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!
Anglers can be very creative when explaining why they did not catch any fish. After getting abused by a large Crevalle Jack last week, I dedicated this week to getting even. Every moment on the water was spent looking for a school of Jacks upon which I could take my revenge. Sadly, the Jacks once again got the better of me. So, here are my excuses for not catching a Jack.
Excuse number one – Brody (the amazing fish finding and stock trading dog), opted out on my quest for Jack revenge. He muttered something along the lines of “You put on a fur coat and stand in the blazing sun for hours; see how much fun you have”.
Excuse number two – I put on a fur coat and stood in the blazing sun for hours and passed out from heat stroke. Brody was right. It was not much fun. To make matters worse, I lost two days of fishing while recovering from heat stroke.
Excuse number three – Severe dehydration from wearing a fur coat in 92-degree temperatures reaggravated my back injury. It is impossible to catch a Jack when you cannot stand up straight. However, on the bright side, I am a finalist for the lead role in the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Excuse number four – Subconsciously, I do not want to catch a big Jack. Thus, I unwittingly sabotage every opportunity to catch one. I use tackle way to light for the job. Hooks that are not strong enough. Oh yeah, and fish in a fur coat. Who does that?
Clearly, I am obsessed with targeting Jacks. But, apparently not very good at it. So, there will probably be even more creative excuses next week!
This week, I felt my age. On Monday, I pulled a muscle in my back. On Tuesday, I could barely get out of bed (much less go fishing). So, I spent most of the week laying about feeling sorry for myself. Thankfully, my back recovered enough to fish with Jack Gardner on Sunday. Jack and I have been fishing together since he was in middle school. He is now an alumnus of The Citadel and beginning his career in Virginia. Sunday was the last opportunity for us to fish together before he left town. I was not going to miss it!
Circumstances were not optimal on Sunday. Strong winds made for rough conditions and poor water clarity. If this was not our last fishing trip before Jack left town, I would have cancelled. It was that awful. Our first stop was a marsh point swept by the current of the outgoing tide. It was exposed to the wind and the waves. Given limited mobility due to my back, not falling out of the boat was a major accomplishment! We cast Z-Man Finesse TRDs on 1/5-ounce NedlockZ jigs to the marsh point and let the tide sweep our lures into deeper water. It was difficult fishing. Thankfully, we managed to catch a few Trout and a Flounder. So, our attention turned to completing the inshore slam with a Redfish. As we ran from place to place in search of a Red, Jack and I recalled memories from each spot that we visited. We shared stories. We laughed a lot. I marveled at the person he had become.
Jack and I did not catch many fish, but we did take the opportunity to catch up. Perhaps, that is the best catch of all.
For me, the glass is usually half full. During the closure of our boat landings, many friends went above and beyond to help me fish. Their thoughtfulness and kindness make my glass and my heart full.
With our boat landings now open, I have returned to my normal (every day) fishing schedule. As I get back into my routine, things that I may have taken for granted are wonderments once again. On Sunday morning, the water was 69-degrees and the Trout bite was going off. I was catching and releasing Trout at a torrid pace. After about an hour, a pod of dolphin began hanging around my skiff and eating the fish I was releasing. One of them was very distinct as it was missing the top half of its dorsal fin. Not wanting the released Trout to be eaten and for dolphin to associate food with people, I moved to another area about a mile away. Thankfully, the Trout bite we good there as well. After just a few minutes, the pod of dolphin showed up again. I knew it was the same group because of “Shorty”, the one missing half its fin. This time, I moved a further distance away, but the dolphin found me again in very short order.
It became clear, that I was not going to lose this pod of dolphin. So, I began putting the Trout in my release well to be returned to the water away from the ravenous mammals. Each time, I put a fish in the release well, the dolphin would surface right next to the boat and look at me. To my surprise, this went on the rest of the day. Even with the Trout supply cut off, the dolphin stayed with me. It was a bit frustrating but a wonderment none the less.
Typically, January and February bring the coldest water temperatures to our local waters. However, Winter has yet to make an appearance in the Lowcountry and the water is unusually warm. So, the fishing pattern is more like Fall than Winter. This is good news for anglers. Trout and Redfish are schooled up and feeding aggressively in shallow water.
On Saturday, it was super windy and rainy. With gale force winds blowing against the tide, there were some big waves in the Wando River. On the run to my first fishing location, I was thinking I should have brought by surfboard. Some of the waves look rideable. No worries for my Pathfinder 2500. The run to Hobcaw Creek was fast and dry. On breezy days, Hobcaw Creek is a good option because it has lots of trees that provide protection from the wind. After pulling up to a wind sheltered shoreline, I deployed the trolling motor and began systematically casting a Z-Man Finesse TRD (Hot Snakes) on a 1/5-ounce jig to oyster bars and irregularities in the marsh. Trout and Redfish were both in residence. They were not particularly large specimens but on such a windy and rainy day, they were most welcome. Nearly all of the strikes were aggressive and occurred in shallow water. The long-term weather forecast is for more warm weather. If the forecast holds true, fishing should be very good in the shallows.
The Cold-Water Fishing Class is full. The response has been overwhelming. Perhaps at some point this Winter, we will actually have cold water!
To keep from becoming a total fishing bum, I do some consulting now and again. This week, I did more consulting than fishing. Thankfully, the engagement was in Nashville. So, it was a pretty fun week! Before departing for the land of country music, my brother (Dave) and Brody (the amazing fish finding dog) did a little fishing. Our plan was simply to get out and run the boat for a while. If we caught any fish that would be a bonus. Things went according to plan. The weather was nice, the Pathfinder ran well, and we caught a few Trout. When we were about to go home, Brody began barking at a dock up head. Brody does not bark much on the boat, so I took it as a sign. Using the trolling motor, I positioned the boat within easy casting range. Dave cast a Z-Man Finesse TRD (The Deal) on a 1/5-ounce NedLockZ jig to the dock pilings. Boom! A bent rod and our best fish of the day. Dave insisted that we include Brody in the fish picture. Looking at the shot, I am not sure who is happier. Dave or Brody? As winter approaches, I am thinking about doing a fishing class on cold water finesse techniques. If you want to learn more about how I catch fish in cold water situations, let me know you are interested in the class. If enough people want to attend (the class is free), Brody will teach the class in January.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I did a lot of fishing with my family and friends. For the most part, the weather and the fish cooperated. On the day before Thanksgiving, conditions were optimal. So, my brother (Dave), his son-in-law (Sean) and old family friend (Donna), decided to go fishing. We launched the Pathfinder into the start of the outgoing tide and made a short run into Beresford Creek.
Along the way, the depth finder consistently showed fish holding along depth transitions in 10 to 15 feet of water. So, our first fishing location was a creek channel in 10 feet of water with a broken shell bottom. I cast a Z-Man TRD (Hot Snakes color) on a 1/5-ounce NedlockZ jig into the channel and let the current sweep the lure along the bottom. A solid thump announced that the fish were there and hungry. For the next hour or so, we enjoyed a solid Trout bite. On a regular basis, two or three of us would be fighting a Trout simultaneously. Doubles and triples were commonplace. When we had multiple hook ups, the person that did not catch a fish caught a really hard time from everyone else. The joke making was relentless and we all shared some really good laughs. When the falling tide slowed down the Trout bite did as well. However, a quick move to another part of the channel put us on a hot Redfish bite. Most of the fish were smaller in size, but they were abundant. Multiple hook ups were the norm. Once all four us had a fish on. Quads! Dave, Donna and I landed Redfish. Unfortunately for Sean, his fish was a Mullet. For some odd reason this was uproariously funny. Well, at least to Dave, Donna and me. Sean took the verbal abuse well. To commemorate the moment, we took an impromptu selfie. We were all laughing so hard, it was difficult to get a good shot.
Fishing is great right now. The water temperature is 57-degrees and I expect the hot bite to continue until the water temperature falls below 52-degrees. The optimal fishing window is beginning to close. So, get out there. Catch a few fish and make fun of your friends.
About this time of year, weather becomes the determining factor when planning a fishing trip. For the past few days, this has been particularly true. A strong coastal low-pressure system brought cold temperatures, gale force winds and extremely high tides to the Lowcountry. All of which made for really tough fishing conditions. However, for anglers willing to brave the elements, fishing has been quite good.
On Friday and Saturday, I was unwilling to brave the elements. It was just to nasty to fish. Even for me! Conditions improved a little on Sunday. The rain stopped, leaving only cool temperatures and gale force winds. That was enough improvement for me. So, I launched the Pathfinder into the falling tide and ran to a wind sheltered shoreline. When it is blowing a gale, wind sheltered is a relative term. Even while tucked behind a treelined marsh bank, it was windy. To my surprise, the water was relatively clear. A quick glance at the depth finder showed a few fish holding along a ledge in eight to ten feet of water. When it comes to locating fish, side scan sonar is a total game changer. With a bit of confidence that fish were in the area, I slowed down and systematically worked the ledge with a Z-Man TRD on a 1/5-ounce jig. Turns out, the side scan sonar was right. Trout and Redfish were in the area and they were eating. The fish were not large, but they made up for their lack of size with sheer numbers. On cold and windy days, cooperative fish make tough conditions more tolerable.
With Winter fast approaching, cold temperatures and strong winds will soon become the norm. Until the water temperature dips into the low 50-degree range, fishing should continue to be very good. So, gather your friends, dress warmly and go fishing.
Last week, I did not fish. What?! That’s right, for the first time in a very long time, I missed seven days of fishing (in a row). For the past few months, I have been battling a repetitive stress injury in my right elbow. As it turns out, I fish too much. During a quick fishing trip, I will cast several hundred times. On longer trips, my cast count often exceeds one thousand. Plus, somewhere along the line, I got old! Excessive casting and old age are a bad combination. According to my doctor, a course of steroids, powerful anti-inflammatory medication and no fishing would help my elbow to heal. After disregarding this advise for months, I realized this was something that would not simply go away. Thus, my fishing hiatus.
Hopefully, my elbow will recover soon because the next few weeks will offer some of the best fishing of the year. As the water temperature drops below the middle sixty-degree range, most of the baitfish and shrimp will leave the creeks. This leaves Redfish, Trout and Flounder with a big appetite and not much to eat. So, they will be chasing and eating everything they can fit in their mouths. Ironically, I have this in common with the fish.
Call your friends. Grab your family. Go fishing. Someone must do it. Until my arm recovers, I am depending upon you!
This week, fishing felt like a Don Henley song. In the Lowcountry, Sharks and Tarpon are the boys of summer and this week they were gone. While I have not seen a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac, I am pretty sure the boys of summer are leaving town. In the Summer, catching Sharks behind shrimp boats is super easy and very reliable. On Saturday, I did not catch a single one. After striking out on Sharks, I ran the Pathfinder just off the beach looking for rolling Tarpon. For the past few months, finding Tarpon on the beach has been a regular thing. Saturday, there were none to be found.
After spending Saturday targeting the boys of summer (and not catching anything), on Sunday I focused on a more available species, Speckled Trout. In the Fall, Trout form large schools and feed aggressively. So, this time of year, they are usually pretty easy to catch. Thankfully, this was the case on Sunday. The Trout were stacked up in the mouth of small creeks that were draining into the main river. Casting a Z-Man TRD or Trout Trick into the creek mouths produced steady catch and release action. After releasing several Trout, the porpoise with the wonky fin that Brody (the amazing fish finding dog) scared off last week, returned. Brody was not on board. With no dog deterent, the porpoise swam right up to the boat and stared at me.