Friday, August 16, 2013

Red Spread

Deserted old flat bed in a North Carolina marsh flat

Last Wednesday I was netting the 18 inch rainbow in Western North Carolina after one of the best fights I've encountered with a trout.  This week, I really understood what kind of power a fish can put out while landing my first redfish on a fly on the other end of our great state.  North Carolina is truly unbelievable.

Red Fish pull. Period. After at least 7 short outings in Charleston, I was surprised to land my first red on a North Carolina marsh flat where no one in the area seemed to talk about fishing flats, much less know anyone who fly fished. Essentially, most of this experienced played out far different than I ever imagined, while other parts where spot on.  I knew I had two limited chances to chase reds on our family vacation, and my first outing was mostly wandering through the marsh trying to figure out where to concentrate my efforts.  It turned out to be super windy at this 5.0 high tide, and when a found a tailing red, I blew two cast in the wind, had two decent casts, then had a third cast wrap around spartina grass right on top of the tailer. Fail.

The following day seemed to be to much of a Drake article set up to expect to catch a fish. A last-chance-for-who-knows-how-long kind of scenario.  Here is a list of ways it went different than I had invisioned while day dreaming about red fish.

1. Red fish fight way harder then any one has ever told me.  Way harder. Stinkin' awesome.

2. I was convinced all the waked and fin tips I was seeing on this day were mullet, and didn't even cast at them until this guy ate my fly. The fins looked gray, not orange.  I think the cloud cover kept the fins from lighting up "red."Later I realized all the "mullet" I let swim through the trough I was watching were all decent sized reds.

3. I didn't see a single tailing fish. Saw some fins pushing through the shallow trough to get into the flat, but no tailors.

4. I lead a wake with a good fly, and strip directly back to me when I got the eat.

5. I don't even remember thinking about the hook set. I just happened.

6. If it took me four minutes to land the fish, than three minutes and 50 seconds were spent wondering if it was a red fish.  Some one had told me bonnet sharks can get in the flat and chase bait, and I was thinking it was probably a bonnet. When it was at my feet, I finally realized I had caught a good red fish.

7. I didn't get any epic pics of my first red fish. Standing knee deep in a marsh, no dry land near by, with an i-phone, fish, and fly rod in hand is the equivalent of texting and flossing while driving a stick shift; it's awkward and you need another arm or two.

thought i had the whole fish in the frame

Beautiful spot tail (way out of focus)
Some other things went as hoped, invisioned, and planned.

1. My cyber scouting with google maps was great. FOund access and flats from satellites.

2. I had always wanted to take my first red on a more traditional pattern, and not a spoon fly. After some calls, I decided to go with a copper head variant. Got 'em.

3.  The tide was supposed to be around 5.5 on this day, which should lead to more fish in the flat, and it did. They cam piling through about 45 minutes before high tide (i just thought they were big mullet).

4. Without the wind from the day before, I was able to watch for wakes in the smooth water much better, and here crashing and splashing in the spartina grass far easier.

5.  I caught one in the bottom of the 9th. Thats how it happens in the story books, and thats how it happened this time.  It had been 2 years since my last shot, and I hoped that would have been a walk off home run situation.  But I left empty handed after four attempts int he Charleston marsh.

I think my carp fishing earlier this summer helped with my presentation for reds, but red fight way harder than carp. The tug is the drug, and reds pull hard and fast. I walked out of the spartina that day a little early. There was an impending storm, but even with the chance of catching more, my first red had me walking light and grinnin' like a fool.

sunset over the inter coastal waterway

1 comment:

  1. I've always felt like Reds are the Browns of salt water...a hard sought, hard fought, trophy fish to catch!

    Never caught one on a fly, but have landed plenty on a spinning set-up. There is nothing like it.

    What part of the coast did you visit?

    btw-we ought to get out sometime...seriously!