Thursday, July 30, 2015

Carolina Bound

This has been a odd summer for me.  In the years past I have been hammering the fish inshore getting on good numbers of quality fish, of many different species.  This year, the inshore fishing in SE Virginia really hasn't materialized into much to talk about, so I have spent my time carp fishing instead.  Besides a few outings which produced a few Sheepshead to 25", Carp fishing with the fly rod has been my main pursuit.

Bowed up on the 6wt

A bit over 32" Common

My first Mirror (on the fly none the less)
Carp fishing has presented me with a number of challenges that have helped me step up my fishing game.  It teaches you patience, to make the right presentation on a fish, observe their moods and adjust to the fish, and fighting fish in close quarters.  All of these skills I worked on came into play the past month, when I went on a 3 week marathon to the great waters of the North Carolina coast.

These trips all occurred on days off, with the schedule looking something like this...

0600 - wake up for work
1600-2300 - go over gear, pack the car, and relax
2300-0430 - drive south
0530-1700 - fish hard!
Repeat for the following days off
last day 1600-2200 - drive north

This leads to very little sleep which requires good decision making and patience when your body just isn't willing to do what your mind tells it to do.  It also requires a good playlist to keep you going. 
Money Trees - Kendric Lamar
Woah! - Black Robb
Root Down - Beastie Boys
Woo Hah!! - Busta Rhymes

The music got me going, and it was time to get some fishes!  Week one presented muddy waters, low tides, and lots of wind.  With all of that being taken into account, there were still a good number of flounder being caught on the natural Ultra Shrimp.  These bad boys were sight casted along marsh edges.  Just look for sudden and violent explosion's, and there you have it!

Flounder on the Fly
 Day two was searching new water for reds.  Again, the conditions were challenging at best but we still got a few fish to hand.

The Wicked Pissah of the world famous Wicked Pissah Guide Service with a quality inshore Redfish
This greedy lil' guy fell for a Chatterbait with a PTL JP Hammershad
Following this trip, I had a 5 day hiatus in which I met up with Kevin and Lee for a fishing/fight podcast.
Late during the week, my boy Ted Crumb and I decided, "What the hell, lets do it again".  Another night of driving found us at the fishing spot in just enough time to get unloaded, rigged, and on the water at sunrise.  Sunrise services consisted of Topwater and Trout Tricks, resulting in a good number of aggressive, healthy Speckled Trout.
A feisty fatty fell for a Tactical Anglers Crossover
This weekend ended with some keeper founder coming off the flats, and a crap-ton of reds between 20-24" coming from a cut through an oyster field.

The third weekend was the weekend of the 2015 Hook, Line and Paddle TJM tournament out of Wilimington NC.  This is an event that I fish every year, and has become one of my favorites.  I would miss Christmas before I would miss this.  So, I had a 4 day weekend to get out and really hit it.  Friday morning was forecasted to be calm and clear.  Everything was supposed to be perfect, except it wasn't.  Winds were NE at 10-20, pushing the tides out, making things difficult.  The Trout Trick ended up being the skunk buster, bringing a few flounder to 17" and some spike specks to hand. 
Flounder on the Trout Trick
 After a less than encouraging pre-fish, Seth Goodrich and I decided to change things up, with the plan of being "Hero's or Zero's".  A paddle across the mouth of the Cape Fear resulted in some beautiful cuts with lots of oyster mounds, and clear, moving water.  When we first saw the area in person, our mouths dropped as it was one of the fishiest areas we had ever seen.  Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving, and this was not the case.  In looking for reds, Seth and I both saw a fish pushing 30" that would have made for a great day.  This fish didn't mind us being there and looked as if "I'm going to stay here and watch y'all make fools out of yourselves trying to catch me."  We saw other small reds, that just weren't in the eating mood.  I ended scratching an insignificant speck, but the fish of the day was the flounder.  Seth and I both lost flounder that would have put is in the top 3, with 4 of mine being 2nd and 1st place fish.  I was sickened, but at least we brought home a few for the frying pan and found some new water.  Youngblood Drew Camp really did some work with a 30 1/4" red that brought him home 1st place and an awfully large bag of donuts.  I'm super stoked and honored to be able to call him a teammate!

At least the tournament day view was plesant.
With two days remaining, I drove a bit further north, and fished with the Wicked Pissah himself.  We went out to two spots that produced fish for us the previous two weeks, but were fighting strong North winds and falling tides again.  The first day, we expanded our search area after only finding flounder in the oyster fields,  As we worked our way south with the wind, we started getting into flats filled with large mullet and some reds.  I ended up getting out on a grass island to find a better vantage point and could see 5lb mullet spooking mid 20" reds.  Our problem was that we were spooking mullet, which in turn spooked the reds.  In 10-20 mph winds, we gave it a good try, but only had a slot red and a few flounder to show for our efforts.  On our last day, we decided to go back into a spot along the ICW in which canals would lead us into ponds and lakes in search for reds.  This was a good choice!  On my 3rd cast I landed a red just shy of 29".  Hopes were high, and the fishing didn't disappoint!
1st fish of the day
 As we progressed we found more solid pumpkins.  It was also an opportunity to test out fish shots with the DSLR.  I still need some practice but all of these shots came from the camera on a tripod, and remote.
Notice the "selfie" setup back in the marsh.
 Had over a half dozen quality fish in the morning, with some shots that I am extremely happy with.

The trip ended as uneventful as it started, with a long drive back home.  As I write this, I cant help but wonder... When 1600 comes around on Friday afternoon, will I be Carolina Bound again?

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