And we just couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the start of the 2014 lady angling year than to invite a well-known, local and very remarkable charter boat captain named Dan Clymer. He came very highly recommended by one of our very own NCLA members, Virginia, who has come to know him as a friend after contracting with his charter service several times last year. We were thrilled that he agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to meet with us and share some of his experiences and a few tips & tricks that will certainly help improve our skills.
Topic of discussion: Moon Phases / Tide / Wind / Current
Which is better -- fishing the incoming or outgoing tide? In the Captain's opinion, the incoming is usually better if given the option. Incoming tide allows anglers to be on the water for longer periods of time and allows fish to roam freely, which increases the odds of hooking up more frequently. That's not to say outgoing tides can't be productive; they can be. Water moving out to sea moves faster than water coming into shore because the incoming tide, at some point, reaches a barrier (shore or mangrove line) that hinders or slows its speed, whereas the outgoing tide has no such restriction. When the outgoing tide is strong and swift it can pull water around points and between oyster bar cuts, carrying small baitfish in its current. Larger predatory fish (trout & reds) hide or "stage" around those points and downstream of oyster bar cuts, just waiting to ambush a small baitfish riding the current at those areas -- free meal. no work!
Slack Tide -- what is it? It's time to eat, that's what it is! It is the "freeze-frame" time between incoming and outgoing tide change, when the water level is at its very lowest of the day or very highest of the day. Grab your sandwich and a beer and take a break. There's no water moving in and no water moving out, and no baitfish riding currents around points. Predatory fish actually have to get off their duff and hunt for a meal. Ain't nobody got time for that! Eat lunch, throw a shrimp on a circle hook with a bobber and maybe you'll get lucky!
So now we start discussing the time it takes for backwater creeks to reach high tide. There is a delay between the time a well known tide station registers a high tide and when that same high tide measurement eventually works its way into the back creeks. Typically, the rule of thumb is an approximate one-hour time delay. What Dan told us this evening that surprised some of us was that in certain cases -- for instance, from the Shell Island tide station to King's Bay -- it'll take as long as two hours for King's Bay to reach high tide. So for instance, if the high tide at Shell Island is 1:00 p.m., the high tide at King's Bay won't be until 3:00 p.m. He uses the Mangrove Point tide station as his benchmark for most of the areas he fishes so he gave us another example: when the high tide at Mangrove Point is at 1:00 p.m., Fish Creek won't reach high tide until 2:00 p.m., with that typical one-hour delay applying here.
Capt. Dan tackled the subject of kayak fishing on a windy day. Not much fun in that, so here's what he suggested we watch out for: If you don't want to be fighting the wind all day, look for days with winds blowing around 5-8 mph. You should be fine in a kayak. NW winds are a little harder to navigate and don't seem to be as productive for fishing, in his opinion, as days with SW winds. He's found that fish tend to feed better on days when the wind is blowing from the SW. Winds over 10 mph need to be respected in a kayak. He suggested paddling into the wind during the first half of the day and then letting the wind usher you back during the second half. Winds 15-20 mph are strong enough to keep an expected high-tide from developing. Enough about that.
And finally, before we moved into entirely different subject matter altogether, inshore tackle, he tipped us off to a type of feeding frenzy that fish involve themselves in right before a storm rolls up on the inshore areas. Somehow, someway, those fish know that a-storm's-a-comin' without the luxury of The Weather Channel. Could it be the barometric pressure change that gets 'em all worked up and stressed out? You betcha. They go on a feeding frenzy before a storm like we go to the grocery store to stock up on canned goods before a hurricane. In any case, fishing a few hours before an approaching storm is a sure-fire way to hook into some keeper fish -- if you can ignore the miserable weather that you have to endure, drizzling rain most likely, during those precious few hours .
Dark and Dirty
Mullet = Redfish
He talked about approaching dolphins and what their presence does to potential hook-ups, pointing out that those dolphins are hunting, of course, and to take note of the areas where they begin to corral and feed, marking them on a GPS if you have one. Those areas would be great spots to return to at a later date because obviously there were fish to be caught. But ... in the mean-time, one way to scare a dolphin away from the scene would be to cast a popping cork in their direction and begin to pop it vigorously for a minute. While that noise will sometimes attract trout, it will annoy dolphins to the point where they leave the area.
Let's Talk About Snook ... Shall We?
As an extra tip, he told us that in the months of March and April, snook can be caught in the Salt River between the Ft. Island Trail Park launch site and the Ft. Island Bridge. We'll have to plan a kayak fishing trip to test that report.
Twitch - Twitch - Pause
He rigs his popping corks in the following manner:
1. Fishing line (braid) tied to about a foot of leader line
2. Leader line tied, using an end loop knot, to the top hole of the popping cork unit. This eliminates the troublesome tangles and knots that can happen if the fishing line is tied directly to the popping cork.
3. Bottom of popping cork unit is tied, again with an end loop knot, to the fluorocarbon leader line
4. And then leader line is tied to hook with another end loop knot
Can you tell we like end loop knots???