Summer is almost here and the fishing along Topsail Island, Wrightsville Beach, and Carolina Beach is getting better everyday. Red drum are starting to follow their summertime patterns and eating everything thrown at them. Big bluefish (5-15 lbs) and ladyfish are also patroling the local waters and put up a really good fight on light tackle. I have been out scouting the last few days with friend Wes Aiken and we have been finding redfish crushing bait and tailing on the flats from Southport to Topsail Island. The southeast wind we had this week cleared up the water in the Cape Fear River and made for some good days sightfishing. We landed many redfish on fly and topwater plugs.
I also fished the recent Fishermans Post Spring Inshore Classic Tournament with friends Will Huffine and Frank Prior. This tournament is for red drum and flounder and each team can weigh in one of each species. While prefishing the days leading up to the tournament we found many tournament sized redfish so our game plan was to get a good redfish and then focus on flounder the rest of the day. Well, come game day we caught many fish we just couldnt get a fish over 23 inches. After spending most of our time trying to upgrade our redfish we decided to go spend the last few hours looking for flounder. We fished a few docks and other deep holes and managed to pull out 4 flounder with the biggest being 2.5 pounds. With time running out we ran to weigh in with our two fish but they just weren't big enough to place. While talking to other anglers who fished it seemed everyone had a tough day and the winning flounder was only 4.76 pounds. Despite our loss we had a good day and caught many fish, most of which were on topwater plugs.
Some sharks have started to show up on the flats also and it is really cool seeing a 4 foot shark swim across a flat less than a foot deep with his fins out of the water. Just a few more weeks and we will start fly fishing for sharks behind shrimp trawlers. We will be throwing 10-12 wt. rods with big flies for sharks in the 20-100 lb range. Speckled trout are also being caught although the season for keeping them is closed until June 15. The flounder fishing is also picking up around the inlets and structure in the waterway and river.
Last but certainly not least our flooded grass fishery is really picking up. This is the most exciting form of sightfishing as you pole across flooded grass flats on really high tides looking for redfish as they feed on fiddler crabs. Just last week on our last set of tides I managed to connect with a small 18" redfish as he was "crawling" across a flat searching for crabs. This fish was so shallow that his whole back was out of the water and when he tailed up 3/4 of his body was out of the water. Two weeks prior I had friend and anglers Fred Berry and his buddy John on the boat for an afternoon tailer trip. Despite the super high tide and 20-25 mph winds we managed to find a few fish. Since this was their first trip fishing for redfish it took a little time to get used to casting to these fish and the first few didnt give us many chances. But in the last hour of daylight we found one fish tailing happily in a calm pocket of water. With Fred on the bow ready to cast a weighted crab fly, I poled the boat within 30 feet to give him a good close shot. The fish had his face buried in the mud so Fred put the fly right on the fish's tail. Immediatly the fish turned and inhaled the crab and Fred was tight to his first ever redfish on fly. After a few runs Fred brought the fish boatside and we brought him in for a few quick pictures. Next up was John, but light was fading fast and after searching a few more spots it was time to head in. I look forward to fishing with you guys again.