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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We launched from the Taylor’s Creek boat ramp in Beaufort about 5:30 am Saturday morning and headed to Beaufort Inlet. Saw very little visible sign of life between the inlet and Cape Lookout shoals. The shoals were a bit sporty, but we managed to find a passable slot just north of Shark Island and crossed over to the east side. Not much going on there, either, until we found a couple of big Menhaden schools in front of the lighthouse. Not much predator activity on the first bait ball but found the second one because Spanish and blues were ripping through them and causing a lot of surface activity. In short, we spent most of Saturday working that one bait ball. Picked up a lot of blues at first, but then hooked up with Spanish once we saw them “skying” on the edges of the school.

Eventually figured out there were bigger predators underneath the bait ball. We were hoping for cobia, but instead picked up a 4.5ft Blacktip shark and a huge 47” red drum. I hooked the first shark on a epoxy-type jig that I let settle below the menhaden school before reeling. At that time I was just using a 2500 Shimano Sahara on a BPS Bionic Blade medium action rod, so it took me 20 min or so to finally force that shark close to the boat. My $1.99 16” Arc dehooker (an eBay purchase from a lot with “soiled packaging”!) immediately paid for itself as I was able to easy snatch the hook out when I finally dragged the shark close enough to the boat. I hooked the big drum on a 2oz bucktail tipped with a 5” Gulp! shad that I let fall beneath the bait ball. The red fought fought like a raging beast--just as hard as I imagined a 40-50lb drum could fight in 70F water. She made multiple hard runs against a pretty stiff drag on my Penn Battle 6000 w/a stout Penn MH rod. Finally coaxed the big fish to the boat, but it required the two of us to drag the fish over the side of the boat for a quick photo (photo is badly overexposed) -- my mouth is open 'cause I was panting for breath (!). Got her back in the water quickly and she swam off unharmed.

Even though there was apparently a school of old drum under the menhaden (others boated them as well), the sharks would sometimes intercept the bucktail before it could get down to the reds. A bit later I hooked a monster blacktip that we estimated to be about 6ft long. Got a lucky (?!) hookup in the side of the mouth (mono leader) and the fight was on. I battled that beast for a good hour before I was completely exhausted -- hardest fighting fish I have ever hooked. Had it close to the boat several times, just could not muscle it up close enough to reach its mouth with the dehooker. Cranked down the drag as tight as I dared and the knot finally broke in a late desperate attempt to force the beast within range of the dehooker. Downed two Gatorades *during* the red drum fight, but I actually drank three Gatorades battling that last big shark. Then I had to rest for several minutes 'cause all the muscles in my body were cramping, esp my hands.

The next day (Sunday, 5/17) we got another early start, but had even more trouble locating fish -- looked like the start of a very slow day. Birds weren’t much help most of the day, and found nothing on the east side of the shoals where we located fish the day before. Had to work to find a slot back across the shoals (much further south of Shark Island), but eventually began to see silversides or some kind of anchovy-type fish breaking the surface while fleeing from predators. Picked up a few blues, then began to notice breaching Spanish on the shallow flats west of the shoals. We managed to boat a few that promptly regurgitated large silverside-type minnows at our feet. We rummaged through our tackle and found jigs that closely matched the silverside pattern, and from that point on we caught Spanish just about as fast as we could cast our jigs. Action in any spot would slow down eventually, and we’d slowly motor around looking for fleeing baitfish and skying Spanish; we dropped waypoints where we spotted the most bait, and sometimes we'd circle back to those spots and would invariably locate more fleeing bait and breaching Spanish. This went on for several hours and we caught very good-sized Spanish until our arms were sore from the reeling and catching. We had great luck “burning” the jigs back in so fast they would sometimes skip across the surface of the water. But the Spanish had no trouble catching the lures and would sometimes actually breach the surface when they would attack the jigs at high speed. At one point the Spanish herded the baitfish under and around our boat, so that we were surrounded with breaking Spanish on all sides of the boat.

The action did slow down early in the afternoon, and we decided to head back. About halfway between the shaols and the CL jetty, we saw a school of breaking fish that appeared much larger than the blues or Spanish we’d been catching. On the second or third cast to the area, I hooked up with what I thought was a false albacore, but once I saw the stripes I realized we had stumbled upon Atlantic Bonito. We chased them for a while and picked up another good fish, then decided we needed rest and Advil so headed back to the ramp.

Just a spectacular couple of days of fishing. We’ve made these trips enough to know things don’t always work out this well, so we were deeply grateful to Mother Nature for the adventure. We did keep a cooler full of Spanish and few Blues, along with a couple of Bonito.

Photos attached below.


Water Boat Vertebrate Watercraft Fisherman
Plant Vertebrate Fish Window Salmon-like fish
Water Sky Goggles Glove Beard
Water Sky Fish Fisherman Fishing
Water Vertebrate Boat Fisherman Fish
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah, just looked at it and understood -- it's a pink Yo-zuri DD hanging off the rod tip behind me, but in the photo it looks like it hanging from the fish's mouth!

Nice report. That bonito on the right looks like it has two jigs on it. Guess its the angle of the photo.
 
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