Social Distancing with SCDNR

John Archambault, SCDNR

Yesterday it was my honor to have one of my heros on board the SS Eye Strike: John Archambault, a fisheries biologist from SCDNR.  I knew of John for a long time, because whenever I caught a fish with an orange tag, meaning it was tagged by DNR, it had John’s name on it.  I met John last year when I volunteered to go electrofishing in the Cooper river.  That was an extremely memorable trip, and you can see the report here if you are interested.  Since then, we have kept in touch, comparing notes about fishing, trout in particular.  So, we finally got to go fishing and had a really great time with very good results.  

Lately, I’m a once a week fisherman, so I don’t really have the fish patterned too well.  But, conditions lined up for a few patterns that have worked in the past.  The water being now 61F, I had tied on a topwater plug and was hoping to get my first fish on top this year.  John mentioned that it should work but in his opinion they are still keyed in on small baits.  At that point he pulls out – of all things – a shad dart.  If you don’t know what that is, its basically a worm body with curly tail or paddle tail, usually chartreuse, and the whole thing is under 2″ long.  He rigged it on a tiny jig head (smaller than anything we currently make).  I’ve never personally seen anyone fish a smaller jig inshore besides for shad.  

We pull up to spot #1 and first cast he rears back on a solid trout.  I cast my plug in the same general area without a sniff.  He unhooks and releases the first trout and casts back in an he’s tight again!  This made me scramble to find my smallest rig and I’m glad I did.  After making a few passes in this spot we had a lot of nice fat trout and he caught one up to 20″ on this little rig.  So cool, there is always something to learn.  

We headed off to spot #2 and after running the bank for a bit we finally found our target.  Another group of solid and heavy trout.  Nothing over 20″ but plenty over 17″.  Later we explored the jetties and saw a few false albacore chasing baitfish, and John even caught a sheepshead on his little rig.  A very rare catch in SC. 

I’m already looking forward to my next outing with my new friend, John.  

The day ended by picking away at a few more nice trout in different spots.  It was really fun to have a very good trout bite after a long winter. It should only get better in the next few months.  

Since nearly everything else is closed for COVID-19, a good way to keep yourself from driving your family crazy is to hit the water.  The fish are biting!  See you out there.

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