In the Lowcountry, the Dog Days of Summer begin in July and the average heat index exceeds 100-degrees. There are some days, in the afternoon, when it really is too hot to fish. So, I adjust my fishing schedule accordingly. In the Dog Days, my favorite and most productive fishing time is early in the morning on an incoming tide. By early, I mean Dawn Patrol (before sunrise). Overnight, the water temperatures will have cooled by a degree or two. This, combined with an incoming tide lowers the water temperature even more. Cooler water and the low light period before sunrise, triggers predators to eat.
This week, I began Dawn Patrol fishing and I was usually on the water by 5:30 AM. Early in the morning, the marsh and creeks are quiet and you can hear fish feeding. So, picking a fishing spot is easy. At dawn, predators advertise their presence. Before making the first cast, try to determine the size and color of what the fish are eating. Typically, shrimp or finger mullet are on the menu. Select are lure that generally matches the menu’s daily special and it is a pretty sure bet that you will catch fish.
Before heading out for Dawn Patrol, make sure your fishing license is not expired. Traditionally, most licenses expire on June 30. This is a layover, from the days when a South Carolina fishing license had a fixed time frame from July 1 to June 30. Recently, the law was changed to one year from the date of purchase. However, since most existing licenses expired in June, the trend of July expiration remains. Nothing ruins a good day of fishing faster than a ticket from the Department of Natural Resources.
As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July, I reflect on my youth (which was a long time ago) and my travels. Having seen the world, I know we live in the best country on earth. On July 4th, Dorothy from the wizard of OZ usually comes to mind. There is no place like home!
Everyone have a safe and happy July 4th holiday.
In a world filled with electronic devices and a myriad of other indoor activities, it is important to encourage kids to play outside. So, when neighbor’s son, Luke Bishop, dropped by to talk about fishing, we decided to go fishing instead of talking about it. The purpose of our trip was to determine if Trout were already forming large schools in Clouter Creek and the Cooper River. Our plan was to run and gun (try a bunch of locations) until we located large concentrations of Trout. Typically, in the Fall, Trout congregate around creek mouths on the falling tide. While we caught a few in these areas, they did not produce the numbers we were looking for. Luke and I kept moving.
After five or six stops at creek mouths, we tried something different, a deep channel. Luke cast a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 (Pearl) on a Finesse jig into the channel and caught a nice Trout. I cast my lure (a Streak 3.75 Blue Back Herring) into the same area and hooked up as well. For the next 30 to 45 minutes, Luke and I caught a Trout on pretty much every cast. We did not take any pictures because one of us always had a fish on. It was an epic Trout bite. Luke and I released over 50 fish (I even kept a few dinner).
During the non-stop action, I was impressed by Luke’s development as an angler. He was completely self-sufficient. We have fished together many times. Each time, his fishing skills just keep getting better. I feel sure, one day (soon), he will be teaching me about fishing. And that, is that fishing is all about.
A few years ago, there was a county music song with the lyrics “too hot to fish”. On Saturday, with the optimal tide occurring during the middle of the day, the lyrics to that song kept popping into my head. With the heat index hovering around 110 degrees, fishing was not very much fun. Despite my best efforts to stay hydrated, after a few hours in the intensely hot sun, I started to feel the symptoms of heat exhaustion. It is not fun (or safe) to fish with a pounding headache and being light headed. So, I quit fishing early on Saturday and did not fish at all on Sunday. It was literally, too hot to fish!
Thankfully, an early morning start (on Saturday) got us on to a solid Spanish Mackerel bite in the harbor. The Mackerel were chasing schools of glass minnows. Since a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 (Blue Back Herring) on a 1/8-ounce Trout Eye Finesse jig looks just like a glass minnow, the Spanish Mackerel readily ate our lures. On our first casts into the feeding school, David (my brother) and I each hooked a fish. Doubles! My son, Elliott, volunteered to take a picture. As he took the shot, my fish started vigorously flipping its tail and slapping David in the face. We all found this to be uproariously funny. Well, at least Elliott and I did.
Fishing in the late summer can be tough. Take it from me. Get out early and get back early (before it gets too hot). Unless of course, you like country music.
The storm that rolled through the Lowcountry yesterday afternoon snarled traffic, dropped hail and put on an awesome (and dangerous) electrical show. Delayed launching the skiff (I am scared of lightning) until after the storm subsided. Caught a bunch of Trout and Ladyfish on a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 (Blue Back Herring) on a 1/8th ounce Eye Strike finesse jig. Also, got this shot of my son (Captain Elliott) casting to a tailing Redfish.
The storm was bad. The traffic was awful. The fishing was pretty darn good!
Sometimes, a change is good. Typically, I prefer to fish with flies and lures. However, my friend Donna Crocker, likes to fish with live shrimp. So, when we fish together, a coin flip determines which method we will use. On this fishing trip, I lost the coin toss.
We launched the skiff late in the afternoon near the end of the falling tide. It only took a few casts of the net to catch enough shrimp for a few of hours of fishing. Our plan was to look for feeding predators in shallow water (by observing shrimp jumping on the surface). Once located, casting a live shrimp on a lead head jig into the area often produces a Redfish, Trout or Flounder. In the summertime, this is a very reliable fishing pattern. Especially, during lower stages of the tide.
For the first hour or so of this trip, smaller fish were prevalent (at last for Donna). I managed to complete an inshore slam and release a couple of 25-inch Reds. As always, when we fish together, there is a lively banter about who is fishing the best. For most of the trip, I got the best of this exchange. As the sun began to set, we made one last stop on the way back to the boat landing. Donna spotted several shrimps jumping and fired a cast right on top of them. The water exploded as a big Redfish attacked her jig and shrimp combination. Immediately, I knew I was in trouble. Donna was giving me a hard time before she even landed the fish. When the fish came to the skiff, I had to admit to defeat. Heading back to the boat landing, I pretended to be unable to hear Donna because of the sound of the outboard engine. This got us to laughing. It was a fitting end to a great fishing trip with a good friend.
Many thanks to all who attended my session on June 6 @ The Charleston Angler. Standing room only on an evening with torrential rain! To keep up with my daily fishing adventures, follow me on Instagram @captgregp. Thanks again for your interest and support!
As promised, providing a copy of my presentation below. Click the link to down load a copy.
The past few days have been very windy. So windy, that I abandoned my favorite finesse techniques and switched to power fishing mode with a quarter ounce Trout Eye Jig and Z-Man MinnowZ (Pearl Blue Glimmer) body. This combination casts well into the wind and stays in the strike zone despite the gale. Oh yeah, big Trout like it to too!
Most of the big fish were found around shallow ledges directly adjacent to deeper water. Water clarity in these areas improves on the incoming tide. The Trout bite does as well.
Larger and heavier lures require slightly heavier tackle. So I put away my favorite 7′ St. Croix Legend Elite (Light) in favor of the Medium Light version. If you match your tackle and techniques to the conditions, you will more than likely catch fish. Even in a gale.
The other day, I was working a school of Redfish in ultra shallow water. The Reds were very spooky so I was casting my lure (a Z-Man StreakZ on a Trout Eye Jig) onto the bank then pulling it into the water. This stealthy presentation was working well. After releasing a couple of decent size Redfish, I made another cast onto the bank. As I pulled the lure back into the water, I foul hooked this Flounder. As if that was not bad enough, the unlucky flat fish was keeper size. Typically, I release most of the fish I catch. However, this one was invited home for dinner.
Last week while speaking at the Summerville Saltwater Anglers meeting, I was introduced to Grant Allison. Turns out Grant was working on a school project that required him to catch a Trout, Flounder and Redfish. The project was due this week and Grant needed a little help catching the fish. So I invited him to fish with me on Monday. It was blowing 20 knots when we launched the skiff. Rather than fight the elements, we tucked into a small creek and began casting Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 lures on 3/16th ounce Trout Eye finesse jigs. The bite was slow but Grant managed to release a few Trout and a Flounder. However, the Redfish eluded us. As the sun set, the wind finally let up. With just a few minutes of daylight left, we moved to a wind sheltered shallow area and immediately spotted a school of Redfish. It took a little doing but Grant finally got a Redfish to eat his StreakZ. Using the last rays of sunlight, we took a quick picture and released the fish.
Grant is an excellent student. Based upon our trip, he is an even better angler.
Thanks to the Summerville Saltwater Anglers for having me out earlier this week. It was fun meeting the members, eating a great meal and talking about fishing.