Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carolina Backwaters

Wow... is it the end of February already… I can’t believe how fast time is going for me.  I finally snapped out of my work-school-sleep-work-school-sleep-work-school…. Routine and had a chance to fish with a local Guide.  Capt. Fred Bricketto.  Capt. Fred  is the owner of Carolina Backwaters Charters and runs a very nice guide service.  Fred and I met on FaceBook through our mutual love of fishing, especially redfish here in Charleston, and started talking and plotting a trip.  The weather has been starting to warm up and the water was still clear as Bombay Sapphire Gin so we decided to head out and chase some skinny water reds.  My long time fishing buddy Austin tagged along as a model for photos, this was a working trip as well, and we met Capt. Fred at the landing.  As we walked down the road to the ramp the smells of pluff mud and salt air assaulted my senses in a way I haven’t felt in a while.  Immediately all the thoughts of work and school faded to a dark corner of my mind and thoughts of redfish schooled up in skinny water were all I could think about.  We turned the corner and the only boat at the ramp was a beautiful Egret 18’9” flats boat and a happy looking guy rigging up a few rods.  He turned and waved to us and when we got to he boat it was like seeing an old friend again instead of two strangers meeting for the first time.   Capt. Fred welcomed us aboard and as we idled out we talked about what we wanted to do and where to go.  We fell into conversation about redfish and where we wanted to go like we had been fishing together for years.  We got past the no-wake zone, he throttled up the Evinrude engine and the Egret came on plane and we were off. 

We ran down the Inter-Coastal Waterway and to some spots we both knew about and started looking for fish.  Our first stop met us with a break from the little bit of wind that was up and as Capt. Fred and Austin got ready on the front of the boat I climbed up on the poling platform to help scout for fish and start taking some photos.   Capt. Fred’s Egret has a trolling motor and a Power Pole anchor so moving around and stopping is not only easy but is all done from the bow and a remote control.  I was enjoying the higher vantage point of the poling platform and as Capt. Fred guided us around this first spot we only saw a few small fish.

We worked around a bit and decided to hit up some other spots in search of the big schools.  We ran to a couple of new spots, no fish.  Hit up another, no fish.  We tried a couple of my spots, no fish.  We had been out on the water for a while and haven’t had a shot at any fish when Capt. Fred looks at us with a grin and a glint in his eye and says “ I know where they are…”  we buttoned up and made the run.  As we ran to the new spot we talked about different tactics and where else they may be.  Talking over the sound of the 175horse-power outboard behind us was easy and within a few minutes we were throttling down and getting ready to look for fish.   Capt. Fred headed to the bow with Austin and I climbed back on the poling platform with my fly rod in hand.   Within two minutes we spooked a good sized school of redfish.  Capt. Fred and Austin looked at me and we all were thinking the same thing, GAME ON!  We were all amped up and we started working these schools over.  Capt. Fred was first to hook up with a Gulp shrimp on a jig head.  A nice big redfish was on the line and rolling around and head shaking and managed to spit out the hook.  We continued to work the fish over and Austin hooked up on a big red too, but the same thing happened, a big head shake and the hook came loose.  I am watching this and taking pictures and decide it’s time to show these boys how to catch a fish!

 I climbed back onto the poling platform and opened my fly box.   I looked at the flies I had been using and in the corner of my box sat a smaller M4 (Mad Mikes Mud Minnow) I had tied up months ago.  This was a little smaller and tied with darker materials than a usual M4 but I just had a feeling.  I tied it on and dropped it in the water to let the rabbit fur soak up some water.  I looked at the bank and saw a small cut in the grass line and after a deep cleansing breath I started my cast…  Three false casts and I dropped the fly about 5 feet from the grass edge.   I took up the slack and began my retrieve.  Strip… pause… slow strip… pause… as I started my third strip I felt pressure.  I had already snagged an oyster bar earlier so I was hesitant to set the hook but when the pressure started pulling back I strip set the fly hard and felt the head shake and the beginning of a run of a pretty good redfish.   With a quick “WHOO HOO!  FISH ON!”  I started trying to get line back on the reel.

I felt a little slack in the line and realized the fish was running right at me and I was stripping line as fast as I could.  I thought he had spit the fly out when I finally got the line back on the reel and felt the run again.  I still had my fish on.  He ran to the grass and back at the boat.  I felt the fish tiring and I moved towards the bow to reel him in and he saw the boat and made another run towards deeper water.  A little pressure and I turned him towards the boat.  I guess he liked the boat now because he was trying to stay under it.  After a few minutes I finally dragged him out from under the boat and Capt. Fred scooped him up.

YES!  My first salt water fish of the year and it was a Redfish on the fly.  Goal one for the year, check.   After some photos I released the fish to fight another day and we continued to work the bank over.  Time was getting short and I had school so we called it a day and headed in.  Capt. Fred has only been a guide since December, but his knowledge of these Low Country waters goes back years and it shows.  His boat handling skills are incredible and he also offers boating safety instruction though his charter service.  If you are looking for a comfortable day on the water chasing fish or a want to take the family for a beach pic-nic give Capt. Fred a call and book him for a trip.  All the information you’ll need is at: http://fishingcharterscharleston.com/ 
We had an outstand day and met a new fishing buddy and friend for life.  Meeting someone who has the same passion for chasing these redfish and for the conservation of these beautiful gamefish is always a treat.    Thank you again Capt. Fred for a great day on the water and puttin us on the fish!!!