Two charters in one day formed this fishing report
When I first added half-day trips to my charter menu, I really didn’t intend to run two half-day trips on the same day. And so far, that’s been the case. My half-day charters are six hours, as opposed to many business that offer a four hour “half-day” trip. But yesterday was a first… and what a doozy! So here are two trip reports in one…
Jessica and Adam, with their friends Kristin and Joe, had originally planned their trip for Saturday. With the bad weather forecast, I asked if they’d be willing to reschedule for Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, Marie and Mike, with their kids Eli and Emma were booked for Sunday morning. It was going to be a busy day.
Marie’s family goal was primarily to experience a first… a day of offshore fishing, and maybe some good, edible fish. This isn’t something they get to do (obviously) living in West Virginia, although they are regular visitors to the NC coast (their previous effort got stormed out). The weather was beautiful, and with the young folks aboard, I thought it would be a good day just to stay nearshore and pull spoons for Spanish mackerel. As always, I’d put a drone spoon in the mix, just in case we should cross paths with a hungry king.
The morning started out slow. With a lingering rain squall coming off of Lea/Hutaff island, I put the lines in just past the sea buoy and went north instead, up toward Topsail reef. We had a lot of bird and bait action near the AR, but I could not get the slightest interest in spoons. We stopped to jig for a few minutes, but the fish just were not going to cooperate. After an hour and a half or so of circles, figure 8s, and zig-zags, it came pretty clear to me that whatever was eating this bait was not going to play with us. The youngsters looked to be losing interest. I finally left the birds behind and trolled toward the beach.
In the middle of nothing, flat bottom and 35 feet of water, the drone spoon went off. Eli got on the rod, and managed to work the fish up to the planer. I started handlining the leader in and got him up to the boat, but then he took off under the boat. Apparently this run frayed the line, because just as I got him back up to gaffing range, he made another run. The mono slipped through my hands all the way back to the planer, but as soon as the line came tight, it parted and a painful silence fell over the boat. The disappointment in Eli’s face really made me feel like a loser. But this stuff happens… it’s fishing, after all. Just have to re-tie and get back after it.
Redemption came when I finally found the Spanish, and we put 11 keepers in the boat before we must have run into the Spanish nursery, because suddenly all we caught were tiny, 8 or 9 inch fish. We also brought in a couple of blues, which we released (not bad eating, but not great and they already had a nice stack of mackerel), and one ribbonfish (which I did keep to use at a later date for king bait). This action may not have completely made up for losing that king, but everyone had smiles on their faces when we parted at the dock.
Time to head offshore
Jessica’s crew was more ambitious, despite having practically no experience with offshore fishing. They wanted to get on out there and try to find some dolphin, or at least big kings. They weren’t real interested in meat, since neither Joe nor Adam cares for seafood. Always willing to sacrifice for the cause, I offered to take any extra dolphin they didn’t want.
The afternoon swell had picked up slightly to around 3′, but the period between swells was extended so that I was able to run about 30mph on the way out. The ride was a bit like a roller coaster. About 3 or 4 miles out, I stopped to check on the passengers. Everyone was still smiling, but Jessica seemed to be struggling a little bit. I offered to alter course to a closer spot, but they all wanted to continue. I set my sights on a spot I call, “the King Hole,” which is about 15 miles offshore, and put the throttle back down.
Beautiful sunset caps the day
To keep this from becoming a novel… after less than an hour in the heat and slow-rolling swell, Jessica had taken all she could. Mal de mer has that effect on even the toughest people. The fishing was extremely slow in the heat of the afternoon, so the boredom of slow-trolling around in circles didn’t help. I decided to pick up and run back inshore to where Jessica could see dry land, and we could fast troll spoons. This tactic frequently helps folks feel better, and in this case it worked (although not so much for Adam).
We finally broke the skunk when Adam brought in a lizard fish. As we crossed back over the inlet, we started getting into ribbon fish. But then we hit the Spanish school, and put a few more fish into the boat, interspersed with more ribbon fish. Because they didn’t really want a lot to eat, we only kept six Spanish. We ran back in to a beautiful sunset.
Overall, a lot of fun on both trips, with some more really wonderful people.
To book a trip with Katfish Kayak and Fishing Adventures, call 910-777-4977, or visit www.katfishkayak.com.
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