Month: December 2014

Are you a fair weather fisherman?

Thinking back, I think about 3 of my top 5 fishing trips were in really bad weather, usually rain. Hard rain. Back when I used to fish bait occasionally, I had a day in June when the weatherman had it a little wrong and it started raining cats and dogs. Buckets of water were spilling off my bimini top and the bilge was pumping constantly. But the bite was off the hook. I recall being at the front of the Whaler trying to release a 30-ish inch red and hearing two rods in back peeling drag. It was a fire drill and at one point I tripped over the middle bench as I’m holding a bent rod.

Another day I had two good friends with me and a line of T storms filled in around us. We took cover in a covered dock pier (and almost got struck by lightning. The strike was about 200 feet away, bark landed near us and we could smell burning wood – yikes!). Since we knew it was going to be a while before it ended, we made a run back to the boat for beer and fishing rods while waiting it out. Well, we caught fish after fish, it was great. There is more to the story, but I will leave it at that. I will never forget that day!

This was another of those days. We have three days of rain forecast, and Christmas a few days away. My sister arrives from out of town tomorrow and I knew I would not be able to get out until at earliest next weekend. Forecast was light winds and steady rain. So, I layered up, put the rain suit on and hit the water. I’m not bothered by rain too much if dressed for it, but I don’t like lightning. Little chance of that this time of year. This time of year, when fishing solo, you should always wear a life jacket and use your kill switch lanyard. There are so many stories of fisherman drowning in the cold water when wearing a life jacket could have saved their life. Don’t be proud, do it for your family if for no other reason.

This 2.5 lb trout ate a glow TroutEye jig and Zman 3.5″ in Ralphs Shad

So anyway, I hit a few spots I haven’t fished in a while and caught two small trout and one decent one about 16 in. Then I decided to do some scouting. I tried a new creek and fished structure similar to other areas in other creeks that are productive. Things like: undercut banks, fallen trees, creek mouths, points, rocks, eddies. I did lose quite a few jigs in structure, not having the benefit of low-tide scouting this area, but the trout were there, and heavy trout at that! All of the trout I caught were over 15 in and I had three over 2.5 lbs. Mixed in the batch were several decent upper slot reds, one of which was leopard spotted.

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The tide today was huge. The heavy north winds had pushed an extra foot of water inshore, and the predicted 6.5 high was really 7.5. Needless to say when the tide started out it was like whitewater rafting. This killed the bite so I left to seek fish elsewhere. When the tides are this strong, you will generally only catch fish when the water slows around high and low tide. I had a few cutoffs and a few fish here and there and the rain started getting heavier and heavier. I started to think about heading in when I saw a flash and rumble of thunder. On Dec 22nd! That sealed the deal, and I high-tailed it back to the landing. All fish were released. Water temp was 49-52F. Another great foul weather day of fishing!  – Dave

If you look carefully you will see shrimp antennae coming out of the throat
The best shot I could get using a self timer of the daymaker – a 21″ trout over 3 lbs. Fell for a pearl TroutEye jig with an original Trout Trick

ICW Trout

Ralph and I fished the ICW on Saturday out of Garris Landing.  We had an absolutely beautiful sunrise with zero wind.  The early morning bite was a little slow, but that turned around when we found a few really nice size trout to 20 in at our third drop.  The bite was fairly aggressive, and it was great to catch some heavy trout.  At dead low tide we decided to do some scouting.  We went up a side creek and started to notice large blooms of yellow coral.  This makes for excellent trout habitat, and we found the trout out in the middle of the creeks among the coral.  These trout were all in the 14-17 inch range but still fun to catch.  We had approx 30 trout in this creek.  One of the most gratifying things for us is to find trout in a new creek on a new pattern in an unfamiliar place.  Once the tide started rolling in we hit a few more spots and caught a few more, including a couple bluefish – that was a surprise in this cold water (and a new species to add to the list of species caught on our jigs).  A great day to be on the water!  All fish caught on TroutEye jig heads with a variety of soft plastics.  We caught a bunch on a strawberry flaked paddle tail after experimenting with a variety of colors.  The best method was to slowly work the paddle-tail just above the bottom, giving it a bump every second or so.  Water temp was 52F, and a perfect “trout-green”.  Wind stiffened a bit toward the early afternoon.  We met a DNR officer at the landing and gave him a few jigs to try on his next outing.


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We also made a brief trip to the Ashley to see if anything was up.  The water is 49F and it’s very slow for catching.  We managed a few smallish reds, a small largemouth and  a small striper.  The coloring on the biggest red was truly beautiful from the dark tannic water.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.  Be careful on the water with the cold water.  If solo, make sure you wear a life jacket and kill switch lanyard!

A great December weekend

Apologies in advance, as this will be a kinda long report.  We had a very busy weekend on the water…

Friday, I (Dave) was able to sneak out solo and had a great day of catching in the Cooper River.  The redfish were really chewing on the incoming tide, and the bite was this way in multiple locations that I tried.    This time of year, you need to let redfish eat before you set the hook.  Their bite will be kind of subtle – the best way to explain it is that something feels weird on the retrieve.  Then you should count to two before setting the hook.  They will really chew up a gulp because of all this mouthing of the bait.  But, if you set the hook too soon you will miss a lot by pulling it out of their mouth, or halfway to the boat because the hook set in a thin part of their mouth.  Anyway, when all was said and done, I filled an entire tagging sheet (25 entries), caught 3 previously tagged by SCDNR (orange tags), and lost 5 for reasons mentioned above – for a total of 33 reds, all caught on TroutEye jigs in glow or pearl.  For soft plastics I used a mixture of Z-man jerk shadz in Ralphs Shad, Gulp sapphire shine, and Trout Tricks, both original and the new Zman variety.

Saturday, Ralph and I fished in the annual Summerville Saltwater Angler’s “Bragging Rights Tournament”.  This is an informal tourney with no entry fees, and no prizes, just bragging rights! Those of us that fish it, feel it’s the most fun tournament of the year.  We make up the rules and have an on-the-water weigh in.  The last few years the rules are:  Must fish the Wando and tributaries, fish as boats not individuals, and each boat can weigh up to 2 reds, 2 trout and 2 flounder – total length wins.  So, there is definite strategy involved.  Flounder are golden, and it’s better to fill in the blanks than catch 1 real good fish of each type.  The weather was beautiful but the fishing was challenging to say the least.  We actually prefer this, because we feel it gives us an advantage.  We like to grind it out and find the fish.  Well, we were lucky to catch a short window in the early AM where we caught a few marginal trout and one small but keeper red.  When the sun came out it got really hard, the fish were super negative!  We knew that a flounder would be pretty hard to get for anyone, but we knew we needed one more red.  After trying many different patterns we eventually found a few more to fill in our trout and red requirements.  This proved to be enough to take the title, but not by a lot!  Weigh in was at the dock at Remleys and as always this was a good time.

After this, we picked up club member Neal, who generously donated money for a club member’s daughter who we did a fundraiser for, in exchange for an “Educational trip” with Ralph and I.  We had a short window, and as mentioned before, a day of very negative fish.  But, we made the best of it and I think we squared up his artificial technique and gave him many pointers that will serve him well in the future.  He was able to catch a few decent trout for dinner, and I even caught a nice flatty about 17″ that was a little too late for the Bragging Rights tourney, but I’m sure tasted good in Neal’s frying pan later!

A couple items of Note:

Ralph and I will be joining Mike Able Jr and Daniel Nussbaum of Zman for a seminar on cold water fishing at Haddrell’s Point Tackle in West Ashley, Tuesday Dec. 16 at 6pm.  Come on out it will be a great time.  We will be talking all things cold water trout.

Positive reports keep coming in from our customers.  Ron Davis is one of the most accomplished fishermen in our area, and co-inventor of the Chatter Bait.  He has multiple wins in the Lowcountry Redfish Cup.  He said “Did some experimenting and your jig heads produced better than all others I fished.  I rotated between 6 rods and there was definitely a difference”  “You have a winner.  Best trout jighead on the market”.

Daniel from Z-man sent in two trout over 20″ caught on the pearl jigs and the 3.5″ Z-man in Ralph’s Shad color.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone that all our bulk jigs have free shipping on our store throughout the holidays, and we even have some sampler packs that make great gifts for fishermen in your family.

Happy Holidays, and hope to see you tomorrow at Haddrells!