A quick picture and then the release...

  Meanwhile, I start trolling a pretty unique Sebille lure... ugly odd looking thing, but it drove the fish nuts! After a couple misses I finally get a hookup and get a solid King to the yak.


KIp swings by and grabs a photo real quick...


  I get back to the grind and instantly hook up on a stubborn fish... it is either a foul hooked King again or a Jack. Sure enough, it was a Jack, my first of two... sweet, have bait now.


At the same time, Kip begins to get into the Kingfish as well...


Click for Hi-Res Photo

  I continue to troll around and get another nice King... This lure is on FIRE! I wonder what it's going to catch next!


  I get the King in the yak real quick and put him in my lap as I often do to get the hook out with the pliers. However, this time while reaching for the pliers the King started freaking (like they often do) and at an attempt at calm it down, it threw the lure around, this time catching an 'Oz'...


  I get the hook out of the fish and release him. Now I have to figure out what to do. Remaining calm, I asked Kevin to come over and assist me. He was already fighting a fish so I had to wait a minute. Kevin finally gets over and sees the madness. After thinking about it, there was only one thing to do... cut the hook at the base of the treble and push the point/barb through the other side. The barb was too big and it was too deep to try to pull back through. After a couple patient minutes, we cut the hook and Kevin gets a pair of pliers and pushes it through. Kip is looking with one eye open and one eye closed... its going... going... here it comes.... @$#*^% here she is... pull it through nowwwww!!! Bamm, she's out!!! I give Kevin a high five and told him lets get back to fishing!


  Meanwhile, Kip runs back to the beach to get some food etc, and comes back in the zodiac with some first aid equipment... Fortunately I have virtually no pain, no swelling, no bleeding, and lucky to have an army of killer white bloodcells.

  Anyhow, I wrap the hand and get the gloves on (which I should've been wearing to begin with) and get back to it. Pissed about losing the hook on that lure, I start throwing topwaters. The bite was random and when activity was on the surface, they would be interested. Kayaking around I see Kevin hooked up and being towed around. I finally get over by him as he is about to land the fish... he said its a Big King... and wanted my gaff. Little did we know have big this monster was! Kevin gets the fish to the yak and sticks it.


  The impressive King went 61", and is the NEW Kayak Wars Record. Congrats! Meanwhile Kip is back slaying the Kings... mainly on Ribbonfish now. Kip is up to #5 for the day.


After a while the action slowed down, but was then fortunate to get a keeper Ling...


Kevin is still in the big fish. His next King is in the upper 50's as well.


  I bang out one or two more Kings on Ribbonfish and we all decide to head on in and get prepped for deploying shark baits for the night.


We get baits rigged and Kip is ready to deploy in the inflatable


  We get baits out anywhere between 400yds and 900yds. If there is a fish around, it should pick up the bait.


  Kip and I have 3 big baits out, and Kevin has 4 baits out a couple hundred yards down the beach... Here comes the full moon...

  The beach remained slow. There were some Skipjack right at sunset but that's it. Shark activity remained ultra slow. Come later in the night I had a fish pick up a tail section of Jack crevalle and pull the weight loose. Other than that, all the baits got crabbed out come sunrise when we brought everything in. I get in the yak first and start heading on out. Before going out I re-rig my lucky lure. Instantly when I start trolling around the birds I hook up... I get a quick King


  Kip and Kevin get out and start getting into the fish as well. Kip gets a smoker King that engulfs his topwater...


After knocking out some fish I get a couple of Jacks back to back on topwater...


Meanwhile, Kevin is destroying the Kings again on Ribbonfish/Topwaters...


Kip is on his way to getting 5 more Kings...


  By now, KIp, Kevin, and I total for about 18 Kings for the day. Running low on bait and tired, we are fixing to go in.... or I thought. I see birds another 1/2 mile out going nuts. I go and inspect. After getting out there I see 2 super pods of anchovies... 1-2 acres each. Strangely nothing under them but Bonita. Anyhow, these Little Tunnies in at high-noon are almost impossible to catch, especially when there is that much bait. I start heading back to Kevin and Kip. Kevin hooks up on something BIG and begins to get towed around. I get over there and the Kip is holding on to Kevin's kayak, while the fish is towing them both around at ease. Think it's safe to say its not a King.


  Kip and I stay around Kevin as he fights this mystery fish. About an hour into it Kevin is feeling it... the fish is putting a whooping on him, but he hangs on. There is nothing he can do but hang on. The battle wages on. Kip getting hungry and anxious to leave so starts heading to the beach. I stick with Kevin as he continues to fight this enigma.


  About another 30 minutes pass before we get our first glimpse at the beast. It comes up to the surface briefly and we see it is a shark... a BIG shark. How this fish has been able to stay on with the ribbonfish equipped terminal tackle remains a huge mystery. Still the ID is not certain as we didn't get a good enough look at it, however I did get a good glimpse of the tail and it is BIG.

  The fish dives back down and continues to due the majority of its fight on the bottom of the ocean, dragging Kevin and at times the both of us at ease. Fortunately its mainly doing circles within a half mile radius. The fight continues on and like Santiago in Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea', Kevin is currently in an epic battle biting off more than he can chew.

  About another 45 minutes pass, much of the time a stale mate not gaining an inch of line. Then finally Kevin levitates the fish and it starts rising to surface once again. Soon, the shark would come up between both mine and Kevin's kayak and we both noticed it is larger than we thought. It is way too big to be a Sandbar or record Spinner. This is a unique shark... I had a feeling what I thought it was but didn't want to say anything yet... The fish dove down yet once again and the sleigh-ride continued.

  In a distance we see Kip coming back out in the Zodiac. Kip hangs around and watches knowing there is nothing he can do but be patient, and patience is not one of Kip's virtues so he takes off chasing Spanish and Bonita in a distance. After nearly 3 hours into this war, Kevin risks everything and locks the drag completely on the Avet LX with braid, and obviously the weak point is the leader itself. With some miracle the leader, which has already caught 7 King Mackerel for the day, is still holding together. The fish begins to come up one last time and appears to finally be fatigued. He gets the fish right under the yak and Kip marches on over to see it for the first time.


Kip gets along side and takes a pic when it is barely on the surface...


I also get a similar picture at the same time from a different view...


  It was so hard to get any pics with the glare on the water and poor lighting, a polarized filter is much needed. Even so the pics would not do this fish justice. Anyway, with the shark acting surprising docile, we get a good look at it... and Kevin and mine suspicions are confirmed... its a rare Dusky Shark .

  This incredible fish is between 9-10' in length... our best estimates put it around 9 1/2', but a beefy fish I'd say easily over 350lbs.


Santiago has officially tamed the beast...


An yet the leader is still holding up... simply amazing.


  While mainly shooting HD video the whole time, I get my chance and try to get some underwater pics despite the low visibility and cloudy conditions... But some actually turned out pretty damn well...


Great color definition...


Too big to get the whole fish in a the picture...


My favorite shot...


Kevin pulls as hard as possible to get the fish up on the surface for us...


Wow.. big head...


Ready for release...


  After over 3 hours of pure domination by the shark, we cut the leader and the beautiful sharks swims off, nothing in tow this time. What an incredible experience for not just the worn out Kevin, but both Kip and I. We got see up close and personal one of the rare Texas sharks these days... and not far offshore either. This will be a moment Kevin will NEVER forget. This may very well be the largest non-mothership fish every caught from the kayak, however due to its federal protection we'll never know. Even so, this fish would have been released regardless. All in all expertly fought from start to finish by Kevin, and yet ANOTHER Kayak Wars Record... I'm just glad its a good guy like Kevin who's breaking my records ;)

  Anyhow, we all get back to the beach. Kip is packing up to leave. Kevin is staying the night, but passed out cold at the truck. I get back to the beach and begin rigging up baits for the night...


My two babies on guard...


Water is looking better, but still cold and not much activity worries me.


  With baits out, I am happy... especially with no weed. Kevin opts out of shark fishing tonight so he relocates near my camp in case I need help during the night. A bit later I get hooked up on the one short bait I placed in the 2nd gut... not a huge shark but some activity is better than none!

  After a few minutes I get the shark to the beach... an average Bull Shark... nothing huge, the picture is deceptive from Kevin's camera angle... it really wasn't that big.. haha


  During the night, the wind died completely. IT.. WAS... HOT. Only one rod to a hit after that but never hooked. The baits would just get crabbed out. Early morning before sunrise there would be no wind but I could hear the swells crashing... not sure why but the surf mysteriously picked up. Not a lick of wind either. Come morning I wake up and decide to go out and pickup the baits/weights... it was a challenge getting out... big surf, but did it safe and not getting dumped.

  I get back in and start packing up... Kevin is doing the same. The wind is out of the North a bit, but not bad. The surf is picking up and getting dirty once again though. We truck on off the beach... with moderate driving.

  Once again another surprising trip is in the books. This time i got the honor of being there for someone else as THEY caught a big shark. Kevin's Dusky may be the only Dusky Shark ever landed from the kayak... an impressive feat in itself. With only seeing one other possible Dusky on the water in my whole life... this was a great feeling and a treat.

Our combined two day yak total for Kip, Kevin, and myself was...

2 Sharks
7 Jack Crevalle
32 King Mackerel
1 Cobia

  Beach fishing sucks right now but if the water warms up and clears back up, the anchovies along with the whole food chain will move on in for the taking... its just a matter of time!

See ya on the sand, or boat.. or yak
-Oz