First Top Water Redfish of 2018
It has been an interesting winter. In January, we had a snow storm and record low temperatures. Then, the month of February was unusually warm. For the past few weeks, I have been fishing in shorts and flip flops. The water temperature is a surprisingly warm 64 degrees. Baitfish have returned to the shallows and Redfish are feeding on them.
Given the unusually warm conditions, my son Elliott and I decided to target Redfish with top water lures. Early Sunday morning, we launched the skiff into the last of the falling tide. The sun had yet to clear the horizon when we pulled up to our fishing spot (a shallow flat with lots of oyster bars). A strong breeze kept the gnats at bay and made the water on the flat a little choppy. Conditions called for a larger top water lure with a loud rattle. About the time I decided to use a Mirrolure Top Pup, Elliott picked up the rod with the only Top Pup we had on the skiff. We laughed about only having one of the “right” lures. As the sun rose, we spotted a small school of Redfish milling around next to a submerged oyster bar. Elliott cast the Top Pup well beyond the school (so the splash of the lure landing would not spook the fish) and slowly reeled the lure into position. When the lure was directly above the fish, he began a twitch and pause retrieve. Two fish broke away from the school and began tracking the lure. They followed the Top Pup for 10 feet and then returned to the school. Elliott made another presentation and used a more aggressive retrieve cadence. The water exploded as a Redfish crushed the lure. As Elliott fought the fish, I said a silent prayer (it was Sunday after all) thanking God for such a beautiful morning and another great experience shared with my son.
We took a few pictures before releasing the fish. Then, sat down and savored the moment. Historically, we do not catch the first Redfish of the year on a top water lure until late March. Getting the first one in February was a moment to remember.
Paul & Dave from The Charleston Angler
Wind and rain dominated the fishing scene this week. However, when I did manage to get out, the Trout and Redfish were biting. Earlier in the week, while at The Charleston Angler, my brother Dave, Paul Speranza and I were wondering how the bite was in the upper Wando. None of us had ventured up that way since the snow storm. Rather than continue to wonder, we decided to go find out. On Saturday, we launched into the last of the falling tide. A thick fog made navigating up river an interesting endeavor. Thankfully, my new skiff is equipped with a Garmin 54CV GPS/depth finder. The Garmin allowed us to make the trip in near zero visibility.
Upon arrival up river, we began casting Z-Man TRD Ned Rigs and TubeZ lures around docks and drop offs. The water temperature was 54 degrees (which is close to normal for this time of year) but the fishing was slow. We tried shallow and deep-water locations but we could not locate a large concentration of feeding fish. A few Trout is all we could manage in the first hour or two of fishing. Rather than continue scouting, we decided to head back down river and catch some fish. The fog had lifted by then so the run back down river was a quick one.
We stopped at a submerged oyster bar outside of Horlebeck Creek. On the first cast to the bar, I hooked an over-slot Redfish. Paul and Dave followed suit. At last, we had located a school of hungry fish. After releasing several Reds, we switched our attention to Trout in deeper water. It took a bit of looking, but we found a few schools holding along depth transitions in 10 to 15 feet of water. They were hungry too!
On the ride back to the boat landing, we laughed about wearing T-shirts and flip flops to fish in February. A far cry from fishing in the snow a few weeks ago. Hopefully, the warming trend holds and fishing continues to improve. Especially in the upper Wando.
With the water temperature nearing 60 degrees, Trout and Redfish are feeding more aggressively. So yesterday, I switched from my favorite cold water lure (Z-Man TRD Ned Rig) and began fishing a Z-Man Slim SwimZ on a 1/6 ounce NedlockZ jig. Trout and Redfish have been crushing it. While I am still learning to use the Slim SwimZ, a couple of things have become apparent.
A Slim SwimZ on a 1/6 ounce NedLockZ jig is a light weight lure that requires a light tackle system to fish effectively. I am using a 6’8″ Shimano Zodias light rod matched with a 1000 frame Ci4 reel that is spooled with 10 pound PowerPro. A 12 pound fluorocarbon leader about 2 feet long completes the tackle system. This outfit casts the 1/6 ounce NedlockZ jig really well and the light Zodias rod telegraphs even the most subtle strike.
Retrieving the Slim SwimZ is something I am still working on. However, a slow retrieve with a pause (letting the lure hit the bottom) and short snap of the rod has been producing a lot of strikes. Still experimenting but this is the retrieve cadence that I always begin with.
Slim SwimZ colors that I have been using are Opening Night and Bad Shad.
Time will tell but I think the Slim SwimZ is going to be a great year-round lure. I will keep you posted on how it does. So far, Trout and Redfish like it. I do too!
Shimano 6’10” Medium Light Zodias with Curado 70XG
Spent the afternoon introducing Trout to my new Shimano bait casting outfit. I like to fish a lot of finesse techniques. Today, I was casting a Ned Rig (Z-Man NedLockZ Jig and TRD). It was breezy. The ability to adjust the 70XG brakes and cast control (without opening up the reel) made casting the light Ned Rig effortless. Trout were actively feeding but the strike was still pretty light. However, it was no trouble feeling the bite via the Zodias rod. Happy to find Trout back in their normal winter haunts. The snow storm put a hurting on them. Thankfully, it seems a decent number of Trout (in mixed sizes) survived.
A sharp snap and long pause retrieve triggered the most strikes. With the bulk of the fish being in 2 to 4 feet of water. On Friday, I plan to re-introduce my Asquith fly rod to a few Redfish. Hope the wind lays down. If not, my new bait casting outfit will get the nod.