For years, it has been a
tradition for my son, Elliott, and I to fish together on my birthday. However, now that Elliott lives in Japan, my
brother, David, has picked up the tradition.
So, on my birthday we launched the Pathfinder and set off in search of
fish. Idling away from the boat landing,
I asked David what fish he felt like targeting.
He said it was my birthday so I should decide. Without much thought, Bull Redfish became my
birthday target species.
After a quick run to the jetties, I spot locked the Pathfinder within casting distance of the rocks. The out going tide was creating current seams as it passed between gaps in the rocks. We cast Z-Man 4-inch Jerk ShadZ on 3/8-ounce jigs into the current seams. Our most productive casts were literally right on top of the rocks. The current was strong enough to sweep the lures off the rocks and into deeper water. Speckled Trout, Weakfish, Bluefish and Ladyfish were crushing our lures as they bounced down the rocks. This technique caught a lot of fish, but we also caught a lot of rocks. If you give this technique a try, bring lots of jigs and lures!
The bite hot with a wide
variety of specifies, except Bull Reds. So,
I set the trolling motor on a track parallel to the rocks and we began casting
our lures to fishy looking places that we passed. We continued to catch Weakfish and
Bluefish. The Bulls Reds were
elusive. Then, we passed over an area
that was slightly deeper and I could see big fish on the side scan sonar. On my first cast into the deeper area, an
upper slot Redfish ate my lure. The
Redfish bite was steady. However, none
of the Reds were Bulls. After releasing
several, we left them biting to seek out my birthday Bull Redfish. As it turned out, I never caught one, but
David released a couple of nice ones.
On the ride back to the boat
landing, Elliott called to wish me a happy birthday. I stopped the boat and put him on
speaker. David told him to come back
soon because he was getting tired of carrying me. We all had a good laugh. It was a very happy birthday.
Fishing is like super glue. It creates strong and lasting bonds with your friends and family. For me, this is particularly true. From the time my son (Elliott) could walk until he moved away to Japan, we fished together several times a week. So, when he came home for a visit, we literally went from the airport to the boat. Extreme? Perhaps, but that super glue is some pretty strong stuff.
Our plan was to vertical jig on some nearshore reefs and live bottom areas. The seas were calm, and my Pathfinder 2500 is fast. We were fishing 15 miles offshore two hours after Elliott’s plane touched down. The first spot we tried produced zero bites. However, we did not really care. We were just happy to be fishing together. A quick run to the Charleston 60 reef put us on a steady Amberjack bite. Amberjack are powerful fish. Even the small ones put up a strong fight on 30-pound class jigging tackle. After catching and releasing a few, I was tired, and Elliott began to feel the effects of jet lag. So, we turned on the tunes and made a leisurely run back to Daniel Island.
This week, Mother Nature gave the Lowcountry a bit of a break. After weeks of record high temperatures, an inland high-pressure system provided a cool (for late summer) northerly breeze and more comfortable conditions. However, the comfort came at a cost. The breeze also created rough conditions in the harbor and nearshore waters, making fishing a bit of a challenge.
What do you do when the weather is great, but fishing conditions are tough? Take the family, including Brody our fish finding dog, for a sunset cruise. Of course, I brought a fishing rod, just in case. We launched late in the afternoon. The tide was just beginning to fall as we idled out of the Ralston Creek. When we got to the Wando River, we found breezy and choppy conditions. No problem in my new Pathfinder 2500 Hybrid. It eats harbor chop like I eat Orlando’s Brick Oven Pizza. After an hour or so of sightseeing, we decided to settle into a spot and watch the sunset. Naturally, I picked a spot that usually holds Trout, a marsh point swept by the falling tide. After setting the Power Pole to hold us in place, Amy (my lovely wife), Heather (Elliott’s girlfriend), Maddie (my daughter) and I lounged around and enjoyed the great weather. Brody had other ideas. He kept looking at me and then looking at the fishing rod. After a few minutes of his encouragement, I decided to make a few casts. Brody was right. The Trout bite was on. The fish were not large, but they were hungry. I asked the girls if they wanted to catch a few but they were in chill mode. So, Brody and I continued catching and releasing Trout. Then, I decided to try and teach Brody to hold a fish for a picture. Turns out, this was not one of my better ideas.
After a great sunset, we listened to some tunes and idled back to the boat landing. Sometimes, a great fishing trip has nothing to do with fishing.
During the summer, our rivers and creeks can become pretty crowded. Especially, on weekends. With the heat index consistently above 100 degrees, the inshore waters can also be uncomfortable. In the Lowcountry, late summer is unbearably hot. Subsequently, I have been fishing more in our nearshore waters. Less people. Cooler temperatures. Lots of fish. What’s not to like?
While my Pathfinder 2200 TRS 22-foot bay boat handled the nearshore waters quite well, there have been times when I felt the need for something a little larger. So, this week, I took delivery of a Pathfinder 2500 Hybrid, which is specifically designed for nearshore fishing. Between taking delivery and rigging of the new boat, I have not been fishing much. Thankfully, Kyle Thaxton has been fishing in the Wando River and provided a great fishing report. Kyle says the Redfish are around and biting natural baits. Look for them along shallow depth transitions and oyster bars. Kyle loves to fish. Kudos to his Dad for taking him.
Yes, it is heat stroke hot. But, as Kyle reports, the fishing is still very good. Both Kyle and I recommend getting out early. Right now, the Charleston Harbor water temperature is above 85-degrees. The water temperature in the rivers and creeks is even higher (especially in the afternoon). High water temperatures can cause the fish to be somewhat lethargic. So, the optimal fishing time is during an early morning incoming tide. The influx of cooler water and low light conditions will often produce the best bite of the day. If by chance the bite does not materialize, at least you won’t get heat stroke!
Thanks again to Kyle Thaxton for the fishing report. Kyle, keep fishing with your Dad. Then, when you grow up and your Dad grows old, take him fishing.
Recently, one of my fishing buddies past away. While I try to live a regret free life, I do wish we had fished together more often. This got me to thinking about all the friends I have been wanting to fish with but have not. So, I began calling my friends. Surprisingly, I do actually have a few. Donna Crocker was the first person to call me back and we planned to fish the next morning.
The tide was falling when we launched the boat. As we idled out of the creek, schools of finger mullet were swimming along the surface. I do not usually fish with bait, but Donna enjoys it. After one throw of the cast net, we had enough live bait for our trip. We made a quick run to a small creek that was draining into the main river. I set the spot-lock on the trolling motor within easy casting distance of the creek mouth. Donna cast a finger mullet on a quarter ounce lead head jig into the creek and let the tide sweep it along the bottom. A Trout inhaled the bait and Donna began teasing me about not yet catching a fish. Donna continued to catch Trout and the teasing intensified. We both enjoyed a good laugh. Well, at least one of us did!
When the falling tide slowed, the Trout bite did as well. It was getting hot. So, we decided to make a long run. More time to cool off than to find fish. This was good because for the next two hours, I struggled to find fish. Slow fishing and uncomfortably hot temperatures kept us on the move. Eventually, we located a small school of big Redfish. Donna cast a finger mullet ahead of the school and waited. To our surprise, the Redfish ignored the easy meal. We stayed with the school (because they were the only fish, I could find that day) and our persistence paid off. Donna released a couple of nice ones.
On the ride back to the boat landing, Donna and I joked about the tough fishing. More accurately, Donna reminded me that she had caught more and larger fish. I laughed and told her that I had no regrets.
Fishing with friends can be surprising. Some surprises are pleasant. Others, not so much. On a recent fishing trip with my friend, Shelly Bostwick, all the surprises were pleasant. We launched my Pathfinder bay boat into the last of the outgoing tide. Our plan was to target Bluefish that we could use for Shark bait a little later (on the incoming tide).
My first surprise was that Shelly is an excellent caster. I positioned the boat down tide from a marsh point and cast my lure to “the spot” to catch a Bluefish. Shelly cast her lure, a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 on a 3/16-ounce jig to the exact same spot. Most impressive casting ability.
The second surprise was that Trout had taken over the Bluefish spot. We released several quality-size Trout and kept a few Bluefish for bait. When the tide stopped, the Trout and Bluefish bite did as well. So, we made a run out past the jetties and took up position about 100 yards behind a shrimp boat. I picked up a 30-pound class spinning outfit, a Shimano 6000 frame Saragosa reel on a medium heavy Teramar rod, and nose-hooked a live Bluefish on a 5/0 circle hook. Shelly cast the Bluefish into the shrimp boat’s wake. Almost immediately, she was hooked up to a Blacktip Shark. The Shark jumped a few times and then made a long drag sizzling run. Sharks are an overlooked sport fish. They are abundant and really fun to catch.
Surprise number three was how good of an angler Shelly is. She kept maximum pressure on the Blacktip. This can be difficult to do with 30-pound class tackle. Her great angling technique brought the Shark to the boat in record time. It was sufficiently large, that I did not want to hold it for a picture, and you know how much I love to hold fish for pictures. After releasing the Blacktip, we moved back behind the shrimper and caught a few more. The Shark bite was still on when we decided to target Redfish at the jetties. After a quick run, I spot-locked the boat a safe distance from the rocks. Shelly cast a Z-Man 4” Jerk ShadZ on a 3/8-ounce jig into the waves washing over the rocks. Surprise! Redfish got checked off our list.
Fishing with your friends can be surprising. When fishing with Shelly, all the surprises were pleasant. I do not tournament fish anymore. But, if I did, I would be lucky for Shelly to be my partner.
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.