We could see dozens of broad-shouldered, copper-plated fish zipping frantically past our hull in the transparent salt creek. Dolphins had surfaced a few hundred yards away, and combined with the sight of our shadowy, out-of-place flats boat, that had the redfish worked up into a panic. For the reds, the clear water was a two-edged sword: easier to spot prey, easier to become prey.
Capt. Mike Taylor launched his boat at a nondescript boat ramp at a tiny creek that is one of many Neuse River tributaries. His gleaming new Ranger 2400 Bay boat passed a silent review of sunken pleasure craft and abandoned workboats, which had found their final resting places in a gum and cypress swamp that held little more than a trickle of tannin-stained water.