Redfishville Shootout 10-5-2011

9 10 2011

Redfishville 2011, 4 days of fishing in Mt. Pleasant, SC with Justin targeting the awesome fighting Redfish on the flats of Copahee Sound and around the oyster beds of the Wando River. I’ve had this date circled on my calendar for quite some time. I left from Richmond on Wednesday 10-5 around 6am and got to Mt. Pleasant at 12:45pm-ish. I quickly dropped a few things off and Justin and I headed to Copahee for a few hours of fishing. We got on the water, headed for the island at the creek mouth to catch bait. After we caught bait, paddled out to the sound to hit Reds as they entered the grass. High tide was at 4:07pm this day and we had baits in the water by 2pm. Fished the grass line without a lot of success using cut mullet on a carolina rig or a live mullet under a float. Justin boated at least one nice fish at 28″+ off the grass line.

Somewhere between 3pm and 3:30pm we entered a flat and immediately saw tails. Justin headed one way and I headed another. I see one Red pushing through some pretty skinny water. I toss a paddletail swimbait in electric chicken all around the Red and get no action. BTW, flats fishing will REALLY highlight how weak your casting is. You need to hit very small 6 to 12 inch windows, which I’m not all that great at. Anyways, after casting at this Red 6 or 7 times, I get a bit impatient. Throw the swimbait just beyond him and bring the bait back into it…it bumps it and the Red spooks and swims off. Drats. I look further up the flat and see ANOTHER tailing Red. I figure the last Red didn’t like my swimbait so I switched over to a 3″ Gulp Shrimp in New Penny (it wasn’t the bait, it was my placement I later came to the conclusion). I make 3 or 4 casts to this Red and finally get a decent cast. The fish hits and it’s on! A fun couple of minutes and I land my first flats Red, an upper slot sized (don’t remember the exact size, somewhere between 22″ and 24″).

I release the fish and then proceed to catch the next 2 tailers I see, all were between 22″ and 24″. So now I’m 3 of 4 I’ve casted to and feeling pretty good. I start to make my way over to Justin and see a few more tailers. I make casts to a few and either get a spook or just no interest. I get over to Justin and at this point I’m 3 of 6 for tailers. I watched Justin hook into a decent size red only to have his leader snap after a few seconds of fight. I tell Justin I’ve caught 3 of 6 and he’s in disbelief. We both spot a LARGE tail coming out of the water on the flat in some deeper water. Luckily for me, Justin had to retie so I start making casts. I cast 5 or 6 times before the tail disappears, but it wasn’t spooked. I hold still waiting for it to reappear. After 5 more minutes the tail reappears between Justin and I. He gives me the green light to cast. On my 2nd cast I get a strike and I set the hook. Line starts peeling off back out into the grass….Hold on there fella!!! After a nice 5 minute fight, I land a nice 26 3/4″ Red.

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The water starts exiting the flat and the bite slows, so we call it an evening at 5pm-ish. I have 4 Reds on maybe 10 casted at, I think Justin finished with 2 caught but he had the biggest of the day at 28″+. Between the 2 of us we saw probably 20 or so tailers…a GREAT day on the flats.

Thursday is our full “scout day” where we planned to fish both tides in Copahee so we’d have an idea of how we want to fish on the day of the tourney. We get out at 8:30am-ish and hit the water (and a bit hungover). Justin and I always have a good time when we hang out, the night before was no exception.

Dragging a bit, we catch bait and head to the Sound. Low tide is at 10:09am and high tide is at 5:02pm. My Ride is already dragging bottom on a few spots where the water is pretty skinny. We head out to some oyster mounds and start soaking baits. I’m using a live mullet under a float and cut mullet on a carolina rig. We see no action in the deeper water at low tide, so head in to the skinnier water and that’s when the action picked up (for Justin at least). I paddle up on and spook quite a few fish, but don’t hook into anything. Justin catches a few fish in the skinnier water before we head to the grass line once the water starts coming in. BTW, that live mullet lasted for 2 hours under that float until I accidentally raked it across some oyster beds and killed it.

I throw a cut mullet to the grass line and wait…I didn’t have to wait long. I get a bite, I tighten up the line and the fight is on. The Red makes several 10 to 20 yard runs and I finally wear it out after 5 minutes or so. This Red was 28 3/4″ pinched. WOW, nice Red. I release it and throw my cut bait back into the water in almost the same spot. After a short 5 minutes, I get another strike and reel down. The rod doubles over and line immediately starts peeling off at an incredible rate back out into the Sound. Line is pulled off for a good 20 or 30 seconds, I’m guessing well over 100 yards of braid. The wind has picked up quite a bit so I’m hesitant to pull my stake out pole, but I’m not getting this monster back in just sitting here. I pull the pole and the wind immediately starts taking me in the opposite direction of the fish. I manage a few one handed paddles in the direction of the line but my line is all over/through an oyster bar and the line snaps. Given that I just caught a 28 3/4″ Red and he was only able to get off short 10 and 20 yard runs where my drag was set, I’m fairly certain this was at least a 30″ Red…maybe a lot more. We’ll never know…dejected, I retie another Carolina rig and throw my line back out. I catch another 28 1/2″ Red before we hit the flats. We fish a different flat today and we don’t see a single Red. We get off the flat about an hour after high tide and head home. Justin wins the fish count today, finishing with 5 Reds but I win for the biggest at 28 3/4″.

Day 3 is Friday and we decide to fish the Wando due to the fairly strong 15 to 25mph north east winds…hoping for some relief from it. (we didn’t get it). Ran into Carter, a guide for Kayak Fish SC, at the Paradise Island launch he was chartering that day. Spoke for a few mins and watched him catch some bait before we launched. The wind was brutal and just made paddling and fishing pretty difficult. Justin and I were unable to land any bait at the launch so we were hoping to get some while out on the water.

3 hours later, no bait, no fish, and we had had enough of the fighting of the wind with no action. We pack up and head to the 41 bridge to go for bull Reds hoping to get some relief from the geography change and the change in tide. Catch some bait at the launch and head over to the hole. Cast our lines out and have them soaking for a bit when a yellow lab shows up on the bank. He seems excited to see us. He immediately jumps down in the water and starts getting in Justin’s way, swimming over/around/through Justin’s line. Justin reels up and attempts to paddle out into deeper water near me. The dog follows. The dog now swims over to me and is getting in my way. This goes on for close to an HOUR; him swimming switching off between Justin and my kayak, getting in the way. An hour of wasted fishing trying to get away from this dog who is ruining any chance we have at fishing. I can’t believe this dog was swimming in swift current, with a strong wind, for nearly an hour.

We think the dog will leave us alone if we head across the river and fish some docks; it does. Justin proceeds to catch 3 Reds underneath one dock and I go 0-fer. We call it a day and head in. I was skunked this day so I was pretty down but tomorrow will be a different day.

We knew we were going to miss the Captain’s meeting for the tourney the Friday night so we planned on doing the meetup at 6am at on Saturday morning. Overnight, one of Justin’s kids got sick and caused him to miss the alarm. I’m a heavy sleeper and didn’t wake up either so we don’t make it out of bed until 7:30am pretty certain we’re not going to catch anyone at the launch (we didn’t). We catch some bait at the island and head out, hoping to run into Ken or Tommy out on the water. The wind was insane, 25mph easily and constant. It made paddling very difficult. We saw a lot of other kayakers but didn’t attempt to weave in and out due to the wind. We just let it blow us down the grass line until we could find space to wedge up on the grass.

We fished the grass line and then hit the skinny water out around the oyster bars again through low tide. I caught 4 stingrays but didn’t manage a single Red. Justin’s having a pretty good day, landing several Reds. I finally get into a rather large one on the grass line only to have it come unbuttoned boat side after 3 or 4 minutes of fighting. I got another from he same spot about 5 minutes later but the leader snapped in half after a minute or two.

Since we were officially not in the tournament and I now had 1.5 days of fish skunk on my boat, we decided to skip the “weigh-in” and try to fish the same flat we had success on the other day. The wind picked up and became even worse (if that’s possible). There were now white caps in Copahee. Given how bad the wind was and how difficult fishing the flat would be with it, we make an executive decision to skip fishing and wait for enough water to enter the grass so we can drag our kayaks back and call it a day. Another skunk for me but Justin ends the day at 6 total. There are a couple of funny personal stories of us trying to get back to launch by dragging across the flat, diving through pluff mud, falling into a creek, etc, but I’ll spare those details.

I did have a good 4 days hanging with a friend I don’t see all that often and had 2 great days of fishing. The wind was killer the last 2 days (along with the weird dog), so ending on a skunk note sucked. I’ll be back at some point, Copahee was awesome as always.

All my pictures can be found here.

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