This year, the winner of the Daniel Island Kids Fishing Tournament was Johnathan Cheek. As the tournament champion, Johnathan won a fishing trip with me.
I met Johnathan and his Dad (John) at the boat landing. As we idled away from the ramp, Johnathan asked if we would catch a Redfish. He explained that he had never caught a big Redfish before. With that, our plan for the day was set.
The tide was falling when we arrived at our first fishing spot, a shallow but submerged oyster bar. I showed Johnathan how to hook a live shrimp on a lead head jig and where I thought the Redfish would be holding. He cast to the exact spot and hooked up immediately. It was a good Redfish (over the 23 inch slot limit) but not the big one we were looking for. So we left in quest of bigger fish. For the next hour or so, we looked at big Reds in a really shallow creek. However, we could not get them to eat. Unfortunately, we could not leave the creek until the tide began to come back in. This took about 30 minutes or so (at least there were Redfish in the creek).
Upon our exit from the shallow creek, we hit a shallow flat with a slight channel that runs adjacent to it. Thankfully, there was a school on 30-inch class Redfish hanging around in the channel. Johnathan quickly caught and released several big Redfish. It was a great way to wrap up our day.
A few years ago, there was a county music song with the lyrics “too hot to fish”. On Saturday, with the optimal tide occurring during the middle of the day, the lyrics to that song kept popping into my head. With the heat index hovering around 110 degrees, fishing was not very much fun. Despite my best efforts to stay hydrated, after a few hours in the intensely hot sun, I started to feel the symptoms of heat exhaustion. It is not fun (or safe) to fish with a pounding headache and being light headed. So, I quit fishing early on Saturday and did not fish at all on Sunday. It was literally, too hot to fish!
Thankfully, an early morning start (on Saturday) got us on to a solid Spanish Mackerel bite in the harbor. The Mackerel were chasing schools of glass minnows. Since a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 (Blue Back Herring) on a 1/8-ounce Trout Eye Finesse jig looks just like a glass minnow, the Spanish Mackerel readily ate our lures. On our first casts into the feeding school, David (my brother) and I each hooked a fish. Doubles! My son, Elliott, volunteered to take a picture. As he took the shot, my fish started vigorously flipping its tail and slapping David in the face. We all found this to be uproariously funny. Well, at least Elliott and I did.
Fishing in the late summer can be tough. Take it from me. Get out early and get back early (before it gets too hot). Unless of course, you like country music.
The storm that rolled through the Lowcountry yesterday afternoon snarled traffic, dropped hail and put on an awesome (and dangerous) electrical show. Delayed launching the skiff (I am scared of lightning) until after the storm subsided. Caught a bunch of Trout and Ladyfish on a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 (Blue Back Herring) on a 1/8th ounce Eye Strike finesse jig. Also, got this shot of my son (Captain Elliott) casting to a tailing Redfish.
The storm was bad. The traffic was awful. The fishing was pretty darn good!
Sometimes, a change is good. Typically, I prefer to fish with flies and lures. However, my friend Donna Crocker, likes to fish with live shrimp. So, when we fish together, a coin flip determines which method we will use. On this fishing trip, I lost the coin toss.
We launched the skiff late in the afternoon near the end of the falling tide. It only took a few casts of the net to catch enough shrimp for a few of hours of fishing. Our plan was to look for feeding predators in shallow water (by observing shrimp jumping on the surface). Once located, casting a live shrimp on a lead head jig into the area often produces a Redfish, Trout or Flounder. In the summertime, this is a very reliable fishing pattern. Especially, during lower stages of the tide.
For the first hour or so of this trip, smaller fish were prevalent (at last for Donna). I managed to complete an inshore slam and release a couple of 25-inch Reds. As always, when we fish together, there is a lively banter about who is fishing the best. For most of the trip, I got the best of this exchange. As the sun began to set, we made one last stop on the way back to the boat landing. Donna spotted several shrimps jumping and fired a cast right on top of them. The water exploded as a big Redfish attacked her jig and shrimp combination. Immediately, I knew I was in trouble. Donna was giving me a hard time before she even landed the fish. When the fish came to the skiff, I had to admit to defeat. Heading back to the boat landing, I pretended to be unable to hear Donna because of the sound of the outboard engine. This got us to laughing. It was a fitting end to a great fishing trip with a good friend.
This week, fishing in the late afternoon and early evening has been outstanding. Redfish and Trout are chasing shrimp during lower stages of tide. So, they are easy to find. Locate jumping shrimp and there is a good chance you have found feeding fish. A quick cast into the feeding area often produces a solid strike.
A sparsely tied tan Clouser Minnow is an excellent shrimp imitation. As such, it has been my go to fly this week. The bite is on. Tie a few flies and go catch some fish.
From my article in the Daniel Island News last week.
Fishing and catching are not synonymous. There are times when fish are simply difficult to catch. Saturday, was one of those days. My friend, Sean Burke and son (Elliott) met me at the boat landing a little before 8:00 AM. We launched the skiff into the last of the falling tide. Our plan was to target Redfish shallow and then switch to Trout when the tide began to rise. Things started out well. A few minutes after we started fishing (near a submerged oyster bar in 1-2 feet of water), both Sean and Elliott had already caught a Redfish. The Reds has an affinity for a Z-Man MinnowZ Houdini, which I was not using. Sean and Elliott (who were using the MinnowZ Houdini) had steady action until the tide stopped. When the bite turned off, all I had managed to catch was a single tiny Trout. Of course, Sean and Elliott kept a steady banter about my poor performance dragging them down.
Things changed after we switched to Trout on the incoming tide. Sean joined me in the poor performance fishing club. The bite was not great but somehow Elliott managed to get all the bites. A fact he constantly reminded Sean and me about. We were all using the same lure and working the same retrieve cadence but Elliott caught all the fish. To make matters worse, he completed an inshore slam by releasing a 14-inch Flounder. Speaking of which, on July 1st the Flounder minimum size limit was increased to 15 inches.
Towards the end of the trip, I made a small rally after switching to a StreakZ 3.75 Blue Back Herring on a Trout Eye finesse jig. This left Sean all alone in the poor performance fishing club. We elected Sean the club president (since he was the only member).
Fishing and catching are not synonymous. If you are having one of “those” days, the club is seeking new members. Contact Sean Burke for more information.
Exploring new areas is one of my favorite aspects of fishing. Recently, I have been spending time in the back country of the Florida Keys. When you live in Charleston, South Carolina getting to the Keys is a bit of drive. Especially when towing a boat. In order to make the long drive less worrisome, I asked the folks at Charleston Trailer to design and build a high quality trailer for my skiff. After hundreds of days on the water and thousands of miles on the road, the trailer looks and operates like it was brand new.
When you travel to fish, catching fish should be your primary concern. To make getting there (and back) problem free, invest in a high quality trailer.
A lot of fly anglers spend more time at their vise than on their skiffs. While I enjoy tying flies, I enjoy catching fish more! As such, my files are all very simple and easy to tie. They are not very pretty but they do catch fish. This time of year, Redfish, Trout and Flounder (along with everything else that has fins and teeth) get really focused on eating shrimp. Thankfully, a sparsely tied tan Clouser Minnow looks just like a shrimp.
Recently, I started using Steve Farrar’s Flash Blend for all my shrimp and glass minnow flies (which are sparsely tied Clouser Minnows). This material is easy to work with and provides a translucent silhouette in the water. It helps me to quickly tie simple but effective flies (that catch fish).
Step away from that vise and go fishing!
After Fishing in the Keys for a few weeks, I have returned to Daniel Island. In my absence, the water temperature jumped several degrees and the fish have settled into their summer time habits. While a hungry fish will eat pretty much anything, in the summer they have a definitive preference for shrimp.
On Saturday, this was particularly evident. New moon low tides were running a foot below normal. On extremely low or negative tides, predators gather in shallow water areas and feast on shrimp. With very little water in the creeks, the shrimp are easy pickings for Redfish, Trout and Flounder. With this in mind, my plan on Saturday was to get super shallow (less than a foot deep) and look for feeding fish. However, a slight miscalculation found my skiff stuck on an oyster bar in the mouth of a small creek. Math was never my strong point but even I know that a skiff with a 6-inch draft will not float in 5 inches of water. Silly me.
Stuck on the bar in the sweltering heat, I drank a bottle of water and pondered my options. About then, a school of Redfish began chasing shrimp just ahead of my grounded skiff. So, I grabbed by fly rod, tied on a shrimp imitation fly and exited the skiff. Thankfully, the bottom was reasonably firm and I was able to wade into casting distance of the fish. My first presentation of the fly was immediately crushed. The fish were not particularly large but they were hungry (and I was stuck). Thus, I decided to stick around for a while. For the next hour or so, I enjoyed a hot Redfish bite, both figuratively and literally.
Fishing in the Keys is great. But, there is no place like home.
Many thanks to all who attended my session on June 6 @ The Charleston Angler. Standing room only on an evening with torrential rain! To keep up with my daily fishing adventures, follow me on Instagram @captgregp. Thanks again for your interest and support!
As promised, providing a copy of my presentation below. Click the link to down load a copy.