We want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2017…Before getting to some reports, a quick retrospective on 2016. 2016 was a year of highs and lows. Beginning the year we had just our one product, the 3/16 TroutEye jig. We expanded our lineup to three different weights in TroutEyes, added the 4/0 hook for the Redfish Eye line, and the 6/0 hook StriperEye line in 1/2, 3/4 and 1 oz weights. That is a lot of new products… Not to mention, we learned an entirely new manufacturing process in order to meet volume demands. I spent 10 years as a Process Engineer at Corning in the semiconductor industry, and I can tell you that starting from zero to getting a robust jig head manufacturing process in place with good yields has taken all of my knowledge and experience. There were times I wanted to quit and just contract out the fabrication of our jigs like most places do. But we stuck with it, and tried, and failed, and tried, and failed and tried again. Starting around September we really got firing on all cylinders and the future is very bright. We make all our products right here in Charleston, SC. Not China. Not in some other state. We have been fortunate to have some great workers join us and without their help and great attitude, we would not be where we are. Period.
We had some very notable catches on our jigs reported to us in 2016.
- Captain Justin Carter’s 10lb Trout (an absolute monster for Charleston)
- “Dolphin” Dave’s tarpon
- Overall Win and Big Fish for Ashley Lowder at the Southern Redfish Cup Georgetown
- Big Fish for Ralph at the Southern Redfish Cup Charleston (a fish that I tagged previously)
- Countless others… See our Instagram page for proof!
So, on to some reports.
Well, it’s now January 3 and the surface water temp is still around 53-55F which is just fine. I love this time of year. The bite has been very good for us. As you know, this time of year you need to find the fish. They are around, but will be schooled up or near deep structure as we have said many times in this blog and elsewhere. There continues to be big trout around. There is also a million little trout around which is great for the future. Also, maybe even more significantly, is an absolute abundance of small redfish around 15-16″. These fish will be mid slot by summer and probably good tourney fish come next fall. Of special interest to me is very good numbers of these smaller fish in the upper (well mid) Ashley river. That river has been hit hard by natural disasters (flood, Matthew) over the last 2 years and the upper reaches of the river are still quite lifeless. So, indications of a recovery are very encouraging to hear.
Hot colors for us recently have been the Shrimp Po’ Boy and Festivus, along with the ol’ mainstay 3.75″ StreakZ in Ralphs Shad color. The latter lure exists because Ralph asked Z-Man to make a version of a similar rat-tail profile that he practically made famous over the years. It works! Now is the time of year when you need a very sensitive setup to feel the bite. The trout bite is often kind of a mushy feeling rather than the familiar *tick*. Redfish bites will often be the same. A kind-of weird feeling when hopping the lure along the bottom. It helps to wait for a count of 1-2 seconds before setting the hook with them. Having fished with and learned from Ralph, and very often catching smaller fish with the same setup and same location – I have come to the conclusion that feel is the difference between catching the big trout and not. I bet most fishermen have had a gator bite and spit out their lure and they never knew it. This is when every detail makes a difference. Braided line is a must in my opinion. With the clear water a leader is not a bad idea. A fast or extra fast tip is a must for me also. Lastly, the Tennessee handle that we use on our custom rods really is a game changer too.
Recently, we acquired most of the remaining Original Trout Tricks from Z-Man. Their plan is to sell them till they run out then discontinue them. There are some hard-core enthusiasts of the original and we are selling them in bulk only at the best price available. We have already sold a couple thousand of them – I guess I didn’t realize how many fans of them are out there… My last trip, I decided to try some of the originals, on a 1/8 oz gold trout eye jig – and dang it if they don’t still work. I had two absolute gator trout on them in the trip. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ElazTech version too, and have caught a million fish on them but there is something about those originals…
So, a little preview of the spring…It will soon be time for the cobia run and tarpon down south. I really believe that once people try our StriperEyes on them, that they will really take off… I’ve been having a blast deep-jigging the rivers for big fish (Redfish, Striper even Catfish). Recently, our friend Martin went offshore with Capt John Irwin (flyrightcharters.com) and caught double digits of bull redfish on them paired with a 6″ SwimmerZ. Martin said they never reached the bottom before getting nailed. So cool…
Lastly, the annual Ashley River Cleanup that I organize for Summerville Saltwater Anglers is coming up soon, on Saturday, February, 11th from 9:30 AM to approx 2:30 PM. We have a 7 ft high at around 11AM and collecting trash should be a breeze. If you care about our environment and want to make a difference in our community, please come help us! Bring the kids and family. Its a fun time and we give out some awards for funniest piece of trash collected, etc. Last year we had 50+ boats and kayaks and collected 11.5 tons of trash. Please see www.summervillesaltwateranglers.com or our Facebook page Ashley River Cleanup for details. Thanks!