Ive been doing consumer shows for years and one of the biggest is the Richmond Fishing Expo, At almost every show I had regular visitors, including Nigel Groce-Wright and his father Richard Wright. When I published my first book they came by the booth for an autograph and Nigel saids that he was going to study every page. A year later they came by the booth and commented how they used it to refine their gear and techniques. Every year after, they stop by and visit the booth. Its been very cool to see Nigel grow into a capable kayak angler.
Earlier this year Nigel called me and said that he was awarded a grant from the John R. Lower Memorial Endowment Fund through the Collegiate School in Richmond.
"John Lower ('84) believed that the lifetime benefits reaped from outdoor learning programs strengthen character, soften opinion, and instill a greater appreciation for natural beauty. In the spirit of John's enthusiasm and love for the outdoors, this grant funds participation in a wilderness program for a sophomore or junior in Collegiate's Upper School." Nigel received his grant for Kayak Fishing and it's an honor that he chose us to provide the service.
We set up the trips and due to the weather decided to fish the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach. Being we have a variety of kayaks to use Nigel who owns a Native Manta Ray 12, opted to try their new Slayer 12. I put Richard in the Hobie Revolution 14.
We launched and after a short paddle I set Nigel and his dad up on one of my favorite spots. The wind was blowing so we staked out using the Park-n-poles and the anchor shuttle. It didn't take long and Nigel was hooked up. He is a natural!
We continued to fish and Nigel landed a few more fish, but Dad was still trying. We moved to another spot and Richard was finally bowed up.
We moved over to fishing around docks and put a few more on the board. Things slowed with the current so we decided to take a break and when the tide turned, drift for Flounder. The super moon had the outgoing current cranking but we were still able to set up some bottom bouncing in a channel. We got no love from Flounder but the Croaker were ravenous and made short work of the Gulp swimming mullet tails. Nigel finally connected and landed a horse of a Croaker.
As the day progress I decided to follow the tide and drift back toward the ramp. I noticed a familiar fishy watermelon smell and said "I smell trout". Richard started trolling his lure, not 10 seconds and he was hooked up, I saw the typical rod tip rattle and knew he had a trout. Now how many guides can smell their way onto fish....this one!
We ended the day with a good count of fish but missed the flounder to complete the Lynnhaven Slam, but we had another day to make it up. As we were near the ramp I saw several Cow nosed Rays cruising through the channel, I asked Nigel if he wanter some big fish practice, but he was already hooked up. After about 5 minutes of punishment, he finial got the fish up to the kayak and broke it off. Nigel refused to give up the fight until he actually saw the Ray.
We ended the day on a very high note and started planning for day two over on the Peninsula. On the next morning the wind was blowing and their were lots of popup storms looming. So we opted to fish a different part of Lynnhaven for some bigger redfish. The day before Richard and Myself used Hobies so on the second day I mixed it up and put Nigel in my second Revolution 14, I think I have spoiled them both.
Again Nigel was fast to hook up and picked up several fish from one of my favorite Oyster Reefs. Dad was not far behind this time.
With the super moon, super currents and lots of boaters in the area the Hobies were a good choice. We had no problem getting around.
We covered lots of water and and scratched a few undersized reds, but the big one were tough to find. Close to the days end I made a cast and landed this nice slot redfish.
I was thinking hard of eating this guy but opted to show Nigel how to tag it. It was released with jewelry to be caught another day.
I truly enjoyed this trip and because of my fishing relationship with my father, I have a softspot for outings like this. Nigel stated "I had such an awesome time fishing with you. We learned a lot about how the bay works, what is good, what isn't so good and how its progressing. It really opened my eyes also to a lot of things I had never thought about. Seeing all of the boats made me wonder what kind of things they are dumping into the bay just by driving around. We also caught a bunch of fish which always makes for a great trip."
It's truly a treat to be part of such a great experience for Nigel and Richard. The smiles in these pictures are a true indication that they had a great time. I am almost positive that John R. Lower is smiling too.
See you on the water!
Cory "Ruthless" Routh