The past few years of warm winters in Charleston are really starting to show in the size of trout we now have in our waters. Right now, we have a trophy fishery here, which is unusual since we relatively often have cold water kills. We have been really excited that many of these big ones have been caught on Trout Eye jigs. There is no better testament to their effectiveness than catch pics. They simply work.
This past Saturday I fished the Summerville Saltwater Anglers April tournament with Ray Philyaw (SSWA President – and my great friend and neighbor), and another neighbor boy, Josh – a senior at FDHS and soon to be Gamecock. The morning weather was kinda breezy and front-y and the bite was pretty slow. We found a few small male trout here and there. High tide was right around 11 AM and about that time the weather started to clear up. We were running and gunning and at slack I just decided to run a bank I have not fished in over a year, often passing it by to fish more obvious and popular spots. I picked up an undersize flounder and Josh a lower slot trout. A little further down I cast to the edge of the grass and I got a solid thump. It was only 1.5 ft deep so I thought it was a good flounder. When it flashed I froze….big trout! I was babying it for fear of tearing the jig out of its mouth, but it was hooked solidly thank God. After a tailwalk headshake and some drag pulling runs Ray expertly netted it and we collectively freaked out. She taped out at 24.3″ and 5.44 lbs. Guess what I caught it on? Yep – the same Gold Trout Eye and Pearl MinnowZ that has been working so well for me. Needless to say, it made my year.
The bite continued to be strong the rest of the day, with the eventual winning flounder 2.2 lbs. Ray ended the day with a 21″ gator of his own. Josh caught a heartbreaker red, that was just 1/8″ overslot. Would definitely have been the winner! We had the usual great time at weigh in and had lots of laughs. Many great fish were weighed on Saturday.
People will ask, did you release it? The answer is no, and it did pain me to kill it. I keep a personal upper slot on trout of 20″, but tournaments leave you conflicted. Last time this happened I floated the idea of a big fish clause, where in special cases you could submit a pic of the fish on a ruler with a witness and then release it. It didn’t fly then, but we are going to reopen the matter. Our club is conservation oriented and it will probably pass with the proper safeguards in the rules. I hope it does.
Later I saw another huge trout caught in Charleston by a charter captain caught that day. There are some “gollywhoppers” out there. (as Bob Sanders used to say. Hope you get a chance to tangle with one.
On reflection, with all the fishing pressure in Charleston, most of the obvious “spots” are overfished. We have seen spots we used to fish and always do well get discovered and now there are simply no fish there. I’m starting to think that the less pressured spots are going to be where the good fish are found in the future. Its kind of obvious in hindsight, but its easy to rush from spot to spot where you have caught fish in the past, and pass by other less obvious – but still productive – spots. I know that I will be doing more of this in the coming year, but scouting around is my favorite thing to do anyway 🙂 Tight Lines, – Dave