Wrap Up: 2016 Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Classic
Every year the tournament season opens with the Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Classic. This year the tournament brought together 330+ anglers to fish one of the best locations for the chance of catching large stripers, weakfish, and bluefish. The fluke season had not opened yet so being illegal to even target the species it was omitted from the tournament. The absence in abundance of weakfish over the years has made the tournament more challenging. If you catch a weakfish the chances of completing a slam or grand slam and placing in the competition become very high.
This year was to be a kind of special year as a majority of the crew I used to fish with were planning on fishing the tournament. It had been 2 years since Lunchbox last fished it and longer than that for some others. It was set to be a good ole time with practical jokes, camping, and excellent food along with a few brews.
Arriving on the Floyd Bennett Field tarmac around 11:00 PM on Thursday May 12th. The moon in its third quarter onto waxing gibbous was on its way setting in the west against the orange glow of the night urban sky. The city that never sleeps rustling and bustling. The camp was pretty quiet besides a few loud conversations here and there. Everyone else had gone to sleep early in anticipation of early morning fishing. Captain Jim, Gary and Kevin were still fishing Mill Basin. They informed me that fishing was slow so instead of gearing up I went to take some night photographs. Night settings on a DSLR camera are one of the most enjoyable times of photography for me. Long exposures create the ability to capture low ambient light. After a few photos of around the tarmac i drove down to Mill Basin to get a few photos of the bridge at the basin and my friends as they cane in.
The next morning out of the camper by 7 AM we all had decided to sleep in. It was to be the best day weather wise so instead of waiting for the guys to go to the tackle shop and come back I went out fishing. Trolling SP Minnows for hours looking for bait and fish marks. Also learning and modifying settings on the new Lowrance Elite 5 TI. About 2 hours of fishing finally hooked into a fish. It ended up being a big bluefish at 28″ which I took a photo of and released. Before i knew it I was surrounded by Hobbies which is incredibly annoying but they actually didn’t stick around this time. The winds were increasing and the clouds building and building. The front was about to hit within an hour so I was going in.
Many were still going out. I advised some newer guys that were paddling they may want to stay in and wait out the front. It was good advice that one fellow thanked me for.
About 30 min later the front was upon the area. Heavy rain and winds I hung with the guys of The Kayak Fishing Store. They were all setup for the rain. Brews and a heater blasting from the trailer door! It felt like camping! Good times hanging out with the crew.
A few hours later the rain had passed. A good fishing buddy of mine Brian was on his way to the camp. Once he arrived we were set to go night fishing. It was a cool calm and clear night.The water was like glass. We launched at the Floyd Bennett field ramp and trolled across to ruffle bar. Along the way trolling 2 rods a fish took my SP minnow and ran with it. The reel screamed. I grabbed the rod from the holder and set the hook. It fought like a bluefish and upon fighting and reeling it in. It was a big bluefish. 30″ + with acrobatics! While attempting to boga grip the fish it was able to escape the grasp. Again after that another fish hit screaming reel. Spinning my kayak around. The fish jumping and then off.
Fishing became slow but the fish finder revealed fish everywhere. Jiging trolling casting baits. Nothing mattered. IT was now 2 am. The moon had become a yellow hue as it became larger setting in the west. The hill was getting to us. Trolling back into base Brian hooked up. Another blue to close out the early morning. Landing around 3:30 am we rinsed down our gear and passed out.
An hour later however it was time for everyone to get up that was fishing the morning. At this point sleep had ceased for me. As they left I decided to zippp out of my sleeping bag and capture a few photos of the sunrise. It wasn’t the besst sunrise due to low lying clouds of the front from the previous day but was able to take some great photos! It was a spectacular launch from the ramp with over 100 Hobie’s and Noriel with his Big Tuna commanding the launch.
After the sunrise I put the camera into my Dry Case bag and wheeled the Big Rig to the ramp. Fishing was on! I immediately got on the radio once on the water. Looking for my buddies. I should have been fishing the entire time but meeting up with them was important to me. I was trying to find Capt Jim but after texting him for his location he didn’t get back to me. To learn later he dropped his phone and Romano’s camera in the drink. Dropped Something.
Fishing wasn’t good in the area we were fishing. I saw a swirl in the shallow water but was looking for my buddies. Finally finding Charlie ‘LUNCHBOX’ Labar his son and Bob ‘Mullet’ Miller. Fishing was no good unfortunately. Gave it a few more hours and Capt Jim said he was calling it a day and going to grill up some steaks. On the way back in trolling we marked a few fish and decided to give it a shot. Capt Jim ended up with a blue and that was it for the day. I remained skunked for the daytime fishing.
An hour or 2 later the wind kicked up again and made it pretty much un-fishable for the rest of the day. A few showers blew through as most of us took a power nap to later get up and grill up some chicken. The might didn’t last long with the cold wind i was in bed by 11:30.
Sunday morning was very windy and the Tournament Director cancelled fishing for the day. A majority of anglers had already packed up and left the night before as many were leaving in the morning. I hung out to help with anything needed at the camp then ended up leaving by 11 am.
Looking forward to next year! Jamaiaca Bay is one of those locations every kayak angler should fish one day. I hope to see you and everyone again next year!