Kiptopeke - the Cement Ships E-mail
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 11:28

I just returned from a trip with the Kayak Fishing Association of NY. It was to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel Area of Virginia. The system connects the Delmarva Peninsula to the mainland. That’s 23 miles of fish holding structure. However we weren’t going there to fish the bridge. Our destination was Kiptopeke and the concrete ships. That’s right I did say concrete. During WWII metal was scarce so some ships were built using concrete. One of the intended uses was as barriers for the Normandy Invasion. Nine of the ships ended up as breakwaters in Kiptopeke. They’re placed in two groups with the southern group being the larger of the two. They work really well but more on that later. They’re a few miles north of the bridge.

Tulio in the kayak at sunset by the ships Kiptopeke cabin Kayak fisherman along the cement ships carl4x4 along the cement ships The fishing season has been running late and I thought our trip might be a bit early but I figured it would be a great and fun way to check out the fishery for future trips. So I looked upon this as more of a reconnaissance excursion. Our lodging was right in Kiptopeke State Park in what the park calls cabins. These are a far cry from a cabin and were really nice. We were able to check in around 1PM and moved our gear in and started setting up the kayaks. There were six bedrooms with three full bathrooms and eight bunk beds, four singles and two queens. Our group consisted of 11 with 9 from the NY club along with me and Al.

The tide was right for early evening so we decided to launch an hour before sunset. While we were setting up a couple guys came by from NC. They were here for the first time and Mike was a new kayak fisherman. We told him when we’d be hitting the water and he was welcome to join us. He and his buddies had rented an RV spot for a month at Sunset Motel and RV near the bridge. They planned on hitting the area when the weather was good.

We divided up the eels and hit the water. The launch is about 100’ from the parking lot via a boardwalk and sand. If your kayak’s short you can take the left fork and stay on sand but anything over 13’ requires taking the right fork which has several steps in it. On one launch I popped the air out of my all terrain tire. I suggest floatation wheels. What’s really surprising is how close the ships are. It’s only about 200 yards and you’re there. The technique is to use enough weight to get to the bottom and then reel a few feet up to keep the eel out of the bottom structure. It’s pretty boring fishing when it’s slow and it was. There was a terrific sunset and the ships with the openings made for some great pictures. Our tally was one conger eel. We knew were out there too early, based on the tide, and everyone got antsy so around 9 we went back to the cabin. Only Mike stayed and about an hour later he came by the cabin with his first ever striper of 38 pounds! We were thrilled for him and planned on hitting the same tide in the morning and the following night.

Anthony with a nice Kiptopeke striper We didn’t do anything in the daylight so we went back to the cabin. Several John's TnW Bay Bridge striper of us took naps. I didn’t realize it but a few of the guys went and launched at the tip to fish the bridge. There’s a great launch ramp in the national seashore and it’s about 1.5 miles to the bridge. When the guys got back I was outside messing with my gear and they were excited. John a bass over 48” and Julio had the pics to prove it. Even better they were in the bait shop and tried to buy sandworms for the TnW but they’re not sold this far south. So he used a Gulp sandworm. The folks at the shop said that northern type of fishing doesn’t work here. There was a tournament going on over the weekend and the biggest fish was 38 pounds. This fish would have easily won. They only had one other hit on a 5” Storm Shad. So besides the ships there’s the bridge area to fish.

That night we hit it again to time things with the best tide. The fish tend to bite when the waters’ moving well. Kayak Kevin and his girlfriend joined us. Kevin is one of the pioneers of the fishery and I got a chance to both meet him and speak to him about it. I knew it wasn’t a very old fishery. Turns out they discovered it in the winter of 2006/2007. Off the ships running NW is a very deep channel. The guys would fish the edge of the channel with eels and did well. One day it was too windy to fish there so they make a drop in the protection of the ships and hooked up. A fishery was born. We did a little better with one conger eel and two bass. Daryl got the first bass but I didn’t see it but I was there for Anthony’s. It was another four foot bass. Karl, Al and I were the last to head in around 11PM. We got to bed very late as the forecast wasn’t good for the following day.

The crew headed across the bridge to Rudee Inlet to fish out of the wind. I decided to stay and explore the area and possibly hit a bay to the north a buddy told me held fish. I never launched as it started raining. I checked out the National Park ramp and the RV park. I had lunch at Stingrays and headed back to the cabin. The guys got back just after sunset and didn’t have any luck. It started raining again and the wind picked up out of the north. After a great dinner a few of the guys were going to give it a shot. George and I laughed. They got the parking lot for the ships and said it was brutal and came back.

As I stated earlier I knew it was a bit early as there are a lot of fish still in NY and NJ. I’m glad I went though. It’s quite a fishery and the fishing will only improve. There’s a lot of territory and lots of options on lodging. The area has lots to offer as there is good fishing 12 months a year. I’ll cover this in Destinations sometime in 2010. What the area offers in the winter is fishing for big fish. While we only got 4 the smallest was 38 pounds! I can’t think of a better or comparable trophy striper fishery other then the Susky Flats in spring. It was a fun trip with great company and I see the potential.

If you go don’t buy a VA saltwater license online. They only offer a combo fresh/salt non-resident that’s $21. You can buy a 10 day saltwater non-resident for $5 at the tackle shops, a much better deal.

 

Comments  

 
+1 #1 Chirotrout 2010-09-29 11:47
Great report! I am new to the kayak fishing but would love to spend a weekend this winter in the area. What time of year would you advise for the big stripers?

Jason
 
 
0 #2 Guest 2010-11-17 13:39
Jason - it's the water temp that's key - 50degrees seems to be the magic number. This usually occurs sometime in December.
 
 
0 #3 Guest 2011-03-02 19:21
Me and my father a big on striper fishing! I havent been to the ships yet but my father has. And i have been woundering what kind of outher fish were common in the area?
 

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