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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 |

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

Z-Man Project Z ProfileZ – Eye Strike Fishing

Ralph and I are really proud of our partnership with Z-Man Fishing.  We were asked to to a shoot with Shane Clevenger and Daniel Nussbaum last Fall and here is the result.  The video focuses on the origins of our business and partnership.  Ralph and I make a great team that is built on trust and mutual respect.  Our complimentary skills really make the difference.  We hope you enjoy the video as much as we had making it!  As a fellow videographer, I always gotta hand it to the the one behind the camera and editing software: Shane, who is really, really skilled.  It’s not an easy thing to do, to shoot great video like this, and edit it to this quality.  Great work Shane, and thanks!

Project ReSpeck Update


As of 30-March-2018 we are at $5,605 toward our goal of $25,000.

We met with the Charleston Coastal Anglers club last night and had a presentation by Waddell Mariculture, showing what they do and how they will use the money.  Did you know that their operating budget only covers 9 months of operation?  The rest is dependent upon donations and grants.

The CCA had a vote and they decided to help our cause and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.  Some of the things we heard were very exciting.

We also have had a number of companies donate in-kind, through products.  We are trying to decide how to go about setting up a raffle or silent auction for them.

Lastly, Vapor Apparel approached us about wanting to help.  We decided to create a Project ReSpeck performance shirt with the logo on front.  They will be available in 2 or 3 weeks and 100% of the proceeds will go to the fund!  Big thanks to Vapor Apparel!

Project ReSpeck Performance Shirt thanks to Vapor Apparel!

We still have our special Project ReSpeck jigs for sale on our store for a $20 donation.  100% of your donation goes straight to the fund, so if you donate $20, then $20 is donated.  We give you the jigs for free.

Project ReSpeck TroutEye Jigs

SSWA March Tournament

This past weekend was the first members tournament for Summerville Saltwater Anglers.  I had the pleasure of “guiding” two of my favorite people – my neighbors son Josh – a student at USC, and avid fly angler – and Grant.  Some of you might remember Grant, who last time I took him in the salt had a grand slam including a club record striper.  The kid can fish!

At the crack of dawn I walked out to prep the boat and was met by tree branches swaying in the wind…okay…that was not in the forecast!  The strong wind made it difficult to fish artificials, because it limited the locations we could target that were somewhat sheltered.  Most productive areas were almost unfishable due to a lot of bow in the line and the inability to get the lure down in the strike zone.  Why are tournament days always a struggle?

That’s okay, because we started the day the right way, with a Hardees Chicken Biscuit.  That was the day maker for Josh, so it didn’t really matter what we did from then on 🙂

We made frequent moves trying to find a bite and picked at a few fish here and there.  Once the tide started out, we found a decent trout bite and in a 30 min span we each had trout to measure over 17″.  That was fun.  Josh had the hot hand early on, and Grant was wondering what was going on…  Then Josh let him in on the secret weapon.  A 1/4 trout eye jig and the “rat tail”, aka a StreakZ 375 in Ralphs Shad color.  The next few minutes were a blur, as Grant put 1, 2, 3 upgrades on the deck.  It was great!  

The glow eye and mood ring swimmin trout trick was a good choice
Josh with an early trout – later to be upgraded

Grant is kind of a flounder whisperer.  He was saying that every time we have gone together he has caught at least one.  Well, didn’t he put the only flounder of the day in the boat yet again…streak intact!   I’d bet that it will score in the tourney too.  

Josh with one of his upgraded trout
That’s a little better!

We had a brief respite from the wind while it clocked around to the NNE, then it turned on again like a turbo fan!  Time put her on the trailer boys…

Having fun

Another fun day with the future of our sport, Josh and Grant.