Where to start....... this trip was very interesting to say the least. A lot of awesome things happened and yet some unusual things happened.
A friend of mine, named Colton, rode with me on this trip. Colton and I haven't fished in over five years. We were well over due for a fishing trip. I have been trying to get him to go BTB for a long time and finally it was going to happen. Colton lives just a few miles away from me. I met at Colton's house close to 3:00 am. First, Colton and I loaded up his PA 12 onto my trailer. Next, while I was strapping his kayak to my trailer, Colton was loading up the rest of his gear in the back of my SUV. Finally, we were ready to hit the road.
Colton and I didn't have any stops to make except for the Buc-ee's a few miles before the Surfside ICW bridge. I already had my bait from a month ago and aside from getting breakfast there, Colton picked up some frozen sardines. He planned on free-lining these while out on the water in addition to using lures. My game plan was to troll two lines with both having ribbon fish on the end of the lines. After grabbing what we needed at Buc-ee's, we were off to Surfside.
Once in Surfside, we headed for a public boat ramp inside of the jetty's, right next to the coast guard station. For those of you that are curious where that is, look on your maps on your phone or Google Earth. Put Surfside Coast Guard Station in and it will pull that up or it might even say Freeport Coast Guard Station. Either one will work, it's the same thing. Look right next to the coast guard station and you will see a public boat launch. That would be where we are launching. Another way to locate the public boat launch is to find the Jetty's. The side that is further north is the Surfside side and the other side is the Quintana Beach side. Look at the Surfside side of the jetty. Follow that jetty toward land until you get to the coast guard station. It's literally right up against the water. Next to the coast guard station is the public boat launch. This launch has a bathroom, not the greatest. The launch also has a cleaning station with running water. The launch into the water is protected from boat/offshore vessel traffic going in/out of the jettys.
Colton and I arrived slightly before 5:00 am. This gave us more than enough time to get ready. This was good because it gave me time to visit with everyone and to take pics. This was Colton's first trip BTB so I wanted to give him ample time to get ready so he would not have to rush at the last second.
Ryan and his family arrived to the launch so I made my way over there to visit with them. Ryan was going to fish BTB with us today while his younger brother was going to fish a nearby marsh for some reds/trout/flounder. Ryan's family got his stuff out of the Sequoia and he proceeded to get ready. Ryan is in a Outback which was stored on top of the SUV. Ryan's brother, Connor, has a Revo 13 which was stored inside of the SUV.
For those of you that are looking for a new and interesting way to store your yaks when in transit, this could be the answer. I have never seen a vehicle that could store a yak such as this all the way in and the rear hatch of the vehicle could shut with no problem. That was awesome!! Way to go Woods family for the creativity.
By this time, it's starting to get daylight. A few arrived slightly late but those individuals were experienced and could get things ready fairly quickly without losing any time. People were working well to get ready.
There was a few people that were new to BTB on this trip so I asked them to come over so we could have a talk. Ryan, our youngest new BTB person, was going to be hanging with me this trip. There were times he was not near me but when that happened, I made sure he was near someone. I would like to say thanks to everyone for watching over the new people while fishing. This makes for a great time for everyone when we all have each other's backs. I spoke to everyone to try and answer as many questions as I could so they would feel at ease while on the water. After I was done talking, there were a few more questions. After those questions were answered, we were good to go.
Now it's time to get the yaks in the water. Channel 69 on the VHF radios was the channel we were on. Everyone launched into the water and stayed in the cove until all yaks were launched. A total of eight kayaks were going.
Once all kayaks were accounted for, away we went.......
The people that went on this trip are as follows:
Blake Colburn: 2015 Hobie Outback
Colton Hoffman: Hobie PA12
Mike Moore: 2020 Hobie PA14 w/ 360 drive
Merriel Solesky: 2020 Hobie PA14 w/ 360 drive
Ryan Woods: 2015 Hobie Outback
Mike Smalley: 2017 Hobie Outback
Darren Eiswirth: Old Town Topwater PDL 120
Pete: 2020 Hobie Compass
We all headed out of the cove and into the jettys. Staying between the Surfside Jetty side and the boat traffic is the perfect place to be when heading out or back in. You are far enough out to where the jetty fishermen are not able to cast at you and you are not close enough to the boats coming in or exiting out. Since we have two Mikes on this trip, I will refer to them by their last names. Smalley started to veer toward the boat lane. I called on the radio to let him know. Shortly after, one of the boaters on the radio made mention that one of the kayakers was about to get run over. I mentioned something about that again to Smalley as I wasn't sure if he heard any of the radio talk or not. Soon after, I noticed that Smalley managed to make his way back toward where we are at. My guess is that Smalley might have had a talk with his kayak and had to show it where not to go before joining the group. I'm glad he got that all straightened out, lol.
The plan was to see if the conditions were looking like what was posted online at the end of the jetty's before proceeding. Once we got to the end of the jetty's, things didn't look bad. It was slightly choppy, choppier than predicted, but nothing that would send us back to the launch. If things did look bad, we all agreed before meeting up to bring our inshore fishing gear and we would hit the local marshes. Since things didn't look all that bad and passing through the mouth of the jetty's was fairly easy, I decided to do the trip. Our goal was to head toward the 5-mile rig. If we found fish before we get to the rig, we would simply stay in that spot and catch fish (no need to leave fish to go and find fish).
While we were headed out following the buoys, the water chop did pick up a little. The winds were still low. When we arrived at the boat launch earlier, the wind was barely moving (maybe 2 mph if that). The wind picked up but only a little. There were a lot of boats heading out as the snapper season in federal waters just started a few weeks back so it's a mad house with those boats going out. We stayed together as a group. Once we arrived at the first buoy, we proceeded to head across to the other side of the boat lane to the other buoy. By us staying together as a group, it makes it much easier for those boats to see us. As we were coming across, a huge boat vessel was coming out of the jetty's. We made it across before it went by us.
It's important to know that you want to be far enough away from those huge tankers because they can produce some very large wakes. If you are not paying attention, you can easily be knocked off of your kayak. Part of my job was to inform everyone so that they knew what the deal was. I have gone BTB out to the 5-mile rig and beyond many times in years past so I was able to keep people apprised as to the possible situations. The wakes came and everyone handled it just fine.
From this point, it will be hard to tell who caught what and in what order. I will just show pics and tell the story in a way that makes sense to everyone. I will tell you that Ryan, the youngest of everyone (17 years-old), caught the first fish. In addition to that, Ryan also caught the first king of the day (Way to go, Ryan!!). Ryan hooked up to a shark first. Ryan hooked into a few sharks, a king, and a jack.
Ryan has a video out of his adventures........https://tinyurl.com/yau38wkp
Next up is Mike Smalley. Smalley has been BTB fishing since a few years ago when he attended one of the Bob Hall Pier outings. Smalley caught a 55.5" king during that weekend, not bad for a first time out. He was itching to get out offshore so he attended this outing. Smalley caught a shark, a king, and a jack. Not bad for half a day fishing offshore (no pics were taken of the shark but I was there when he had it on the line and got it up near the yak).
Darren, while new to BTB, he did really well out there on the water for his first time. The conditions were not that great and yet he rose up to the challenge! Darren was very supportive of everyone as they were catching fish as he was the only one that wasn't really on the board yet. He wasn't sure why he hadn't caught anything but he stayed optimistic. After awhile, Darren finally got a hit. I heard Darren say on the radio, "I have a fish on!" After about 15 secs I then heard, "I have a fish off!" Darren took it well and rigged up to go again. Darren had two break-offs but manage to land a jack and a shark for the day.
Also, Darren has a video you can check out on YouTube of his adventures that day.https://tinyurl.com/ybq2w7hy
Many of you know Merriel Solesky, on Hobie Pro Staff for Fishing Tackle Unlimited. Merriel fished with us. Merriel was rolling in the new PA 14 360 drive. Merriel caught a shark, a jack, and a king. In addition to that, Merriel had two break-offs. One of the two break-offs was a huge king. Merriel was able to get eyes on it before it broke off. I never really got to see Merriel out there as he was past me toward the front of the group. I tried to radio him a few times but as he was fighting fish, his arm/hand kept on hitting the radio causing his radio to change stations without him knowing it. He kept on saying, "Fish On!" but nobody heard him except the people immediately around him, lol. Nobody got separated from the group as we did a very good job of keeping eyes on everyone for safety purposes. Here is a pic of Merriel's king.
Mike Moore had the same kayak as Merriel does. He is going to be doing the BHP outing for 2020. When I found out that he lived in Houston, I asked him if he was interested in going out BTB. Moore's response was more than positive. He ended up with a king. I think he caught a few more fish but I wasn't near him most of the time as he was up front with Merriel and I was toward the rear making sure nobody fell behind.
While we are all catching fish and having a great time, Ryan's brother (Connor), was fishing a nearby marsh in a Hobie Revo 13. His kayak is the one that was inside of the SUV (the pic in the beginning of this post). Connor did pretty well. Connor caught a few trout that were over 20". While Connor's brother was slaying kings, Connor was slaying trout and flounder. It looks like the Woods family are going to eat well this week.
Colton and I were together I would say half the time we were on the water. This was Colton's first time to go truly offshore. He's been out just past the breakers but nothing more until now. I have been trying to get Colton to go offshore for several years and now it's finally happening. Colton and I have known each other for a long time. We have fished together inshore but never offshore. Colton caught four sharks and three break-offs. One of the break-offs he had did a really fast run. I'm sure if we would have been able to see that fish, I would bet it would of been a king. Colton spent most of his time free lining frozen bait. I can't complain because he was definitely catching fish.
I started to catch fish at the second buoy and as we trolled toward the rig. My first fish I caught was a shark. I didn't get a pic of it but it was around 6 ft (black tip shark). The next fish I caught I knew what it was before I ever saw it. When you catch a lot of kings, you just know when you have a king on the line. After the run, the king did the circle dance around the yak. Shortly after, the king was gaffed and in the yak. Once I made it closer to the rig, I landed a nice sized jack. Even though I had this jack on my Seigler LG, I still had to be careful and not to horse this fish up. I was only running a 30 lb top shot. I didn't want to risk the line breaking so I had to play the game and slowly bring this fish up. It was a give and take kind of situation with the line, if you know what I mean. I did, however, manage to get this jack up and into the yak.
Last but not least, Pete rolled with us. I met Pete at the Surfside Jettys back when COVID-19 was just getting going. Schools shut down around the spring break time. My son just started spring break. I decided to take my son jetty fishing. When we arrived, I saw this kayak on the top of a SUV. I went over to look at it. I introduced myself to Pete and we spoke for a few minutes. From this point going forward, Pete and I stayed in touch with each other. Pete was rolling on a new 2020 Hobie Compass. The Hobie Compass did well out BTB. Pete caught a 4 ft black tip shark. Unfortunately, no pics were taken.
Here are some other pics people caught of the rig as we were headed to it.
By the time we made it to the rig, there are two to three different groups all within range of us seeing each other but spread out. Colton and I were the closest to the rig. Some of the others were hooked up when they got near the rig. By the time people landed their fish, the current had drifted them away from the rig. The current earlier in the day wasn't that bad but as the day progressed, the current got stronger.
Colton and I arrived near the rig around 10:30 am. Around 11:00 am Colton had spotted a water spout. I turned to see where it was and it was halfway down to the water. The spout ended up making it all the way down to the water. As this was happening, another one started to form. These spout were not that far from us. Immediately, I radioed to everyone to let them know to cut/reel lines in. It's time to go! If there was two spouts, no telling if there will be more forming. We were not going to take any chances.
As we headed back to land, I managed to get a few pics.
Everyone made it back to the jettys. I still am not sure how Smalley was able to move so fast through the water. He is in a Outback and none of us could figure out how he was moving so quickly. He dusted us from the minute we left the last buoy and was the first to make it back to the boat launch. Everyone else made it through the mouth of the jettys. As we were moving through the calm stuff inside of the jettys, Darren saw a water bottle in the water and decided to pick up what appeared to be trash. He leaned just a tad bit too much and turtled. Darren righted his kayak and got back in with no problems. I don't believe anything was missing. Darren had things leashed or locked away. I'm just glad he didn't turtle at the mouth as that would of been some crazy stuff.
Everyone made it back to the launch with no issues. After all yaks were loaded out of the water, we all got together for a pic then cleaned our fish.
Surprisingly, the kings were not that big. All kings caught were in the 30" - 40" range. There were a few more kings that were much larger that were on the line while out on the water, but the end result was a break-off. No worries though as everyone caught fish so nobody got skunked. Even though our day was cut short, I have no complaints. What a fun day fishing with a fun group of guys. Until next time, tight lines!!