We launched just as the sun was rising on the lower Eastern Shore of Virginia. Weeks of preparation for this trip were about to be put to the test. Were we in the right area, but did we have the baits the fish wanted, were the tides going to be right? Each time we pre-fished we would find a few medium sized Trout but nothing large.
Finally the weekend we had marked on our calendar all year was here; CCA Maryland's Red Trout Tournament. Friday morning was our last time to pre-fish for the tournament and the goal was to find the fish that had eluded us most of the summer. Within the first twenty minutes Matt and I both had caught fish that were the largest of the year for us. Needless to say, we were optimistic for the weekend. We each had fish that were 20"+ which were nice Trout for the Chesapeake Bay this year. We caught other's that were in the 18-19" range and all fish were safely released.
The bite wasn't on fire but we each caught nice fish that would certainly put us in the running for the tournament. Now we just had to find and catch them the next day. Easier said than done.
We headed to Crisfield, Maryland and checked in at the American Legion which is a really nice new venue for the tournament. It's right on the water and it allows anglers to come by water to the check-in if they so choose.
Photo: CCA MD
We then set up camp at Jane's Island State Park Friday night. This was almost 'glamping' for us compared to our camp site on a secluded island during last years tournament. Morgan Kupfer, Mike Dunlap, and a few of their buddies were set up in the campsite next to us so we had a nice crew staying at the State Park.
Dave Baden & Dave Adlington came in late Friday night ready to join us on Saturday for the first day of the Tournament. Running on almost no sleep we all woke up at 4:15 to head South. Unfortunately the morning started off on a bad note with Matt hitting a deer within the first 15 minutes of our drive. Good thing he had some duct tape in the truck, but it still made its mark on the Tacoma.
Optimism was again high once we all got to the launch. The first decent fish of the morning for me was an 18.25" Speck that came 30 minutes into fishing. Unfortunately it proved to be the largest landed by our group all day Saturday.
We had enough of catching small Specks and Stripers and decided to head back to Jane's Island. The CCA Party that night was awesome and Dave Sikorsky and the other CCA MD guys did a great job organizing. It has really come a long way since the first few years. The tournament brings business to the city of Crisfield, with its in-town check-in at the American Legion. The Crawfish and Shrimp Boil was delicious!
Photo: CCA MD
The Kayak Division was pretty much wide open with only a few anglers having legal fish to check in. The boat division was being led by a group of guys who caught 3 large Bull Redfish which was going to be tough to match by the other boats fishing the tournament.
Sunday we stayed closer to Crisfield and the alarm buzzed again at 4:45. Still running on limited sleep, our crew launched while it was still dark. Lines were in right at 6AM and we all knew we still had a shot to place in the tournament since not many fish had been caught the day before. Lot and lots of small fish were caught. Small stripers were everywhere, but they were getting bigger. Multiple 19" fish were caught by our group but we couldn't find any 20"+ keepers. Finally I caught a legal Speck at 16.5" and I knew all I needed was one more fish to be in the running with an aggregate 3 fish limit. Dave and I fished hard until close to noon when we were planning to get off the water. As we fished our way back to the ramp I finally got a solid hit that felt like a better trout. The long slow pulls of the bait caster's drag was a tell tale sign. As I got it closer to the Hobie, I could see it was a decent sized Speck. Not huge but certainly better than what we were catching the last two days. It circled under the kayak a few times before I finally netted it and brought it into the yak. It measured out at 18.75" which was just enough to beat the 18.5" Speck caught by Gary.
As soon as I released the fish I drifted over to the spot one more time, but no other hits. We quickly peddled back to the truck and loaded up to be able to break down camp and check in at the American Legion by 2PM. I really had no idea where I stood with 3 keeper specks. Legal Stripers and Redfish could have easily been caught to slide into the top Kayak Division spots.
Photo: CCA MD
The awards started and I was fortunate that my 3 Speckled Trout held on to earn 2nd Place in the Kayak Division and that my last fish of the tournament earned me the largest Speckled Trout from a kayak for the tournament. This defended my largest Speck From a Kayak title which is now 3 years running. Persistence certainly paid off and I'll be looking forward to fishing this tournament again next year.
Kayak Division Winners; Right to left: Gary Marine 1st Place; Shane Clift 2nd; Gina Tyler 3rd
Photo: Morgan Kupfer
Final Results from CCA MD's Facebook Page:
Boat- (3 fish team stringer)
1st. - Team Barely Made It. ( 3 Redfish, 47-7/8, 46-1/4, 44-1/2 = 138-5/8 total stringer)
Martin Koerner, Neil Stevens, Kyle Koerner, Vince Lusby, Brooks Dodson. ( from Crisfield)
2nd - Team Local Boys, Capt. Kevin Josenhans.
Dave Wilmouth, Ron Long, Capt. Kevin Josenhans ( 3 Rockfish, 29-5/8, 25-3/4, 31 = 86-3/8”)
3rd. - Team Kimbro’s Friends II
Capt. Shawn Kimbro, Rich Jenkins, Jamie Clough ( Speck- 21.5”, Rock 27, Rock 21.75=70.25”)
Kayak( 3 fish Stringer)
1st-Gary Marine- 18.5” speck, 23.5” Rock, 20.125” Rock = 62-1/8"
2nd-Shane Clift- 18.25”, 16.5”, 18.75” Speck= 53.5"
Gina Tyler- 26” 22” Rock =48”
Largest fish divisions:
Rock: Gina tyler- 26"
Speck: Shane Clift- 18.75"
Rock: Dave Wilmouth- 31"
Speck: Jamie Clough- 21.5”
Red: Martin Koerner- 47 7/8”
Longest Fish: Martin Koerner- 47-7/8” Red
Fly: Mike Dunlap- 22-1/4” Rock
Crisfield Slam: Largest stringer of one of each species ( max 5 qualifying) Team with most inches wins, but more species trumps inches.
Winners: Team Barely Made It
81-5/8” Redfish, Rock, Blue
Rising Tide Kids Division: Carter Whaley(Age 5): Speck 14.25” and Blue: 13.75”