Fishing Tips

“Red” Hot North Carolina: Blue Tails and Freckles

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The last couple of flats trips, chasing Red Drum on the right days ( winds 10 KTS or less) has been…well off the charts with us seeing 300 to 400 fish on a half days. I have watched a couple of guys choke bad with Drum fever (kinda like buck fever, but with fish. Its a hunting thing and that’s how I fish for Red Drum ) Anyway, when it all comes together, it makes for some big smiles, sometimes bigger than the Drum itself…

Well our day did not start quite as I had planned but we shoved off at 6:00 am as planned to get to our spot and the sky started growing dark as we traveled, not with clouds but worse, fog, and it rolled in thick. When we pulled into the ramp, the fog you could cut it with a knife. Finding our way out to the channel was almost imposable but somehow we got there and found our way to the area I thought the Red Drum would be tailing in the slick water. Maybe it was the fog but we never saw one tail in the early morning. As I polled down the bank we watched singles wake away from us but in the thick of the fog, try as we may, we could not get them to eat. Moving to the northern bank and fishing the oyster bar there, I saw the school move away even though we made a very quite approach. Working that bank with out a sniff I turned the corner and told Jess to cast up the creek on the far bank and on the third strip, he hooked up with what I thought was a small Croaker but when brought to the turned out to be a very small Red Drum…cute little girl…note the little bit of blue on the tail…

After this little girl, I decide its time for us to move on and we head to our next spot. As I slow the boat down and round the bend I see my buddy Seth (yep same one as in the “Top Dog” video we made) staked out. I picked up the phone and tell him where they were sitting last week when I was there and ease onto another spot about 3/4 of a mile away to fish a sand and oyster bottom. Starting in about 3′ of water I direct Jess to cast to the edge of an Oyster bar and come across a sand bottom that drops off about 6″ deeper than the rest of the bottom and there where he caught the 4 1/2 pound Freckle…I mean Speckle Trout, Ran him around the boat and at one time I had to slap the rod in the water to keep her from burning it down and going under the boat…
His biggest Trout to date on the fly…released to be caught again. Good thing its August or it would have been dinner…

After pictures and high fives, I hop back up and push the boat over the sand and shell bottom in search of more Drum and soon a small school ( so I thought ) erupts on the edge of the bank as they cross the path of a school of small bunker. At this time it was still foggy and over cast and seeing the fish was next to imposable so I was looking for that “nervous” water moving down the bank toward us and soon I had them figured out and tell Jess to cast to 10:00 to the bow of the boat. Second strip and my new Colton rod and reel has finely got it cherry popped. As the fish broke the school and headed to the point, I ease the stern anchor over and head to the bow to see that the fish was off the fly line and into the backing and heading back toward the boat at a high rate of speed. Jess did a great job of controlling the fish and as he settled down, I looked down and he was in the middle of 50 or more. Before I could grab the other fly rod the school was gone down the bank out of casting range. I leaned over the side of the boat and did my paralyzing Drum lift and into the boat he came drumming as we took some pictures. The grins and smiles only got bigger…
Nice 32″ fish

God I love the blue tails…

Even against the water the tails were so blue…

I pull the anchor and push us down the bank when I see another school coming from behind us and I starting relaying to Jess where they are and get him lined up to make his cast. He lays it in the right spot and on the first cast hooks into a nice fish but it comes unbuttoned as he did not get a good strip set, I laugh and say to him that its fishing. By now the sun is peeking out some and I start seeing the fish, happy fish and they are so thick that they are showing their fins as they cruse down the shore in 3′ of water. I ease the boat down the small cove and spot more fish out on the point and head that way. I stake the boat out when we get there and soon I see the school and direct Jess where to cast and he is solidly hooked into the biggest Drum we caught that day, 36″. For the second time of the day Jess has got his biggest Drum on the fly…life is good…
Any fly would work, as long as it was white…

I just loved this picture…

Each time that we hook up, I like to ease the stern anchor over to keep the boat from moving and drifting. I find that it gives the schools time to settle down and go back to feeding. A lot of times we can catch more than 1 without having to move again, it worked again this time and I hoped up on my perch to zero in Jess to the school coming up from the back of the boat. Jess makes another great cast and is hooked into the first slot fish of the day 24″ and soon we had that one in the boat for a picture or 2…

Love the color of the fins…

I ease the anchor up and hop on my perch and before we move another school appears out of nowhere, Jess makes another good cast and it comes unglued as the fish was charging the boat and Jess never got the hook set good. Looking down the bank I see another group explode on some bunker about 100 yards away and we ease toward them. As we almost get there I see a group of some of the largest fish I have seen on the flats this year. I zero Jess in on them and remind him to strip set the hook good. He makes another good cast and the fly lands about 3 fish into the school and before he can strip the first time I see his line moving away and he sets the hook on the first strip, the fish erupts as it feels the hook and its head comes out of the water and is the biggest fish I have seen on the flats this year, had to be well over 44″ from what I saw. Jess holds his rod high as I told him as these fish were on top of an oyster rock but the fish know what to do and went over the other side of the rock and soon the 20 pound flouro parted on a sharp shell and the fish was gone. By now our 1/2 day was near over and I did not want to pressure so Seth and his guys could get in on this action. A quick phone call to Seth and we pushed off the flat and into the deeper water only to see 2 more groups erupt as we head out. This was a day that Jess won’t forget for a while, for me, another day burned into my memory and film so I can look back and remember this trip over the years…

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