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The cold weather showed up in full force over the Thanksgiving holiday, making nearly perfect conditions to send lots of ducks our way and really bunch up our fish.
I went out of town for Thanksgiving and did not return to the beach until late Thursday night. The fishing conditions looked pretty good to do some scouting Friday morning.
I headed to one of my favorite spots to look around. I spotted several redfish as I cruised along the bank and managed to get a few to bite. I enjoy seeing these fish as much as catching them. I moved out of the shallows before getting caught by the tide.
I headed for the Shallotte Inlet to check on the trout action. The trout were biting like bulldogs but were all undersized spike trout. I have talked to several other folks the last few days, and many are reporting the same action on the speckled trout.
On the other hand, I have talked to a few others who have done very well with the speckled trout. The bite seems to be short 30-minute spurts early in the morning or just before dark in the evenings floating live shrimp.
I guess if you are in the right spot, you can still catch some really nice trout. I have turned my attention to the hard-fighting redfish schools that are roaming in our shallow creeks right now.
On Saturday, Nov. 29, Ned Garber hosted the third annual Cy’s World Fishing Rodeo Tournament out of the Ocean Isle Beach area. This is the first time I have been able to participate in the event.
Fifty percent of all tournament entries goes directly to the foundation. Most of us are not in the tournament for the money. We are there to support the cause and just to have fun with fellow fishermen. Please take a moment to look at the website www.cysworld.org to see if you would like to make a donation or help out in any way.
The tournament format is a three-fish aggregate of any combination of flounder, trout or redfish. Ocean fishing is not allowed in this tournament—pretty much doing away with targeting flounder this time of year. That makes this a speckled trout and redfish tournament.
I have not caught many large speckled trout lately, so targeting redfish was our game plan. Russ and Lexy Bardolf would help me complete a team of three, so we could legally weigh three slot redfish.
We did not get started until 8:30 a.m. with the hope things would warm up just a little bit. Our game plan was to simply have fun catching redfish until we found the right three to weigh for the tournament. We started off seeing several fish in the shallows but could not get the baits presented before spooking the fish. We moved around to several areas spotting and spooking fish.
We finally caught a break. With the wind holding us against the tide, we were able to slide just up-current from a group of redfish. Tossing soft plastics and live mullet minnows on light jig heads started bringing fish to the boat. We had at least double-digit opportunities and managed to put three healthy redfish in the box to get us started.
The tide was falling and we were running out of water. We headed back to the safety of the waterway and started to work along the docks in the hopes of upgrading our catch. We were already pretty stoked about the fish we had in the live well and were proud we would at least show up for the tournament.
We caught several more redfish in the 23- to 25-inch range. We did manage to upgrade to a pair of 25-inch redfish and one just shy of 26 inches. My crew had other obligations to get to later in the evening, so we elected to weigh our fish in early. We hit the scales around 2 o’clock and took a commanding lead as we were the first boat to hit the scales.
I dropped off my crew and headed for the house. I took my time cleaning up my gear and enjoyed a little snack before heading back to the tournament for final weigh-in around 4 p.m. I arrived at the tournament to find we were still in the lead with 17.1 pounds.
Team “Bonechop” had not weighed its fish yet. Brandon Sauls, Clay Morphis Jr. and Clay Morphis Sr. pulled off a victory once again in the last 30 minutes of a tournament. These guys are the team to beat each year as they somehow always find the bigger fish.
The final results have team “Bonechop” taking home first prize with 21.2 pounds, second place goes to our team with 17.1 pounds and third place goes to Daniel Simmons’ crew with 16.4 pounds. All tournament winnings were donated back to the foundation. Congratulations to team “Bonechop.”
Come on down and join the action. The redfish are not going anywhere and should be more than willing to bite. The trout action probably will remain scattered, but there is still a good chance of finding some good fish.
Catching your own live bait is pretty much over unless you are dragging your own shrimp net. You can get the area’s top-producing soft plastics and live shrimp at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center and some other area tackle shops. It is hard to beat a live shrimp when it comes to catching, but fooling them with soft plastics is another feeling all together. 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. Call him at (803) 315-3310 or email Jacob @oifc.com for additional information or questions about his columns.