Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Eastern Shore Rookie Reds...

50"er Photo Credit : Kayak Kevin Whitley

First off, let me start by saying that I am a rookie when it comes to Red Drum fishing.  A little research is the first thing anyone who knows absolutely nothing about reds would do! Where to start? First, check out websites from guys like, Kayak Kevin, Rob Choi, Jay Brooks and Lee Williams. Also, spend hours on the internet for red drum tips and tactics. That’s exactly what my buddy Richie Bekolay and I did a lot of this winter.
While it’s no secret that the Eastern Shore holds some monster bull reds, it takes hours and hours on the water to find these fish. Local kayak fishermen with years of knowledge and experience aren’t going to just give that information away. You’ve got to put some time on the water and earn it.
With that being said, my first trip is equivalent to a rookie MLB pitcher throwing a perfect game in his first major league start. It’s rare and unexpected, but it can happen.
From the research I had in hand I ventured out for my first Eastern Shore red drum weekend trip.  It was one for the books! In fact, it was 3 for the books!
This is such a huge area to fish, so “where to start” was the first thing that came to mind. This is where experience and time on the water would have played a big role into my decision process. Since this rookie didn’t have that, “instinct” or as some have called it “luck” was going to play a big role.
 I started out by standing and sight casting in my Hobie PA12 looking for any signs of reds. I had near perfect conditions with good water clarity and little winds (apparently a red fisherman’s dream). I saw my first bull red within the first 1 ½ hours. The fish was on the surface about 20 yards in front of me and turned quickly to my left and out of sight. I quickly grabbed my rod rigged with a swimbait and made my first cast.  I started the retrieve and within a few seconds I was hooked up! I almost had the rod jerked out of my hand from the sheer power of this fish. Remember I said I was a red drum rookie. Well, one thing I know how to do is fight a fish. The heads shakes on a bull red are the most violent of any fish I’ve ever fought. The power of these fish is almost indescribable.  The fish had spun me around multiple times and had dragged me around for a few minutes. It took me about 8 minutes (from the GoPro footage) to land my first ever 45” Bull Red.

45" Red Drum

I could see two kayakers a distance away when I started the fight. And by the time I landed my fish they were within pretty close talking distance. It was none other than Kayak Kevin (click name for link to Kevin’s report) and Lee Williams – aka - red slaying masters! I asked for help with some pictures and immediately Lee hooks up! Kevin comes over to help me out and while taking my pictures his rod buckles over. I got to watched two well respected kayak anglers battle bull reds – now that’s something not everyone gets to do!
Kayak Kevin Hooked Up
I didn’t want to be left out so I made another cast and SMASH! The fish made a quick run on the surface and it didn’t look like a red. Within a few minutes I landed my this 38” striper.

38" Striper

The action got slow for a little while until Lee hooks up again and this time it was a 49”er!

We started trolling around again looking for the school and my rod buckles over! I’m a quick learner and after a few questions to Kevin and Lee about my gear, Lee’s says to “crank down the drag” (those of you who know Lee know I’m paraphrasing, Haha). Before long I was holding my first Virginia Citation Red Drum at 47”. A few pics and she was back in the water.

47" Red Drum - Remember to clean your lense - water drops can spoil an othewise great photo!

I threw my line over and started to get another rod ready and Lee yells “JOE- YOUR ON!” Sure enough my rod is buckled over and I’m fighting my 3rd bull red of the day! I just can’t believe my luck and neither can these guys. This fish took a little longer to land; it just wouldn’t come off the bottom. I was only using a 7’ Shimano Compre  med/heavy rod so I really didn’t know how much pressure I could put on this thing. For the record - you can put a lot pressure on this rod! Once I had this fish in my lap I knew it was a beast! Kevin quickly put the tape on it and said “fiddy” (with a big grin).  My third redfish and my second citation - 50” Bull red.

50" Red Drum - Photo Credit : Kayak Kevin Whitley

Having an obvious fishing high, I was eager to get out again quickly. Richie Bekolay and I decided to carpool down to save a little on the gas and tolls and parking fees. Within the first two hours I was on! I fight this fish for about 5 minutes, before I get a good look at her and all I could say was “WOW”. I finally got this fish in my lap and Richie helped me get a measurement. It’s another 50” Virginia Citation Bull Red and my 3rd citation of the weekend!

50" Red Drum - Photo Credit: Richie Bekolay

50" Red Drum - Photo Credit: Richie Bekolay

I started off by saying that I was a rookie red fisherman. That’s a fact, even if the results don’t reflect it! I know guys that put in hundreds of fishing hours at the Eastern Shore to land just 1 in a season. Now that I’ve had a taste of the red addition I will certainly be putting more hours on the water if the potential is Giant Bull Reds!
I have three words that sum up my day - Humbled –Thankful –Blessed!


  1. Awesome story and pics!
    What an EPIC day!

    1. Thank Bill - It was an awesome day! Can't wait to head to the jersey shore with you for our flounder trip! I miss my old fishing grounds.

  2. that looked like an amazing weekend Joe. good going man.