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.
Recently, inshore fishing has been outstanding. Especially for Trout and Redfish. Now that summer is over, predators are feeding aggressively in advance of Winter. So, they are pretty easy to catch. While Trout and Redfish are abundant inshore, they are often on the smaller side.
This weekend, I decided to fish a “hero or zero” strategy. Exclusively targeting larger fish and significantly increasing the chance of catching nothing. When inshore fishing, I typically fish with a Shimano Expride 7-foot light action rod with a Stella 1000 frame reel. This outfit is very light, sensitive and easy to cast all day long. When hero fishing, I use an Expride 7-foot medium action rod with a Stradic 3000 frame reel. This outfit casts larger lures and handles hero-size fish extremely well. However, it weighs significantly more than my light tackle outfit.
My plan was to fish at the jetties for the first half of the incoming tide. When fishing with lures, clear water is important (so fish can easily see the lure). At the jetties, the incoming tide usually brings clear water with it. On Saturday, this was not the case. High winds and big waves stirred up the bottom sediment and poor water clarity prevailed. Undeterred, I selected a chartreuse Z-Man 4-inch Jerk ShadZ (the most visible lure in the conditions) and rigged it in a 3/8-ounce jig. Then began casting the lure to the rocks. Two hours and hundreds of casts later, I had no bites and a sore elbow from casting the heavier tackle. I made a note that hero fishing is not as much fun as I recalled, took some Advil and started casting again. Over the next 2 hours, I made hundreds of more casts, caught one small Redfish and made an appointment with my doctor to look at my elbow.
On Saturday, I was not a hero or a zero. Today, I am an orthopedic patient
With Labor Day now behind us, Summer is truly over. Temperatures are becoming more tolerable. The sun is setting earlier. The water is cooling off. These events mark the end of Summer and the beginning of great inshore fishing. When I told my brother-in-law, Mike Balduzzi, that fishing was getting good, we decided to do a 100 fish challenge. Mike jumped on a flight to Charleston on Friday and we fished the challenge on Saturday.
Conditions were not optimal. A strong northeasterly breeze limited our fishing options. Undeterred, we launched my Pathfinder into the start of the falling tide. Our plan was to make a quick run to the jetties and cast lures to the rocks for Bull Redfish and Trout. It was rough out there, but we did catch some Trout. However, not at the pace we needed to hit 100 fish in a day. So, ran back into the Wando and began working submerged oyster bars that were being swept by the falling tide. Mike is an accomplished angler that knows how to read the water. When we pulled up to our first oyster bar, we both cast Z-Man TRDs on 1/5-ounce NedlockZ jigs to the same spot. Boom. Doubles on Trout. The bite was on. Most of the fish were small, in the 13 to 14-inch range. They made up for their lack of size with sheer quantity.
When the bite slowed down, Mike and I moved to another oyster bar and began catching Trout again at a torrid pace. It took a few more moves and about 3-hours to hit the 100 fish mark. We even caught a few more for good measure. Fishing was pretty good on Saturday and it is going to get better. So, set the DVR to record your favorite football team and go fishing. The way the fish are biting, you may even get home before kick-off!
Preparation is instrumental to fishing success. For me, having tackle rigged and ready is a big part of my preparation process. Fishing opportunities often present themselves unexpectedly and disappear quickly. Having the right tackle (rods and lures) readily available can make the difference between fishing and catching.
This was the certainly the case when fishing with Luke Bishop this weekend. Our plan was to head offshore and vertical jig for Vermillion Snapper and Black Sea Bass. However, we loaded the Pathfinder with offshore and nearshore spinning tackle. On the ride out, we saw a bunch of birds hovering over feeding fish. I vectored the boat towards the feeding fish and Luke picked up a nearshore rod rigged with a 3/8-ouce jig with a Pearl Z-Man 4” StreakZ. Before I could deploy the trolling motor, Luke was fighting a Spanish Mackerel. I picked up a nearshore spinning rod rigged with a Shimano Orca popper and cast it underneath the birds. A big Bluefish crashed the lure, knocking it out of the water. Soon as the Orca popper landed, another Bluefish inhaled it. Luke and I were catching a Spanish Mackerel or Bluefish on nearly every cast. The bite was so hot, I decided to use my fly rod. For the next few minutes, I looked in every compartment in my boat. Then, I remembered taking the fly rod out of the boat for the hurricane. While Luke and I caught a bunch of fish, my lack of preparation cost us an epic fly-fishing opportunity.
Preparation really can be the difference between fishing and catching.
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.
In the summer, inshore fishing can be hit or miss. It is my theory (I have lots of theories) that in the heat of summer the feeding window is shorter. Given the abundance of forage, it is easy for predators to find food and eat their fill. So, the amount of time that they are feeding is much less. I believe this was the case this weekend.
On Saturday, my brother Dave and I were fishing the harbor for Spanish Mackerel and Trout. We launched at dawn as the tide began to fall. Upon our arrival at a harbor tideline, the Spanish Mackerel bite was on. For about 30 minutes, a Z-Man TRD retrieved as fast a you could reel it in, produced steady action. Then, the bite just stopped. We searched around but could not locate any more actively feeding fish. A quick run to a submerged oyster bar put us on a super-hot Trout bite. Like the Spanish Mackerel, the Trout bite was short-lived. But, when it was on, we released a bunch of fish.
The next morning, I went fishing with Tristin Poole (who works with Shimano). We fished the same plan that Dave and I had success with on Saturday. The same locations and the same tide cycle, which was one hour later in the morning. Not the same results. Zero bites. I am pretty sure the fish were around, but they were not actively feeding. Tristin is a skilled angler. We fished from the harbor to the upper Wando River and only managed to release 11 fish. On Sunday, fishing was a definite miss.
Looking back, summer fishing is highly dependent on low light conditions. The primary feeding windows are early in the morning and late in the evening. One hour can make the difference between a hit or a miss. For the rest of the summer, I will be fishing at dawn or at sunset. I think I will catch more fish and have less of a chance of heat stroke!
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.
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.