Monday, April 23, 2012

2nd Annual Salmon Slam at Lake Berryessa

This Sunday I participated in Salmon Slam at Lake Berryessa. My Sunday of fishing got off to a rocky start. I am still renting and testing fishing kayaks before purchasing and showed up on Saturday to see that Headwaters was closed for Bay Area Paddlefest. Fortunately for me, Victor was also entered in the tournament and was nice enough to trailer a Coosa to Lake Berryessa for me. With a vessel secured, all I had left to do was catch fish.

I arrived at 6:00am on Sunday and was shocked. I had expected to see maybe 20 kayak fisherman. Instead I saw one side of the Lupine Shores campground full of kayaks and their owners. I asked Victor how many fisherman had entered and he replied,"70." With that many folks to compete with I figured that I would have a nice relaxing day of fishing, and maybe catch a fish for dinner.

In the first 20 minutes of fishing, Victor hooked a 16 inch long bass while trolling for trout with a dodger and nightcrawler. I thought,"Well now that Victor got a fish, maybe I'll be next. We trolled the immediate area for another 30 minutes with no luck. We decided to head for the main lake. I switche my rig up about 4 times in the troll to the main lake, but still no luck. We arrived at a cove where fish were hitting the surface. Since the last time fish were hitting the surface of the lake, cowbells seemed to work so I broke those out and started trolling. After awhile with no bites I asked Victor how much line he had out and he said,"75 feet." He asked me how much line I had out and I said,"about 40 feet." So I let out some more line. Within 30 minutes I was getting bit. The rod went down and I heard music to a fisherman's ears; the drags was sounding. I started reeling and the I saw the fish hit the surface and dart from side to side. I couldn't see the whole fish, but I could make out the dorsal and tail fins, and the distance between them was significant. If I could land this fish it would be great for my tournament standing. I managed to do so and got it into the hawg trough. A king salmon over 19 inches long! I was one happy fisherman. Not only did I have a nice fish in the boat but I had found a rig to catch fish in this cove. I put on a fresh nightcrawler and started trolling again. In a short while I boated another fish, an rainbow trout that was just shy of 17 inches. I kept at trolling the cove and broke off one more fish. Now it was judgement time.

I paddled into shore knowing that I had a nice king salmon, but not knowing how anyone else had done. I untied the stringer and walked to the officials table. As I passed people I heard things like,"Whoa," and ,"nice fish." At this point I was beaming from ear to ear. It was then my turn to measure in. Even the judge was impressed with the king salmon, that officially was 19 3/4 inches long. I also had the rainbow, which measured in at 16 3/4 inches for a total of 283 points. I asked where that put me as far as rank and he said,"currently you're in 2nd. I couldn't believe it.

By the time all of the fisherman measured in, I dropped to 3rd. Still not bad for my first kayak fishing tournament. I left that day with a new rod, new paddle and bunch of lures.

Thanks to Ricci for hosting the event and thanks to Dan and Victor for helping me with all my paddling needs. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yakhopper Kayak Fishing Series- Clear Lake

This past Sunday I was able to participate in the Yakhopper Kayak Fishing Series at Clear Lake sponsored by Fisherman's Wharehouse. The event was held at Edgewater Resort in Kelseyville. The target for this event was Bass. I arrived on Saturday night and was welcomed by the NorCal Kayak Angler crew with open arms and food. It was nice to sit around the fire and think that camping season has finally arrived.

I woke up at 5:45 AM to the sound of everyone getting there gear together. After making some coffee to get us going, my friend Lisa and I were headed down to the launch with our kayaks. The lake looked so magical and one could only imagine how beautiful the day was going to turn out. At 7 AM kayaks headed out in different directions. Some went to the Island, while others headed towards the state park. It seemed like everyone had a game plan.

Lisa and I decided to work the docks in front of the houses and weren't having any luck at first. I was throwing a worm wacky style and Lisa was throwing a night crawler. After about 30 minutes I headed over to Lisa to see how she was doing and she said that she had a fish on and it was big. The fish jumped and came unhooked. I couldn't believe that I had missed all this but it gave me hope that we were in the right area. This time I decided to drift a minnow on my other Rod, while I continued to cast out the wacky worm. Had some small bites on the minnow but they were really light. It was now close to nine so I decided to paddle in to check on the wife, I knew that she wanted to get out on the water.

On the way back in I started to get some bites near the docks but nothing was sticking, it almost felt like the minnows were just moving frantically. When I got near the Edgwater Resort the rod was getting a little bit more action but nothing was sticking. I got to the beach to find the wife ready to get out on her kayak and I was eager to get back on the water. I quickly ran back to camp got some more coffee and something to snack on. When I got to the water I found my buddy Glen launching after taking a break and he stated that he caught a 21" bass. I knew that was going to be a high target to shoot for.

I headed the the other direction and found last years winner fishing an area near the docks. As soon as I pulled up to him he had some major bend on his rod only to lose what looked like a winning fish. I paddled around the area with minnows drifting and was thinking that this was going to be a great spot.

About 10 minutes later I felt my rod move and thought to myself this could be it. It had a couple taps and then Bam, the rod goes bendo the line takes off and then stops, I lost the fish. I was bummed thinking its 12 and that was probably my only chance, since the weigh in was at 1. I then proceeded to drift the area. About 10 minutes later its fish on again, this fish put up a great fight. I was afraid that I was going to lose it. I saw it come to surface and it looked like a good size fish, went to grab my net and the fish took another dive, going under my kayak. I was able to grab the net and reel the fish in closer to the kayak and netted the fish. My heart was pumping, this was the first bass caught off my kayak. I was worried it was going to jump out of the net. I started to take the pics so that I could submit to be judged, then let the fish go. The fish measured in at 17.25".

I continued to drift and not more then 10 minutes I had another fish on. This time I was a little worried because it was on my 5' Ugly stick. The rod was bent so much I thought it was going to snap, the fish kept taking line even when I tightened the drag, this had to be a big fish. When I finally saw some color, it was big and it took a few dives under the boat. When I got the fish in the net it had some great weight to it and measured in at 19".

It was now 12:30 and I didn't know if I would have time to keep fishing. Without knowing what  had been turned in I thought that I might be a contender for third place. I decided to paddle in and not take a chance at missing the weight in. When I submitted my photos, I found out the third place Bass measured in at 20.5". I was so close, it was great to know that I almost placed.


Lisa and I were one of the lucky ones to win one of the goody bags. They had different items from the various sponsors of the event.

I had such a great time out there with the NCKA crew. It was my first time catching Bass from my kayak and what a great way to start. I am already looking forward to the next event at The Alemeda Rock wall. I would like to thank the Fisherman's Wharehouse and Eric Kaai for putting on this event. Also a big congrats to the winners of the event.

-Victor Woolworth