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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I posted a mini report on the roll-call thread, but thought I'd make the official report here.

Having moved down here in March, my wife and I made a decision to invest in an accelerated learning curve of the fishing here by hiring a guide a few times the first year we are down here. At version 4.0, and with 4 kids with a blooming interest in fishing, I can't afford to spend the amount of time on the water by myself figuring this out while I leave them at home with momma. It's been a good decision so far. First trip with Mitch Blake of IBX led to a ton of great and highly productive trips with the kids. The patterns started to change, so I reached out to Mitch again for a late spring/early summer Pamlico fishing education session.

Again, I wasn't disappointed.

First things first, though. Mitch called me the day before the trip and dangled a very tempting distraction - 100+ fish on top water, on fly on the Roanoke. He'd been earlier in the week and it was simply off the hook. All I had to do was abandon my mission to learn the Pamlico and all those fish would be mine.

I drooled at the prospect, waffled, almost said yes, then remembered that the only way I can justify this investment is to learn waters and patterns that will be there all year round and close enough to home to take the kids. So, after a long discussion, I stuck to my original plan, and we decided to hit the Pamlico. I could hear Mitch's heart sink - I was turning down easy fishing for what he warned me would be very, very tough scouting around. I was fine with that.

I learned a ton, some of which I will share here, some of which I'll encourage you to hire Mitch to find out.

First lesson - The striper that were so abundant back in March and seemed to disappear in my most recent trips actually had disappeared. Up the Tar they went to do their thing. There were a few around, but the vast majority were making baby Striper, so my lack of success wasn't completely a function of my fishing incompetence.

Okay, now I'm feeling better.

Second lesson - Everything is in transition now - Stripers moving out of the rivers, trout moving out to the bay, reds/flounder moving upriver. Find them, and its a ball, but it's hit and miss from April into May. They are moving.

Third lesson - this is a weird year. Everything is running late - temps in the Pam were 74 degrees, normally they are approaching 80 by now. It's going to be a weird year - everything is off the usual pattern. Stripers should be out of the Tar by now, but they are just now starting to move back down. Flounder and Reds should be moving up river by now, but the are waiting for that 79 degree trigger. Trout should be moving to the bay by now, but they are mysteriously absent. By all accounts, they are just "off".

Okay, now I'm feeling a LOT better. Sometimes the key to happiness is low expectations. :)

We fished around Washington using topwater flies and I had a nice swirl early on, but the fish never came back.

Fourth lesson - right after the spawn, the fish can be a bit "off". Less aggressive and a little sick. They come out of the rivers eating everything they can find, and then go into a less aggressive mode.

We fished a few shorelines, and Mitch had a massive blow up - hooking up on a really nice fish, but it came unbuttoned after a few minutes. We fished the Washington waterfront, switching to Yeehaw rigs and I missed a fish. A few minutes later, he hooked up, and in typical guide fashion, showed me up by catching two fish at once. Okay, now I'm impressed. :)

I pushed him to keep us moving - this trip wasn't about fishing, it was about learning, so off to the next spot. We headed up the river, first into Tranters Creek where he showed me a few spots and I managed to catch a really nice catfish and a nice little crappie on my Yeehaw rig (both came home to dinner). No Striper though, so we headed up the Tar. Again, we fished little, talked a lot.

He pointed out a little island outside of tranters creek that would be great to take the kids to for a day of swimming. I tucked that in my back pocket - sometimes you learn things that have nothing to do with fishing.

Okay, got it - got the striper thing, got the up river thing, what about that magical area down river where those flounder, redfish, and trout are lurking???

Fifth Lesson: Hire a guide . . . .

Mitch looked pensive for awhile - I could tell he was disappointed that the fishing had been pretty slow and, while I'd learned a LOT, I was looking for something different. Striper were fine, but I was getting really curious about what was downriver. After a few minutes of motoring slowly back down the Tar River, Mitch looked at me and said, "Okay, here's what we're gonna do. Long drive, but I wanna show you something. We'll talk on the way down river and I'll point out spots, but I gotta show you something really cool."

Yeah, now we're talking!

Downriver we went, travelling over 20 miles from up the Tar down past Bath Creek. 40 minutes of drive time and he pointed out shore lines and places for me to check out for the coming months as we traveled down river. When we arrived at the spot, the difference was absolutely unbelievable. Up river, we had seen no signs of baitfish anywhere. Nothing, nada, nunca. Down here, the finger mullet were absolutely everywhere. A quick cast with the cast net put four in the live well just in case. A little further in, we saw what he was looking for - Rain.

This wasn't the kind of "come down from the sky" kinda rain. This was the "up from the water" kind of rain - tiny menhaden getting completely annihilated by Striper, Reds, and who knows what else. Every 20 seconds, there were slashes and explosions and bait getting devoured.

Sixth Lesson - you can lead a fisherman to fish, but you can't make the fish bite

Ten thousand fish . . . and not a single one landed. We threw everything we had at them, from topwaters, to live bait, to flies of every variation we could tie on quickly enough. I had one fish on briefly, and a few tugs, but the fish were absolutely zoned in on the size and shape of these tiny menhaden and weren't going to be fooled by impostors.

We finished the day with a long trip back up river and more spots, more discussion, more explanation and refinement of what I'd already learned.

The next day - Sunday, my wife expressed an interest in taking my daughter shopping after Mass, so I took the three boys out to do a little fishing, but kept that island in mind for something fun if the fishing was slow. We fished for a few minutes, but the kids had heard me mention the "island" and it was all they could think about. After my oldest son landed a mudfish (highlight of his week), we packed up the rods, and headed over the the island. We spent the best two hours I can remember at that island. The boys played, swam, splashed, and generally acted like goof balls on the shallow bar and begged to stay when it was time to leave.

Was the guides fee worth it? You betcha. :) Something so simple as that little island made priceless memories for a father.
 

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Nice post, thanks for sharing your experiences.

The island you mentioned is a popular spot in the summer; you'll see more people there as the weather heats up. If you want to show your kids a shipwreck, there's one between the island and the north bank of the river, about 40m or so downriver from the warning buoy and slightly inshore of it. It's a wooden wreck that lies just below the surface. Be careful looking for it with your boat; it's very shallow and collects propellers and lower units. Bet your kids will love to explore it, but watch out for exposed spikes and bolts.
 

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GM,

Great read. Now I'm less depressed. Two weeks ago I had 3 friends from out of state down. We fished the Pungo, Pamlico sound, and lower Pamlico River intensely x 3 days. It was the worst I've seen it in about 15 years. Quite humiliating. At that time there was a total absence of bait and no jellyfish. Stayed home the next weekend. This past weekend I sat on my front porch at Woodstock for the weekend and did not see one pod of menhaden, no finger mullet, nothing. Did catch some mud minnows in a small gut, tried for some flounder on Carolina rigs at Jordan Creek for about an hour. Zip. Still hopeful that things will begin to turn around with the warmer, drier weather we're having.
Moved here from eastern shore Maryland in the mid 80s. Things are radically different. I wish I had been in a position to hire a guide back then. There was no message boards, etc, and learning was painstakingly incremental over a period of many years. Add to that 2 small boys, 2 parents working stressful jobs, in grad school, and a wife that hated fishing.
Love your enthusiasm and willingness to share your thoughts. Keep up the good work with your fishing and your family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Redfish -

Thanks for the note - I figured that island was going to get crowded as the weather warmed up, it's a great little place for kids! When you say that wreck is 40m from the warning buoy, is that "M" for "meters"? How big is a meter? ;)

Blue Crab -glad to hear the report helped you. I felt the same way. Sometimes its nice to know it isn't you, it really IS the fish. :)

Rooster, thanks for the kind words!

Rick - you better believe it!

Jeff, I tend to agree. Love supporting good people.
 

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GM,

Great read. Now I'm less depressed. Two weeks ago I had 3 friends from out of state down. We fished the Pungo, Pamlico sound, and lower Pamlico River intensely x 3 days. It was the worst I've seen it in about 15 years. Quite humiliating. At that time there was a total absence of bait and no jellyfish. Stayed home the next weekend. This past weekend I sat on my front porch at Woodstock for the weekend and did not see one pod of menhaden, no finger mullet, nothing. Did catch some mud minnows in a small gut, tried for some flounder on Carolina rigs at Jordan Creek for about an hour. Zip. Still hopeful that things will begin to turn around with the warmer, drier weather we're having.
Moved here from eastern shore Maryland in the mid 80s. Things are radically different. I wish I had been in a position to hire a guide back then. There was no message boards, etc, and learning was painstakingly incremental over a period of many years. Add to that 2 small boys, 2 parents working stressful jobs, in grad school, and a wife that hated fishing.
Love your enthusiasm and willingness to share your thoughts. Keep up the good work with your fishing and your family.
I grew up fishing with my dad around the same time and in a similar situation. Lots of times it was just a test of perseverance
 

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Green-
Im from greenville as well and am also experiencing slow fishing.

We fished the lower pungo river from the sound all the way back to the breakwater, hitting every creek mouth in between this past sat. Managed 5 flounder with two keepers at 16 and 17. Bait everwhere, but really slow. We were looking drum and trout and had no takers. Moonphase, salinity, and this being a transition period had a lot to do with it. This weekend should be much better. I usually fish every weekend I can. PM sometime and I will try to help with reports and tactics.
 

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ReelPrime - What boat were you in? I fished all over lower Pungo Saturday too. I was in a light blue Sportsman Bay Boat. 1 trout, 1 striper and lost a flounder. Sunday was 1 flounder, 3 striper, 1 puppy drum and a gar...

Green-
Im from greenville as well and am also experiencing slow fishing.

We fished the lower pungo river from the sound all the way back to the breakwater, hitting every creek mouth in between this past sat. Managed 5 flounder with two keepers at 16 and 17. Bait everwhere, but really slow. We were looking drum and trout and had no takers. Moonphase, salinity, and this being a transition period had a lot to do with it. This weekend should be much better. I usually fish every weekend I can. PM sometime and I will try to help with reports and tactics.
 

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"He pointed out a little island outside of tranters creek that would be great to take the kids to for a day of swimming. I tucked that in my back pocket - sometimes you learn things that have nothing to do with fishing."

I can make this "to do with fishing". Gonna take you kids to the island, after daddy catches a few fish. Done and done.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Reelprime - That sounds great - I'll get a PM out to you. Good to know there is another Greenvillian (that didn't sound right, did it) out there who fishes that consistently. We've got a great group starting to form on the "Roll Call - Who's going fishing this weekend" thread and a lot of us are starting to connect via text and PM to keep the info flowing while on the water. Would love any help you can provide - one way or another, we gotta find these fish!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
BTW, I noticed that the water temp jumped a degree from Saturday to Sunday, so should be approaching that magical 79 by this weekend if we can avoid too much rain and keep the night time temps up. Heard that if you take the average between the highs and lows for the past week or so, you will be pretty darned close to knowing what the water temp is. By that math, it is easing up slowly and may not make it to 79 till Monday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey Larry - as you exit Tranters creek into the Tar, it's right there just above the 17 bridge. You can't miss it. If you come out of tranters and then go up the Tar, you have to go around it, or you will run aground. Just be careful, there is a long and very narrow bar that extends downriver of the island (that is REALLY good for the kids).

BTW, if you do go out there, bring water shoes. There are a lot of clam shells that will cut your feet. Ask me how I know. :)
 

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Lots of broken glass etc around that island too, it is a popular party spot and soon you will see a fire burning on it most every weekend. Go on upriver and there is another one a bit more elevated on the right. You see tents there from time to time too. One thing I have learned living around the finicky waters of Washington is, if they aren't biting here go EAST! Unless of course you want fresh water fish. Salinity plays a big part in what goes on locally here and as you go east you get better balance. You will also soon be learning the curse of the crab pot. As the water warms most of the "fishy" shoreline becomes a maze of crab pots and you cant get to the places you want to fish. I have untangled my prop a couple of times...
 
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