Thursday, September 29, 2016

CCA Maryland Red Trout Tournament 2016

The alarm buzzed at 3:30 AM on Friday morning; there was no hitting snooze on this morning. Matt and I met at 4 ready to roll to the lower Eastern Shore. The target species: Speckled Trout. This has been an overall slow year for the big Specks that were all over the place a few years ago. We knew we had to explore some different water to see if we could find some larger ones.

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"
Red: n/a
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”

Friday, March 4, 2016

New Personal Best Largemouth

Trip down to VA provided big dividends during the MAKBF Online Event #1. Bites were far and few between, but the quality was rewarding.

Estimated 8 to 10 pounds, my previous PB was 7 lbs 6oz. I tried to get a weight but the batteries in my scale decided to finally crap out on me.

Both fish caught on a Watermelon color Texas Rigged Beaver Bait on a 5/0 hook. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter Pickerel

We have been MIA for awhile now, but here are few pics of Shane and Dave with some sweet citation Pickerel.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015 CCA Maryland Red Trout Tournament

One of the most anticipated Tournaments of the year for us is CCA MD's Red Trout Tournament out of Crisfield, MD. From September 18th to 20th this tournament brings business to the town as well as showcases the fishing on Maryland and Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Photo: CCA MD
Matt, Dave, and I headed out late Thursday to pre-fish on Friday for the Tournament. Our plan was to explore some of Virginia's Eastern Shore and see if we could find the fish. We set up camp and all set-up our hammocks on an island south of Crisfield. 

Friday morning we hit the water early and immediately started catching small Speckled Trout, Striped Bass and a few weakfish. Dave came across a large school of Bull Reds and immediately called us on the radio. We sight casted to 50"+ redfish for close to an hour but they all had lock jaw and we couldn't catch any. We all knew if any of us caught a bull we would have a great chance at placing in the tournament and competing for largest redfish. For lunch Friday we caught good sized male blue crabs in the shallows and steamed them over the camp fire. Couldn't have asked for a better lunch!

Photos: Matt Baden

We headed to the Captains Meeting Friday night and got our tournament rulers and identifiers. The Red Trout tournament is a Catch, Photo, Release tournament which promotes conservation of the targeted fish species. This years' tournament included catered meals Friday, Saturday and Sunday which was nice to look forward to after a long day of fishing. It was well organized and the CCA staff did a great job this year getting some like minded fishing companies involved. There were some awesome prizes on display all weekend at the podium, including the Crisfield Slam Cup which is a beautiful, hand carved trophy by Dave Sikorski.

Photo: Matt Baden

After the captains meeting we headed back to the launch, loaded up the kayaks again, and headed to our original camp site arriving at about 10PM. We were back at it early with lines in the water at 6:30AM. We fished hard but all we could come up with was small Speckled Trout, Stripers, and Small Weakfish. The bull reds we saw the day before never showed. Dave caught one of only two legal Weakfish in the whole tournament and was entered into a drawing for a Costa Yeti Cooler which he ended up winning. 

Photo: Dave Adlington ; Weakfish

Tired and frustrated that none of us had any placing fish on the first day, we broke camp and headed back to the Captains Meeting on Saturday night in Crisfield. Two fellow Hobie anglers Doug and Gary had ventured down to the mouth of the Chesapeake and were each rewarded with Doug catching multiple Bull Redfish and Gary catching his first from the kayak. They were epic catches to say the least and they had set themselves up nicely in the first two spots of the kayak division. Doug's largest bull was the biggest of the tournament to date. With the weather looking to turn worse later on Sunday we all decided to chase Speckled Trout closer to Crisfield. Dave unfortunately couldn't fish Sunday but Matt and I strung up our hammocks in the parking lot ready to try a new spot with Doug and Gary leading the way the next morning.

Sunday came with light winds early, and as we peddled out each of us fanned out in different directions. I was going a little deeper than Doug when I got a good hit. Just like last year on the same lure, first thing Sunday morning I had a good trout on. The tell tale trout slow pull of the drag followed by the fish coming to the surface to shake the hook had me excited. Doug yelled it sounded like a good one just by the splash and the line leaving the reel, and I could tell it wasn't a Striper. I played the fish to the kayak carefully, letting it run when it wanted to. As I netted it I knew it was a contender for the largest Speckled Trout of the tournament. Doug came over and we were both super pumped one of us got a nice Trout. I took my time and went to the beach for the pictures as I didn't want to chance having this one flop off the yak. All said and done, it measured 23.25" and was my biggest Speckled Trout of the year. 

We all steadily caught fish throughout the morning and Matt and Mike both caught Specks around 18". Matt and I both caught Stripers and Blues that also put us in the running for the Kayak Division, which is judged on the largest aggregate of 3 fish.

Matt with a solid summertime Striper.

We wrapped up fishing around noon and headed back to Crisfield with anticipation that each of our fish had put us in the running. After check in it was clear that the Hobie guys had once again defended catching the biggest fish of the tournament. 3 years in a row the largest speckled trout has been caught on a kayak and Doug set the new standard for Redfish in the tournament. 

Final Standings Leaderboard

There were some exciting prizes awarded for first through third in the Kayak Division. 

Photos: Matt Baden

Since the Tournament's primary target species are Redfish and Speckled Trout, there were awards for the largest of each fish caught. Doug with the biggest Redfish and my Speckled trout earned us both an Eric Estrada print of each respective species as well as a YETI 45 Cooler. Needless to say I was very excited with the awards!

The Crisfield Slam went to the boat team or kayak angler with the largest aggregate of 5 different target species of fish. Walleye Pete and Crew took home the cup this year after a lot of miles covered on the lower bay. He's an excellent fisherman and can no doubt put his anglers on the fish!

Overall, it was a great tournament and the kayak guys had another great showing, walking away with a ton of quality prizes from the sponsors.

Photo: Morgan Kupfer

I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved at CCA MD for making this tournament the best yet. We look forward to this weekend every year and the new venue made it even better. Already can't wait to fish this again next year!

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:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lake Anna Bassin

The first stop of the MAKBF Series was at Lake Anna, VA this past Saturday. The game plan was to fish the warm side of the lake since the cold side was frozen solid. The 'warm side' is used to cool the power plant and is also the private side which means we had to rent a few houses on the lake to gain access. The house was right on the lake which made it so nice to just wake up and fish on Saturday.

It was smooth sailing for Matt running the tournament until one angry neighbor called the cops on some guys launching kayaks at the community launch since they were leaving their cars there. Dave and I were already fishing by that point so our main goal was to stay warm and catch some fish. The bites were slow and came on soft plastics presented very slowly near the bottom. Overall I hooked into 4 and landed 3 giving me a total  of 42.5". My last fish decided to smile for the camera:

Lake Anna VA from Shane Clift on Vimeo.

42.5" was good enough to give me 4th place out of 44 guys fishing and I just edged out Dave who had the same total length with my 16 incher being the biggest out of the bunch. To see the complete results and for more information about the tournament check out:

It was a great start to the series and nice to finally get back on the Hobie!!

Photo: Matt Baden