Kids are the future of fishing

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The fishing in our area has been a wild roller coaster ride this year. We often see many peaks and valleys in our fishery each year, but I would say many of us have experienced more valleys this year. The roller coaster ride is just about over for this year, but like all good rides one more thriller is ahead of us. Can you hear that? The click, click, click of the cars as they climb slowly the final peak? The anticipation is running high as we all know the climax of our fishery is approaching rapidly. It is time to take every opportunity that you have to get out on the water.
Brent Elliot brought his son Matt fishing with us last Friday. We headed for a creek that had been holding some redfish lately. As we rounded the corner, Capt. Jeff Williamson of Get Busy Charters was already working the area. We anchored just down the grass line from them and set out our lines. We quickly became spectators as Williamson’s crew landed a 24-inch redfish just above us. We could hear the marsh hens laughing from deep back in the grass. We had high hopes the school of reds would ease on down our way.
Williamson and I made several adjustments to our baits and boats trying to fire up that school of redfish. Williamson did manage to snag one more, but the action was much slower than expected and sent us on our way to another area. I decided to head on out to the Little River, S.C., jetties and Williamson headed for the waterway. Our first drift at the jetties produced a 32-inch redfish that was Matt Elliot’s biggest redfish at the time. I called Williamson to share the information. Williamson reported he had found a school of reds chewing in a creek just off the waterway. Now we were left with a decision. Should we stay at the jetties or go chase down a bite? We elected to stay at the jetties in the hopes of breaking records.
Our next drift produced another solid redfish of about 34 inches angled by Brent Elliot. We continued to drift the inlet looking for that 40-incher. Matt Elliot ended up breaking his personal best twice by landing a 37-incher and later one that was 39.5 inches, but we were unable to break the 40-inch barrier. The redfish bite slowed, so we headed back toward the creeks to find the flounder. The flounder were quick to bite but most were short with us as we caught only one keeper. It was a great day to be on the water with another awesome father and son team.
I also had the privilege of taking the manager of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, Capt. Brant McMullan, and his 4-year-old son Brayden fishing this past weekend. The pressure of putting a fishing legend and his son on fish can be immense. What was I thinking? Capt. McMullan tried to calm my nerves, as he knows the pressure all captains feel when it comes time to produce. He assured me they understood that conditions had gone from good to bad overnight and they were just happy to be on the water. There is no doubt he was right about the conditions. A cold front had just passed our area and the east-northeast wind was howling. Regardless of the conditions and legendary status, I had a 4-year-old boy on the boat. When you have kids on the boat, the No. 1 goal is to keep them busy catching something.
We ran down to a creek where the redfish bite had been active that week. Brayden McMullan started working on the croakers and pinfish as we waited for the redfish to show up. The redfish were not going to show up in this area, so we started pulling in lines. A flounder had put a sneak on one of our baits and Brayden McMullan made quick work of our first keeper flounder for the day.
We elected to make a move in search of more fertile fishing grounds. We hit a few docks along the waterway looking for Mr. Redfish. I won’t share the full story here. Let’s just say fishing line and docks just don’t get along with each other.
We made one more final move in a very familiar hot spot. The flounder started finding their way to the boat. In the middle of the flounder action, Capt. McMullan hooked a solid redfish. Capt. McMullan and his son shared the burden of landing such a magnificent fish. The father and son team worked the fish for several minutes. The brute appeared to have been beaten and was just out of net range with his head sliding across the top of the water. As the rod tip dipped to bring in a few more feet of line, the redfish was able to slide that big ol’ head back under the water. The redfish with his head down and the advantage of a strong current gave it one last effort, releasing itself to be reckoned with another day. We got everything we wanted out of that fish other than a picture. We had a few more chances and landed a 22-inch redfish to finish our day.
It has been a great week to have young folks on the boat. I encourage you to take a kid fishing. It will remind you how far you have come and help you appreciate even the little things in life. Sometimes we take for granted what it took for us to become fishermen. Watching two dads this week passing on the future of fishing into their young son’s hands has been priceless.
Redfish are making a strong showing now. The creeks are holding good numbers of slot fish and the inlets are holding some bruisers. We should continue to see more flounder show as they slide into the inlets after all the mullet our creeks are now holding. Live mullet on a Caroling rig is still the go-to technique for catching a redfish or flounder. A few speckled trout can be found along the oyster bars, docks and grass lines in the creeks. I expect the speckled trout to get more abundant as the water cools. Floating live shrimp in the right areas will give you the best chance at catching the trout.
Capt. Jacob Frick, who has 10 years of knowledge and experience in guiding family, friends, and clients in the backwater surrounding Ocean Isle Beach, is a fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at 803 315 3310 or jacob@oifc.com for additional information or questions about his columns.