Recently, while on my daily pilgrimage to Publix, some one stopped me and asked two questions. Can you really catch shrimp in the waters around Daniel Island? What does Brody do when he is not finding fish or trading stocks?
In regard to catching shrimp, the answer is a resounding yes! Especially, this year. An unusually warm winter has contributed to a bumper crop of shrimp in our rivers and creeks. Shrimp baiting season is now open, and everyone is reporting good catches around Crab Bank and Bulls Bay. Shrimp baiting is a simple affair. You place (up to ten) marker poles in shallow water and toss shrimp bait around the poles. After waiting a few minutes, you throw a cast next over your bait. Viola, shrimp dinner. While shrimp baiting is a highly productive technique, these days I more often than not catch my shrimp by deep holing. This technique allows me to fish when the tide is moving (and the fish are feeding) and switch to shrimp when the tide slows down. On the surface, deep hole shrimping sounds simple. Position your boat over a twenty to forty-foot depth transition and throw your deep hole net. If the net lands on a concentration of shrimp you probably have enough for a nice dinner. The trick is to determine the depth that the shrimp are in and then to calculate the set and drift of the net to land in the appropriate depth. Given variables like current, wind and the sink rate of your net it can be tough to get the net to land in the right spot. But, when you do, it is a great way to catch shrimp! Typically, I toss the deep hole net 5 to 10 times and this produces enough shrimp for a dinner or two.
Finding fish and trading stocks keeps Brody pretty busy. It seems there is not enough time in the day. Soon as the market closes, Brody shuts down his trading station and runs to the end of the dock. If we do not go fishing, he sits on the dock and looks for fish. This time of year, he does not have to look very much. The creeks are full of Trout, Flounder and Redfish that are feeding aggressively before the lean days of winter.
The best fishing and shrimping of the year is happening right now. Get out and enjoy it.
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.
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.