Just returned from our annual spring trip to the keys. As usual, we spent hours in the shallow water trying to convince tarpon to eat our flies. I’ve got an elevated respect for guys like Honson and Collin and the Florida guides and recreational anglers who are feeding these fish on a regular basis…this is not an easy game. We endured countless rejected shots from ocean swimmers, but it is worth the price of admission to watch them stream by the boat in clear water. Not to mention, I feel like we are learning a little more about these awesome fish with every failed attempt…which is really what it is all about. Fortunately, there’s always a tarpon around willing to eat an artificial lure or a live mullet at a bridge…allowing us visitors a chance to put some fish in the air before they make it up to the Carolinas. Looking forward to next time.
Cold front…these two words are especially troubling as you are packing for your South Florida fishing trip. However, we remained optimistic that the wind wouldn’t blow 25mph, and that the temperature wouldn’t take a dive, and some straggler tarpon would ultimately hang around. Yeah right…I think it was the coldest week in the glades since the big freeze a couple years ago. Sure it made fishing tough…and prompted the tarpon evacuation…but we made the best of it. My friends Honson and Shafter put us on some fish and gave us an awesome introduction to the park. Caught my first snook on a DOA airhead, jumped a big tarpon, and covered some ground in one of the prettiest places on earth. Totally satisfied and grateful for the experience.
My first snook ever…not a monster by any means…but a snook! We used the new DOA airheads quite a bit this weekend. I like how they suspend in the water column and hang out right in the fish’s face. I’m thinking these will be great in the Lowcountry marsh.
We were fortunate enough that Honson still had the new 2014 Maverick HPX-V 17 in tow. Honson, Perry, and I put the boat through its paces this weekend and I’m impressed with the improvements and modifications Maverick has made to this boat. There’s more bow space, a circular live well centered on the back deck, immaculate wiring, and other improvements. Due to the weather, we were forced to cross some nasty chop in open water and the boat handled extremely well. As a Maverick owner, I’ve been dreading the day my yamaha 2-stroke 90 kicks the bucket, largely due to the lack of replacement options. After seeing the way the F70 performed, my fears have subsided…I think Honson got 42mph out one point this weekend.
Hats off to the Blue Moon Expeditions crew…they really put on a first class experience. They cooked three SOLID meals per day and provided us a unique opportunity to remain in a remote location for multiple days of fishing.
Having a hard time telling November goodbye – the fishing has been pretty damn good. But being that it was 78 degrees in South Carolina on December 3rd, I’m optomistic about the month ahead. One of the coolest things I’ve noticed this week is the number of migratory birds we’ve got hanging around for how warm it is – we had a pair of green wing teal follow us around spooking redfish the better part of the afternoon one day. Why is it when you are hunting ducks you end up with redfish tailing in the decoys and when you are fishing you have teal swimming along with your boat?
Pardon the lame grip-and-grin photo, but this fish was kind of cool…even more so because I haven’t had a heck of a lot of bow time since the girls were born. Saturday I take my father in law fishing (his first time on a skiff or redfishing) and throughout the day he is catching fish but won’t give up and about letting him pole the boat. Now I’m not letting the father of my wife fall off the platform into the oysters, so I refused every request. I turned him down all day and then at the end of the day he starts pushing the boat along with my stick it anchor…I’m like what are you doing man…and he says get your fly rod and get up there. Sure enough he poles me into position with the stick it anchor and I stuck a couple on fly. Won’t ever forget that. Thanks Ronnie!
Here’s my father in law’s fish…sight casted all on his own.
The Peace-man trying to decide whether to turn back around or head home to kid duty…
Capt Jay Nelson
Regretfully back from Marsh Harbour following the Salty Fly Bahamas. We scored bigtime with the weather and fished glassy conditions for several days. Hats off to Sam for putting together a successful destination tournament. The fishing was a little challenging, but everyone found fish and got plenty of shots. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s some pics from the trip…
Managed to catch up with one of my old college buds, Lloyd Williams, who moved to Marsh Harbor following school. He picked me up from the airport and put me on some fish the first night. Gotta love Bahamian hospitality. He and I also had a chance to slip out to the marls on sunday morning with Capt Jody Albury. If you ever have a chance to fish the marls, freaking DO IT. One of the coolest places on earth…with lots of hungry bonefish. Jody is a first-class captain with an intimate knowledge of the waters around Abaco. I highly recommend calling him if you are planning a trip.
Capt. Jay Nelson
The 3rd annual Lowcountry Tarpon Tournament was held in Georgetown this weekend. My friend Antonio “Cheech” Castellvi came to town to fish with me and Capt Douglas Miller. He caught his first SC tarpon that was subsequently fitted with a satellite tag by members of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. We’re looking forward to seeing some data soon. Congrats to Capt Steve Roff and his anglers for the win and to Jordan, Newman, Stump, and Heath for also catching a fish. 4 total fish were caught in two days of fishing. Thanks to the tournament organizers/supporters for all of their hard work. Please check out www.lowcountrytarpon.com and consider participating next year.
The organizers try to plan the tournament around the mullet run each year. I’d say they hit the nail on the head.
Here’s a short video clip from Cheech’s fish… South Carolina Tarpon Video Clip
We even had time to get Cheech on a few redfish before he headed home…
Finally, you can feel fall starting to creep in. Don’t get me wrong, its still hot as hell in SC, but there are other signs that indicate my favorite season is just around the corner. The trout are biting and the blue wing teal are making their early push south. This is the one time of year where it is truly impossible to do all the things you would like to do in a day…there are that many options. You could tarpon fish, chase tailers in the flooded grass, throw nets for shrimp, trout fish, drink beer, watch football, catch big reds in the surf, dove hunt, deer hunt, and the list goes on. We only got to do a few of those things this week…here’s some photos from our outings. Stay tuned as things are heating up here in the lowcountry.
Everybody gathering at the ramp for a little pre-dawn planning session…
Couple of trout macros…
Been awhile since I had the front end of the boat – until last night when friends Perry & Jamie had me along for some flood tide redfishing. My mother-in-law gave me a hall pass from new-baby duty, so I jumped all over that. The fish didn’t tail that well until some weather started bearing down on us, at which point we got a few decent shots. I don’t own a farmers almanac or check barometric pressure, but I swear these fish get fired up right before a storm almost every time. We used flies by Dan Johnson – called the redfish candy – Perry and Jamie have been using them for years in our marsh and they seem to work pretty well. http://www.customsaltwaterflies.com/
Here’s my version of Dan Johnson’s “redfish candy”
Photo Credit: Many of these pics were taken by Perry Peace. If you are ever looking for a really nice place to stay while fishing or vacationing in the Georgetown, South Carolina area, make sure to check out Debordieu Beach. Perry can set you up with a great rental whether you are here to fish or just relax on the beach. Check them out at http://www.debordieurentals.com/
Just an assortment of photos from last week’s flood tides that I thought were worth posting. For some reason unknown to me, the fish tailed better on this set of tides than they have all season. I tried a new bait by Berkley Powerbait that was pretty effective in the grass – its the 5″ jerk shad in mullet color. It looks exactly like a small finger mullet.
Took a raodtrip down to the middle keys last week with a couple of buds to chase the silver king. It became apparent that all three of us have a certifiable obsession with this fish that should probably be addressed by a professional. We were really hoping that we would luck up on the worm hatch and we were rewarded with a couple of nights of worm-slurping goodness (thanks Derek Rust for the heads up). Seeing hundreds of tarpon rolling and eating worms all around your boat is an unblievable experience. However, the fish become more challenging to catch during the worm hatch than we had previously thought. The live bait bite pretty much shut down on the hatch and even though we were getting hundreds of shots, we weren’t getting much response from our worm flies. So leave it to some rednecks from SC to deploy the electric chicken jerk bait because it “sorta looks like a worm”. We hadn’t seen anyone hook-up all night at the bridge, but within 5mins of dropping an exude funky chicken behind the boat, we had a nice fish on. For the two nights during the hatch, we did a number on the big tarpon and went through all of our electric chicken baits – who would have thought that dangling a redfish bait behind the boat would put so many stubborn fish in the air.
Was able to stop and stay in Oak Hill, FL for a couple of nights on the way home to fish the Lagoon and see my friend Eddie. We got on a really great trout bite and got to do a little bit of redfishing.
I’m thinking Blake should rock this mustache full time - he grew it for the week of tarpon fishing and said it was his lucky poon-stache - hahaha.
Thanks to Honson, Derek, and Eddie for helping to make sure our fishing was productive.
Capt. Jay Nelson
Had a chance to ride along with the crew of the Rascal out of Georgetown, SC for the 45th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. The Georgetown tournament kicks off the South Carolina Governors Cup Billfishing Series. We had great weather on day 1 and released a white marlin and a sailfish – day 2 was a little sporty with the tropical storm brewing in the atlantic, but we still managed a blue marlin. It was a refreshing change to get out of the marsh for the weekend and watch some big ticked-off fish get airborne in blue water.
Had to fight off the dolphin throughout the weekend – I’m not ever going to get accustomed to trying to avoid bites from 20lb fish. Despite our efforts, we couldn’t keep the bait away from this guy.
This was pretty much how things looked arriving at the dock at 430am the morning after the captain’s dinner – wishing I had gone to bed a little earlier.
Our first fish of day 1 was this white marlin – it uncharacteristically stayed down pretty much the entire battle, only showing itself once we got it close to the boat.
The second fish of the day was this nice sailfish – it on the other hand freaked out and put on an aerial display that I still can’t get out of my mind.
Congrats to the winner – the Sadie Beth out of Charleston, SC (2 whites and 5 sailfish) – and thanks to the owners, Captain, and Crew of the Rascal for asking me to ride along for the tournament.
Capt Jay Nelson