With November’s unseasonably warm streak and the waters not dipping in temperatures too quickly, I figured I would try one more trip to the coast for a little saltwater fishing from the kayak. Rain has been the one constant seemingly over the past few weeks, and the weather forecast was calling for an 80% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Maybe I could sneak at least a few hours in before the storms hit.
As I approached my hunting grounds, or maybe it should be labeled fishing waters, the forecast had changed. Some sprinkles here and there and the threat of foul weather had subsided. I informed the wife I would likely be out a bit longer than I first anticipated.
I had a goal. I was searching for gray trout, or weakfish as they are also called. The area was producing well a couple of weeks ago and I was hoping with the waters staying near the same temps that they would still be swimming in the depths below.
I was targeting grays for a story coming up and I needed some photos. That, and I enjoy the pursuit. I was also going to test a couple of new rods by Denali designed for fishing bottoms and catching big guys. The Bottom Feeder, as the line is called, was primarily developed for catfishing, but I wanted to see what it could do in the saltwater. It had not been tested for corrosion avoidance, so I knew they would be getting a good bath once I got back home.
I was using Sting Silvers as my lure of choice. Basically 1 ½ ounce and 2 ounce versions with and without a bucktail. I was also going to run Gulp bait and cut bait hooked to them. In other words, I was going to throw whatever I could to the grays in hopes of finding what they liked.
The water was very calm. Not flat like glass, but far from choppy. Small waves wide apart along with a reflection of light and dark gray cloud cover created a canvas of tranquility. The current was not bad either. I did not check the tide tables, but the water stayed virtually the same depth throughout the day and at any given time the kayak would turn on the anchor and head the other way. It was a great day to paddle.
I caught a few small croaker and as always got into eight to ten inch black sea bass. However, the bite was just not hitting on all cylinders. After another hour or so, I had a decent strike on the Sting Silver. The strike was nice. The fight not so much. If it was a gray it was really small.
Instead, I had the honor of unhooking a puffer from the trailing treble hook. He wasn’t real happy and puffed up. There is something humorous about throwing a puffer in and watching him float away like a wind caught beach ball in a pool. After a bit he released enough air in his bladder to slowly sink below the surface.
Meanwhile, the Bottom Feeder started popping hard on my left. I snatched the rod knowing this wasn’t a trout. Once the hook set the reel started singing. Slowly I tightened the drag trying to get a handle on whatever was there. Then the sleigh ride began.
I tested the backbone well on the new rod series. Whatever was there, I was able to get off the bottom. I was also able to keep him off the bottom. As I was pulled further out, even with the anchor still down, I passed a few boats. One asked if I thought it was a shark. “No, it’s staying in a straight line. Probably a ray,” I yelled back.
After a good forty minutes, maybe longer, I was able to get the creature to the surface. I large skate, with a wingspan of over five feet, slapped the water with his wings. I brought him to the side of the kayak with intentions of pulling him onto the yak. He was just too big.
After continuing to tire it down I was able to finally wrap the steel leader around one of the plates on the kayak.
It wasn’t my target nor was it my goal. But it was the largest I have taken by kayak. And it was fun bringing in a 100 pound monster.