As the winter passes and we move forward to the Spring and Summer months, I start going through my log books And reminding myself what to prepare for moving forward. In my mind I am trying to piece together all the components. Moon cycles, tides, winds, water temperatures and what week it will fire off.
I look back in my log and start going through tackle, scouting and studying the moon cycles. I prep rods and sharpen hooks. Clean lures and begin honing my wit. Then, all that’s left is to start putting it together. There’s nothing like rolling back into a productive fishing ground and there they are. Much like you left them. More or less their life’s continue.
I wonder, how was their winter, did they loose companions, from growth or predation? Did they struggle, or thrive? Regardless I am fascinated that their cycle continues and am honored to be in their presence and if I am lucky, feel their ferocity. They honor me.
These fish travel into larger bodies of water and onto the beaches, all to return for the duration of their youth into these shallow muddy bays. I find that they prefer a particular presentation, and will harbor on certain cycles of the tide in shallow edges, and then dodge behind oyster rocks on falling tides. Some days I will see dozens where other days, only small packs.
Either sight casting or blind casting towards bottle necks and structure. On a good day early season I may hook up with one in ten. Where others I will see far more than I will get a solid thump in gratification. It is in between the slow lethargic dead sticking and the fast paced top water months. It has become one of my favorite in between seasons to pursue my passion, and if the hunt is the appeal for you….. then I say… let’s go.
I know the rules, I’ll try to keep it brief. However as the season is in it’s transitional time I have had plenty to think about 🤫 looking back and moving forward. I suppose it’s that time of year. Going through gear, tying flies, learning and studying new patterns with ideas of the coming seasons. Thinking back on the clients and gear that filled my season. All the while reflecting on all the fish and memories with each sunset 🌅. Yet somehow I look forward to the coming season with much eagerness.
Just yesterday I was talking to my good friend Capt. Bryan Goodwin whom is but one of the great guides I am fortunate to be affiliated with and have the luck to draw from his many years of experience. He asked what the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in a redfishes belly? He then told me, for him it was a belly full of little sand dollars. That really got me thinking. This time of year is tough for so many in our area. It’s been my life and likely centuries so before that. That’s why I try to stay busy. So what about those Reds eating sand dollars? Perhaps a coralation, we eat more spam this time of year, lol! I’ll tell you, it’s the nature of the Sea 🌊. All that is connected to it. So as odd as that may seem I’ll take that as a compliment. All this ties in to that time of reflection. Cleaning gear , looking back, looking ahead. My office , the ocean is doing the same. All it’s creatures feed up for this time. The lean, the waning. The great fall bites, the migrations. Man who hunts from the sea, much the same. It’s the nature of it. The balance.
One of the great game changers for me this year was the incorporation of the weighted weedless hook. Shifting my reliance to that really took it to a new level for me this year. I like using the gamakatsu or the slayer variety which are my preference , three or four ought seemed to work best for redfish. This time of year I’ll go all the way down to 1/16 or in other applications the heavier variety. I believe these make whichever soft plastic I was using perform more naturally, land lighter in the water and also operate weedless at a greater capacity. With the harder artificial like gulp, they throw surprisingly far and accurately. Well worth the cost in my book. Definitely an asset in various conditions and considered a game changer.
Some additional gear that made my life easier this past season that I’m looking forward to furthering my relationship with and turning clients onto this year are : fish monkey gloves, hatch fly reels, AFTCO performance clothing, and my preference of star rods. Fish Monkey gloves were for me, born out of necessity. As I have gotten older my hands get colder and stay that way. These guys are relatively new and really came on the market right. They make a huge variety of high quality, high performance, reasonablely priced gloves 🧤. Can’t say enough. It’s really hard to find functional cold weather , suitable for fishing gloves. They nailed it!
My hatch reel. I am a huge advocate for entering the fly fishing world without feeling like you have to spend $1000.00 just to put a whippy stick in your hands. I’ll save that soapbox for another day. But why I sought Hatch Reels out was from the need to up the game. I wanted made in the USA, good capacity , good durable service and a killer drag (not made of cork). My Hatch provided that and hopefully will for many many years to come. The fact remains I’m a professional I fish hard and spend most of my time out there and my gear doesn’t get babied.
AFTCO performance gear. For as long as I can remember I’ve looked at that name AFTCO. It’s been the standard for roller guides and gaffs for many decades now. Well there clothing is where it’s at! During old Drum season I wore a pair of their performance fishing pants every night for like 12 nights. (I washed them) No rips, no holes and barely any stains. A pair of their fishing shorts……went on every albacore trip this season. On and on. In fact that particular pair of shorts, nearly every fishing trip for two years. Yep I’ll take my oath on that, got the photos to back that as well. The list goes on and on.
Star Rods. Well that’s a long relationship. Not really even sure how far back it goes, but in my mind the quest for the best balance of quality and price goes back a looooonnng way for rods. I’ve tried so many . Lots of which are very dear to me in the memories they share. Some of which their failures are what I hold dear. They are born for a purpose though. Like a tank , destined to protect its operators but ultimately die on the feild of battle. So have many a good rod lost it’s life in service to me. Some more epicly than others sad to say. Well Star backs theirs with a warranty. Most of the time the dealer will take back without question. They are built well and balanced superbly. They are built for salt and designed to last.
Now I hope you have read enough of these to realize, that these simply aren’t the prompted rants of another puppet fisherman being pressed by his sponsors to plug their material. The reality, I get nothing for free from all but one of those companies. I like what works. Simple as that. What lasts and what performs best in the harsh environment I make my living. I deal with under equipped folks all the time . From their shoes to their glasses. The right tools make my life easier and better. Form word of mouth, to inter web research I am endlessly searching for what will make my life better or easier. If I learned anything in my youth it was “find the right tools for the job”.
Well I hope that held your attention and as I tie flies and clean and restock gear know that I am looking forward to the upcoming season with as much vigor and exitement as I can bear. This time of year, the waning as I believe I appropriately deem it brings to mind the endless connection mankind has with the Sea and it’s bountiful mystery. I hope in your upcoming tasks of spring cleaning and tax time your mind travels in a similar path as mine, toward the Sea 🌊 . It’s great treasures and many mysteries. I look forward to unlocking some of those with you in the year or years to come. Come ride with me and Carolina Traditions Guide Co. Let me show you the Crystal Coast from my eyes. I look forward to seeing you on the water.
As December passes us by, I think about all the great fishing from years gone by all the way to my childhood. With it I think of countless adventures. Some of my fondest fishing memories have been built up from some 30 plus years of hard fishing days spent chasing some of our state’s most challenging saltwater species.December can be a challenging month in NC for saltwater fishing. Changing temps, clearer water cooling down, massive fast moving fronts, disappearing bait and fickle target species. Aside from fighting the elements clear water and changing feeding patterns are likely the toughest pieces of the puzzle.Let’s start with clearer water. It’s my experience that color, scent, presentation and location tactics come more into play in these conditions. Lure color; in clearer water for trout this time of year I prefer more natural lighter colors with 12-15 # leader. In darker water (which I prefer) I switch to darker more earthy tones. In this scenario you can use heavier leader. 15-20 # if oysters rocks are prevalent. Scent, frequently I’ve found that regardless of water depth or clarity sometimes scent is the over the top aspect of success. I have had good success with gulp, however I’m partial to pro-cure scents or Z-man’s with pro-cure scent.
Feeding patterns. As the water clears and cools down bait can get scarce and metabolism slow. Is that really different from us? They wish to stay warm and expend less energy to obtain food. So yes finding bait is good, but making the target species bite isn’t always that easy. Slower retrieve is always worth a try. Also taking into consideration your target species base behaviors. Food, where will it hold up on that days wind and what role will that days/weeks temps play in their behavior. Another consideration is this, less activity or competion from secondary species plays a part. So think minimal, less surface disturbance (lighter lure weight) and quieter presentation in general. Spoiler fish in essence.
To summarize the general topics, target species predator patterns vary in our waters for the winter. Back to lesson one…. stay alive which means staying warmer, eating less and burning less energy to do so. Finding and patterning bait is important, knowing your target zones is key. Being able to understand and hopefully predict target species and bait behavior will guide you to find those warmer zones where redfish , trout or stripers will be on those cold days.
Coming up for January/February will be some product spotlights included in my fishing report with gear that helped make my winter more successful and more pleasant. The right gear and good gear make all the difference as a professional and significant difference to any avid outdoorsman.
So this is becoming one of my best winter’s ever, I look forward to it continuing in that direction. Come join me for North Carolina Crystal Coast fishing as its finest.
So you’ve heard the big Fall redfish are off the beach. You have heard how wild they are and how much fun it is to pull them out from behind the bars up on the beach.
Well let me start by saying, it is fun! It’s world class! The bite is strong, they are wild, they are aggressive and can be hard to spot and hard to stay on. But when you find them, when you get on them, it’s worth it!
With that being said, I want every serious angler to have a chance to get hooked up with these brawlers! I love to catch these fish in this environment, it is entirely different than catching them in the marsh. It is not uncommon to have three even five or six of these midsize bulls thrash your lure at one time, even knock it completely out of the water.
Now, as if the take isn’t thrilling enough…. these guys can be difficult to spot. It is not uncommon for me to be fishing a school, and have several boats ride by at a close distance most are looking for drum as well and not have a clue that I’m stalking the school. So for me the thrill of the hunt keeps me fueled as well as the take and the tug that follows. In addition to that challenge after you double up on these bruisers and by the time you get both fish clear and regroup, then you have to find them again. That might take ten minutes,might take an hour.
This brings me to the most important part of this topic. Although these fish are a blast, and I enjoy seeing my guys hook up and fight these fish for the first time. Safety is a HUGE issue here. A very good friend and fishing compadre of mine from over ten years ago now turned me on to this style of fishing for Reds some years ago. As you might understand fishing off the beach has many hazards. The most predominant of these are waves or wakes that break behind you and can easily surprise and catch you off guard.
Now although you may love to surf, surfing on your boat over a bar and onto the beach while hooked up with 27-36 inch drum is not fun. Lest we mention it can be hazardous to you and your equipment, even fatal. So my afore mentioned friend while hooked up with a nice upper slot surf red got beset onto the beach. Now fortunately he was uninjured lest his pride. 😅 Now judge ye not, this can happen to anyone.
Under NO circumstances would I recommend this to any solo angler. Simply put there are too many variables to account for to make this a safe endeavor. On calm days off our southerly facing beaches boat wakes travel surprising distances which can easily catch you off guard. Not to mention random waves , well we are talking about the beach here. It can happen easily these circumstances surprise even the most experianced of waterman. You are fighting a thirty inch red stripping line three other following him, your boat turns just a little, you are watching the fish. Then out of nowhere a rolling three footer catches the corner of your bow. Throws you in the floor, before you get up, the next one pushes you over the bar and onto the beach. I hope at least you didn’t lose the fish.
Point being it can happen, I’ve seen it happen. Safety always first. Just because it can be done does not mean it always should. There is plenty to enjoy without risking your safety. If you do this with others it can be difficult to discipline your attention to the sea state and waves as well as your angler and his fish.
Let your experience be high quality and safe, you and your party book your trip with a knowledgeable and experianced guide who makes his living keeping people safe on the water, and teaching people to catch fish while sharing his experience with his party. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Good safe fun reinforced be many years of experience on the water. Honestly as much as I love to catch fish, there’s nothing like seeing someone’s face hooked up to a screaming drag with a world class fish on the other end. That is priceless. It’s ok to to just sit back and enjoy a guided experience on the Crystal Coast. Don’t be afraid to ask your guide or Captain when you call him to inquire about booking a trip ” what is your experience?” “how many years on the water?” “What have you done for a living?” After all, not is it only your money it’s you and your families life. You should KNOW you can trust him/her with that.
Book with us, get a world class angling experience and know you’ll be safe while still experiencing a thrill. Personalized and professional. Seasoned and knowledgeable. That’s a Carolina Tradition. That’s a promise.
It’s the time of year most of us sportsman have been awaiting all summer long. Cooler weather brings hot action!
As the air cools so does the water in the creeks and shallow marshes first, driving the bait out into deeper water and harder edges. This drives predators nuts! As individual or smaller packs of hunters get on the move, they group up. What does this mean; epic fishing! In order to capitalize on this, you need to adjust your tactics and your gear.
Your presentation needs to be more flexible, colors and weights, styles and sizes. Faster, slower ; so many considerations. Smaller leader more sensitive rod tips. Let’s not forget your gear. Layers and warmer socks, sun shirts , boots, gloves. Drink plenty of water and have that rain coat for approaching fronts. That’s right fish aren’t gonna stop feeding because you’re wet. So much to think about.
Contact us and let us show you how it’s done. We’ll put you in the fish and show you how it’s done. School you on the schools of fish ; where they are and maybe what they are thinking.
Inshore/Nearshore Charter/Guide Company 252.342.2000