Lightning runs and some good strikes

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By Capt. Jacob Frick

We are supposed to be in a June weather pattern, waking up with a light northeasterly land breeze and falling asleep with a light southwesterly sea breeze. Instead, we have been falling asleep with a strong southwesterly sea breeze slapping the side of the house and waking up to the distant rumble of thunder nearly every day this week. The forecast changed little for the next five days, calling for a strong southwesterly flow and possibly strong thunderstorms each evening.  
As I rolled over to hit the snooze button one more time, I could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance. I finally brought myself to an upright position to take a look out the window. I observed the dark cloud that had produced nature’s music hovering over the Little River, S.C., area. Most of our weather here at Ocean Isle Beach comes from that direction. Despite the inevitable, I headed for the Ocean Isle Fishing Center to meet with my three eager fishermen. We discussed the conditions and decided to try a few spots close to home to see whether the storm would pass. We managed to fish for about 25 minutes before the lightning had us running for cover. It appeared the threat of lightning and rain was going to stick around for at least an hour. My crew decided to grab some breakfast and we would make a final call around 10 o’clock.
We were back on the water by 10:30 a.m. with the hammer down heading for the fishing grounds. As the boat came off plane, I killed the engine and slipped the anchor into position. The tide looked right and, surprisingly, the water color looked good. I quickly loaded a live shrimp onto a cork rig and tossed it toward the grass line. The cork disappeared before I could explain to my crew how to fish the cork rig. I set the hook and handed the rod over to a member of the crew. I was tempted to get another float rig on the grass line but did not want to take the chance of tangling lines on our first fish of the day. We landed three in a row before we took a small break to regain our composure. The action was fast and furious.
I decided to load two rods before allowing my guys to make a toss toward the grass line. Almost immediately, both anglers were hooked up and our first double was on the way to the boat. We landed both fish within seconds of each other and reloaded. I added a third rod to the equation and we were tripled up. This was the kind of bite every guide dreams about putting his clients on to enjoy. The bite lasted for about two hours before slowing down to a crawl. We searched in a few more areas, picking off one or two more fish, but nothing like the first part of the trip. My next few trips did not have the same result and finding fish was a challenge.
Later in the week, several kids were scheduled to go out with me. I was really feeling the pressure, as the fishing had been pretty slow. It wasn’t too long ago that I was that little kid who couldn’t sleep from all the excitement of a planned fishing trip.
The fish started to turn on for us and we ended the week with some pretty good fishing. Al Poling, Charlie Stewart and their two 9-year-old grandchildren put the hammer down on some nice reds Friday evening. Saturday morning, Jay Elkinson and his 9-year old son, Sawyer, landed flounder, speckled trout, red drum and black drum, putting together an inshore grand slam. As challenging as the conditions have been lately, I only can believe a higher power had a hand in providing some great fishing action for these youngsters. A guide’s fishing ability can take it only so far and a little help from the man upstairs is always welcomed.
There are hundreds of little finger mullet in the feeder creeks, and if you look hard enough you will find some big enough to use for bait. I have caught a few smaller reds on live mullet this week. Earlier in the week, live shrimp under a slip cork produced most of the bites. Live shrimp are hanging around in the feeder creeks at low tide. If you can’t catch them yourself, the Ocean Isle Fishing Center is selling them. The bite was better on large live menhaden toward the middle of the week. The last part of the week, the water has really gotten dirty and cutting up the menhaden has produced some really nice fish.
The best advice I can give you now is spend some time looking for all three live baits mentioned above to give yourself the best opportunity to get the fish biting. Keep in mind bigger baits are easier for fish to see in dirty water and cut baits put out tremendous amounts of scent helping fish locate your bait. In the meantime, I am hoping for some stable weather.
Thank you to all those who have served, are serving and plan on serving in our military. Happy Fourth of July. I hope we all can take the time to appreciate what has been done for us by those who have sacrificed so much. Stay safe out there. See ya on the water.

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 articles.