Fall is here! What a great time of the year! This week another storm skirted north of the Georgia. A collective sigh of relief is released each time a storm passes. As the aftermath of recent storms abates, wind and higher than normal tides, fishermen are poised for good fishing in local waters! There already have been several good catches of large seatrout. These fish are on the move and hungry! Areas that were void of fish a week ago are now prime! Fall is that time of the year when almost any spot could produce a mess of fish. That said, it still “just fishing”. Fall is the most likely time of the year to catch a mess of fish. Fishing is good in the sounds, in the rivers, in the creeks as well as up brackish rivers! Don’t over look the heads of creeks. As bait, shrimp, pushes in fish will follow. The heads of creeks are likely areas to hold fall fish. A great tide stage for seatrout is high incoming or outgoing. Look for clean water, bait, and a drift that would be comparable to a slow walk. Sometimes the key in whether you’ll catch a lot or a little is how effectively you work your float. Working a float is pretty simple. In essence you’re ringing the dinner bell. You’re either trying to mimic nature or you’re just trying to get the fish’s attention. Either way you have to confidence that these gadgets and techniques draw fish and produce strikes. The short answer is they do. My suggestion is attend Miss Judy’s Inshore clinic this winter or in the mean time book a leaning charter to lean more on working a float. If booking with Miss Judy and you would like my assistance please let Miss Judy know. Enough of that – fishing has been good!
Don Adams, Adams Bait House says last week there were good catches of black drum, sheepshead, redfish and seatrout. Donnie repeated a familiar refrain that black drum are everywhere! Actually they’re not everywhere but black drum numbers look good! Most of the redfish are still small but enough are keeper size if you’re desiring a few. Large redfish on the flats as well! Shrimp are plentiful! Cast netters should have little trouble in finding bait but shrimp like fish constantly move. Depending on tide stage throwing a cast net might not be an option. Also if you’re heading to favorite drop early in the morning the last thing you want to think about is finding bait. Fishing is all about timing. When the water is out of the grass you need to be fishing. When the water is in the grass throwing a cast will likely be fruitless. Granted there are exceptions to every pattern. In general when the water is grass casting will be poor. Blue bird days, days with not a cloud in sky can also poise a problem. My suggestion is buy your bait or try to get your bait lined up a day ahead of time. Shrimping like fishing will have its own skill set. Some questions that need to addressed are how effective is your boat in extremely shallow water? Does your boat clean up easily? Is the bow or stern clear for easy throwing? If your boat sticks in the mud can you unstick it with minium effort? One fairly effective way to handle your boat if you’re not sure (of how well you can manage it in shallow water) is set the anchor in front of gully with enough water under your boat that you’re comfortable you wont get stuck. In a few casts you’ll quickly find out if on shrimp or not. Sometimes while putting down a bank I’ll watch my wake slap against the bank. If I see shrimp kicking up then this is where I want to shrimp. For me shrimping like fishing is all about timing (I already mentioned about tide stage specifically the water needs to be out of the grass. Next a few words about duration, how long does it take?). I look at the activity of shrimping as enjoyable but I try to limit my throwing time to half hour. If I’m spending hours to catch to a quart of shrimp I feel should be doing something else. Half an hour seems like a reasonable amount of time. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and throw in areas where you haven’t seen another person throwing. You might rewarded with tons of bait. Before I conclude on cast netting a few words about net size. Old timers would throw a small three or four foot net to locate shrimp then switch to larger net. Whatever net you decide on. You should be able to comfortably throw it for hours and into a wind (if need be). Lots of differing thought on length. A lot of that will depend your comfort, what you’ve gotten used to and the water depth you’re casting. Cast nets from 5 to 10 feet can be extremely effective. A lighter net will throw easier and pick up less crude. On the other hand a lighter net will sink slower. My opinion is you need at least two or three nets depending on conditions and the kind of bait you’re after. For shallow shrimping a 5,6 or 7 foot light (west coast) net is fine! For menhaden you’re going be throwing in water from 7 to 25 feet deep. You want a net 6 foot and larger that sinks fast. I use the same quick sinking net for menhaden, mullet and deeper shrimp. Allen at River Supply has put together a good selection of light, heavy and speciality nets. It’s always a good to hold a net before buying. You’ll be surprised at the differences. A modern monofilament cast net is generally thought to last for a season or two. If you’ve had your net for 15 years or more you’re likely not throwing it much or the bottom is clean of debris, good for you!. A cast net typically will last a season or two with pretty hard use. That said you still get what you pay for. Look for nets closer to the top end rather than the bottom. Have a back up net in case the one you’re throwing gets rips up. Gone are the days when you see firemen outside of the Oglethrope branch fire department making nets. Today’s net are all monofilament machine made. These machine made nets are pretty good. I miss the old cloth nets on the other hand today’s new nets are hard to beat. When disposing of an old net take it to Allen at River Supply or another tackle shop for recycling. The lead can be used for another net or for sinkers. The mono is likely remelted for fishing line.
The only we did not touch on was mesh size. First and foremost make sure what you intent to do is legal. Get the regulations for the state you’re throwing in (whether South Carolina, Georgia or Florida). My cast netting is in Georgia. My mesh size of choice is ½ inch (I look at shrimp as bait not food) but there are plenty options and reasons for a different size mesh. My suggestion is talk it over with the folks you’re buying your tackle from. Let them what know what you’re thinking about and listen to their recommendations. After 1 March 2009 you will need a 5/8 mesh net for food shrimping. The limits are more restrictive for bait shrimp only two quarts, 48 quarts heads for food shrimp. Make sure you understand the regulations and have the right net for the job specifically that complies with the regulations and works.
Hope this of help! Fishing has been great! Some very nice seatrout and redfish this week. Some late season tarpon and jacks are around for those desiring to tussle with a big fish!
Good Fishing! Capt. Jack McGowan Keep only what you intend to eat and release the rest!