Fish America: Week 7

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I ended last week’s gallery by telling you I couldn’t pull myself away from Cape Hatteras, so I was sticking around for more fishing, and I did. The place is the end of the road, and offers both great inshore and offshore fishing. I’d had the good fortune to fish with Rom Whitaker offshore last week, but had yet to test Hatteras’ inshore waters.
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That’s where kayak guide Rob Alderman came in. Rob is on the cutting edge of fishing the inshore waters of the Outer Banks, and guides clients to numerous species from a kayak.
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Rob and I launched off the beach and before long we were paddling over calm waves. Kayaking off the Outer Banks definitely was a highlight of the trip thus far. It’s a cool experience to be in such a small vessel in so much water.
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You can tell Rob’s been doing this for a while, as he stands up to get a better view of the water’s surface from his kayak. I stay firmly planted for the entirety of the trip.
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Rob guides anglers to redfish on the flats this time of year, but we can’t find them. Luckily, we run into some surface-blitzing Spanish mackerel.
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The mackerel leap form the water and there’s a massive school sitting right off the Cape. They are hitting metal lures reeled in at a blistering clip. Spanish mackerel are a ton of fun on light tackle and great eating as well.
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After a great trip with Rob, it’s back north to Virginia Beach. Yes, I know this isn’t the most direct route around the country, but you’ve got to follow the fishing opportunities right?
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Virginia Beach has a beautiful boardwalk area where you can find live music like I did. I caught a Johnny Cash cover, Fulsom Prison Blues.
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I had an opportunity to get out with captain Herb Gordon, who hosts of a local TV show, the weekend fisherman. Herb and his crew target and shoot a different species every week, and the show airs only a couple of weeks after it’s shot. It amazes me how fast this crew works, and how efficient they are.
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The mission with Herb and the boys was to find and catch Amberjack, and the target is pictured here, the South Tower. Amberjack love structure.
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Less-than-ideal weather conditions make the 50-plus mile run to the tower a three-hour journey in Herb’s center console. I’m wondering, on the way out, what could make the trip worthwhile. I will soon find out.
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It’s not long before we reach the tower, jigging with Butterfly-style jigs on light conventional tackle, that we’re hooked up. I get tired just watching the first fight. Imagine just setting the hooking into a crotch rocket. And they find an extra gear near the boat.
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When they finally come boatside, these fish are an impressive specimen to behold from the bridge.
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Tony lifts the first AJ of the day, a 50-inch specimen that is big enough for recognition with a citation by Virginia’s sportfishing awards program.
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But this is an all day affair, and the fish aren’t shy. The crew is shooting a show for the next week, and it doesn’t take them long to get enough footage and then some.
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It isn’t long before I get my first amberjack. It’s not going to earn me a citation, but it does beat me up pretty good before I get it in the net. These are some of the hardest fighting fish out there. I guess I fought this fish too long because it caught the attention of a tiger shark that came up form the depths to eyeball it as I struggled to get it in the net. I would have needed some more stout gear to deal with the shark.
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The fish keep coming at a steady clip all afternoon, hitting both the jigs and live croakers.
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Every amberjack is safely returned to the water.
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It’s not long before I get a bigger AJ, this 47-inch fish ran me ragged around the boat before posing for a photo.
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The last stop in Virginia Beach was flounder fishing with Dr. Julie Ball. A Virginia Beach dentist by trade, Dr. Ball has broken numerous angling records and is one of the most well known anglers in the state. This 23-inch flounder came on the bottom, by fishing a live spot.
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Captain Rudy Lavasseur also gets up top to scan for sunning cobia while we move. And while we spot a few fish, we can’t hook any up. Windy conditions made it tough to target these fish. Rudy guided Julie to a 74-pound cobia this summer.
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If You Go… Kayak Fishing the Outer Banks: Rob Alderman, www.fishmilitia.com Inshore Virginia Beach: Captain Rudy Lavasseur, Hell Bent Sport Fishing, 757-589-1225 Dr. Julie Ball: www.drjball.com