Thursday, August 15, 2013

Albion Open 2013. First Kayak Salmon!

Every year 100+ kayak fisherman migrate to the Albion River Campground for a four day ocean kayak fishing festival. The Albion Open is hosted by NCKA Member and Ocean Kayak team paddler Craig Davis. This years event was huge! Over 150 registered anglers and probably 150 more friends and family. The entire campground was filled to capacity, and the energy was electric the evening before the big tournament.

Bam and I got in Friday evening and set up camp. We made our rounds saying hello to old friends and introducing ourselves to new friends. We both planned on getting up before the sun to get to our spot so we hit the sac early. We tossed and turned with excitement and I don't think ether of us got much rest. Dispite our sleep we woke up early and finished rigging our kayaks. We had a little bit later start than we wanted, but we were still out early and the whole team with the exception of Adam Koons (Had a wedding) were on the water together. We had a plan to paddle south about a mile to some structure we knew had good fishing.

Along the way stopped a couple times when we spotted a lot of activity on the fish finders. We got into several schools of Black Rockfish and even a couple small lings. Then all of a sudden the fish finder started blowing up. I dropped my 8oz swim bait down with a small white shrimp fly tied on the leader. We were in about 80ft of water, and when it hit about 50ft.. WHAM. The fish took off. I knew I had something big when I started noticing a bow wake forming and I wasn't paddling. I fought the fish for about 5-10 minutes before I saw it flash under water. A big SALMON! The pressure was on because I've never caught a Salmon in my kayak and this one was big. The salmon took a few more runs before it wore itself out. The net I brought was big, but not big enough for this fish. Thankfully Victor was close by and let me use his to boat the fish. I put it on my game clip for a quick picture and the released it back into the wild. Why you ask? I caught it on a barbed shrimp fly while jigging for Rockfish, and it would have been an illegal catch. I was more than happy to get the shot and the release video. The rest of the day was stellar.


We each had a highlight for the trip. For me (Dan) was catching the Salmon.

Bam Caught a bunch of nice Ling Cod on his first trip to the Salt.

Bill landed a nice Cab and a bunch of Blue Rockfish on his fly rod.

Victor had a nice stringer of rockfish for fish tacos later that night.

As always the Nor Cal Kayak Anglers scene was incredible. Everyones willingness to share info, gear and food is unlike anything I have ever seen. The beer was free, the prizes were amazing, and as always the potluck was epic. We really could not have had a better weekend on the coast.

Thanks to Craig Davis for hosting this amazing event year after year. A lot of hard work goes into it and it really shows.

Here is a video of our trip including some cool underwater release footage.


A little bumpy water around the rocks. 

Bam and his first ever ling cod! 

Party Time at the Jedmo Nation. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Catching Rockfish with a Fly Rod at Albion by Bio-Bil1

I'm always looking for something new to try when it comes to fishing. My latest goal has been to catch a fish in saltwater with a fly. Sounds simple right? Those of you who fish know that attempting a new technique can be a daunting task. Add to that the unforgiving conditions that are often encountered on the Pacific Coast and I figured it would easily take me a year of attempts to accomplish my goal. Fortunately for me Nor-Cal Kayak Anglers hosts their saltwater events at some of the best places to catch fish along the coast of California and so far this year all of the events I have attended have had ideal weather conditions.

Going into the weekend I was hopeful that I would be able to break out the fly rod, but at the same time I was being realistic and brought along conventional tackle as well. On the morning of the Albion Open the sea was totally flat. I though to myself," today is the day." I met up with Dan, Victor, and the latest edition to the team, Bam and we headed out. As we exited the mouth of the cove we had launched in we headed south. Right away Victor and Dan started marking fish and bait. Determined, I broke out the fly rod first thing and cast out, counting down to a depth of 40 feet, which took 80 seconds with the fly line I was using. It may as well have been an eternity. The other guys were into fish almost immediately, a school of black rockfish. I kept trying, but no luck. Swayed by the fact that everyone else was catching fish and I was getting skunked, I stowed the fly rod and deployed a swimbait. We all started catching fish, but I will let Dan tell you the details of that.

First Saltwater fish for me on the fly! A blue rockfish.
I started paddling in at about 10:30, since at this point we were fighting a pretty strong tide and paddling a fishing kayak isn't exactly a speedy process. I arrived at a cove with a bridge spanning across it and stopped to ask another angler if this was the cove we had launched from or if it was the next one to the north. I noticed another angler to my left catching small blue rockfish non stop. I paddled over toward him and out of the corner of my eye saw several white flashes as a school of rockfish darted away abut five feet below my boat. I grabbed my fly rod confident that I could catch at least one of these. I tied on a size 2 clouser minnow and chucked it out about 40 feet and let it sink for 10 seconds. I began stripping in the fly and within seconds I could feel fish trying to grab the fly. I paused my retreive momentarily and then stripped hard. Fish on! I saw the school dart away as the fish I had hooked tried to frantically free itself. I couldn't believe it. I had actually done it. The fish measured about 10 inches, but to me it was a trophy. I mean, how many people can say that they have caught a rockfish on a fly rod? Of course I didn't want anyone to say that it was just a lucky fluke, not to be repeated. So I continued working kelp edges, much like working weedlines for bass.

Beatiful colors! The facial pattern reminds me of a smallmouth bass
I ended the day having hooked 7 blue rockfish, and boating and releasing 6 of them. I could not have been happier. This was a day I won't soon forget.

One of my biggest of the day at 11.5 inches. Even though its small it still puts a good bend in a nine weight fly rod.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Spicer Meadows Night Paddling, Camping and Fishing

                                              Spicer Meadow Reservoir  July 27-29th

Over the weekend I had a chance to mix two of my favorite hobbies kayaking and camping, which I have done many times separately but never camped out of a kayak.  I also threw in a little fishing when Bam and I went up to New Spicer Meadow Reservoir.  On Saturday the 27th Bam and I loaded up our Headwaters shop borrowed kayaks, the Jackson Cuda 14 and the Eddyline Caribbean 14 and set off for Spicer.  The Caribbean is one of my favorite boats in the shop for its light weight and sleek design.  I knew the 7 mile paddle to the other side of the lake wouldn’t be as tough with this great boat.   Dan Arbuckle came through for me with dry bags and showing me the proper way to load the Caribbean 14 with all of my gear.  The important thing is to make sure the load you are carrying is as close to the middle as possible so the weight is not all in the bow or stern.   I was able to put all of my gear inside or on top of the boat with plenty of room to spare.
Geoff and Bam ready for adventure!
Loaded up and ready for a late night paddle. 
We left Lodi Ca, at 6:30 pm and were at the lake by 9:30 and on the water by 10:15.  This was my first night paddle without the help of a full moon.  The paddle was exhilarating and really gets your senses going when you cannot see that well.  Good thing Bam knew where to go!   Spicer is a smaller canyon type lake and the stars were out in force that night with the Milky Way very prominent in the sky.   Another cool aspect of this lake is the back half does not allow motor boats of any kind even trolling motors.    We made it to the end of the lake around 12:30 am found a great campsite started a small fire and grilled up some food before heading to bed.  The beautiful part about Spicer is there was nobody at the back of the lake.  We could have chosen anywhere to set up camp.     

Geoff enjoying a little down time around the fire.

I woke up to lots of buzzing around my tent and realized the bees were working hard carrying pollen from the tall green plants surrounding the shore and wanted no business with us.   When Bam and I checked out the lake the trout were reacting well to hatching Callibaetis.  There was no wind in the morning and conditions were great to fish.  We quickly got to the lake and Bam set up his fly and me with a panther martin.   I think we slept in too much though as soon as we got going the wind picked up and the callibaetis took of for the shores.   We paddled to the where the creek came in to the lake and Bam hiked a bit to check out the creek and I stayed in the lake and kept at it with my panther.  I finally caught my first fish in almost two decades when I caught a nice trout.  We tried a little trolling but by the early afternoon the wind was really picking up and never died down till well past sunset. 
Bam trolling a fly line. 


Geoff doing his thing. 

We ended up cooking up that trout with some scrambled eggs and potatoes and had a great breakfast.  Sleep caught up with the both of us and I woke up and Bam had a rainbow trout on the stringer.  He tried a bit of trolling with the Cuda 14 but still the wind would not let up.  We feasted that night on trout, grilled chicken and sausage.  Life just seems so much better when you have skewered meats sizzling over an open fire out in the middle of nowhere.    The next morning had us scrambling to break down camp load our boats and get on the water before the winds showed up.  We made it about two thirds of the way back before we got walloped with the wind.  We made it to the boat ramp and loaded boats and headed down the hill after a great camping trip.  Bam was great at getting me set up for fishing and I enjoyed camping with someone who loves it as much as I do.  If you are looking for a great place to kayak and camp with no crowds, and throw some trout fishing in, Spicer is my recommendation. 

Great fishing with a beautiful backdrop. 

Advertising for the Headwaters. 

Our site. 

Headed out early to try and beat the wind. Get up GEOFF! 

Geting packed up. 

Loaded up and headed back. Amazing place and we will be back!