-By Rich Miller
After nearly a week of sitting on the beach and playing in the sand, by the time Mark arrived Friday I was ready to get on the water. He did not get there until later in the afternoon and we were not sure where the tide would be by the time we got on the water. The plan was for us to go after redfish and flounder. The tide was going to be high and up in the grass, so the fish should have been in there feeding in the shallow water on fiddler crabs and bait fish. We were hoping to see the fish’s tails out of the water while they were feeding so we could cast our baits past them thinking that they would take our baits as we reeled them into the fish while they were in the middle of their feeding frenzy.
Once we got the boat in the water we realized that it was a huge tide. It was the highest the water had been in years. That was not good news for us because the fish would be more spread out and harder for us to locate. We headed into the marsh until it got so shallow the trolling motor hit bottom. We pulled up the motor, got out the push pole and kept going. We had probably been in there about thirty minutes when we spotted a couple of fish tailing. I made a couple of casts but didn’t get them close enough for the fish to see my bait. Then Mark put his on one of the fish’s noses and he was hooked up with a really big fish. He may have had the fish on for two minutes when it just came off for no reason. The fish was too big to keep but it would have been nice to get him to the boat and land him so we could have released him.
South Carolina has a slot limit on red fish and they have to be between 15 to 23 inches before they are legal to keep. After losing that fish it got really slow and we weren’t seeing very much action. We started getting worried that the tide was going out and we didn’t want to get stuck on the mud flat and have to spend the night out there. We took the boat out to the edge of the creek and anchored it there. At that point we bailed out of the boat and started wading where we had spotted the fish earlier. Besides seeing the fish, we were also finding a lot of pieces of fiddler crabs floating by as we were wading in the water. We had only been in the water a few minutes when Mark hooked up another fish. The only problem with this fish, it was actually a two and a half foot shark! He finally got the shark in and I was able to release him. The really bad part was we were wading around in knee deep water with sharks during feeding.
After the shark incident it was pretty slow for the next hour until we saw a fish cruising by that looked like an underwater torpedo by the wake he was leaving. I was able to make a good cast and get my bait in his face and he inhaled it! That is when we encountered another problem; this was a really big redfish for the light tackle that I was using and this fish wasn’t slowing down. He made a long run and all I could do was hold on until he got in some thick reeds and made a turn. I guess the combination of the amount of line I had out and the grass just gave him enough slack to get the hook out of his mouth and he got off too. After Friday afternoon the score was redfish 2, Mark and Rich 0, but we planned on being back on the water first thing Saturday morning.
Back on the water Saturday morning around 6:30, we had an extra rod in the boat. Phil, a friend of Mark, decided to tag along with us. We planned on going to the same spot that Mark and his dad had caught all the fish the week before, so we were all pretty confident while heading across the inlet. When we reached our destination the water was still a little high.
The plan was to catch the fish that were staged on some oyster banks and were feeding on the bait that was coming out of the marsh as the water came out. Then we were going to cast up and down the bank and cover as much water as possible. We were not sight fishing like the day before, though every now and then we would catch a fish breaking the water while chasing bait.
For the first couple of hours it was really slow until Phil caught a keeper trout. Then Mark caught a couple of redfish. All the while I was getting a few bites, but I couldn’t put anything in the boat. Sometime after lunch Phil hooked up with a big redfish that gave us some much needed excitement. This fish ended up being 27-inches long so we had to release him. Phil didn’t care much because he had so much fun just catching him.
After it was all said and done I think we ended up with three redfish and one trout that were keepers and, no, I never did put a fish in the boat. Even though I was skunked during my two days of fishing, which Mark took every opportunity to remind me, I still enjoyed every bite of the ones those guys caught! I am planning on going down again next month for a couple of days so that hopefully I can redeem myself . . . but if I don’t I am sure Mark will let me know about it.