Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2013 - A Year in Review

2013 ended up being my most amazing year from the kayak I have ever had.  I got picked up for a third consecutive year on the Hurricane Kayaks Fishing Team, and added some other amazing sponsors to my quiver.  Werner Paddles, Astral Buoyancy, and Egret Baits brought me on board and for that I am extremely grateful.  On the fishing front, I was lucky to get into my personal best Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, and in Salt, I just killed it.

Here is my journey in the salt:

Spring 2013...
Even though I got some amazing fishing for Flounder, Speckled Trout, Bull Reds, and Chomper Bluefish in, it was nothing compared to the rest of the year.  I came within an 1/8" of Citation on my Red and a 1/4" of Citation on my Bluefish so it wasn't all bad.  My tournament season started with a charity event for the victims of the Boston Marathon.  With the allure of Bull Reds, I decided to forgo the Captains meeting.  Wouldn't you know it, that day I Caught a bull and a scoring flounder which would have put me on top for both big fish and overall winner had I played.  Oh well!

I started off with a solid 2nd place podium visit on the Outer Banks inaugural Finatic Kayak Fishing tournament.  There was one dink flounder caught, and I lost a solid 18" flattie boatside which would have placed 1st.  Still, a podium visit is a win!

My first citation came over halfway through the year with a Sheepie right under 25"
Photo Credit - Jay Brooks
Next came the Tidewater Club Challenge.   Of the 8+ boat clubs and our Kayak Club, we took home the top spot (and crazy ridiculous national bragging rights) with a win that was the highest total points in tournament history.  We beat 2nd place by almost double the total points.  Did I mention that we were the only club without motors?!?!

Back-to-Back-to-Back Sheepies (all over 25" and 10#)
L to R (William Ragulsky, Rob Choi, Jay Brooks)
Photo Credit - Joe Underwood

1st Place 2013 Tidewater Club Chalange
Werner Paddles Tidewater Team
L - R (Drew Camp, William Ragulsky, Rob Choi, Mark Lozier, Richie Bekolay)
Photo Credit - Mark Lozier

The Fall was insane.  I got my personal best Cobia, topping that mark by over 25".  Thanks to Rob Choi for all he did and his amazing support.
61 1/4 lb Cobia
Photo Credit - Rob Choi
After the Cobe, I was able to spend some time right off the breakers chasing the fall run Bulls with Matt Anderson, Seth Goodrich, and Alex Britland.  The first day with Matt, I caught over 5 reds exceeding 40", with a 47" release citation.  The following day with Seth and Alex we had a tougher time finding the bulls, but Alex managed a 48", and I got my 2nd red citation and went 4-4 on Bull Red trips with a 50".
50" Personal Best Bull Red
I also started loading up with the citation Speckled Trout with fish up to 27".
During the 2013 Oak Island Classic, I decided to fish both inshore and offshore.  Day one offshore saw some amazing flounder, spanish, king, and red catches, while I only managed keeper black sea bass, and blacktip sharks up to 6'.  Day two I spent inshore catching 3 fish.  A Red in the 20's, a flounder near there, and a Speck at 15" for a second place slam finish putting me less than an inch from my NC tournament nemesis and friend Bob Danton.

2nd Place Slam, Oak Island Classic
I spent all winter chasing my white rabbit (30" speck).  My desire to join the "Dirty Thirty" club found me on the water all hours of the night during both the workweek and weekend.  Everything else to include putting quality time for Tautog and Big Stripers took a back seat.  Even though I am not a member of the Dirty Thirty Club just yet, I managed to get my Personal Best at 29".
29" Speck
Photo Credit - Matt Greschak

With 2014 upon us, I am stoked for what the season will hold.  I know it will be an amazing year, thanks to the amazing people I got to fish with and get to know in 2013.  To quote "Crazy" Alberto Knie, I got to share the tides with Great Friends.  

Thanks Tommy Dewitt, Rob Choi, Seth and Kamaron Goodrich, Alex Britland, Lee Williams, Joe Underwood, Kayak Kevin Whitley, Richie Bekolay, Mark Lozier, Matt Tate, Matt Greschak, Bob Danton, Jonathan Grady, James Short, Dan Smullen, Drew Camp, and others that really made 2013 a year to remember!