We launched at 5:00am into foggy conditions, Ryley in his Cuda and Braden and I in my Big Tuna. We immediately ran into some friends that had been on the water since midnight, and they gave us some tips on where to find the fish. We started off throwing some Hogies, but after an hour with only a few hits and no fish landed we switched over to the Tube-n-Worm set-up. Just after the sun started to rise, Ryley hooked up on his first fish of the morning - a nice 29” striper.
We continued to paddle around the Tubes, and at times had fish start to break around us. We stopped to throw other baits at them, but we never were able to identify what they were feeding on and they didn’t want what we had to offer. So we went back to trolling, knowing there were fish around. Just after Braden asked me how he would know if a striper took his bait (I assured him he would know), my grandfather’s old reel started to sing. It was fish on! Braden worked on the fish for about five minutes before he was able to pull it to the surface. When we got it in the kayak, his first striper ever measured 34”, and thanks to the “face time” seating in the Big Tuna I had a front row seat to the entire event!
We kept chasing the fish, and soon Ryley picked up another striper that measured 31”. They finally they let Dad get one, a nice 33” fish. We kept fishing for a while more, and we had a few more fish on after that but none that made it back to the kayaks. We called it a morning around 10:30am, and headed back to the launch as the sun was finally burning off the fog.
We packed up our gear, loaded the kayaks, and headed to the local coffee shop - the High Tide - for a tasty post-fishing breakfast. Then we visited some friends at Bob’s Bait Shack to thank them for supplying the bait for our adventure. Finally, we headed to the Winthrop Elks Lodge, where once again the Elks put on a great BBQ for the Awards Ceremony and raffle. After the results were tallied there were some familiar names on the podium in the kayak division: Billy “BillyBass” Eicher, followed closely by Mike “Sparky74” Payne and Rick “Divebuss” Buss. In the Youth Division, Braden placed 1st and Ryley took 3rd place. This Derby raises money for the Michael J Fox Foundation, and in eight years has raised over $100,000 to help fight Parkinson’s disease. This was one day I will never forget, and we are already looking forward to next year.