Expand your Kayak Fishing Frontiers with the latest in Kayak Fishing Articles, Kayaks, Equipment, and Lifestyle.


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"Just a Taste" of the THE CRYSTAL COAST
Saturday, 25 March 2017
     Possibilities! Left to right, you can fish the Gulfstream, surfcast the beach, drift the estuary or target salt marsh creeks.   I flew in to the Outer Banks region of North Carolina from my home in... Read more...


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"Just a Taste" of the THE CRYSTAL COAST E-mail
Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:00



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 Possibilities! Left to right, you can fish the Gulfstream, surfcast the beach, drift the estuary or target salt marsh creeks.


I flew in to the Outer Banks region of North Carolina from my home in California. On our half-hour drive from the tiny airport to the Crystal Coast I experienced a bit of culture shock. These neighborhoods had no fences! Broad swaths of green lawn connect the well kept family houses. I hadn’t seen such green grass yards in my drought-stricken home state of California for many years. And, the space between the houses was so OPEN. Not sure what this might mean on a sociological level, but the implication I took was “These are good neighbors.” Many of the stately neighborhood houses are built in the Bahamian style, while others display a classic colonial architecture. Toto, we’re not in California anymore.

I have visited near this area before. The back-bay bridges, and low scrub pines on the dunes screening oceanfront homes were reassuringly familiar. I will also admit I was relieved to see four commercial-sized Carrier A/C’s outside our rental beach home. It definitely is NOT a “dry heat” in North Carolina. Humidity can run up to 99%, which means instant sweat. By my lights, air-conditioning is a ‘must’ on the East Coast of the US in summertime. This pad was more like a palace. They call them “Sand Castles” here. (Think four stories, six bedrooms, eight full baths, two kitchens, three big screens and a regulation pool table…..).

Crystal Coast towns of Beaufort and Morehead City take their history very seriously. Whereas most of the American West remained as frontier and undeveloped prior to the 1850’s, this part of the Eastern US coast has hosted European settlers since 1600. Originally selected for the protected inlet, the Crystal Coast area remains a thriving year-round community while catering to vacationers from around the world. The combination of down-home sensibilities coupled with four-star restaurants plus dozens of available activities makes this area a family vacation paradise.


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On our first full day, we visited the NORTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM AT PINE KNOLL SHORES  that features over 3000 specimens of local aquatic life. Premier amongst these are the federally protected sea turtles. Seven distinct species of sea turtle grace this area of which the loggerhead and green sea turtles are most likely to nest on the wide sandy beaches. Later that day, we took a water taxi out to CAPE LOOKOUT NATIONAL SEASHORE,  visiting the Lighthouse that has protected mariners from dangerous shoals for nearly 200 years.

On that short boat ride, we passed the Shackelford Banks, a series of grass-covered sand islands within the estuary. These scattered islets are home to a herd of beautiful wild horses. The mustangs have lived here over 400 years, and are thought to have swum ashore from a Spanish shipwreck in the 1600’s.

I was lucky enough to make contact with Bobby Brewer from Baldheaded Bobby Guide Service  in nearby Oriental. Bobby specializes in guiding backwater and inshore fishing. As we all know, the best way to fish inlets, estuaries, salt marshes and tidal creeks is by kayak, and Bobby’s mom didn’t raise no fools. Bobby just happens to have a few Ocean Kayak Big Game  kayaks for clients. The boats come fully set with rod holders, anchor stakes, paddles, PFD’s etc. Bobby also provides all rods reels gear and bait if needed.


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This time of summer, there are still some “old drum” (big redfish) feeding in the back creeks, as well as flounder in the creek mouths and estuary. The big prize for this time of year are the cobia. These big croakers (think weakfish, or white sea bass) are in the shallows. Like their cousins, cobia fight HARD, and might be the most delicious eating fish from the saltwater.

Indeed, this area can boast year-round fishing. The mighty Gulf Stream, a warm-water current that travels from the Caribbean up to the North Atlantic comes very close to land along this stretch of coast. This makes for warm water temps and a plethora of gamefish. Summertime fishing features offshore trophies including white and blue marlin, sailfish, bluefin or blackfin tuna, dolphin (AKA dorado, mahi-mahi ) and wahoo. Inshore one can catch ladyfish, flounder, Spanish mackerel and bluefish amongst other species. The treasured “Old Drum” also called Red Drum, Spotted Drum, Spot’s or Redfish can be targeted year-round in this area. Springtime targets the mighty cobia, which can grow to eighty pounds and be caught in shallow waters. Fall and winter fishing highlights striped bass, red drum and speckled trout along the inshore and estuaries.

Sadly, weather conditions were not ideal for our scheduled fishing foray. Storms were threatening and the barometric pressure continued to drop. But, Bobby was game, and so was I. We launched our Ocean Kayak Big Games into the Neuse River near New Bern, and followed the tide out to the salt marshes. Alternately using topwater popping corks, swimbaits and shrimp bait we tried for the red drum backed up into the marshy creeks. Frustrating. We could see the fish and get follows, but no bites. Eventually, I caught one small drum, and one decent flounder on the shrimp bait. Three or four more of either fish would have provided a pretty good dinner. As it was, I practiced catch and release. Let those fish grow up for future forays.


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As all dedicated anglers know, it’s never a wasted trip. We had a full day to enjoy the isolated beauty of the saltmarsh and were visited by a family of ospreys as well as a few of the fabled wild mustangs from nearby Shackelford Banks. My theory is the low-pressure conditions just put fish off the bite for the day. It happens to the best of us and to the rest of us. I really needed about four more fishing days in the area to capitalize on one of the most potentially prolific fishing locations in the US.


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That’s why I’m looking forward to getting back to the Crystal Coast and bugging Baldheaded Bobby within the next couple years. Pick any five or six days in a row, and I’m almost sure to get three or four good fishing days out of the deal. I also want to get offshore for big game kayak fishing with BB. With his powerboat, we can mothership a couple kayaks out to the deep-sea fishing areas. Add in some surfcasting at sunrise and sunset as a cherry on top. 


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Beauty and the Beast E-mail
Monday, 06 February 2017 12:11

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After those mighty California storms and plenty of rain, Nick and I decided to kick off the new year with some good ol’ sturgeon fishing. We prepared all day Saturday and went out on Sunday 1/15 for our first fishing trip of the year. This wasn’t my first time targeting sturgeon, and I knew I was likely to spend all day on the water and potentially see no action. We slept in a little longer than planned, which was no biggie because Loch Lomond's bait shop doesn't open until 8 am. We waited for Keith Fraser to get there and picked up some live ghost shrimp. Then we headed to the launch.

Getting our gear together took longer than expected. We knew we had a long day ahead of us. The water was as brown as could be, and there was a lot of debris floating. There were a couple of boats where we wanted to go so we distanced ourselves and anchored. The tide was coming in and by the time we got settled, it was close to 10 am. After about two hours of waiting we thought about moving south to fish with a fellow NorCal Kayak Angler, but then I got my first bite. It seemed 'darty' like a striper bite, but you can never be too sure. I waited for him to bite again but he didn't come back. About 10-15 minutes later I decided to put on a livelier bait. Well, it didn't take long for my little friend to return. He inhaled the shrimp and gave me a fun little fight. I caught myself a nice striper and my first fish of 2017. Stoked!

By now it was 12:30ish and high tide was just about to peak. About thirty minutes later I was checking out my striper pictures when in the corner of my eye I see my line go way slack. I quickly grab my pole thinking to myself, “Shit shit shit,” reel the line tight and set the hook. That sends the fish on my line blasting out of the water. Holy shit, it’s a sturgeon!!!

I quick released from my anchor and went for quite a ride. He was pulling me on my Ocean Kayak Trident 13 so fast, but the fight didn't last too long. He was quite acrobatic jumping fully out of the water and surfaced multiple times. After a couple minutes he came up on his side, and Nick came over to help me. I handed the leader to Nick so I could try and grab the tail. I was a little nervous since I wasn’t sure how this new-to-me fish would react, but luckily he was tired and very cooperative.

According to our "at a glance" slot measurer it seemed like it just made it as a keeper. We got out the measuring tape and it looked to be about 41.5 inches. It was a little too close for me to feel super confident keeping, so after getting a couple pictures I revived him and let my buddy swim off into the muck. What a rush!!! SO STOKED!!!

I got back on my anchor and was just as happy as can be. I tossed another shrimp out there even though my day already felt complete. Over the next couple of hours I got a couple bites but didn't hook up. Then at about 3:30 I get a big ass bite. It was like bam and then my line went slack and quickly went tight again.

I set the hook and my reel screamed like I've never experienced before. Like I was in sincere shock, and thought I was about to get spooled right before my eyes. I released from my anchor about to go on a ride of a lifetime. I felt like I'd never get the fish in after all the line he took, but then he started swimming back towards me.

Reel reel reel! He changed directions and pulled me right into Nick and took off heading south. This one was no joke, and I literally thought he would never tire out! He took some epic runs, and I honestly don't know how my reel didn't catch on fire with all the friction. After about 7 minutes I finally saw the head, which was double the size of my first one. He towed me quite a ways and every time I got him up he thrashed like crazy. I grabbed the leader and managed to land him after an 8 or 9 minute fight/sleigh ride. Then I waited for Nick to come help me measure him. He looked to be about 51.5 inches, but trying to measure a fish that big on our kayaks isn’t always easy. We chose to keep him as he fit comfortably within the 40-60 inch slot limit. What a beast that thing was. I couldn't believe it. FREAKIN STOKED!!!!!!

We stayed out a bit longer, but the sun was making its way behind the hill. We called it a day and paddled back to the launch. On land we measured the big guy again and his fork length was exactly 53". It is still so surreal to me that I actually caught a dinosaur. The beast bottomed out our 40-pound scale, and I'm guessing it was about 45 pounds. My personal best fish from the kayak and honestly ever. I've caught lots of leopard sharks but nothing as dense or long as my sturgy! I will never forget this epic day landing my first and second dino and earning a new personal best!! Check out the video of the dino hunt here: https://youtu.be/FYwe_rcXTR4






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