Thanksgiving week was filled with lots of family, friends, food and fishing. Unfortunately, on several days, gale-like conditions made fishing a bit of a challenge. Of course, I went fishing anyway because the best catch in fishing is time with family and friends. Thankfully, the fish were cooperative, even in the tough conditions.
On one of the really windy days, Elliott, David and I set out to catch a Redfish on the fly. The main river was blown out. So, we began our search for Redfish in a small wind sheltered creek. The tide was falling and nearing dead low. There was not much water left in the creek. This made locating Redfish much easier, as their backs and tails were often above the water line. Finding them was easy. Accurately casting a fly in gale-like conditions was another matter entirely. Our first few casts did not even land in the water. The wind would catch the fly line and blow it onto the bank. After a few adjustments, my brother David (finally) made a good presentation. The fly landed a foot or so in front of a decent size Red. We held our breath as the fish slowly swam forward and inhaled the fly. The Redfish was feisty, and the fight took longer than usual. All the while, Elliott and I were giving David a hard time. When he landed the fish, we were all happy. David unhooked the Red and was releasing it, when Elliott took a picture. It would have been a great picture, but it captured me looking stupid in the background. This gave David and Elliott cause to give me a hard time. Things change fast on family fishing trips. Standing on the poling platform, watching Elliott and David laugh (at me) reminded me of why I fish (so much). Fishing is about time, moments and memories. Catching fish, well that is just a bonus!
We are very fortunate that Hurricane Florence did not hit us. Sady, our friends to the north were not so lucky. Let’s all keep them in our thoughts and prayers. Given the slow-moving nature of Hurricane Florence, I missed a few days of fishing last week. On Sunday, conditions improved to the point that I could safely go fishing. So, I launched the skiff into the last of the falling tide. It was my theory that with the tide being low, the creek banks would protect me from the wind. As with most of my theories, this one was also incorrect. It was windy all over. After enduring a bumpy and wet ride to my first fishing location, a shallow marsh point, I deployed the trolling motor and began moving into casting distance. About then, a commercial crabber pulled up. He waved and yelled, I have to be out here to make a living, but you are just crazy. We both had a good laugh and went our separate ways. Once in position, I cast a Z-Man 4-inch Jerk ShadZ on a Finesse BulletZ 1/6-ounce jig to the marsh point and felt a solid thump. I set the hook but somehow missed the fish. On the next cast, my luck was much better, and a solid Redfish welcomed back to the river. While I was unable to fish due to the storm, I figured out how to take a timed photo with my phone. So, I propped my phone on the console of my skiff and posed with my first fish after the storm. Turns out my theory on taking good pictures via a timer on my phone was incorrect (again). The Redfish bite continued until the tide began to rise and the fished moved off the marsh point. With the windy and choppy conditions, I was unable to re-locate them. So, I headed back the boat ramp. On the way home, I passed the commercial crabber. He waved, and I could hear him laughing for a considerable distance.
In my mind, Fathers deserve more than a day. So, the bulk of last week was dedicated to me! Thankfully, my children Elliott and Maddie were willing participants. Probably, because they declare “Birthday Week”.
Of course, “Fathers Week” includes lots of fishing. On Saturday, there was a negative (extremely low) tide. Elliott and I decided to fish in small creeks, targeting Redfish that were concentrated into small areas due to the very low tide. This can be a dicey plan. Fishing in small creeks on negative tides usually equals getting stuck. However, my new Salt Marsh skiff was able to navigate through water less than six inches deep. We slowly and quietly moved into a tiny creek and spotted a couple of big Redfish milling around an oyster bar. Elliott said since it was Fathers Week, I could take the first cast. Once cast was all it took. I presented the Z-Man TRD (Geko rigged) and hooked up immediately. Fighting a big Redfish in a shallow creek can be a messy affair. With no place to run, the fish frantically sloshes about the shallows and splashes mud into the skiff. This one was particularly adept at splashing mud. For some reason, Elliott and I found this to be very funny. Eventually, the Redfish got tired of splashing us with mud and came to the skiff.
After a quick picture, we took several minutes to revive the fish. As it swam away, Elliott wished me a Happy Fathers Week. Upon returning to the boat landing, Maddie greeted us and took me to lunch (while Elliott cleaned up the skiff). Fathers Week was pretty good. I highly recommend it!
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.
Triple Redfish Hook Up
The snow and ice have finally melted. However, the water temperature in our rivers and creeks is hovering near record lows. Unfortunately, we are beginning to see evidence of Trout and Redfish that succumbed to the frigid water.
Thankfully, is seems the bulk of the Redfish population has survived. Even with the water temperature below 40 degrees, the Reds are actively eating. On a day when it took over an hour to remove the ice my skiff (in order to go fishing), the Redfish bite was hot. Z-Man TRD lures on 1/5 ounce NedlockZ jigs and Shimano Colt Sniper (sinking) lures produced several triple hook up.
Until the water temperature rises above 45 degrees, Redfish will be my target species. They seem to be able to tolerate the cold much better than Trout. Hoping to get back to Trout fishing this weekend.
Today, the Lowcountry experienced a record breaking snow storm. Watching the snow accumulate, I wondered if the Trout were still biting. So, I called Elliott and we set out to see. It was bitterly cold and we quickly lost the feeling in our hands. However, we were able to catch a few of these guys.
Elliott and I figured the bite would be super light. So, I tied a Z-Man TRD on a Shimano 6’8″ Zodias Light rod that is paired with a 1000 frame Stradic Ci4 reel. Even with this light and sensitive tackle system, we could barely feel the bites.
The fish were very cold and for the most part inactive. Hopefully, the weather warms up soon and not to many fish succumb to the frigid water temperatures.
First Fish of 2018
Fishing on New Years Day is a family tradition. Some years it is warm and other years it is freezing cold. This year, it was definitely the latter. With the temperature well below freezing and the wind chill in single digits, Elliott and I considered not fishing. After a short debate, we felt is was important to uphold tradition and off we went.
The water temperature was 47 degrees and the Trout bite was slow. However, we kept casting our Z-Man TRD lures on 1/5 ounce NedlockZ jigs. It is hard to detect a subtle winter Trout bite when you can not feel your fingers. Elliott and I missed several fish but eventually I got lucky and nailed this one. Our first fish of 2018.
Fishing was tough on New Years Day but Elliott and I were glad we kept the tradition going.
Happy New Year.
Years ago, there was a commercial with the tag line “Don’t Fool with Mother Nature”. This weekend, I was reminded of such. After weeks of catching fish, seemingly at will, Mother Nature reminded me who the boss really was. Unusually warm weather and full moon tides confused fish and anglers alike. All weekend long, the things that were biting the most were Gnats.
It was not particularly difficult to locate fish, especially Trout. Using the depth sounder, we could clearly see the Trout holding on channel ledges in 15 to 20 feet of water. Getting them to bite was the real challenge. Each time we located a school, we would get a couple Trout to bite. However, the bulk of the fish were not eating. Downsizing our lures and slowing our retrieve cadence helped to get more strikes. Z-Man TRD TubeZ (PB&J) and TRD (Bubblegum) were the most productive lures. Given the strong full moon tides, we fished the lures on 1/5 ounce NedlockZ jigs. At times, when the current was really strong, we resorted to quarter ounce jigs. I never use quarter ounce jigs. Thankfully, we found one pack in the bottom of my tackle box.
After a tough day on Saturday, I called several friends. All reported similar results. We thought we would easily catch 50 to 100 fish and struggled to release 20. I keep telling myself, that catching 20 fish is not bad. But, after the hot bite we have enjoyed for the past several weeks, it sure feels like it.
Hopefully, Mother Nature is done teaching me a lesson.
Recently, I have been experimenting with a couple of finesse lures. The Z-Man TubeZ and Trick ShotZ. Being smaller profile lures, it is critical to match them with a jig that will let them perform their best. After weeks of experimentation, I have settled on the Z-Man NedLockZ jig. This combination has been highly productive on Redfish and Trout. Especially, in post cold front situations. On windy days or when fishing in deeper water with current, the 1/5 ounce NedlockZ gets the nod. On calm days or when fishing shallow, the 1/6 ounce jig is preferred.
It takes a little finesse to consistently catch fish!