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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Heading down to Wrightsville Beach area for reds with my two sons if they decide to go. Anyone have any recommendations on places to go and/or places to avoid going with a small boat? Also anybody fishing in this area recently that can tell me what type and color of lures they've been hitting on? I'll be heading out of the Trails End boat ramp at Whiskey Creek.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This was my first trip out in NC coastal waters ever, and first trip on my new boat in NC as well. So I went down and put in just before first light, weather man said it was going to be a nice day, 84 degrees and only a 7 mph wind. About 13 seconds after leaving the ramp it started to sprinkle. Went south from the ramp about 50 meters and hit a sand bar, thankfully we were fishing away from the ramp cause it was still dark so on the trolling motor, no problems. Turned around, went back past the ramp to look for deeper water. Sat at the ramp dock for a few minutes until light enough to see channel marker away from ramp. Worked our way up Whiskey Creek, casting next to docks and against grassy banks with a variety of lures, no live bait. Quickly found out that this trip would be more about learning the area and less about fishing, and even less about catching any fish. Learned about half way up the creek that the small PVC pipes sticking up from the water were an attempt at marking the "channel", however only about half of them had a color on them, red or green. Once the tide ebbed at around 7:30am, we decided to head out of the creek and check out the marshes. We saw nothing except for a couple mullet jumping. No schools of bait or tailing reds, nearly impossible to see below the surface despite the water clarity out there which was very clean because it was so overcast or raining. After an hour or so looking around and taking mental notes about what was out there, what was under the grass everywhere, oysters or sand, how hard is it to navigate in and out of, etc. We then decided to try out Hewletts Creek. Same navigational issues here but we were now dealing with the outgoing tide. Tried to work our way in looking for pockets that may hold some reds waiting for passing bait moving along with the tide, but once again spent more time looking around and learning the extremely narrow channel and finding out just how many oyster beds are in the creek. Long story long, only had one hook up on a Gulp jerk shad, but never got the hook set due to my rigging error, I won't miss next time. The bite did come at a bend and pocket a couple yards from the shore while the current was moving past, so I believe I was looking the right type of area anyway. By this time it was pouring down rain, and my friend did not have his rain gear with him, and we were admittedly a little frustrated by the complete lack of any movement around. Chalked this trip up to learning, and hating the weather channel. Reading some of the other posts, it seems like this past Saturday was a bust for most so that makes this skunk a little more tolerable I suppose. There's always next week. Hope you guys had a better Saturday than me.
 

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Yeah the new moon may have had things out of whack this weekend. Large swings in highs and lows.

To the OP, glad you learned a lot while taking your first trip. Usually the first few inshore trips are learning the lay of the land and water. You'll be catching fish in no time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the replies gents. Thanks for reading, for any tips you may have given, and your input, I humbly accept. Hopefully I'm posting in the fishing reports area next time with some pics attached. Heading down again this Friday, weather permitting, to learn some more, and hopefully grind out a few fish. Rome wasn't built in a day right?
 

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Quest -

Not sure how often you are planning on doing this, but if you are going to do it often (or at least want to!), I can't recommend enough that you hire a guide. It's expensive, but if you find the right guide and ask him to make the trip about learning vs. catching, it will be a very very worthwhile investment. I spent 400+ on a guide here after a first trip that felt a lot like yours and he spent the entire day showing me spots, explaining when and why they were good, showing me lures, tactics, etc. It was a hard bill to swallow, but the next two weekends, I went out on my own and had great trips that I would NOT have had if I hadn't hired the guide. This is my first year down here and I'm planning on hiring him 4 times this year - one time at each of the major seasonal changes.

You have to find the right guide, though, not all of them are willing to teach.
 

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Most of the guides I know do not want to be considered a source of fishing spots for sale. I see this all to often how great it is just to hire a guide for their spots. Some may not care, but most DO NOT want to see you back at the spots they work hard to find and rely on for other charters. I would like ppl to know that this is not typical respectable practice. Buying spots is ridiculous. They will however, be thrilled to show you tips, tactics, baits, seasonal variations, anything else you might need to help you LEARN FOR YOURSELF. Going to their spots and catching fish is a necessary part of the trip. Following guides around on your boat is also absurd. Plus "guides" are not created equal. I know plenty that the term clueless best sums up their abilities. I don't want people getting into the sport to get the wrong idea about hiring people.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Greenmoster and reel, I think you both are correct. Hiring a guide that is willing to teach techniques and types of spots that work, in a general sense, not so much spots as in GPS numbers, would be a great help. I would look for somebody who was willing to help me help myself. I would not consider stealing all their hot spots, but instead would look for what goes into making a spot good so that I could explore and find productive places on my own. Rigging techniques would be beneficial as well, loosing fish to poor or improper rigging is very frustrating. I think it would also be great to have an experienced local guide to show me where the trouble spots are, navigation channels, etc., so I don't thrash my boat and or prop the first trip out. I would like to think of myself as a respectful fisherman with some ethics regarding the unwritten rules of boating and fishing, ie prep the boat away from the ramp, don't fish on top of other boats, etc. This would apply to hiring a guide as well. I appreciate both of your inputs and thank you for taking the time to reply.
 

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Reel -

You bring up a fair point, and I think you misunderstood my post. I'll clarify it to make sure others don't misread it as well.

When I reached out to the guide, I was very clear about my intentions and my ask, and specifically asked him NOT to take me to any spots that he didn't want to see me back at. When, in my original post, I said he shared with me spots, why and when they were good, etc, I was referring to types of spots, not so much the spots themselves.

I agree, however, that hiring a guide without full disclosure, and then showing up at the spots they make their living on is less than honest or honorable. If that's what you meant by "buying spots," I couldn't agree more.

I also agree that not all guides are created equal. I've heard stories of guides that yell at you for missing a fish. Mitch Blake may be a rare kind of guide, but he was actually quite happy to spend the day teaching me how to fish the waters down here and he spent as much time with a rod in his hand as I did. I know there are all types of guides out there, but for folks who fish regularly, he's the kind of guide I'd recommend to anyone on here.

Anyway, hope that clears it up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quest -

Not sure how often you are planning on doing this, but if you are going to do it often (or at least want to!), I can't recommend enough that you hire a guide. It's expensive, but if you find the right guide and ask him to make the trip about learning vs. catching, it will be a very very worthwhile investment. I spent 400+ on a guide here after a first trip that felt a lot like yours and he spent the entire day showing me spots, explaining when and why they were good, showing me lures, tactics, etc. It was a hard bill to swallow, but the next two weekends, I went out on my own and had great trips that I would NOT have had if I hadn't hired the guide. This is my first year down here and I'm planning on hiring him 4 times this year - one time at each of the major seasonal changes.

You have to find the right guide, though, not all of them are willing to teach.
So would you be willing to divulge the name or your guide? Sounds like he was a good teacher. I do feel like I have to find/earn my own honey holes, but it sounds like the guide you used went to great lengths to show you how to do this, and not just show you his spots. I also like the fact that he spent time showing you tactics and techniques for the presenting conditions, this should shorten the learning curve time significantly. Not sure a guide is in the budget right now, still trying to outfit my new boat and ensure I have adequate tackle, but it is definitely on my list of to-do's. Thanks for your comments.
 

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LOL! Quest, we're typing simultaneously! The guide I took out was Captain Mitch Blake, of FishIBX charters (252-495-1803). He is worth his weight in gold. I actually took him out on my boat, which he was happy about, and he was even fine with me locking down some spots in my GPS.

To your point about rigging - he showed me a couple tricks that ABSOLUTELY made the difference between catching a fish and not getting a hit at all. He also put me onto some locally made lures (local as in NC) called "Yee-Haw Baits" that are really really good lures.

I'm hoping to take him out again in May/early June to find out about early summer fishing patterns, then again in August for some Old Drum targeting (on the fly!).

He's a great guy, can't recommend enough! BTW, here's a video of that day:
http://www.ncangler.com/videos/index.php?do=watch&videoid=98
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, I saw that we must have been replying at the same time, but I appreciate the reply with number. I'll file away for when I am ready with some $. So where can I get these "Yee-Haw Baits" you speak of? I was looking around the forum for tackle shops down towards Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, and there were quite a few suggestions. Most likely will hit Tex's first as it appears to come highly recommended and is local to where I am going for now. The tackle shops near Fort Bragg are just ok, but I'd like to find something closer to where I fish just in case I need a mid-day resupply or I want to stray from the artificials and use some live bait. Thanks again for your help.
 

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Call Ron at Yee Haw Baits. Phone is 336-403-7333. (Website is www.fishyeehawbaits.com - look for the "Mr. Wags" - and I like the chart/blue color). Ron might just be the nicest human you'll ever talk to. Found out I had a son who fishes with me and he threw in a pack of lures just for him. They are a little pricey, but absolutely worth it, and if you order in bulk (25) they are much cheaper. Reel them in steadily and slow, and hang on. If there are fish around, you will hook them. The also have a hollowed out area for scent if you are a pro-cure user. PM me if you order them and I'll walk you through rigging them and also share a tip that Mitch gave me that makes a big difference. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So I went back down yesterday 4/24, with another friend who also has no experience fishing the area. I think we tried just about everything, from top water to swim baits, to live bait with no takers. I think the only thing we didn't try was a popping cork. Tried around some docks, tried some channels and choke points, some bays and grass flats, and even up in some creeks. Navigation was much less of a challenge this time as I remembered the channels from last time and we started out on a low tide so most of the danger areas were exposed. Once again the weather man predicted a good day. Wind was supposed to max at 13mph around 10am then start to let off. Didn't have anything to measure wind speed but both my friend and I agreed it seemed to be blowing more than 13mph. We got blown around pretty good. We did see more bait fish around this time and netted some small mullet to use for live bait, and we did manage to see some reds, but I think we saw them as we spooked them. We may have managed a bite or two, but neither of us was 100% what was biting, and perhaps bumping the oysters on the retrieve may have had us setting the hook a time or two. We researched areas to fish in articles and located spots ahead of time on maps, even found an article or two with GPS coordinates. Although it seemed we fished in several areas that held fish, we were not able to put anything in the boat. We looked in choke points and creek mouths on the outgoing tide, and back into the shallow water and flats on the incoming tide. We fished the eddy's and swirling currents near points and attempted to make long casts up against the grass flats that had drop offs to deeper water near them. We did not see any tailing reds or large schools anywhere that would have allowed us to cast in front of them, or over them and pull a retrieve back through the "strike zone". Should we have spent more time looking for schools or tails and less time blind casting promising structure? When fishing live bait on a Carolina rig, do you just let it sit or do you retrieve it like you would a Carolina rigged lure? When fishing docks, is it imperative to get your bait under the structure or is getting right up against it good enough most of the time? I've heard that when it's windy, reds do not like to play, is this true, should I have just stayed home or looked for places shielded from the wind? We tried to get out of the wind in some creeks, but the wind was there too, maybe I just don't know the area well enough. Is there something I'm missing besides years of experience? I'm considering trying new places next time I go, perhaps the Hampstead/Topsail Island area, or the New River near Jacksonville or Snead's Ferry? Not sure yet, but I reckon that's part of the fun. Your comments and criticism is welcomed.
 

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The fish have moved inside from their winter surf side haunts. It's a transitional time right now and because you're new to the area, I'd recommend you get on the trolling motor and stay on it covering as much water as you can. If you don't have a trolling motor, use the wind n current to your advantage to cover water. This time of year I hit a lot of spots and I only found them by covering a lot of water. And to make things more interesting, it's just not spots...its spots at a certain point of the tide cycle. You're on the right track, keep the faith and keep searching!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
One of the problems we were having is bait presentation. You want long casts when targeting reds correct? Also, you want to present the bait naturally, as in it should be moving with the tide, not against? So the wind was kicking and it was going in the direction of tidal flow making it difficult to make long casts. The incoming tide and the wind were working together making the boat move really fast. I tried putting my small mushroom anchor out with a short leash to drag the bottom to slow us down, but this only worked some of the time, it either caught and stopped us, or seemed to have no effect at all. Didn't want to drain my battery by keeping the trolling motor on the entire time, and I have my concerns about whether the fish can hear the trolling motor. Not knowing how the reds move during the incoming tide, or if hearing a trolling motor turns off the bite, I tried to use it sparingly. So on the incoming tide, the boat is moving with the current so we are passing the fish and then casting back to them, which on at least a couple occasions, caused us to spook the fish as we were trying to keep the boat from colliding with the opposite bank. I was trying to position myself at the lead edge of the tidal flow, or shallow portions of the flats, hopefully in front of the reds moving back into the area, so as the grass began to flood, we could see fish or at least blind cast to points or holes to present the baits with the incoming tide. So can anybody tell me, what is the ideal situation when fishing the incoming tide? And how about the outgoing? From what I have read, choke points and creek mouths, holes and points where water pushes past will be where to find the reds on the outgoing. So if I am in an area that is draining, do I move all the way out to the nearest main channel that will have somewhat deep water at low tide, or do I try just to stay ahead of the trail edge of the tide and fish holes, points, etc as I am making my way past them towards the main channel?
 
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