Pro Tips

Bad Hair. Great Fish.

Pro Tip Number 128 is to always keep hair products on your boat.  You never know when you may encounter the catch of a lifetime and you want to look your best in the selfie.  Case in point, a few evenings ago it was super windy and a bit cool.  Not the best conditions for targeting Trout with a top water lure.  However, given the choice of doing yard work or going fishing, I selected the latter.  Without much preparation, I jumped in the boat and headed out.  As I drove to my fishing spot, the sun was low on the horizon and I was struggling to see due to the glare on the water.   About then I realized I had forgotten my hat.  Shortly thereafter, I realized that I had left my top water lures at the dock.

Pro Tip Number 129 is to always prepare before going fishing.  Pro Tip Number 130 is to always leave a bunch of stuff on the boat just in case you forget 129.  Pro Tip Number 130 saved the trip because I found a Zara Spook Junior (top water lure) in the Pathfinder’s tackle locker.  After tying the lure on, I made a cast to a series of shallow oyster bars with deeper channels between them.  Trout like to hang out in the channel and ambush baitfish that stray too far from the safety of the oyster bar.  Without a hat, the glare made it difficult to see the Zara Spook.  Undeterred, I began a slow twitch, twitch, pause retrieve.  When the lure hit the channel, I was startled by a huge explosion and dead weight at the end of my line.  At first, I thought a Trout and struck the lure and then gotten it stuck on the oyster bar.  But then, my line started to move.  Fish on and it was a big one.  The battle was epic on 8-pound class spinning tackle.  For several minutes, the outcome was in doubt.  Eventually, a large Redfish came to the boat.

After the hard-fought battle, the Redfish was exhausted.  So, I quickly took a selfie and began to revive it in the water.  It took a few minutes for the big fish to regain its strength, but it healthily swam away.   For a few minutes, I just stood there and savored the moment.  Then, it was time to look at the pictures. 

Pro Tip Number 131 is to always look at the pictures before releasing the fish.  Clearly, I had forgotten Pro Tip Number 128! 

Ultra Light Not So Bright

Ultra Light Tackle Trout

Recently, I have been experimenting ultra-light fishing tackle.  When targeting Redfish and Trout, most people (the ones that are smarter than me) use medium or medium-light tackle.  Because I am not particularly bright, I fish for these species with light tackle.  It makes the game more challenging and fun.  So, it stands to reason that ultra-light tackle would make fishing especially fun.  Right? 

Not so fast my friend.  First, you have to think about the lures you want to fish.  For me, it is a 1/10-ounce NedLockZ jig with a Z-Man Finesse TRD.  Then you select the tackle that casts and works the lure effectively.  A Shimano 5’6” Clarus spinning rod matched with a 500 frame Siena reel that is spooled with 5-pound PowerPro braid does a pretty good job.  As it turns out, selecting tackle is the easy part.  Catching fish is a different story.

Lesson number one.  Do not target big Redfish holding under a dock with ultra-light tackle.  The hook up is exciting but the break off is frustrating.  Final score.  Big Redfish 6.  Ultra-light tackle 0.  Yes, it took me 6 times to determine this is a bad idea.  Like I said, I am not that smart.

Lesson number two.  Practice on the little guys.  Right now, Trout are schooled up in holes (10 to 15 feet deep) directly adjacent to shallow oyster laden areas.  Most of these fish are small in stature but a blast to catch with ultra-light tackle.  Bouncing a 1/10-ounce jig down the depth transition is a sure ticket to steady action.  The strike is extremely light.  In this situation, ultra-light tackle is an advantage.  Final score.  Tiny Trout 0.  Ultra-light tackle 20.

Lesson number three.  Use a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader.  I tried 6-pound.  Epic fail.  It does not have enough abrasion resistance.  I tried 8-pound.  It worked pretty well.  But 2 feet of 10-pound fluorocarbon leader is what I settled on. 

Lesson number four.  Fishing with ultra-light tackle is especially fun.  Just don’t target big Redfish under docks!

March Madness

Brody before the GameStop trade

For me, March is the most difficult month to fish.  This March, will be especially difficult as Brody (the amazing fish finding and stock trading dog), is taking the month off.  A few week ago, Brody crushed the GameStop trade.  Now, all he wants to do is eat steak and nap in the early spring sun.  Trade stocks?  Been there, done that.  Find fish?  Nope, but another steak sounds good.  Thankfully, before completely checking out, Brody put together a list of March fishing tips.

Fishing tip number one.  Take a moment to look around.  It is spring in the Lowcountry. 

Fishing tip number two.  It is important to have a plan.  On sunny days, mud minnows and finger mullet will congregate around oyster bars in shallow water.  Trout and Redfish will be there as well.  Looking for an easy meal.  Plan to fish around shallow oyster bars on warm and sunny days.  Speaking of plans, the best time to shop for steaks is first thing in the morning. 

Fishing tip number three.  Buy some insect repellent.  The fish may not be hungry, but the gnats always are.  I am feeling a little hungry was well.  Can you make a reservation for one at the club?  I promise to bring you a doggie bag! 

Fishing tip number four.  If you do not catch any fish, refer to fishing tip number one. 

It has been my hope that Brody would tire from living a life of leisure.  Things are not looking good.  It seems steaks and naps agree with him.  So, Brody’s time on the boat will be limited.  As for me?  I am going fishing but first I need to go shopping for some steaks.

Back at It

Now that my son Elliott has returned from Japan, we are reinstituting our long-standing tradition of fishing on New Year’s Day.  Regardless of weather (or hangover) conditions, we get together and try to catch the first fish of the year.  We may not catch a fish, but it is a great way to begin the new year.

Wanting to stack the first day of the year odds in our favor, my brother David, Elliott, and I did a little pre-fishing on the day after Christmas.  We launched the Pathfinder at dead low tide.  The water was clear and 51 degrees.  Our plan was to locate and pattern schools of Redfish that we would re-visit on January first.   After a bone chilling run to a shallow oyster laden area, I deployed the trolling motor and we began quietly moving down the shoreline.  When searching for Redfish in the shallows, it is important to operate your trolling motor at low speed.  High speed trolling motor operation will often alert the Redfish to your presence and make them much for difficult to catch. 

After several minutes of slowly searching the shallows, we spotted a large school of Redfish swimming towards the boat.  I cut power to the trolling motor and deployed the Power Pole to hold the Pathfinder in place.  Quietly, we waited for the fish to swim into casting range.  As the approached, we cast our Z-Man Finesse TRD lures well ahead of the school and them sit.  When the Redfish were a few feet away, we gave the lures a slight twitch.  Several Redfish darted forward.  Bam. Bam. Bam.  All three of us hooked up.  Our level of excitement went through the roof.  Typically, we are pretty quiet on the boat.  However, the triple hook up had us hooting and laughing.  As we set-up to take a picture, I thought about my Dad and thanked him for making fishing such an important part of out lives. 

Make 2021 a great year.  Go fishing with your family.

Brody’s Christmas List

For Christmas this year, my family has decided not to exchange gifts.  Instead, we will make donations to help people in need.  However, Brody, the amazing fish finding, and stock trading dog did not get the memo.  Here is Brody’s Christmas Wish List.

  1. A smarter human.  While my human is nice enough, he is not able to find fish or trade stocks without me.  Frankly, my back hurts from carrying this guy. 
  2. A human that can recognize a fishing pattern.  Everyone knows that when the water temperature drops below 52-degrees, the metabolism of Trout and Redfish really slows down.  To catch them consistently, you must use smaller lures with a super slow retrieve cadence.   Is it too much to ask that my human learns this?
  3. A human that does not want me to launch the boat. It is a major accomplishment for a dog to drive.  Heck, I even have super high Uber and Lyft driver ratings.  However, my human insists that I learn to back up a boat trailer.  I feel like my accomplishments are undervalued.  How about a little recognition under the tree?  I promised not to pee on it!
  4. A new life jacket.  It is important for dogs to wear a life jacket while on a boat or dock.  I have gained a little weight and my jacket is a little snug.  Please make it adjustable.  I plan to lose the weight before beach season.
  5. A Peloton bike so I can get back into shape.  If I can drive and back up a boat trailer, riding a bike should be a breeze.  The Spring fashion line up for dogs is most revealing.  If I ever encounter a fashion designer, I swear I will bite them.
  6. A three-month supply of Z-Man Finesse TRD lures in The Deal and Hot Snakes colors.  My human spends entirely too much time at the tackle store.  To tell the truth, he should spend that time learning to throw a stick.  His throwing technique is embarrassing.  All the other dogs laugh at him.
  7. Santa, I have been a good dog.  Please make a note of it. 

Brody and I wish you the happiest of holidays.  Give yourself a present and go fishing. 

Smart Dog

Brody on the way to his office

Recently, the weather has been very comfortable.  As such, Brody (the amazing fish finding and stock trading dog) and I have been spending a lot time outside.  Brody loves to sleep in the sunshine on the floating dock.  From this vantage point, he can inspect all the boats that pass by.  To my surprise, many of them stop and greet Brody by name.   Most of them ask Brody where the fish are.  A few ask for a stock pick.  Then, they notice me and out of politeness ask me as question so I don’t feel left out.  This week, Brody and I will endeavor to answer all your questions.

Brody says, with shorter days and cooler water temperatures, Trout and Redfish are schooling up and feeding aggressively.  On the falling tide, predators are holding in the mouth of creek drains waiting for the tide to bring them an easy meal.  Brody recommends a run and gun fishing strategy.  Basically, keep moving until you find actively feeding fish.  This time of year, the fish are stocking up before the lean days of winter arrive.  If they are holding in a creek drain, they will be eating.

Brody asked me to remind you that he is a dog.  As such, he does not hold any “human” stock trading certifications.  With Brody’s disclaimer out of the way, he has an option to buy Apple at $109. 

As for the election, Brody voted by mail-in ballot.  However, he is unwilling to reveal who he voted for.  Also, Brody says the rumor that he considering a run for the presidency in 2024 is absolutely false.   But he does want to be the next Governor of South Carolina.

Many of the people who stop by the dock ask me, what is it like to be Brody’s assistant?  Challenging but I love my job!

Island Fishing Tournament

My Tournament Crew

One of my favorite fishing events is the Daniel Island Inshore Fishing Club member tournament.  However, I think we should rename the event to the member “fun-a-ment” because everyone has fun.   The purpose of the tournament is to meet new members, fish and have fun.   So, current members host new members on their boats. My crew for the event was Gus Musmanno and Nathan Holleman.  Gus is a freshman a Bishop England and an avid angler.  Nathan and I live near each other, but this was out first time to fish together.

Conditions were perfect on Saturday.  Clear skies, warm temperatures and calm winds had me feeling pretty good about catching a few fish.  As we idled away from the dock, we agreed to focus more on fun and less on winning the event.  After a short run, we started fishing in an oyster laden channel.  I picked up a rod with Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 on a Trout Eye Finesse jig and cast to a submerged oyster bar.  A Trout immediately ate the lure.  We were off to a good start.  Gus and Nathan began casting Z-Man Finesse TRD lures to the same oyster bar and began catching fish.  Most were small but we submitted a few larger specimens for the tournament by texting a picture of the fish on a ruler to the event message thread. 

When the bite slowed down, Gus began making lure and retrieve adjustments until he started catching fish again.  Pretty advanced fishing technique.  I was impressed.  He is a great angler and an even better young man.  Nathan had a knack for catching fewer but larger fish and he ended up winning the Trout division. 

On the ride back to the dock, we tried to count the number of fish we caught and released.  After a few minutes, we quit counting and agreed it a lot.  A lot of fish and a lot of fun. 

Shrimp Season

Recently, while on my daily pilgrimage to Publix, some one stopped me and asked two questions.  Can you really catch shrimp in the waters around Daniel Island?  What does Brody do when he is not finding fish or trading stocks? 

In regard to catching shrimp, the answer is a resounding yes!  Especially, this year.  An unusually warm winter has contributed to a bumper crop of shrimp in our rivers and creeks.   Shrimp baiting season is now open, and everyone is reporting good catches around Crab Bank and Bulls Bay.  Shrimp baiting is a simple affair.  You place (up to ten) marker poles in shallow water and toss shrimp bait around the poles.  After waiting a few minutes, you throw a cast next over your bait.  Viola, shrimp dinner.  While shrimp baiting is a highly productive technique, these days I more often than not catch my shrimp by deep holing.  This technique allows me to fish when the tide is moving (and the fish are feeding) and switch to shrimp when the tide slows down.  On the surface, deep hole shrimping sounds simple.  Position your boat over a twenty to forty-foot depth transition and throw your deep hole net.  If the net lands on a concentration of shrimp you probably have enough for a nice dinner.  The trick is to determine the depth that the shrimp are in and then to calculate the set and drift of the net to land in the appropriate depth.  Given variables like current, wind and the sink rate of your net it can be tough to get the net to land in the right spot.  But, when you do, it is a great way to catch shrimp!  Typically, I toss the deep hole net 5 to 10 times and this produces enough shrimp for a dinner or two.

Finding fish and trading stocks keeps Brody pretty busy.  It seems there is not enough time in the day.  Soon as the market closes, Brody shuts down his trading station and runs to the end of the dock.  If we do not go fishing, he sits on the dock and looks for fish.  This time of year, he does not have to look very much.  The creeks are full of Trout, Flounder and Redfish that are feeding aggressively before the lean days of winter. 

The best fishing and shrimping of the year is happening right now.  Get out and enjoy it. 

Brody Fishing Forecast

Brody Bossing Me

On Labor Day, the stock market was closed.  This provided Brody, the amazing fish finding and stock trading dog, with a little time off.  I figured he would sleep late and then drive his golf cart to IMPISHI for brunch.  Brody actually drives pretty well.  Although, he has not yet fully mastered backing up the boat trailer.  To my surprise, Brody woke up early and wanted to go fishing.

We pulled away from the dock shortly after sunrise.  The morning was calm and kind of cool.  Our plan was to fish top water lures near oyster bars being submerged by the rising tide.  I pulled up to the first location and Brody gave me no indication that fish were there.  It looked perfect, so I decided to fish the area anyway.  Brody laid down on the deck and gave me the “you won’t catch any fish here” look.  Try as I might, he was correct.  Not even as single bite.

So, we moved to another oyster bar.  When I stopped the boat, Brody gave me the same look.  This time, I just kept moving.  At the next oyster bar, Brody jumped up and gave a single bark.  I took this to mean “fish here stupid”.  So, I did.  On the first cast to the submerged oyster bar, a Trout crushed the Zara Spook top water lure.  I glanced over at Brody.  He shook his head and gave me the “I don’t even know why I fish with you” look. 

For the next hour, we enjoyed steady action from Trout and Ladyfish.  They were not particularly large, but they were fun to catch.  After releasing a dozen or so fish, Brody gave me the “it is time for breakfast” look.  I was getting pretty hungry myself, so we called it a morning. 

Fall is officially here, and the best fishing of the year is about to take place.  Well, at least that is what Brody says!

Birthday Fishing

Birthday Party Crashed by Trout

Years ago, I decided to celebrate my birthday by going fishing.  Of course, since I fish pretty much every day, fishing on my birthday is inevitable.  Therefore, every day is my birthday.  Well, that is what I tell myself.   

On Saturday, it really was my birthday.  So, I invited my brother Dave and his son-in-law Andrew to go fishing.  We launched about 7:30 AM.  The sky was overcast, the wind was calm, and the tide was just beginning rise.  Perfect conditions for deep hole shrimping.  Collectively, we decided to shrimp first and fish later. 

Upon arrival at Crab Bank, I began idling around the depth transition from 20 to 40 feet and looking for shrimp on my fish finder.  Once located, I stopped the boat and Dave cast his 12-foot deep hole net.  It took a minute or two for the net to hit the bottom (25-feet below).  Dave pulled the net back to the boat and it was loaded with Shrimp.  We cast the net one more time and had enough Shrimp for a big family dinner.  Shrimp baiting season opens in a few weeks.  Based upon our results on Saturday, I expect the season to be a good one. 

With shrimp in the cooler, it was time to go fishing.  Given the flat calm conditions, I decided to look around the harbor for Jacks.  Clearly, the Jacks forgot is was my birthday.  They failed to show up for the party.  That’s OK, I am used to Jacks hurting my feelings.  Trout, on the other hand, just love me and crashed the party in great numbers.  They were eating a Z-Man TRD Ned Rig like I eat birthday cake, fast and furious.  For the most part, every marsh point and oyster bar being swept by the incoming tide held hungry Trout.  Dave, Andrew and I would sometimes be fighting fish simultaneously.  Trout sure know how to throw a birthday party.  I hope they know; every day is my Birthday!