Bulls on Plastic

In my new Sportsman bay boat, I am trying to learn how to fish the jetties effectively with artificial lures.  Past experimentation has been hit or miss, but I have had a pretty good amount of success casting at the rocks and swimming a lure down the slope.  One of my best redfish was caught this way and it was a memorable one.  Ralph and I found our way out there one day and were drifting with the outgoing tide along the south jetty.  I was pitching a 1/4 oz Redfish Eye jig on a Z-Man plastic.  I think it was a rootbeer/chartreuse MinnowZ.  Anyway, I happened to be casting with my smallest rod at the time – at trout rod with a very supple St Croix blank and a 1000 Penn Battle reel.  I had a solid thump and about 30 minutes and a half mile later I boated a 38″ red on that buggy whip!  Did I mention 10 lb braid?  Yeah.  

Daniel Nussbaum with a beauty!

I’ve also had sporadic success using our 1 oz Striper Eye jigs on a 6″ SwimmerZ at the rocks.  Just drifting along the bottom of the rocks and vertical jigging.

Anyway, I asked Daniel Nussbaum of Z-Man if he would help show me some spots.  A couple weeks before he had a great day catching bull reds.  We made a plan and he, myself and Ralph went out.  We had a great day.  We were casting 6″ SwimmerZ on 1/2 oz Striper Eye’s and swimming them along the rocks.  Wasn’t long before Daniel hooked up with a bull.  Shortly later it was Ralph’s turn.  I had a slot red and a 28″ er in the mean time, but by no means a bull.  

Ralph’s bull hasn’t missed many meals

Tide turned and I moved to the other side of the structure and was retrieving my lure when THUMP!  I knew it was  a big one based on the frequency of the head shakes.  Took several runs before it came to the boat.  It turned out to be my new PB Redfish at 41.5″.  What a thrill!  

My new PB redfish

Try this setup at the jetties or even the reefs.  Its a lot more fun to feel the thump than wait for a bull to take cut bait, I promise you!

Don’t hesitate to try artificials for the bigguns


The Ace of Spades

The following is a summary of an unbelievable situation that we and all anglers who fished the Mike Tolbert Spade Foundation Redfish Tournament on May 18, 19, 2018 continue to deal with.  You may have seen some things pop up briefly on social media then taken back down.  The following account contains only facts, not opinions.

This tournament was organized on behalf of the Mike Tolbert Spade Foundation by the Southern Redfish Cup.  The buy-in per-team was hefty…$750.  But, the Guaranteed Payouts were really large, as shown below in advertisements for the event.  With some trepidation, Ralph and I registered for the event.  We hadn’t been fishing much at all, and the trips we did fish we hardly caught any redfish.  But, we figured we had as good a chance as any, since we only fish artificial baits.

Facebook Ad for Tournament
Details of Payout Structure

We submitted our registration, which was received by the Spade Foundation

The weather for the event was awful.  It poured rain both tournament days, and we ground it out both days in full rain gear, along with the other 30 teams entered.  Each day we felt lucky to enter our limit of three mid-slot fish.  Turns out, due to the very difficult conditions, this was good enough for 4th place.  $7,500 team payout.  Pretty good, something to be proud of, considering the quality of the field of anglers we were competing against.  

Both days at weigh in, many pictures were taken, including us with each days catch.

On the final weigh in, when we found out we were 4th place, no checks were distributed.  Instead, we were told we needed to go to the Windjammer on IOP to receive our checks.  There was a country concert as part of the event.  Many of us were not planning to go to that optional event, but we hurried home, cleaned up and got back there.  There was a big presentation of the winning teams.  Ralph couldn’t attend, but I was called up for 4th place in front of the crowd, pictures taken, and no one was given a check.

We were told by Jeff of the Redfish Cup that we needed to fill out a tax form the following Monday and we would be paid by the Spade Foundation.  OK, that was unexpected, but understandable – given the size of the payouts.  Monday came and we promptly sent in our tax forms.  

Meanwhile, the final results of the tournament were never published.  Pics from the event were never published.  Starting to get suspicious…

Weeks passed and no checks. 

Ralph and at least one of the winners at last received checks via FedEx after continued pressure on the event coordinator.  All of them bounced.  I twice received a screen shot of FedEx tracking packages with promises my check was in the mail.  The package was never dropped off to FedEx.  It was never scanned into their system.  Jessica Walsh, of Cornerstone Sports Marketing, has repeatably lied to me and all anglers with false promises of payments.

Ralph and the anglers who received bad checks have since been paid via wire transfer by Mike Tolbert, under threat of lawsuit due to the multiple counts of fraud that Jessica was facing.  How is it that as a team we won $7,500 yet half has been paid and half has not? 

The rest of us have not received one cent.  

An example of the lies we are getting told

I have since signed a letter of engagement with an attorney to bring them to justice.  We have not been told the truth even once throughout this whole ordeal.  

Buyer beware.  Do not participate in an event put on by the Mike Tolbert Spade Foundation!

Update:  The situation was covered in the Post & Courier recently and a lawsuit has been filed with myself and 12 of the other anglers who were unpaid.  We will see how this turns out. 

Drama at the Boat Landing

Hot and hazy days of summer

With the growth of population in Charleston we have seen already busy traffic become pretty much ridiculous, as our local politicians seem to forget that with every neighborhood and apartment complex comes more cars and yet, no new roads or lanes.  Its frustrating, to say the least!  Well, the situation on our waterways has mirrored what we see on the streets.  More and more boats, many with inexperienced captains, and a complete lack of new or expanded boat landings.  A new landing to replace the all-but-useless Bushy Park landing is a can that continues to get kicked on down the road, for example.  

I’ve recently seen plenty of arguments about boat landing etiquette and I think on a Saturday morning about 10 AM in the summer, there is just no way to NOT have problems, simply because there are too many people trying to launch and you know, shit happens.

Often, I think to myself that if people understood one cardinal rule about boat landings, that everything would go a lot smoother.  And that rule is….

Get in and out of the landing ramp as soon as possible!

Most arguments on the landing arise because something prevented the above.  Done right, with two people, a boat can be launched or loaded in under 3 minutes.  One person, maybe 5 minutes.  Some things people do that cause problems are:

  • Using the loading lane as a make-ready area (there are designated make-ready areas available for this purpose, if not, make-ready in another place before pulling up to the landing)
  • Docking on the inside of the lane, thus blocking people from launching (dock on outside of lane.  If two people, have one idle away from the landing then do a touch-and-go pickup after your vehicle is parked)
  • Not knowing how to back a trailer down (this can be learned in an empty parking lot.  Most people try to make too big of a correction with the wheel, in my observation)

Just think to yourself, what can I do to make sure I’m in and out of the landing lane in the absolute minimum amount of time?  This will help immensely!

What are your thoughts on things people can do to make things more efficient at the landing?

Eye Strike Conservation Notes

As former events coordinator for Summerville Saltwater Anglers, I began a partnership with SCDNR’s SCORE (Oyster Restoration) team to begin planting oysters in the Ashley River.  One of the missions of the club is to provide community service to the Ashley River to improve it as a whole.  This was 5 years ago, and each year we have had a planting event in July, peak time for “spat” or larval oysters to be floating around looking for something to attach to.

A “bucket-brigade” brings the oyster bags from the barge to the planting site

We recently had a speaker from SCORE come to the club and review our progress.  This past weekend we planted 400 bags of oyster shell substrate.  They have a formula that predicts the number of new oysters that will “recruit” on each bag and what it will filter at maturity.  When mature, the reef we planted will filter an estimated 40,000 gallons of water per hour.  Well, since we began, we have planted approximately 3,000 bags of oysters, and if you go back to the first year’s reef, it is now a full grown, live, oyster reef with big blades growing up off of it. Really good stuff.  There is nothing better you can do for our marine estuaries than plant oysters.  From filtering the water, to creating the beginning of the food chain that leads to our desired game fish – and beyond – think dolphin and osprey, for example.  There are many opportunities to get involved.  Check out the SCORE program for a calendar of events.

The end result. Oysters need to live in the “intertidal zone” where they are sometimes submerged, sometimes not.

Secondly, really good news to report – regarding the full funding of the Community and Professional Response Initiative (founded by Redfin Charters, Z-Man Fishing, and Eye Strike) and our first project, named Project ReSpeck.  The goal was to raise $25,000 to aid Waddell Mariculture in their spawning efforts that eventually end up as stocked fish in our waterways.  This was in response to our record freeze last January and trying to think of a way to help somehow.  I’ll let the press release speak for itself.  Just want to thank everyone who contributed to our cause.  Every little bit helps, and every penny goes to the cause.

Angling community unites to give Mother Nature a boost
Project ReSpeck to enhance stock recovery capability at Waddell Center
Columbia, S.C. – This past January, record cold weather set in across the Southeast causing a noticeable fish kill along the entire Palmetto State coast and calling into question the future of several popular species of fish important to recreational saltwater anglers. A conversation by a group of concerned industry parties focusing on what action could be taken to hasten a recovery began and out of that came Project ReSpeck; an initiative to provide $25,000 in funding to establish the ability to spawn, grow, and release spotted or “speckled” trout into South Carolina’s estuaries. This past Saturday, after months of collaboration, Project ReSpeck and the Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina (CCA SC) presented a $25,000 check to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for the installation and operation of five maturation tanks at the Waddell Center in Bluffton, SC.
“Based on what we were seeing on the water ourselves and as reports came in from across the coast, we knew some action was going to be needed,” said Joel Levine of RedFin Charters in Charleston, SC and originator of the effort. “We felt the recreational angling community would see the need for and be willing to enthusiastically support a campaign that would provide a meaningful path for recovery. With funding for five tanks, it has obviously surpassed that capability.”
The tanks will provide the SCDNR staff at the Waddell Center in Bluffton, SC with a powerful stock enhancement tool. By simulating spawning conditions in a controlled environment, species such as red drum, spotted sea trout, and even flounder may be produced for the purpose of releasing them into the wild to supplement existing populations. The process could be expanded to include a variety of species in the future.
CCA SC was contacted by Daniel Nussbaum, president of Z-man, as wells as David Fladd and Ralph Phillips of Eye Strike Fishing (all Project ReSpeck contributors and supporters) bringing the campaign to the recreational angling advocacy group’s attention. Within 48 hours of learning of the effort, CCA SC had eagerly committed to RedFin Charters, Z-man, and Eye Strike that the organization would match half of the projects goal of raising $25,000 for the tanks, providing $12,500 of the total project investment.
“This project provides a real world asset to biologist and state fisheries managers; a constant goal in the organization’s mission of improving both fish and fisheries,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “A collaboration of this magnitude that brings together industry leaders, conservation & science, and the recreational angling community represents what can be achieved regarding the enhancement and improvement of our state’s envied marine resources.”
Contact: Scott Whitaker | swhitaker@ccasouthcarolina.com

ICAST 2018

One of the things we look forward to every year is going to ICAST.  This is the biggest fishing convention in the world, and we are lucky to get passes from our partners, Z-Man Fishing.  We try to see what’s new and also drop by the Z-Man booth several times a day to check in with them and see some of their partners and pro-staff that we usually only get to see once a year.  The main draw is the New Product Showcase, where all the new products for the year are shown. 


Weedless Eye Display at Z-Man Booth

Often, my personal best-in-show doesn’t match the show’s best-in-show!  I’m impressed with true innovation and not gimmicks, and both last year and this year, my best in show were bait casting reels.  Last year it was the 13 Fishing Concept Z reel, that eliminated ball bearings for bushings.  I own one of them and its a really good reel, and 7 months in, its still going strong.  It does have its issues, but overall a very good reel.  This year, for me, it was the Shimano Curado DC.  DC stands for Digital Control, and it uses a chip to control the spool instead of feathering your thumb.  We are told that it has settings 1 through 4.  On setting 4 you can throw it against a wall with no thumb and it won’t backlash.  That’s incredible!  The lower the number the more you might have to feather it, but the farther it will go.  Pretty cool innovation from our friends at Shimano!

Summary of Z-Man New Products for 2019
Trick a Trout

We are very honored to have one of our products be one of Z-Man’s featured products this year, the Weedless Eye jig!  As you can see, it was prominently displayed in the Z-Man booth and really well received from what we heard.  It’s incredible how fast Z-Man’s profile is rising in the fishing world.  ElaZtech rules.  Nothing else will stand up off the bottom like ElaZtech.  They smartly had several aquariums and tanks displaying the product in-action, which is to say, dead-sticked and floating up. 

With Team ShallowTails (Mark and Michael Cowart) who we collaborated with on the Weedless Eye

Z-Man also has released a 4″ scented jerk shad that will match up perfectly with the Weedless Eye, we are looking forward to trying this ourselves.  There is a new Trout Trick Shrimp that was released that has swimmin’ antenna, and is meant to be presented in a fleeing orientation.  Also looking forward to trying these.

Each year we get to meet up with the O.G. Team EyeStrike member Dylan Tarducci

ICAST is not open to the public, but if you ever get a chance to go, it’s worth it.  Till next year…


We are proud to announce our latest new product, Texas Eye(TM) jigheads!  This product uses our weed shedding head design from our Weedless Eye jigs and uses a custom through-wire and Mustad UltraPoint hook to create a pivoting head for more action.  We have also integrated a bait keeper into the hook to securely hold your soft plastic up around the head.  It is a really great and effective weedless presentation that swims great with a great hook up ratio.  We are really proud and excited for this product.  We have been using it all spring with great success, even using it almost exclusively to win 4th place at the Southern Redfish Cup / Spade Foundation redfish tournament.  It excels in fresh water applications, just like a Texas Rig and as you will see below, the freshwater fish dig it!

They are available exclusively only direct through us at our shop or online at our STORE.  Give them a try!

By the way, YES, this is “Product X” we have been hinting about!

It’s Time….Weedless Jigs Now Available in Bulk

With Z-Man now distributing our Weedless Eye jigs world wide, it’s time to start offering them in bulk quantities at a discount.  Since their release, these jigs have taken the market by storm and allowed us to cross over more into the fresh water world, where people have quickly discovered how great a bass lure these are!  If you haven’t tried them, now is a great time to “test the waters” by using a bulk discount and we think you won’t be disappointed!  Bulk Weedless Eye jigs… available now, exclusively at our store



Z-Man Weedless Eye Jigs

This day has been a long time coming, but it’s really exciting that it is here…The announcement of our Eye Strike Weedless jigs as a Z-Man product, officially known as Weedless Eye jigs!  Fans of ours have known that we have had these available for sale for a year now.  They are truly one of our own favorite products, and are a game changer as far as getting the Eye to where the fish are.  With the Z-Man announcement, that means that they will now be available at tackle shops nationwide, and at large retailers as well.  We are very confident that once people try them, they will spread the word quickly through social media.  It’s exciting stuff for us!  

We have said it before, but we are very honored and proud to be partners with Z-Man Fishing!

Also looking forward to the reception it gets at ICAST 2018…

The initial press release, and more to come!

First 2018 Product Announcements: Expanded RedfishEye Line!

We are proud to announce the first two of several 2018 new Eye Strike products. We have expanded our very popular line of RedfishEye jigheads, to include a 3/8 oz and 1/2 oz option! These new jigs feature the same 4/0 Mustad Ultrapoint hook as our other RedfishEyes, but use a proportionately larger eye to accommodate the slightly larger head. These new jigs have been in high demand from our customers who fish in areas of deeper water, fast-moving water, or where the target fish are super-sized! Like our other RedfishEye jigs, they come in 6 eye color choices and are available as retail 3-packs, or in bulk with big discounts applied. They are available now exclusively on our online store.

All new for 2018: 3/8 oz RedfishEye jigs (Shown: Red Eye Color and Pearl Z-Man MinnowZ)
All new for 2018: 1/2 oz RedfishEye jigs (Shown: Red Eye Color and Bad Shad Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ

Z-Man Press Release

Z-Man Project Z ProFileZ:  The Eyes Have It

The Story Behind the Omnipresent Trout Eye Jighead

LADSON, SC (April 19, 2018) – “If you look at a lot of the greatest saltwater lures out there, they all have one thing in common,” observes trout and redfish fanatic Ralph Phillips. “Eyes. A large, lively set of eyes. Underwater, eyes can be the trigger, the one anatomical detail that really attracts predator fish to a lure.”

Many seasons ago, when Phillips first met Dave Fladd, neither angler had lure design on his mind. Instead, the friendship was all about exploring the Lowcountry for the big redfish and trout that haunted its immense network of tidal creeks. It’s a bond between fishing buddies that remains today — years after the anglers laid claim to one of the most popular saltwater jigheads ever made.

The challenge in designing the Trout Eye, recalls Fladd, an optical engineer by trade, “was to make a jig whose head was predominantly a big pair of 3-D eyeballs. At first, we just made the jig for ourselves — sort of the ultimate trout and redfish jig that married perfectly with our favorite Z-Man softbaits. We started by pouring the jigheads six at a time on Ralph’s back porch. We had no idea what would happen next . . .”

A Z-Man Fishing TV exclusive, Project Z: ProFileZ takes you on the water with the folks who count on Z-Man Fishing Products daily as tournament anglers, guides, and industry professionals. Take a trip with us to our ProZ’ home waters to learn their stories and how they’ve ended up where they are today—as well as why they rely on Z-Man baits day-in and day-out.

See the full press release here