Getting Offshore with Hurricane Fishing Ambassador William Ragulsky
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is one of my favorite fishing spots, as it’s in Virginia’s prime Cobia, Striped Bass, and Sheepshead grounds with great catches of Bull Redfish, Monster Black Drum, Tautog and Spadefish each year. In the fall, Tautog and Striped Bass are the main attraction, and for the kayak angler this is a prime location based on the sheer diversity of the fishery. With artificial islands, hundreds of pylons, and underwater wrecks, there is sure to be something for everyone. There are a few drawbacks though – large waves in open water, cross currents up to 2 knots, and the distance to prime grounds.
After fishing this spot for the last four years, I finally found the perfect kayak to fully exploit the tunnel’s bounty. The Hurricane Phoenix 140 is deceptively stable enough to safely fish in 3′ swells and fast enough to make the 6.5 mile paddle with enough time left to explore all the spots one could imagine. It also it cuts through the water like a hot knife through butter.
Tautog fishing is up close and personal – an orchestrated symphony of chaos where rocks, barnacle encrusted pylons and surface clutter can quickly transform a beautiful trip into a dangerous situation. The Phoenix 140′s Trylon construction is extremely durable and makes pylon impacts barely noticeable – the perfect mix of functionality and beauty. The 140′s maneuverability gets you into the eddys quickly and keeps you there longer, thus maximizing fishing time while minimizing effort. All of these attributes have contributed to my largest Togs to date!
Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy Tog fishing, it is a daytime fishery, and togs do not readily take artificials, which is my favorite way to fish. In October through January, striper fishing is at its best, and the Phoenix 140′s ability to maneuver between pylons and evade boaters sets it apart from other boats I’ve tried. With 2011’s mild fall, few large stripers have presented themselves in lower Chesapeake Bay waters, but there are a number of schollie stripers willing to take a variety of artificial offerings. This includes fish on the fly, and the deck on the Phoenix 140 combined with its stability make it a great fly fishing platform.
Hurricane Kayaks Fishing Ambassador
Vice President – Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association
Marsh Works Inshore Tackle