Monday, August 3, 2015

Sheepshead Surprise

Back in the day, Kayak Kevin coined the term "Spadefish Surprise."

             def.  When ones bait (clam) is struck by a target specie other than spadefish.  i.e. Sheepshead

Well, Ill give your the definition of a "Sheepshead Surprise" in a minute, but lets set the scene shall we.  All week long, I had a good feeling about my first VA saltwater outing in a month and a half.  So good I felt that I was going to be a hero and do some epic things.  On August 1st, there were forecasted ideal conditions for what I was wanting to do, but I just couldn't find the right people who were willing to go all out and leave any trepidation's at the launch.  Calls went back and forth, and I got confirmation that the plan was a go, but i had a feeling something would change (and it did).  Oh well, I guess I will just relax and sleep in.

One of my favorite things is waking up on my own terms, with no alarm clock or other am annoyances to start the day off on the wrong note.  So when I woke up at 0600, and saw a text from Tex, I was shocked but ready for what the day would bring.  I collect myself, get bait, and head to the launch.  Paddling off the beach at 8am on a Saturday is less than ideal, and this was confirmed when I counted no less than 10 kayaks in my first 10 minutes of launching.  I kept telling myself it was still going to be a good day, and when I met up with Tex,  all the other kayaks and boats that were at the front of my mind disappeared.  Tex had made a handful of drops when we decided to move on.  As we approach one of my favorite spots, there was already yaks on it.  Well, it just goes to show the early bird gets the worm, and it increased my pace to get to my favorite part of the 3 mile span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

First drop was met by a spade that was all of 10".  The right target, just not the right size.  So I moved around looking to gauge the attitude and location of the school of spades.  Within minutes, I feel the tall tale "tick tick", drop the rod tip and gather slack, and drive the sz 4 Owner home.  "Fish On"!  I'm getting bulldogged, and my rod is not shaking, which can mean only one thing Spadefish Surprise.  As I navigate through the pilings, I am getting ready to sweep the fish in when I get that gut wrenching feeling of slack line.  I look at Tex, and say "sometimes you got it, sometimes you don't".  As I inspect my rig, the small spadefish hook just didn't have enough purchase in the toothy mouth of the Sheepshead.  time to go back to basics and remind myself that I don't need a ton of drag when I get these fish to the open.

While all this drama is going on with me, Tex is putting on a spadefish clinic!

Roland with one of the nicer Spades on the day
I had a pretty good day on the spades in between dropping crabs to the depths.  Not long after loosing the first sheepie, I feel a tap while on the bottom.  I set the hook, and get worked much like a sheepie would.  This fish is working me through the piling set and once I am in the clear, I let up on the drag.  About this time, she is coming to the surface, and much to my surprise, I ended up with a true Sheepshead surprise.

40" Striper brought up from the depths

After landing, snapping pics, and getting a healthy release, I was back at it.  I went back and busted out a few more spades until I got bored again and dropped back down.  This time, I feel the hit and felt some weight, but had horizontal instead of vertical runs.  In shock, not quite sure of what to expect, I bring the fish up to find a 7-10lb Black Drum.  Now Ive never really targeted them, so my personal best was a whopping 8" fish.  Imagine my stoke when I brought this bad boy up.  While most fish go back to live another day, I love eating blacks this size, and he came home for dinner.

Personal Best Black Drum
We went back to spade fishing, but as the current got stronger, we decided to go take refuge and find some triggers.  While they were there, they were extremely skittish and we managed a pair a piece.  I enjoyed chilling, but Tex was on a mission for his personal best Sheepie.  We start moving in, and hit some of our favorite spots.  On my first drop, I feel that all to familiar tap tap, and this time I wasn't disappointed.  I get the fish in the open, and this is where I get to enjoy the fight without the fear of loosing them.  If they want to run, they get to run, as there is nothing that is going to break me off.  The leg sweep brought me this beautifully colored fish.

A solid 23" sheep to end the day
This last fish marked the end of our day.  Not necessarily all we had hoped for in alot of ways, but more than I would have expected in others.  So now I have a new definition for ya:  The Sheepsead Surprise

                 def.  1. a game fish other than a sheepshead, that comes as bycatch while fishing for sheepies
                         2. a sheepshead that comes after a day full of "Sheepshead Surprises" (see #1)

This day fulfilled both parts of the definition!