Saturday, March 29, 2014

Shad Trip 3/28

The Tailrace Canal was calling my name, and I answered.  I was back in Moncks Corner for another quick trip for shad, and so was half of Berkeley County it seems - as there were a bunch of boats up there.  Folks were not only fishing for shad, but herring.

The herring schools are thick up there now.  They are popping on the surface, and the schools are so numerous that the 17-20' of water in the canal shows a bottom reading of 5' in places where the fish are stacked.

Boats were dropping sabiki rigs and jigging them until their rods bent-over with the weight of 4-5 herring on the line.  These fish are destined to these angler's freezers, more than likely used for bait for catfish later in the year.

I was out there dodging the boat traffic, but the shad fishing for me was slow.  Instead of the 10+ fish I would catch during previous trips, I was getting hits but no fish.  

Then the rain showers came - boy, could I use a hot cup of coffee right about now.

After several hours of inactivity, I headed back to the launch.  But I did troll a couple of jigs behind me on the way back.  I passed over some clutter on the fishfinder, and a few moments later, the rod pulled back - I finally had a fish on.

Why hello there - good to see you!

This was the shad that gave me a lift in spirits.  It wasn't a wasted trip after all - I got my biggest shad to date.  I measured the fish and got it back in the water, so it could complete it's trip upriver to spawn - and headed back to the launch whistling a happy tune.  Things can change that quickly when you are fishing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 15th Redfish Trip

I finally got into some reds this weekend.

"DDOlson" wanted to go down and visit with our Kayak Wars teammate Chris Kirby, who runs Black Sheep Kayak Charters.  He has been catching them lately and wanted us to come down and fish with him.  So on Saturday morning we left Charleston and made the hour-and-fifteen minute drive down to Beaufort to meet up with Chris.

Out of Charleston, I had a close-call with my trailer.  The left fender's bracket broke, and the plastic fender came to rest on top of the tire, causing it to smoke.  I saw smoke in my rear-view mirror so I quickly pulled over - my first thought was a bearing went bad, but then discovered the fender.  I went ahead and pulled it off completely.  I'm glad I pulled over when I did - one of the bolts was starting to dig into the tire.  Fortunately, the tire survived the ordeal.

Finally made it down there, and met up with Chris and his friend Brian.  We were heading out to Parris Island to one of Chris' launches to chase after some reds.

The launch was interesting...a steep muddy embankment to get to the water.  No problem - I'm wearing waders so I'm not too worried about the mud.  We launched by sliding the kayaks down the bank one at a time.  I pushed the Pro Angler down back-first, and Chris turned it sideways and I made a couple of muddy steps to get into the PA.  I pictured the kayak saying "you owe me a scrubbing later" as I entered the kayak with muddy feet.

The journey to the fishing spot was about 1.5 miles from the launch - we spent the time swapping kayak fishing stories.  Got to the spot and started doing some casting.  The tide was going out, and we were concentrating our efforts in the shallows along some oysters.  The fish would be hanging around these shallow areas, waiting for the tide to come back in so they can get back in the grass.

Initially, I stood and paddled the PA around looking for fish, but the water was a little cloudy, as well as the overcast skies made for poor sight-fishing, so I concentrated on looking for movement in the water.  The reds when moving through the shallow water create noticeable wakes, so I tried to look for this disturbed water.  I saw a few smaller fish, and tried casting to them with no luck.

Around low tide, the fishing picked up.  I saw some movement along a bank, and cast ahead of it - I was greeted with this little guy.  The first red of the year for me.
First Red of 2014
He was in a school of small-to-medium fish.  I knew there were bigger fish here, and it was confirmed when Chris hooked a 25" red while fishing a nearby pool.  I continued working the edges, and eventually bumped a school of bigger reds.  Surprisingly, they didn't scatter too far, and I pitched a paddletail minnow out to them, and finally got a decent red.
Second one - they keep getting bigger!
A mere ten minutes later, after snapping a pic of this red and releasing him, I found the school again and worked the lure around them - and then got a sleigh-ride from this one:
27" Beaufort Red
He was 27" and he was energetic, pulling me around in circles in the shallow water.  This was the red that really made the trip for me!  I love fishing for reds...everyone caught something - which is the hallmark of a great day on the water.

On the trip back, got to make the muddy climb back up that wonderful muddy bank.  I think I was the only one who lost balance and had to plant a hand down - which promptly sunk in the mud up to my sleeve.  I was a mess when I got back to the car, but the memories of the day was worth getting covered in pluff mud!

Spent this morning thinking about the trip, while giving my Pro Angler a good scrubbing!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shad Report 2/18

Back at it again, shad fishing on the Tailrace Canal.

Tuesday morning was sort of peculiar.  Went outside and had a low front tire.  Got that pumped up a bit, then topped it off at the gas station.  Then heading down the road, the "check oil" light comes on.  I swear something was telling me to go back home.  Nevertheless I keep going, stopping for some oil at the auto-parts store.  I finally make it to Moncks Corner and hit the water...

I'm pedaling the Hobie Pro Angler 14 up to the dam - and taking note of the amount of boats heading upstream.  Will it be crowded?  I guess some folks decided to take a day-off to go shad fishing.  Got to the dam and there were twelve boats out there fishing.  They were mainly lined-up along the edges, casting back into the middle with their jigs.

I decided to stay in the middle and troll my jigs.  They were turning water out of the Pinopolis Dam, so there was a decent flow.  I did big circles in the middle, in the eddy current from the dam.  I caught a few initially in the current, but it was slow.  I figured as the day heated up, so would the fishing.

After about an hour or so, they shut the turbines off.  Now I couldn't let the current do all the work for me, so I slowly pedaled the same course.  I could see many groups of shad and other fish on my Lowrance.  Sure enough, as the day wore on, the fishing got spectacular.

I was catching and releasing shad, and stopped keeping count after the first ten.  Had some great fights and energetic shad, with a couple breaching the water, and skipping across the top of the surface - putting on a show.  It was the best day of shad fishing this year.

All-in-all, I caught around 25 shad...they averaged about 18".  I didn't release them all, though - there was a guy there with his grandson fishing, and he wasn't catching too many, so he asked if I'd save him a few...whenever I circled back his way, I'd drop-off the fish I caught to him.  Also let him know how I was catching them and gave him some pointers along the way.

Lots of folks were making good comments about my Hobie Pro Angler.  Some of the guys up there do not see too many kayaks up there fishing, so when the guy in the plastic boat is getting pulled around by a feisty shad, they stop and look.  A few roll up next to me and ask about how it works - and I show them the Mirage Drive...

Had a great time!  Can't wait for the next trip...