Adios Winter Rojos, Hola Spring
Looks like it's about time to end another chapter in the Redfish journey. As the winter 2022/2023 season comes to a close, and we transition into spring fishing, I wanted to look back and share some images and thoughts from the final few weeks.
Early in March we had a sudden warm up in temperatures. Trees were blooming, water temps were rising, the water was coloring up, and the Redfish schools started breaking up. It seemed like the water temps went from 55 deg, to 65-70 deg in just a few days on the flats, as the air temps approached 80 deg.
It felt like winter was going to be over earlier than normal. And just like that, the air temps dropped and the water temps fell to 53-55 deg again. Some of the schools of Reds had scattered into singles, and some were still holding in schools. We even found a big school of 500 plus fish that covered a vast flat. Air and water temps continued to yo-yo throughout the month of March, making my job harder than I had hoped. The winds also came into play as we had several days of difficult sight casting in 20-25mph winds. Those winds also stacked in much higher high tides and super negative low tides compared to what was predicted. Heck, it even sleeted on us one trip. "Can a guide catch a break?" Fortunately I've gotten better and better over the years at finding fish and getting shots in difficult conditions, and I'm a little more at ease with fishing in snotty weather than I was, say, 5 years ago.
The biggest issue for us was that a lot of these fish were highly educated by the time we got into March. Fish that would have ate more readily in January and February, had seen enough pressure from boats and bait, to be much more aware of their surroundings and life choices during the month of March. That being said, we still managed to have some really great trips sight fishing Redfish up shallow on fly and spinning gear.
As we move into April and May, the water will warm, continue to get darker, and the schools will continue to break up and spread out through the marsh. I have absolutely enjoyed our winter fishery this past season. All in all, it was probably the best one I've experienced. That being said, I am really looking forward to some summer time Redfish. I can't wait until they start tearing up topwater plugs!
Along with being my most successful winter of Redfish hunting and catching, it was also my most successful winter for my guide service. You all didn't give me much down time, and although I missed my winter vacation where I normally get caught up on everything else, I really really appreciate you all keeping me booked up and poling my skiff towards Reds. As always I really appreacitate the support and can't wait to see what else we'll experience on the water this year.
Enjoy the pics! John
Just a quick update on our winter Redfish fishery. February was really productive for us on the flats chasing schools of fish in (mostly) clear water. Lots of fish schooled up, some willing to play and some not so much. I had a lot of great clients onboard this month and we had a great time pursuing these blue tailed gamefish.
We fished fly and spin and found success with both. Every time we go, I learn a little more. It could be a different angle of approach, a different fly, a different presentation or just how to better communicate with my anglers. This month, we did some experimenting with a few different flies and soft plastics and also played with different angles of presentation. Winter is a great time to be able to see how these fish react and fine tune your approach and presentation.
Normally our winter time sight fishing lasts through the end of March, but we are already starting to see all the signs of spring. Warming water and air temps, algae blooms, returning bait, etc. The fish are still schooled up and the water is still clear, but that could be changing soon. Whenever mother nature decides to transition into spring, we will just adjust and keep on fishing.
Hope you enjoy these photos from some of our trips over the past few weeks. Thanks for the support!
Although we are in the thick of the winter Redfish season, I'm always prepping for what's coming next. We are in a time of transition... cold nights, clear water and schools of Redfish, while at the same time we have Cherry Trees blooming and pollen is starting to fill the air. Water temps will be on the rise soon, and with that, several new species will arrive that we can chase on fly and spin.
One of my favorite early spring-time targets are Shad. Both Hickory and American shad start migrating up river this month and will be available in the upper reaches of our rivers in March and early April. When you hit them right, you can catch fish after fish on fly or ultra light tackle, and watch them jump and run with the current as they try to get away. It's not that uncommon to catch up to a hundred shad in a single day at the height of the season. They may not tail like Redfish, or blitz like Albies, but these fish are so much fun! Aggressively attacking bright colored flies and jigs, and leaping like baby Tarpon. I am trying to build a yearly short season for my guide service each spring where I can take anglers to target these fun fish. I'll be on the Roanoke River at Weldon for a few days this spring. Don't miss out!
I have March 29, 31, and April 2 remaining for Hickory Shad trips on the Roanoke. We can fish fly or light tackle and I will provide all the gear needed. Give me a call or shoot me a message if you have any questions.
When I get back from my Shad trips, I'll be focussing on our nearshore fishery for most of April. The Bluefish will already be here, and there should also be False Albacore and Atlantic Bonito on our wrecks and hardbottoms. Depending on the best bite, we will leave very early morning from either Beaufort Inlet or Bogue Inlet and fish nearshore structure for these fish. Its worth leaving in the dark for a shot at the hard fighting and delicious Bonito, whether you want to catch and release them or take some home for sushi or ceviche.
The goal is to be in the ocean before the sun rises and on blitzing fish at first light. By the time the sun rises this popular fishery will bring lots of other boats to the nearshore structure which can cause the fish to stop feeding on top. When this happens we switch tactics and throw sinking fly lines or jig them on spinning rods. Some days the bite slows after a few hours and some times it goes all day. Once the bite does slow we have several other species we can go chase.
The False Albacore are usually also around and are more willing to blitz through the day. These are the same fish that show up in the fall that everyone raves about. The spring Albies just have a shorter window that is a little less predicatable, so they don't get as much publicity. That being said, I have seen days in April that blow the doors off the fall bite.
Depending on the weather we can also go looking for bigger quarry like Sharks and big Bull Reds...both available during April on the Crystal Coast.
I have dates available for the Spring Nearshore Fishery from April 3 - 22. I'm happy to discuss my thoughts on the different opportunities and the best dates for them.
I'll be leaving the Bonito behind in late April, to head up to Weldon for one of my favorite fisheries, the spring Striper run. NCWRC has announced that the Roanoke River harvest season will be April 14-17 and April 22-23 this year. Unless I have any anglers requesting to harvest Stripers, I will start my first charter up there on April 24, to avoid the keeper season crowd. I will be on the Roanoke for about 18 days running morning, evening and full day charters. 50-100 fish days are not uncommon on the Roanoke. Add in to that the possibility of hitting a good morning or evening topwater bite, and it doesn't get much more fun. Most of the fish we catch are going to be 16-24" long, but we regulary catch fish up to 30", and there are some real monsters hiding in the river.
I'll be loaded up with 8wts rigged with floating lines and poppers, along with rods with sinking lines and Clousers, ready for whatever comes up. I'll also have plenty of spinning rods and an array of soft plastics and topwater plugs ready to go. Although Striped Bass are the target, we also hook into everything from Largemouth to Carp to Suckerfish, along with a few other surprises. And if you want to try something different, or in combo with a Striper trip, ask me about opportunities to sight cast Common Carp on fly on some nearby flats.
I am now booking trips for the Roanoke Striper Fishery. I'll be offering AM or PM long half days (5hrs), and long split full days (5hrs AM/mid day break/5hrs PM). Available dates will be from April 24- May 10. I have a feeling these will go quickly, so don't wait too long to come experience this awesome fishery.
Here's some more info on the Roanoke Shad and Striper Trips with pricing, etc.
Although Redfish, Speckled Trout, Stripers and Albies seem to get most of the attention here in Eastern North Carolina, there is a fish that is near and dear to my heart during the month of March. Many of us associate the arrival of shad in our coastal rivers with the official kick off of spring and the upcoming fishing season. These fish arrive upriver and pack themselves so tight in some spots that it's not unusual to catch 10 fish out of 10 casts. They have a penchant for bright gaudy flies and lures and put every bit of their energy into escaping once hooked. Known for their acrobatic jumps, they've rightly earned the name, "the poor man's tarpon".
Hickory and White Shad make their spawning runs up the coastal rivers of North Carolina Feb-April of each year. In my opinion, the Roanoke River near Weldon NC is the best place on the planet to experience the shad run. Other rivers such as the Tar, the Neuse, and the Cape Fear also have great spring shad runs, but I feel like the upper Roanoke is one of the most consistent and reliable fisheries. The Hickory Shad usually show up in the Weldon area during the first two weeks of March and hang around until mid-April.
Even a slow day shad fishing on the Roanoke, is usually more action than you will experience in most other locations. Over one hundred fish in a day, is a definite possibility when fishing the Roanoke. Shad are great fun on ultra light spinning rods, or 4-5wt fly rods with a sinking line. They earn their nickname “poor man’s tarpon” from their flashy silver scales and their ability to jump multiple times when hooked.
When shad first arrive in the rivers, we are still in the tail-end of wintertime, but warmer spring weather is usually the norm by the second half of shad season. Spawning Stripers are also beginning to show up in the upper Roanoke towards the end of shad season. A few weeks after the shad leave, the Striped Bass spawn is in full swing, which is another one of my favorite seasonal fisheries.
If you haven't had an opportunity to experience this fishery, then you are missing out. These shad are fantastically fun on a fly rod or a light spinning rod. They're also a great "first fish" on a fly rod, if you are just starting out. We have all the know how, equipment, and flies/lures needed to go get bent on a bunch, so give me a shout if you want to go. I'm offering trips out of Weldon for a few days this spring to guage everyone's interest in the fishery. If we get enough interest this year, then we'll most likely expand our shad offerings for the following year.
Shad Charter Dates for 2023
March 29 - April 2
Roanoke River, Weldon, North Carolina
Bright flies, sinking lines, and light rods are the gear of choice. You can also catch plenty
on ultra-light spinning rods and tiny jigs.
Hickories might not be huge, but targeting them is one of the most fun, action packed types of fishing
to be done on ultra light tackle in North Carolina.
When you get on a school of shad, the fishing can be fast and furious.
Hope to see you on the River this Spring!
Hey y'all! Well we are officially 1/12th of the way through 2023. Time flies! I spent a good bit of the past month out on the water with clients chasing Redfish. I can honestly say that this January was my best January of fishing in 18 years of living here on the Crystal Coast.
Lot's of days with pleasant temps, blue skies, calm winds, and really clean water formed the perfect storm for some epic winter time sightfishing. Many of the days, we saw obscene numbers of Redfish, and managed to fool at least a handful of these very educated fish most every trip. I'd be lying if I said every day was killer, as we had one or two more challenging trips, but overall we did excellent.
Most of my trips were fly trips, and several of them were with anglers who had never caught a Redfish on fly. I'm happy to say that we solved that problem, and then some, for most of our anglers. I don't care if it's your 1st Redfish on fly, or your 101st...seeing them eat up close in crystal clear water is always exciting. It will never get old.
Fly might be my favorite way to pursue these fish in winter time, but there's nothing wrong with chasing them on ultralight spinning rods either. Pitching a small soft plastic in and around a school of wary fish takes some skill, and successfully sightcasting them on fly or spin is nothing to be taken lightly. If you were wondering, bait fishing is not something we normally do, and it's definitely something we don't do in winter. I really believe in giving these fish a decent chance to outwit us, so we stick with feathers and plastics during the cold weather season.
We've seen all types of situations so far this winter, from single fish hidden in the grass, to groups of a half dozen cruising oyster beds, to schools of 200-300 fish daisy chaining in big open bays. You never know what's going to be waiting around the corner. Not only have we seen lots of Redfish, but we've seen quite a few big Speckled Trout and tons of small Black Drum.
All good things must come to an end some time, and our winning streak of beautiful weather came to an end this week. Right now, we are experiencing day after day of rain, clouds and cold. We took all of our trips from this week and pushed them into next week, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the return of that giant glowing light in the sky.
That's about it for this update. I have been blessed with bookings this winter (thank you to everyone who has fished with me!), but I still have a handful of openings for February. March has a decent number of open dates, and the winter fishing should be just as good then too. Until then, I hope you enjoy these images from the last few weeks, they are just a small percentage of the fun we've been having.
Sending them back home to tell their friends.
The ol' Clouser rarely let's me down.
Not an ugly one in the bunch.
This fly has been "seaducing" fish since it was invented back in the 1940's
Taking a breather
Getting it done
Set, set, set...!
These guys asked me why most of my clients would choose summer Redfish over winter Redfish. Good question.
Half a dozen black feathers and a hook. I'm telling ya, it's 95% presentation.
Thanks for swinging by, we'll catch ya later.
I hope all of you had a good New Years and a great start to your 2023! I'm gearing up for the next 12 months of fishing and planning out all of the different seasons and opportunities. I thought this would be a good time to give everyone a run down of all of the things we have coming up this year.
School's in Session - Winter sightfishing for Redfish is in full swing right now. As long as we have decent weather, a day on the water during the winter usually provides countless shots at schooling fish. We are usually fishing in 6-12 inches of crystal clear water and sight casting to groups of 10 to well over 100 fish. We have seen schools of over 500 fish in inches of water at times. This is finesse fishing at its finest, where you have to mind your approach to these weary fish and lead the schools with your fly or plastic, but the results can be awesome. We will be focussing on these schooled winter Redfish from now through the end of March. Some years these fish will stay schooled in clear water until early April, but January, February and March are the most consistent.
Winter Bull Reds - During the right weather windows we can go out searching for schools of these big Bull Redfish. These fish can be found now through early April. There is no guarantee that we'll locate them on any particular day (it's a big ocean) but when we do, its worth the time and effort. Often these fish are schooled down deep so we spend a lot of time watching our sonar, but sometimes these large schools of fish will rise to the surface on bait and all heck breaks loose. Although a big heavy jig might be the best tool for getting to these fish quick, we also get opportunities to catch them on fly rods too. Depending on the dates we fish, you can sometimes combine the search for these fish with other types of fishing like Bonito, Albies, Bluefish and Sharks. Again, this is weather dependant because of the amount of water we have to cover to find these fish, so be flexible and you just might get your hands on some monster Bull Reds.
Fishing Schools - Our Saltwater Fly Fishing School will be March 25 and 26 this year. Come join us and learn what it takes to be successful pursuing saltwater fish on the fly in the South East. Myself and the other instructors love sharing all of our saltwater fly fishing knowledge and experience with our students to help them excellerate their growth and skills. We will also be following up with our fall Saltwater Fly Fishing School in September (dates to be announced).
I'll also be teaching at the "Get Hooked" Fishing School at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on March 11th.
Get Hooked Fishing School
March 16th I'll be in Richmond doing presentations with the Fly Fishers of Richmond.
Stay tuned for more school/seminar announcements.
Roanoke River Shad Season - I've fly fished for Hickory Shad on the Roanoke River for over 15 years. This is some of the most fun I've had with a fly rod. We fish 4 or 5wts with sinking lines and bright colored flies, resulting in bunches of Shad that pull and jump and put a big smile on your face. We also fish them with light spin rods and small jigs and catch a bunch that way too. This is a really fun fishery for adults, but it's also an absolute blast for kids because it's such an easy fishery. It's been a few years since I've run Shad charters, but this year I'd like to start them up again. I would like to do a mini-season up in Weldon, just like I do for the Striper run later in the spring. I am going to reserve March 30, 31, April 1, 2 for Shad charters on the Roanoke. I'll be staying in Weldon and offering half and full day charters for Shad on that Thursday - Sunday. I need to fill those 4 days for it to be worth my time to go up there, and if those four days book up, then I will extend my stay and offer more dates. Give me a shout if you are interested in catching Shad with me in 2023.
Spring Nearshore Fishery - In March as the nearshore waters begin to rise in temperature, False Albacore and Bluefish return to feed on baitfish. By the time the water temps reach the upper 50s and lower 60's the Atlantic Bonito show up on the nearshore reefs and wrecks. By late April or early May the Spanish Mackerel will join the party. I plan to spend most of my time off our beaches in April, focussing on the Atlantic Bonito, but taking advantage of the Albies, Spanish and Blues that are in the same locations. Once the Bonito bite slows, we can also run the beaches and look for Bull Reds or go check the Shrimp Trawlers for hungry Sharks.
Spring Striped Bass run on the Roanoke - I love this fishery! For me it's a great break from the salt, and for my anglers it's a great opportunity to play with a bunch of hard fighting fish. Last year we did have a few slow trips (that's fishing), but we also had many fast and furious days of hungry Stripers. I love dredging the water column for these fish on fly or jig, but my favorite is the early morning and late evening topwater bites. Every day is different and I make no guarantees, but we had several evenings last year that easily produced 100 Striped Bass on topwater. Last year, I called Weldon my home for 2 weeks, but this year I plan to stay up there for 3 weeks. Right now, I'm booking April 20th through May 10th on the upper Roanoke. These dates are subject to change depedning on bookings. I already have some of these dates booked so don't wait too late to get on the calendar.
Those Other Gold Fish - The last few springs up on the Roanoke, I've started to work out some nearby opportunities to sight fish for Common Carp. This is sightfishing for Carp on mud flats, rocky outcrops, stump fields, etc. Similar to sight fishing Redfish or Bonefish, where you will be poled along the shoreline looking for Carp in shallow water. This is a very cool fishery that I have been playing with on my days off from Striper trips, but one that I would like to start bringing some clients on. If you've ever been interested in sight fishing Carp, consider joining me while I'm up on the Roanoke late April to early May. You might want to think about combining this with a Striper trip since the two fisheries are only a half hour away from each other. I'd love to discuss this awesome fishery with you if you want more details.
Back Home to the Land of Redfish - After my Striper Season, I'll be back home on the Crystal Coast chasing the fish that built my business. I never get tired of stalking Redfish, I think because it's a game that you never perfect, you just keep learning and getting better, but you never finish the "game". Low tide, high tide, rising tide, falling tide, dead calm, breezy, sunny, cloudy, we'll be out there chasing them. And I really love fly fishing for these fish, I really do...but I can't wait for those ridiculous topwater explosions on surface plugs. I'm so ready to "walk the dog" past a hungry Redfish sitting off a grass point.
Tailing Redfish - I've got my tailing dates sorted out so give me a shout if you want to get up in the flooded grass and sightfish Reds. We'll be doing this type of fishing on the biggest tides of the month May through September. Unfortunately it doesn't look like an amazing year for big flood tides, a lot of them are minimal (but fishable) or late in the day (a lot of the big ones peak right around sunset). Basically what I'm saying is that yes we do have tailing tides, just not as many great ones as I want. We'll make the best of the ones that are available to us. I'm happy to send you my tailing dates if you are interested.
Kid Trips - I'll be offering shorter length Kid Friendly Trips throughout the Summer to help inspire the love of fishing in your children. We can go for some constant pullage while bottom fishing for Pinfish, Spot, Croaker, Black Sea Bass, Puffers, the list goes on forever...or we can put in the work and get them something big like a nice Redfish. You are always welcome to bring your children on your serious fishing trips, but if you want to put all the focus on their fishing success, then these trips are perfect for that. I try to make these trips as simple and fun as possible, and yes there's plenty of time for breaks for lunchables and juice boxes.
Summer Nearshore Fishery - We have plenty of Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish all summer long. Most people want to come chase Redfish with me in the summer, but don't forget about the great nearshore and inlet fishery for these guys.
Getting Wrecked this Summer - I really want to do more wreck fishing on fly and spin this year. I'm talking about running 5-20 miles out the inlet to some of our shipwrecks and hardbottom ledges to fish for Amberjack, Almaco Jack, Cobia, Barracuda, Mahi...whatever shows up under our boat. We can do this type of fishing from May through October and the fish species vary through the seasons. We are running out of my 23' Parker so obviously there is some weather dependancy with these trips, but if you have a little flexiblity, these can be very fun trips. I'll bring the 12wts, you bring the Ibuprofen.
Shark Attack - Sharks often get forgotten as most anglers jump at the chance for the glamour species like Redfish and Albacore, but they are always an option April through October. We do 100% catch and release with these fish, and we release the big ones in the water boatside, but it's still a super cool experience to hook up with 100lbs of pure muscle and teeth. We don't just fish for big sharks either, we also have the option to pole shallow flats in the summer and sight cast to Bonnethead sharks with fly or spin. That is a very cool fishery that is often overlooked.
Eco Tours - I'm a biology dork. I spent almost a 20 year career as a Marine Biologist before becoming a full time guide. I'm also an avid Wildlife Photographer and Birder. I love my home state of North Carolina because there is so much to experience, beyond just the fish. Want to go collect sharks teeth, Sand Dollars and sea shells? Cast Net and ID fish and invertebrate species? How about a birding trip through Hammocks Beach State Park for shorebirds and songbirds (want to see a Painted Bunting, I've got you covered)? How about a float down the White Oak River for Warblers and Tanagers (I'll throw in a few Alligators for free)? Dolphin watching? Yes please! I love doing Eco Tours and we can do these with your family and friends any time through the year. We are flexible and can lay out a plan to meet your needs.
Albie Darned! - By September my mind will be on the False Albacore that are starting to arrive along our beaches. On a good day, the Albie fishery on the Crystal Coast can be as good as it gets anywhere in the world. Some years the fishing is solid by mid September, some years its early October. They are hard to predict, heck last year we caugh big numbers of them during the first week of September. By October and November these fish are in full force all along the Crystal Coast. For 2023, I'll be booking Sept 23 through November 22 for Albie trips. Early season, there is a small chance that the fish won't be here in great numbers, but we will also have Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, small Jacks, etc to fill the gaps. I'm already about 1/3 booked up for Albie Season so give me a shout if you'd like to talk about whats available and what I think will be most productive.
Seeing Spots - Come November, the Speckled Trout and Grey Trout will have arrived. I don't run too many straight trout trips, but we definitely have the option to catch some trout while fishing inshore for Reds or while fishing nearshore for Albies.
Back on the Platform - I'll probably take a few days off for Thanksgiving, but then I'll be right back on the poling platform chasing schooled up Redfish in the marsh. The circle remains unbroken.
Boy...now you've got me all worked up to go fishing! We really are fortunate to have such a varied fishery here in North Carolina. It never gets boring. I'm excited to share it with all of you over the next 12 months!
I love Cape Lookout in the Fall. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all of it. I go there each Fall to put my anglers on fish, but there is so much more to experience beyond the fish. Here are 50 of my favorite images taken while pursuing Albies and other species this past October and November. I hope you enjoy seeing this amazing place through my eyes.
Winter Redfish Season is Here!
This year has flown by, and I can't believe that it's already mid-December. I barely just finished Albacore season and the winter Redfish fishery has already started up. The water temperature is between 57 and 60 degrees, the water is really clearing up, and the fish are schooling together in their winter haunts. If you haven't experienced this type of fishery, I can confidently say that the next couple of months will produce some of the best sightfishing you can experience in the Carolinas.
Each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, our backwaters clean up to the point where we have several feet of visiblity in the creeks and bays. There have been trips in the winter where we can see the bottom in 6ft of water. The cool thing is that most of our fishing isn't occuring in 6ft of water, it's happening in 6 to 18 inches of depth where the water is gin clear! Long gone are the days of seeing Redfish magically appear 10ft in front of the boat, and now we can sometimes spot fish as far as 100ft away.
So far this winter we have seen small groups of a half dozen Redfish, up to schools of close to a hundred fish in shallow water. During the winter we can see schools of up to 500 fish in inches of water, although 50 to 150 is more the norm.
These winter Redfish are very aware of their surroundings and are always on the lookout for predators. The good news though, is that there isn't an abundance of food during the winter, so these Redfish are happy to eat if you can sneak up on them. There is a little bit of planning when fishing a group of winter Redfish...how to approach them, where to place your cast so as not to spook them, etc. If you can figure out those variables, you can have an unbelivable day of fishing.
Both fly and spin work for sightcasting to these schools of fish. I love fishing them on fly, tossing a lightly weighted streamer at close range and watching them enhale it. That being said, we have plenty of fun targeting them with light tackle spin too, pitching lightly weighted soft plastic twitch baits to them.
Reds aren't the only fish we find inshore during the winter. It's not unusual to catch Speckled Trout and Flounder throughout the winter also.
Our winter season is just starting up and will last through March, and possibly into early April. I especially love January and February for this type of fishing, but March can be equally as good if the wind isn't blowing too hard. Sunshine, low winds, moderate temperatures and clean water are the keys to great sightfishing, so as a guide I try to stay flexible with my anglers to give them the best weather days possible.
If you'd like to learn more about our winter Redfish fishery, or book a trip for the upcoming months, give me a call or shoot me an email and we can talk about putting together a fun experience on the water. Most anglers have hung up their fishing gear at this point, and won't grab it again until next spring, but they are missing out on some of the best fishing of the year.
Now that Albie season is pretty much, most likely, but possibly not, over...I wanted to sit down and give you all a summary of the second half of Albie season. I did post a report back in mid October covering the first half of the season, so jump back one post if you want to read about that. The final 5-6 weeks of the season were extremely busy for me, and I didn't get to post any blog reports along the way...so this might be a long one.
Back when I first started chasing Albies on fly about 16 years ago, the season really didn't start until mid October, got good around Halloween and peaked towards Thanksgiving. At least that's how I remember it. The last few years, the last week of September has been really good, October on fire, and the fish leave somewhere between the middle and end of November.
This year the fishing was pretty good (with moments of greatness) through November 4th. Then we had a few summer-like days when the Albies were in a really bad mood and didn't show, so we went off chasing other fish. Then a few days later Hurricane Nicole (yes, in November!) came across Florida and made her way into the Carolinas as a Tropical Storm. Rain, 40mph North winds and giant South swells kept all of us off the water for a few days, and left us with very dirty water when we returned. We had one Albie-less day, and then they returned the following day on November 15th. And when I say they returned, I mean there was a square mile of busting Albies, everything changed overnight. The following morning they showed up in pretty good numbers, everyone caught a few, and then they vanished 30 minutes after they arrived. What followed was several days of seeing how many miles we could cover and how much fuel we could burn to find Albies. Don't get me wrong, we found other species to catch, Bluefish, Trout, Jacks, but the Albies just didn't want to come to the party. Thankfully, there are options in the ocean in November so we took full advantage of the plethora of other species. Finally, on the day before Thanksgiving, the Albies showed back up for a few hours that morning and made our anglers happy. Then on Thanksgiving day, the Albacore feasted all down the banks of Cape Lookout. And that just might have been their last hurrah of 2022. Then again, they could show right back up this week and rage once more...
I booked 65 days out of a 66 day stretch this year. And for that I owe you all a huge thank you. We had a couple cancellations/reschedules due to the weather, but overall it was an extremely good run for me. I had a great time sharing my boat with all of my anglers and I really enjoyed being around the other guides and anglers and watching their success this season. It's a great community and I am lucky to be a part of it.
As a photographer, I really like taking pics of my anglers and everthing else happening around us during the Fall season. I narrowed it down to 86 images from our second half of the season to share with you. If you came fishing with me for Albies or any of the other wonderful nearshore opportunities we have, then you just might find yourself in some of these images. And if you didn't come this year, you might want to consider coming in 2023 and being a part of the excitement that is Albie season. Anglers are already booking dates for next fall a whole year in advance (I feel like I've finally made it after 11 years of guiding!) so don't wait too late if you want to get a good date. Hope you enjoye the pics and thank you all so much for the support!!!
How to properly stretch a fly line.
Pretty weather day before it started to feel like Fall.
Like father like son.
Eyes on the prize.
Foggy morning and raging Albies.
First Albie for a very hard core angler! Don't mess with her, she will out-fish you.
On the days when it was too pretty for the Albies, we went looking for other targets.
No need to hit the gym after catching a few Amberjack.
I got a few firsts for me this year, like this Vermillion Snapper...makes my dorky biologist self happy!
You never know what you'll pull up from our wrecks and reefs, like this Porgy.
Doubled over in the fog.
Two for the price of one...
Albies are tackle testers.
Dane flew in from Ohio, and the fishing did not disappoint.
Plenty of Speckled Trout around the second half of November.
Always fun when the schools move into the "Hook".
Worth the trip up to NC!
Happy Angler = Happy Guide.
Couldn't believe we found baby Jacks all the way up to Thanksgiving.
That red buoy was the place to be for several days this season.
Flexing 10wts. These fish don't play around.
Nice Grey on fly.
Cold and choppy, and that's exactly how the Albies prefer it.
Going to battle with a fish that doesn't like to give up.
Hooked up at first light.
Another first...but just one of many for Victoria.
Good job Terry...put the heat on 'em.
Steve comes from Canada every Fall to chase Albies with me...I think this was year 5 or 6.
Black Drum was a nice surprise at the Cape this Fall.
Hey Brian, if you are reading this, I really really appreciate all your support over the years!
Grandfather - Granddaughter fishing team.
I love seeing the pure joy on an angler's face when an Albie makes that first run.
Sometimes the look on the angler's face, is one of pure panic, I love seeing that too.
Yes, blitzing Moonfish are a thing.
I need to do more of this, y'all want to give it a try next summer, let me know.
One day we found a never-ending school of puppies.
In case I forgot to mention...we caught a few Albies this year.
I guess that about sums it up for our Fall nearshore season. Believe it or not, I've also been hitting the marsh about once a week through the Fall sightfishing Redfish. The winter fishery is shaping up really nicely, and I'll make a post about that real soon. If you'd like to come sightfish Winter Reds over the next few months, get a jump on next years Albie season, or get on the calendar for anything else I'd love to talk to you about it. Thanks so much! John
Nearshore Report for Mid October 2022
Hey Everyone! Hope you are all doing well and enjoying your fall. I've been extremely busy the last few weeks with Albie charters and a few inshore trips too. So far this season has been great, with lots of birds, bait, fish, and happy anglers.
Other than a tropical storm and a few odd weather days, the nearshore fishing has been really productive with lots of Albies caught along with Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel. Both fly and spin has produced a solid bite and everyone has caught fish.
We've also been very fortunate to tangle with some big goldfish on a few occasions. They don't show up every day, but when these big Bull Redfish appear, we are ready to play.
As fortunate as I am to have so many trips this fall, it is absolutely exhausting, so I'll keep this report pretty short and just share with you some images from the last 2 or 3 weeks. These are just a fraction of the photos I have and a small percentage of the fish that have been caught. If you have any questions or want to book a trip, give me a shout. Winter Redfish sight fishing is just around the corner.
Fish of a Lifetime.
Tiny bait calls for tiny flies...
Father and son duo.
My anglers have kept me busy.
Okay everybody smile.
Sometimes they want the tutti fruitti.
Not an Albie...
Love it when anglers buy a rod from us, and then come fish it on a charter.
On the hunt.
Top 10 Weirdest Things I've Seen While Fishing: This Albie ate a lure from an angler on my boat, and another from an angler on a different boat at the same time! Talk about hungry!
Absolute stud of a Redfish sightcasted on the surface on fly!
Two Bros, Two Cores.
I'll never get bored of these amazing fish!
Made for Speed.