Honestly, I have not stopped thinking about that trip. The drag screamin', bull ridin', head shakin', topwater blow ups, and power runs kept playing in my head every single day. I finally said enough was enough and went back out to a local bridge in Panama City.
Once again, the conditions at DuPont Bridge were awesome: low winds, with a steady outgoing tide. I was formulating my game plan for the evening as I paddled out to a certain section of lights. I didn't get very far when I saw a huge commotion, followed by a load roar from a big fish busting bait under the light line right next to me. Instincts kicked in, and within seconds I had my heavy spinning rod out and pitched out my big Z-Man® “Jerk Shadz™”. Just like the TV shows would go - FISH ON! The first cast of the night yielded a 40 1/4" bull red; a great start, if you ask me.
I could hear bull reds terrorizing baitfish up and down the bridge system as I was setting up my camera for the photo session. After a couple of shots and a quick release, it was time for number two. As I was releasing this fish, another big red was going ballistic in the same spot I caught the last one. Round Two, FIGHT!
Over the next few hours, I had nonstop action! There was no crazy tactic or method that I used. I only threw a 6" Z-Man® “Jerk Shadz™”on a 1/8 oz Marsh Works “Bull Red” jig head. I didn't need to use live bait or heavy jigs. The fish were up all night long and crushing anything that was in front of them. I did have one crazy experience, as a big bull smashed my lure as I was getting ready to pull it out of the water for the next cast. My heart skipped a beat as I just held on to the rod and made sure that I did not fall out of the yak. This 39" bull had the coolest-looking tail I have ever seen!
I only fished under a couple of lights all night, and watched the parade of bulls cruise the light line of the bridge. I honestly did not go ten minutes without hooking up. At one point, I had four bulls in four casts! It was getting late, and I decided that I was only going to fish until midnight. You know it was a good night when your hands and arms were sore from fighting with the bulls. I caught a big bull on my first cast, and I wanted to catch one on my last. At 11:52 p.m., I hooked up again with another nice red. This fish pulled more drag than any other fish all night long. After getting the first glimpse in my headlamp beam, I could see why. This 41" fish put up an amazing fight!
That was the icing on the cake! The biggest fish of the night was the last fish of the night. When the smoke cleared from the "Battle of the Bulls", I was left with landing 15 fish between 32" and 41" and losing five. In all honesty, I left these fish biting. I could still hear big reds smashing bait on the surface. Part of me wanted to stay out, but I had a ton of studying to do the next day. Hey, you have to weigh everything out. One thing is for certain - I will not be able to stop thinking about my new "best night"!
See ya on the water!
About the Author: Richie Bekolay is diehard kayak fisherman and outdoorsman that resides in Newport News, Virginia. Originally from southeastern Wisconsin, his fishing roots started very early in life as he spent most of his free time pursuing the popular freshwater species with his true passion being the mighty musky. Currently serving in the Air Force, Richie has expanded his skill set from the sweet water to the salt of the Chesapeake Bay. He’s an accomplished tournament angler with most recently a 1st place win for the “Slam” division in the 2012 Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association Kayak Fish For Charity Tournament (3rd largest kayak fishing event in the country) and an 8th place finish in the 2012 IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Atlantic Division Angler of the Year race. Richie is also a Pro Staff member with Ocean Kayak, Werner Paddles, and a HOOK1 Crew Member. Don't be surprised if you're on the water or at an outdoors event and run into him and his "Cheesehead" accent. You can follow his fish tales in his blog; Hook, Line, & Sinker at hooklinesinker1.blogspot.com.