Summertime Fishing is Like a Box of Chocolates

Summertime fishing is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to catch. This was the case when fishing last week with my good friend, Todd. We launched early in the morning wanting to target Redfish with top water lures. We found the Redfish, but they were not interested in our topwater offerings. Jilted by the Reds, we decided to run to the harbor and try for Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish. Along the way, we stopped and caught a couple of dozen Menhaden with a cast net. Bull Redfish and Sharks love Menhaden. With a bunch of menhaden in the Pathfinder’s livewell, we had more target species options available to us.

Once in the harbor, Todd began casting a shiny jig named “Deadly Dick”. While the manufacturer’s name is somewhat dubious, the lure is a proven Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish catcher. Todd caught a few of both. He also has a new nickname.

When the falling tide began to slow, the bite did as well. We decided to run out past the jetties and target sharks behind the shrimp boats. There were only two shrimp boats still working when we arrived. So, we picked the closest one and set up behind it. While I positioned the boat, Todd picked up a 20-pound class spinning rod and nose-hooked a Menhaden on a 5/0 circle hook. We were about 50 yards behind the Shrimper when I took the boat out of gear and Todd cast his line. Almost immediately, a good-sized Black Tip Shark ate the Menhaden and began jumping and trashing about. The fight was spectacular but short lived as the Black Tip bit through the 50-pound fluorocarbon leader. In my experience, that happens about half the time. That was just fine with Todd and me. For us, most of the fun is right after hook-up on the initial jumps and runs. After that, on 20-pound class spinning tackle, the fight becomes hard work.

On the ride back to the boat landing, we stopped and caught a few Trout. Todd and I covered a lot of water and targeted a lot of species, all before lunch. A typical summertime fishing trip. Out early. Catch whatever is biting. Return home before it gets too hot. In the summer, don’t worry about having a solid fishing plan. Just enjoy whatever comes out of the box.

Summer in the Lowcountry

How do you know when it is Summer in the Lowcountry? Easy, you have a heat index over 100 degrees and severe thunderstorms pretty much every afternoon. Last week, I experienced both conditions, much more closely than I would have preferred.  My brother-in-law, Mike Balduzzi, was visiting from Annapolis, Maryland. Mike loves to fish and is a very accomplished angler. So, we planned to fish as much as possible during his visit. On Wednesday afternoon, a heat advisory was posted and severe thunderstorms were predicted. However, the weather radar was completely clear. No thunderstorms were in the area. Given a clear radar loop, Mike and I decided to go fishing. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

After launching the skiff, we double checked the radar and it was all clear. It was however incredibly hot. Underway, the breeze made it feel much more comfortable. So, we ran a long way (well past the Highway 41 bridge). Bad idea. Very bad idea.

Upon our arrival at the designated fishing location, a very small and shallow creek, we spotted a few Redfish in a narrow channel. The water temperature was 91 degrees. The air temperature was much higher. In such hot conditions, it is difficult to get a Redfish to eat a lure. After several minutes in the creek, we were both drenched with sweat. I stopped fishing to get a cold drink. Mike kept on and to his credit got a fish to bite. While he was fighting the fish, we heard thunder off in the distance. After a quick picture, we released the fish and checked the Radar on our phones. A giant thunderstorm was forming right over Daniel Island. We decided to try and beat it back to the boat landing. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

The storm hit us about half way back. The rain was blinding and lightning was striking all around us. To make matters worse, a cold 30-knot wind began blowing against the tide and kicking up big and steep waves. Operating a small skiff in big steep waves is a bad idea. Very bad idea.

Thankfully, we survived the storm (just barely). Mike and I both agree that we were very lucky. So, take it from us. When the forecast predicts severe thunderstorms, fishing is a bad idea. Very bad idea.

Spring!

 

After a cold and windy March, it seems Spring has finally arrived in the Lowcountry. The water temperature is now in the middle 60-degree range. Baitfish have returned to the creeks. Redfish, Trout and Flounder are actively feeding. Fishing is very good now and getting better with each passing day.

Last week, it was still a bit cool and breezy. However, the fish did not seem to mind. After a long and lean Winter, predators were making up for lost time and missed meals. Throughout the cold months, one of the most productive lures has been a Z-Man TRD Ned Rig. As an experiment, I plan to continue using the Ned Rig in the Spring. So far, results are promising. Redfish, Trout and Flounder have been crushing it. Bouncing the lure slowly along shallow depth transitions has been highly effective. In clear water, The Deal has been a good color. For areas with poor water clarity, the Bubble Gum color works best.

For the next few weeks, I will alternate back and forth between the TRD Ned Rig and my favorite lure the StreakZ 3.75. It will be interesting to see which lure produces best in a variety of conditions. If you would like to learn more about rigging and using both of these lures, please plan to attend my fishing class on April 21st. The event is being held at the Pierce Park Pavilion from 10:00 till noon. After the class, lunch will be provided. Additionally, there will be breakout sessions on casting, rigging soft plastic lures and tying fishing knots. The class is free. However, I am asking attendees to consider a donation to the Lucy Boyle Memorial Fund or the Respeck Initiative (that is working to restore our Trout stocks after the die-off caused by the snowstorm). If you would like to attend, please confirm your seat with an email to captgregp@gmail.com.

Glad March is Almost Over!

March is always a challenging month. The transition from winter to spring makes it difficult to consistently locate and catch fish. For me, this March has been particularly difficult. Between high winds and a calf injury, I have not been fishing very much. When I did fish, it was a hit or miss proposition.

On Sunday, it was cold, rainy and windy. The boat landing was empty. As I surveyed the vacant parking lot, I thought all these people are much smarter than me. Idling away from the ramp, I envisioned people drinking coffee and reading the Sunday paper in the warmth of their homes. It confirmed my initial thought, everyone is smarter than me.

After a short run, I deployed the trolling motor and began casting a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 on a 3/16-ounce Finesse Jig to a wind sheltered bank. On the second cast, I caught a keeper size Flounder and began to feel a little bit smarter. A few minutes later, I released a 27-inch Redfish and determined it was a smart idea to go fishing. Shortly thereafter, a Trout completed an inshore slam and I was a total genius. About then, it started raining heavily and my delusion of grandeur was shattered on the rocks of reality. Turns out, I am not very smart after all.

Given this realization, I am surprised that over 35 people have already confirmed attendance for my April 21st class on Four Things You Can Do to Catch More Fish. The event is being held at the Pierce Park Pavilion from 10:00 till noon. After the class, lunch will be provided. Additionally, there will be breakout sessions on casting, rigging soft plastic lures and tying fishing knots. The class is free. However, I am asking attendees to consider a donation to the Lucy Boyle Memorial Fund or the Respeck Initiative (that is working to restore our Trout stocks after the die-off caused by the snowstorm). If you would like to attend, please confirm your seat with an email to captgregp@gmail.com.

It Pays to Explore

The Ralston Creek boat landing is closed for renovations until the end of March. Thankfully, the Beresford Creek boat landing is still open. While it only takes a few minutes to launch in Beresford Creek and then run around Daniel Island to the Wando River (where I fish most of the time), I have decided to take the month of March and learn more about fishing in the Cooper River area. My first trips have been very promising.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to fish in Clouter Creek. The tide was falling and about an hour away from dead low. This provided me the opportunity to see oyster bars that are normally covered during higher stages of the tide. Most of the oyster bars were dry or in very shallow water. A few were in water between 1 and 5 feet deep. These were the bars that I spent a little time fishing around. Redfish were feeding near the shallow bars. I could easily seem them sloshing around. A quick cast of a StreakZ 3.75 on a 3/16-ounce Finesse Jig produced a solid strike. The Reds were not particularly large but they were hungry and plentiful. After releasing a few, I went in search of Trout.

The Trout were a bit more spread out. Most were congregating at the base of oyster bars in deeper water. Each deeper bar seemed to hold a fish or two. By hitting a few bars, I managed to release a decent number of Trout. The size of the fish was larger than what I have been seeing in the Wando. Most were 16 to 18 inches long and I released a few approaching the 20-inch mark.

I love fishing in the Wando River. However, the Cooper River area is growing on me!

The Charleston Angler Saltwater Experience – March 24

Casting accuracy and efficiency are instrumental to consistently catching fish.  On March 24, I will be sharing casting techniques that will  help you catch more fish.  Please join me at The Charleston Angler Saltwater Experience in the Shimano Experience Center located at
9550 Palmetto Commerce Pkwy.

Hope to see you there!

Rapala XR10

Another Trout on the Rapala XR10

The water temperature is now in the middle 60-degree range and still pretty clear.  Great conditions for fishing with a suspending jerk bait.  This week, I have casting a Rapala XR10 with my Shimano Zodias and Curado 70XG outfit.  It as been a bit breezy, so the extra weight of the XR10 and wide range of adjustment on the 70XG (without opening up the reel) has been a great combination.  Turns out, Trout like it to.

Redfish on Top

 

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.