Thursday, May 21, 2015

MSSA Kayak Division Sweep May 1-3

Photo Credit: MSSA

Trophy Striped Bass season comes every Spring to the Chesapeake Bay. Every time you hit the water there's the chance to catch a trophy Striper. Needless to say, I was excited to fish three straight days in the MSSA Championship in the Chesapeake Kayak Division, and have a shot at catching some nice fish.

The MSSA Kayak Division is a CPR (Catch Photo Release) Tournament and the only division in which releasing the fish is mandatory.  To document their catches, each fisherman took a picture of each fish on an official MSSA ruler. The aggregate of the two longest fish per fisherman determined the winners. I like how the MSSA and other tournaments are progressing toward catch and release to support conservation of species.

Matt's dad, Dave, and I launched at daybreak on Friday to cool weather and rain for the first few hours. Winds averaged 15mph and it gusted easily to 30+. The bite was on from lines in at 6am and I caught about 15 fish on Friday and gave myself an early lead in the tournament. My two biggest went 31" and 26".

31.5" Striped Bass

Saturday brought nicer weather and Matt, Dave and I all launched with high hopes. On our first pass Matt and I simultaneously hooked in to solid fish. After giving each of us the run around we both boated quality fish that ended up being our two biggest fish of the tournament. Mine went 33.25" and Matt's at 31.5". 

The hottest bait for me was a ZMan 4" soft plastic on a jig head slow trolled. Saturday seemed to be the day for bigger fish and I caught 4 over 30 but none bigger than the 33. Matt, Dave and I all caught a fish at 31.5" so they were all running around the same size in the school. After the flurry of action in the morning the bite slowed down.  

I was cruising, ready to make a change to find the fish again. I took one hard peddle and my mirage drive popped. I could instantly tell it was not peddling properly and the propulsion was gone. I pulled it up and saw the problem: the post that held my front fin in had snapped and the top piece was still in the drive. After trying to remedy the issue for about 30 minutes and paddling for another 30 hoping for 1 more bite, I decided I needed to get it repaired. The closest Hobie Dealer was Delaware Paddlesports, about an hour and a half away. Although the tournament allowed fishing until 5 pm, I got off the water around 12:30 so I could get the mirage drive repaired, give me a shot to upgrade my fish on Sunday morning.

The guys at Delaware Paddlesports were great and they immediately busted out a work table and got me all the tools needed. Chris Erby jumped in and helped me adjust everything and a second set of hands was super helpful. After replacing the sprocket and hurdling a learning curve while reassembling the chain on the Mirage Drive, I was back in business. 

Saturday evening brought the good news after the 6 p.m. email check in that each of our fish that day had put me in first, and had Matt and Dave tied for 2nd!

Sunday morning came. Matt, Dave and I had lines in right a 6 a.m. While we each caught fish, my biggest was 27" which wasn't enough to upgrade my lead. We were fishing hard as we knew a 39" fish had been caught by Rob Griffith the day before, and it wouldn't take much for a second one to be caught to take one of us out of the running.

At the end of the day we got off the water with high hopes. Finally that evening we got word that we had swept the top 3 spots in the tournament, each earning a nice cash prize.

Kayak Division

Aggregate of 2 Longest Fish

Shane Clift

Dave Baden

Matt Baden

Kayak Division $25 TWT – Single Longest

Length (in)

Rob Griffith

Dave Smith and MSSA did a great job of organizing a fun tournament and I'll certainly look forward to fishing it again next year!!!

If you want more information on the MSSA Tournament series or to learn more about the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association check out their website: