We all met each other years ago at the tournament before I started guiding for Jerry at Captain Kayak (who later sponsored and organized the tournament). While we always arrived with intentions of non-stop fishing and visions of kayak fishing fame and glory, what we invariably got as well was intoxicated and over-fed on BBQ. By the end of a three-day tournament, it wasn’t so much about the fishing anymore. It was just nice to be surrounded by like minded individuals at a time when kayak fishing was arguably first getting popular as an everyman’s thing. Tournaments came and tournaments went over the years and it was always JBay because there weren’t a lot of options as far as kayak fishing tournaments in the northeast.
All of that changed
That changed over the last decade and now the repurposed milk crate outfit that my buddy Pete made – at the time so novel an idea that it was featured in a magazine article – is now sold by Hobie for about $50. Our mindset did not change regarding the tournaments, which were primarily a reason to camp, fish and socialize. Until Jerry decided to retire from retirement and the (official) tournament ended, Misfit Kayak Fishing Team had no reason to try very hard. It was just fun. Without a centrally located tournament though, it got harder for all of us to get to connect, and last year I joined the Striper Cup in the Hobie World Qualifier. Jerry closed the kayak rental and and so I figured I would have time to test my mettle and see how well I could do when I really tried. The top 10 were in a raffle for a $5000 kayak, and the winner was flown to compete in the Hobie Kayak Fishing World Championship. My efforts were the inspiration for a post back in September that chronicled the months I spent fishing "hard."
It changed me, because it forced me to answer some hard questions; How "hard" is too hard to fish? Do I make myself go out into a cold rainy night when I don’t want to – just because the tide is right and I know I’ll catch? What social events are OK to miss because you know that you will catch a 30-lb fish if you go? Are your friends your competition now, if they’re in the same tournament? It was a season-long competition, so the question raised was always "Am I missing something by not being out there?" I’ve "willed" myself out of bed at 3am often enough to answer that in the affirmative. The real question becomes "Is it worth it?" After a lot of soul searching and a lot of fishing, I found peace with myself regarding those questions, even as that tension remains today. This year circumstances have enabled me to join other tournaments. With different structures that raise still more questions. Who knew catching fish from a floating piece of plastic could be so philosophical?
Should I fish Anyhow?
One of the tournaments that rewards total lengths of all fish caught has me taking pictures (the only way to do it) of every fish. On a good night, that could easily be 30 fish. Even with a 10-fish-per-day limit. I have to ask myself "Is it worth it to drift away from a hot bite as you spend the next 5-10 minutes trying to secure a fish in your lap in a kayak to get a picture? That thought came into sharp focus the evening that I found myself actually thinking about NOT fishing because my camera (phone) wasn’t charged. That moment, that night, made me realize that I wasn’t thinking right. I’d gone "tournamental," and had forgotten why I was there. OK, that’s ridiculous and I was ashamed to be thinking that way, but what if it’s a blitz and I’m marking bigger fish? Do I take the picture of the 28 incher and bank some points or keep fishing? I was able to answer these questions the same way that I was able to solve my moral dilemma.
I was able to answer these questions the same way I ultimately answered them last summer; with a renewed commitment to keeping it "social" (I don’t need the fish) and a pause for the thought "Will I be happy with myself afterward?" Don’t get me wrong; I take my kayak fishing seriously, not just because details make the difference between catching fish and not, but because in kayak fishing details are the difference between getting back and not. But when it comes to fishing with a sense of purpose, there have to be limitations. Limitations are personal.
The Fishing Report
That brings me (finally) to the fishing report part of this. Half of Misfit Kayak Fishing Team made it to JBay for the annual get-together. We fished Friday and Saturday and conditions were great. I was surprised by a couple of things: Happily, the presence of a lot of horseshoe crabs and bait but sadly no other kayak fishermen.
Hopefully it will not be the end of an era and someone will step up and keep the tournament going. My "competition" this weekend was my teammate Pistol Pete Kelly. I outfished him by a sea robin on Friday, each of us landing four bass, and he outfished me by 3 bass the next day. Pete had the right tool for the job and even though I was drifting into 30-pound stripers, Pete was the one who brought the sand worms they were feeding on. Rule one: match the hatch. Pete had bass up to 34 inches and my biggest was only about 25.
On May 7, a retired New York State Trooper fishing on the Hudson River near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge observed a gill net with several striped bass being hauled into a small vessel. When the boat returned to Charles Rider Park Boat Launch, the retired Trooper relayed the information to the Town of Ulster Police Department (UPD). UPD Officer Michael Miller identified the vessel and interviewed the boat operator until ECO Jason Smith arrived on scene. Two of the officers officers located a gill net hidden in the boat that contained 24 striped bass, 12 herring, three white perch, and two yellow bullhead. The gill net operator was issued tickets for taking fish by means other than angling and taking striped bass out of slot size. In addition he was cited for taking striped bass over the allowable limit and taking herring over the allowable limit. The perp was also cited for failing to carry a marine registry.
ECO Jason Smith and UPD Officer Michael Miller with illegal gill net and illegally taken fish
Illegal gill net used to catch striped bass, herring, white perch, and yellow bullhead
Billy the Greek, FlounderJoe and Donald Trump weigh in on this entertaining and informative podcast
This is our best podcast yet. Donald Trump, Billy the Greek, Flounderjoe, as well as all of your favorite features. The podcast begins with George Scocca explain why we need to get our party and charter boats back in business. Why is it we can enter a packed Lowes or Supermarket but we can’t get on a party or charter boat? Many forget that fishing is a sport that contributes over 3-billion dollars a year to our local economies. It also helps to relax anglers that haven’t fished in months and are dealing with financial chaos.
George hears from our President, and he speaks with Billy the Greek about our best bet tactics and places to find striped bass from the beaches. Then we have some insight from a popular figure on nyangler.com Flounder Joe, who is just getting over COVID-19 and plans to get back out fishing as soon as he’s able. Add to that all of our regular features and you have an hour of fishing fun.
Hello All You New York Striped Bass Anglers, The day is here, opening day! New regulations are in place so please abide by them. For the first time in the history of this state we now have a slot size. In order to keep one bass a day, it must be between 28-35-inches. All other fish must be released. I’m an "if it’s not broken don’t fix it" kinda guy, and the one fish per day over 36-inches sure worked well in the ’90s. Now we’ll see how well the slot does. The slot changes a lot including the many bass tourneys up and down the coast as well as the dream to land that 50-pounder. But we will do whatever we can to rebuild the fishery.
Next year we will be adding mandatory circle hooks for anglers using bait.
I realize for many of you this is a moot point as our boats are locked in their yards, and we’re on hold all day dealing with some sort of financial issue. But those are the exact people that need to get outdoors and make the best of a really bad situation. And help get the economy going at the same time.
@_dangram_ hoisting a nice fish caught on a @ccwnj08302 DP4.
“It has been difficult to do trips this season with the ongoing situation but with the little time I’ve had on the water has been very eventful thanks to the new CCW DP4. Getting down 10-15 feet in a few fast cranks, this plug calls in fish of all sizes from all depths of the water column. The best way to describe the action is that of the heavy pulsating action of a bunker spoon but still maintaining a tight irresistible wiggle”