There’s something to be said about the day when a man falls in love with the ocean. Some people find that sweet saltwater kiss as kids (as I did) There are things that happen on the water that make you feel like the ocean is an incredible therapist.
I first met the Capps Brothers in about 9th or 10th Grade. My best friend Dylan was homies with these two since he was a grommet (we're talking long hair elementary school pictures... when tight pants was cool and all you cared about was skateboarding.) and introduced me to the brothers. Dylan and I would always hangout after school (we went to different high-schools) but would hang out with each other and our lifelong friend Josh and just work out and do high-school kid shenanigans (dress up in blazers from the thrift store we bought THAT DAY, go to a girl’s going away party ... thinking it was her birthday... get all wasted and scream happy birthday to her when they are trying to do a drum circle... way above our heads at the time... I get it now ... but way over our heads... then get kicked out and just be absolute maniacs at the Oceanfront because why?... We were 16 years old.... sorry Dolphin Inn Doorknobs...)
This is a picture from that night. From left Dylan, Austin & me.
We would later turn these blazers into vests by ripping EACHOTHERS sleeves off and well... if you were there you were there.
Anyway, these dudes quickly became my best friends... cut to like 6 or 7 years later: they used what their father's elite skills taught them and built themselves an absolute stunner of a boat.
You can find Connor (insert aqua teen hunger force character name... only we're aloud to call him... to you he is Connor Capps) running the Capps Boatworks Boat Yard with his father now building absolutely insane Carolina Style Sport fishing yachts.
That’s not what this is about ...this post is about Bull Reds... Stick with me! I had to preface all of this with this tiny bit of information, so you understand all the photo contexts.
Austin and Connor Capps completely rebuilt a 24' 70's style Albemarle from the bones... we're talking the whole thing was redone.... just the hull-shape really is Albemarle.
This boat took almost two whole years to complete but became a masterpiece. It can be seen in Long creek, the Bay and the Ocean running around Virginia Beach. That sweet Carolina Blue Boat has brought us (as a friend group) so many good times and so much happiness. It has taught us vast amounts of appreciation for nature and the endless hunger and drive we have as waterman... all of those things...that boat continues to help us obtain knowledge an old man of the sea just knows. They know it because they were out there running when they were young men.
The boat was named "Traveller". There’s a story behind the name... if you are lucky enough to establish a friendship with them, they might tell you about it... but for now... that’s all you need to know for this blog post.
Last summer was like many years that we spent on "Traveller". We were on the hunt yet again for the man in the Brown Suit! The all-illusive Eel God... the Cobia. We had been going 7 weeks straight at one point with only a couple landed... I’m pretty sure last year was slow for everybody... if you were not a charter fisherman and fished only when you could, you'd know they were spitting out live eels which is unreal... (this is a result people overfishing them... I think it is at least) ... maybe it isn’t. When you throw at a single fish 40 times or more that should be hungry and follow it for over 2-miles, throwing everything from a bucktail to a live eel and literally everything in between...and .... no dice! Nature is trying to tell you something...
Fishing for that species has really picked up in the last 10 years just talking to older guys. So much so that people are coming up from Florida to fish the Chesapeake Bay Fisheries... specifically for Cobia... At any rate... We were getting a little over it by June.
Without giving away our secrets, the summary of our game plans was to map out and do reconnaissance on these fish... plan the dive (or area we were going to fish) ... dive the plan... and if weren't having a good time for the first 6 or so hours tracking them, we'd go diving and limit out on meat fish.
This workflow was happening all summer and we were trying to get into a serious groove. We'd have fun days of course with just random top water bites on Bluefish, Spanish and Kings along with inshore stuff on days we would fish "real quick" after work (I say quick... but Aus and I have been out there on a weeknight in late August a couple times till like 12:30 AM... both of us having work at like 0600 the next day...straight brutal sorry boss... oh well it was WORTH IT!)
It's important to keep up with your best-friends, especially if you love them. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call and being real with your friends that you've been friends with since you were literally kids. Looking back, that was a weird season for me, particularly the week I'm talking about.
My best friend Dylan and I had some weird semi-falling out because we just simply were not communicating enough / hanging out with each other (over about a 6-month time) ... I say that because the only thing that was missing in a lot of these pictures was Austin, Dylan and I together in the same photo... The separate pictures of those monster Redfish were from two separate days where we went and the other did not. This was only a two-day ordeal (let’s not get too dramatic and carried away...)
None the less had I not been so stubborn and let my ego control the way I was thinking at the time i.e.: "well if he's not giving me a call ...blah blah blah.... you get the idea insert your boo-hoo angry face" we'd have one together and would've gotten to enjoy that day all TOGETHER...especially on that truly magical day they ended up going like 11 for 13 (all citation size or bigger) on these dinosaurs.
This is the one and only Charley Meyer a.k.a. "The Human Flounder"
All this sounds so cheesy and whack honestly... but I really love my buddies and truly appreciate our friendships. I wouldn't be how I am today without these people. I encourage you to love on your friends and really value true relationships you have with people, because not everybody wants to see you win. No matter what face they put on... some people are jealous... some people are just plain old unhappy and project that energy on others.
If you find true friends especially ones who vibe with you on another level other than your profession... value those relationships and continue to build them. Congratulate them on huge life steps i.e.: new jobs, buy them housewarming gifts after they buy their first home, be there for them on those little birthday dinner/ get togethers, shoot them texts when you feel like it's been a little while since the last time you spoke...you know things our parents used to do for their friends. These are people who understand your sense of humor and will just call you up to talk about how funny something is that they were sitting in traffic thinking about. These are people you can laugh with for hours and people you would ask to be your kids godparents.
The phone works both ways they say... however, sometimes you have to dial them up first. Fishing brings the raw/best feelings and real reactions out of people. A 28-year-old man will look like that photo on the wall at his mom's house if you get on em just right.
Done with the sap... back to it ! The Bull Reds....
I was sitting at work Mid-June and get a phone call from Austin saying
"We're gonna go get em again tonight."
I rushed home grabbed my rods and boxes and headed to the yard. We waited till the right time then ran to the spot anticipating the Bull Red Drum would be there. It wasn't but 20 minutes we were out there we found them! A giant school of reds right under the boat.
We sat out there till our arms and wrists hurt from reeling in these (some of them easily 60+ lbs.) giants. The fish get huge and stick around for a while through migration patterns. They were older than us, some of them. They ranged from bright red, orange, gold to almost a silver. The older dinosaurs were losing their red scales as if they were fading like an old man's hair as it turns grey. To see a fish like that up close is pretty awesome. God's work shows when you're there in real life and pictures don't do it any justice.
At any rate, they stuck around till about late August but not in a way where you could reel in 9 for 11 bites. They were snapping the rest if you got too aggressive trying to land them. We'd catch 3 of 5 or 2 of 3 but never like they were that magical two-weeks in Mid-June.
Was it the water temperature? Was it the bait fish that were schooling up? Was it the storms down in Florida that year that brought them up faster? These are all things we wonder about and only those fish know. Some of you might wonder why we didn't keep any of them. For one it's illegal, and two you wouldn't want to they have WORMS!
This span of the summer sparked a new idea I had for a shirt. We would always jokingly yell at the top of our lungs "EYES UP!" while we were fishing for anything... literally at random times and for no reason at all. Nobody can hear you when you're running 25kts on the boat (at least that’s what we think... sorry family fishing trips that overhear some of that...but we're not sorry actually.)
We'd listen to "Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears" and "Metallica-Orion" when we would run. If you stop reading this right now and put that song on you will want to run through a brick wall at full speed with no helmet on. Go ahead try it. I dare you. All this topped off with some Bud Diesels at the end when we'd run back home smelling like fish slime and salt water (it's the kind of smell you can’t stop smelling in a guilty way...it just smells like fishing! ... those of you that fish know what I'm talking about!) The smell of the great big blue.
We went through a phase during fishing lulls, where any negative response to the situation we were in was quickly reprimanded with
"You need to be more in tune with the ocean man, find your Chi! EYES UP BOYS!"
It turned into a thing we'd laugh about so hard and then listen to late 80's metal. These are times where the only cell phone use was to take a picture of your buddies. We'd often joke about just getting a flip phone and throwing our iPhones as far as we could into the water. We'd plea for the early 90's to come back. For just those couple hours you're disconnected from the social media and technology and running on gasoline and fishing rods. I love fishing for that reason all you're thinking about is fishing at that moment in time, not what happened at work, not that smudge on the wall you have to paint, just fishing. Surfing and fishing go hand and hand with bringing somebody that withdraw. Sometimes it can be quiet, and nobody will say a word for 5 mins or so because you're standing or squatting on the bow like an ape looking to see if you see the slightest sign of fish busting on top or a fin swimming solo.
When you're in that element there’s no ego involved its kind of primal. You tap into all of your senses then experiment different theories you may have on fish or practice techniques you learned from old men that have come before us. Fishing is something you can read about all you want on forums and watch as many YouTube videos as you want but the ocean will only give you what it wants you to have.
Sometimes yelling at the fish works...sometimes talking to them softly works. Actually, who really knows what works?! 100% of this whole thing is just showing up.
Enjoy when you catch nothing and enjoy when you crush em just as much. Every trip we take we walk away with time we could never get back with each other. Time well spent. Time that we could talk about the most off -the-wall subjects, past relationships, weird people watching things we see/encounter, plans for the future and laugh more than you ever would when people are busy living in their day to day lives.
Fishing makes friendships stronger.
Here's the Design that ended up making it on the shirt in Hi-Res.
After we released this shirt drop, we ran a contest, and this is what was offered. It was right around the time inshore season was starting to really take off. I wanted to give people a couple actual lures that worked pretty well for us that season up until that point. We had just reached 1K followers on the Instagram and thought it would be something people were into if they loved fishing the way we did.
I still think about that month last year from time to time and can't wait to get on em again.
Until next time.... Thanks so much for reading this and supporting the brand. I cannot express enough how much I appreciate all your support and every-time somebody buys a shirt and believes in this brand.
With so much gratitude and love always,