The calendar may list the beginning of the Vernal Equinox (Spring) as March 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, but you can't convince me it's here until we get our first Tailing Redfish of the year. After a late afternoon scouting trip yesterday that resulted in atleast 25 tailing redfish sightings in the first 30 minutes, including 2 fish so engrossed in rooting Fiddler Crabs as tails waved high above the surface, that they ran right into the bow of the boat, I hit the marsh today with my main man Darin of Long Bay Custom Boat Works. With the approach of a big cold front looming, we figured the pre-frontal weather conditions would have them on the feed big time. We saw atleast 15 tails in the short time we were out, despite a 15 knot East wind, and the fact that we only fished one small marsh pan about 3 acres in size. The fish were really lazy this evening preferring to tail for short periods before laying up on the shallow grass, making them hard to track. Darin stuck with it and connected with a nice little "rat" red toward the top of the big Full Moon tide. If the idea of sight fishing, and I mean actually watching each individual fish for sometimes what seems an eternity prior to making a cast, doesn't get you heart pumping then, you just have no heart! We have dates left for early evening tailing redfish trips now through early October, and am trips as soon as the early Spring Tides arrive in May in addition to our regular flats trips. Give me a call or shoot me an email, and we'll start planning your Cape Fear adventure!
We were truly blessed to have St. Croix Rod Company chose us this year for their 2011 Catalog! The catalog features Chasin' Tail Charters from the front cover throughout. We are really excited about the new offerings for 2011 that build on an already stellar lineup of Spin and Fly Rods. We got to spend several days with the photographers, and had a ball in a variety of locations throughout the Cape Fear area, and caught some killer fish to boot! Pick up a copy at your local dealer.
Fall has just begun and we are experiencing one of the best Trout and Redfish bites in recent past. Double digit landings of both Red Drum and Speckled Trout are occurring on just about every trip, and I expect it to hold true for the remainder of November. Redfish from 20" to well overslot are keying on points and flat edges with a healthy amount of shell nearby. Soft plastics, topwater plugs, and bright shrimp pattern flies are sealing the deal for us on the first half of the falling tide and the entire rise. The same is holding true for the trout fishing on the Lower Cape Fear, with nice numbers of 15" to 20+" Specks inhaling Mirrolure MR17's, Gulp! Shrimp in a variety of colors, and green/white clouser minnow flies. As the tide bottoms out, we are going in search of flounder laidd up over soft bottom near drops deep in the backwaters of the Cape Fear River near Bald Head Island and Southport. Cape Fear run Stripers are showing in good numbers upriver as well making this the best time of year to get your grand slam! In addition we still have perfect am high tides this month for Rails and Tails trips(Marsh Hen hunting early am, followed by fishing for tailing reds later in the morning). Hunters are limiting out on King and Clapper Rails with a few Soras mixed in in about 11/2 hours before putting the guns down and picking up the rods for some tailing action deep in the marshes around Bald Head Island and Southport. With Duck season only a couple weeks away, there are so many things to keep a sportsman busy on the Cape Fear this month, it's mind boggling. Speaking of Ducks, a good number of Blue Winged Teal are hanging in, and the Mergansers Ringnecks and Bluebills are not far off from there early Winter arrival. I hate to sound cliche', but its as good as it gets on the South Coast right now! Dates are available, so give me a call, and we'll start planning your Cape Fear adventure.
Brothers, Wes and Zach Engle joined me today to hunt Redfish on the open flats around Bald Head Island. As we crossed a rare slick calm Cape Fear river to the tidal flats behind Bald Head, it was immediately evident that there were some family dynamics at work that were going to make for some competitive angling. As we poled into position on the first flat, shrimp and mullett were raining all around us. A Small pod of 4-5 Redfish appeared ahead of us cruising along the edge of the emergent Spartina grass as they pushed a large hump of water in front of their wide sloping heads. Zach launched a soft plastic jerkbait right in front of the commotion and soon came tight to a hefty 25" fish.. After a couple quick photos, the pair got back in the game , and several small coves down from where we were , another pod of Reds made thir presence known. As I poled up current to the fish, Zach handed the rod that had just scored the first fish to Wes as a gesture of brotherly love and assumed the rod rigged with a Bayou Buck's spinner bait that Wes had been throwing. On Zachs first cast with the bait that Wes had been throwing with no success, the water roiled and the drag began to sing as Zach fought his second fish in less than 10 minutes. As I scrambled off the poling platform to get some pictures of the fight, Wes had a few choice words for his brother's new found prowess at Redfishing, but was soon high fiving him and offering suggestions on how to play the strong fish that was determined to run as far into the marsh as possible. After Wes got his well deserved Redfish on a gold spoon, we headed off in search of the Speckled Trout that would soon be feeding on the rapidly falling tide. On the way the trout hole, Wes told me he really wanted to try to take one on ta top water plug. As we edged off the flat into a deep channel slough, Trout began breaking the surface as shrimp scatterred in all directions. Wes scored on his first cast with the little Rapale Skitterwalk and soon posed with a 16" Trout. The bite wasn't as hot as the previous day, but the brothers managed 6 or 7 more trout before we made the decision to try to beat an approaching thunderstorm back to the ramp. Just as I finished securing the boat on the trailer the sky opened up with an incredible cloud to ground lightning display and the heaviest rain we've had all Summer. There is truly no such thing as a typical day on the Lower Cape Fear, from fish appearing well outdside their typical ranges, to storms materializing out of nowhere... no matter how much time I 've spent on the water, I'm in constant awe of this place!
After having a previous trip cut short due to a severe thunderstorm, that we almost managed to avoid, I was finally able to get David and his son Davis out on the flats of Topsail Island to fish some big schools of feeding Redfish. As we left the dock at 0630 we were greeted with light North winds (perfect for dropping the surface temps on the mud flats) and a fog bank and heavy overcast skies. More perfect conditions for sightfishing Reds with top water plugs cannot be had! David and Davis had agreed to take turns getting shots at the backing and tailing Redfish, but after David hooked up with a nice 2 year old fish on his second cast, all plans of taking turns were forgotten. With 2 seperate schools working the flat to the left and right of us, the father/son duo made easy work of sighting and casting to individual fish picked from the edges of the schools. On Davis's first cast with a Rapala Skitterwalk, he began to ask how I wanted him to work the bait, before the bait even had a chance to hit the water, a 25" Red crashed it and Davis exclaimed he didn't think he could handle him as the the braided line cut through the water on the first of several strong runs. After fishing the 2 schools for about 3 hours and landing 8 fish, we headed to another flat that has been holding fish through tthe summer. Managing 2 more fish on soft plastic jerkbaits, we called it a day, Davis's permanent smile as he climbed in the truck with his dad to head home is etched in my memory as yet another one of my "best" days on the water. Thanks Guys... look forward to fishing with you again this Fall!
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