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
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
If you’ve never eaten a soft shell crab before, you need to do yourself a favor and call your local seafood market. Every spring, our blue crabs go through a molting phase and shed their hard shells, leaving behind an entirely soft body. The entire blue crab is edible after the crab has molted – even the legs and claws. There’s very little prep involved…just remove the gills or “dead man’s fingers” and cut off the eyes and mouth with a pair of culinary scissors. Dredge the crab in your favorite seafood breader and drop it in the fryer.
Unfortunately, once spring redfish in SC have had a taste of a softshell crab, they basically go lock-jaw for a short period of time and won’t eat anything else. I will tell you from experience, it HURTS to put a soft shell crab on a hook and fire it off into the sea. However, you won’t find a more effective redfish bait on a spring day when the fish won’t cooperate. Here’s one Carl was forced to feed a crab to this weekend – the crab barely settled to the bottom before this fish came along and roped it. Thank God the redfish are back on a mullet diet and things are normal again – no more fishing with culinary delicacies.
Capt. Jay Nelson
Wish I could have made it to Tampa this weekend for the Salty Fly – looks like a good time was had by all. Congrats to all of the winners and to Sam for coordinating such an impressive tournament. Here in SC, we had another round of 30+ mph winds that made fly/sight fishing near impossible for the weekend. Instead of sitting on the couch, we piled in the boat with a bucket full of minnows and went fishing the old-fashioned way.
Winter is one of the best times for wildlife viewing here in the Low Country. I snapped a pic of this great egret and realized once I got home that it was sporting a radio transmitter. After talking to one of my buds at the wildlife refuge, it sounds like this bird may be one the gulf oil spill birds. Nice to know it is doing well. One of them has already been tracked as far north as Detroit.
Jay Nelson www.winyahguide.com
Been playing with new ways to present pictures to friends/clients and came across a pretty cool feature in the photo editor I use – Aperture 3. The software allows you to select a number of photos and then include them in “book” format. The intention is for you to arrange your photos to form a coffee table book or a book to share with family (I’m actually considering doing a coffee table book for the house with some fishing pics). Coffee table material aside, I think the “book” layout is pretty cool just for one single photo assortment. You can document a day’s worth of fishing on one big photo collage…just chose several photos and click “new book”. You can tweak the size of each photo and color the background however you want. You can also use the borders fx plugin to add text without going into photoshop. I used it to give a friend of mine some ideas on a new flyer for his charter business…they’ve got tons of letter fonts to chose from. You could potentially arrange flyers, business cards, or whatever with your photos and designs without having to fork out a bunch of cash. Anyway, hope this is useful for somebody out there. I’ve had fun messing around with it.
January Redfish Trip
Summer Grass Flat Fishing
Random Georgetown Pics
Ever wondered what your wildlife biologists are doing for your fishery? I got an education when the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources visitedGeorgetown,SCOctober 3rd-5th to sample our adult red drum population. Using a 56ft research vessel called theSilver Crescent, the folks from DNR tagged and released around 150 breeder-sized red drum and more than a hand full of sharks. TheSilver Crescentis a long-lining rig that deploys multiple lines of 600 lb. monofilament that stretch 1/3 mile across its target zone. Each line has 40 droppers with 15/0 circle hooks baited with cut mullet. Surprisingly, gut-hooked fish and fatalities are pretty much unheard of – they have this operation down to a science.
In the fall, thousands of man-sized red drum move inshore from the ocean to spawn. The large concentration of post-spawn fish makes the species an easy target for both biologists and recreational anglers alike . DNR samples adult red drum from August through December each year in order to keep a good handle on the population’s stability from one year to the next. They want to make sure that these breeding fish are healthy and in good numbers so that recreational anglers can enjoy year-round fishing in our estuaries well into the future. Good news – our adult red drum population looks healthy according to DNR biologists, meaning we can continue to expect great fishing in our shallow water estuaries!
The spawning redfish get a lot of attention from recreational anglers in the fall and SCDNR says there’s nothing wrong with that. We just need to approach the adult fish with a little respect – after all they are pumping our estuaries with new fish every year. SCDNR biologists recommend the following:
1. Use circle hooks (we used 15/0) – that’s way bigger than my tarpon hooks! Not saying you should use 15/0 hooks, but they worked for us and it limits the number of swallowed hooks.
2. Use heavy tackle – stout rods, strong leader, and heavy line. Get the fish to the boat quick and avoid whipping its ass too bad. The intention is to release it alive. We see way to many floaters in muddy bay every year due to angler abuse.
3. Use short leaders – this helps prevent gut-hooking the fish which in many cases will kill the fish.
4. Limit your catch to just a few of the breeders. Get out there and get your picture taken with a giant redfish, but don’t sit there and hammer them all day. The fish are there to spawn – let em get it on. If you bring a fish out of the water for pictures, get them back into the water as soon as possible. Nothing wrong with a quick photo, but the longer the fish is out of water, the less the chance of them making a full recovery.
Nobody is trying to get on a soap-box at all – it is just important to acknowledge the work that DNR does each year so that we can continue enjoying our recreational angling opportunities. If you ever have any questions about how to handle these fish, just ask one of your local fisheries biologists at www.dnr.sc.gov .
External tags for recreational anglers to report. DNR immediatley got a recapture from a fish we tagged on Tuesday – the fish had moved 8 miles from where we tagged it the previous day!
“Pit Tag” – these get embedded in the fish like microchipping your pet pooch. It will last a lifetime so they can keep track of the 40 and 50 year olds. The external tags can wear out after 10 years or so.
Scanning a fish for a pit tag.
A very special thanks to Bryan Frazier, DNR Biologist, for inviting me along and to biologists Henry DaVega, Erin Levesque, Michelle Taliercio, and Capt Rob Dunlap for putting up with me for the day. You guys are awesome at what you do – thanks for keeping an eye on our estuaries so that we can get out there and forget our worries ashore.