Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spots and Specks

Kamaron's granddad turned 90 years old this past Veterans Day, so we headed to Wrightsville Beach one last time this year to celebrate with him. He is in great shape for a man of his age, and still goes hunting and fishing when he can. Coincidentally, the NCKFA was hosting a small tournament at Fort Fisher the same weekend, so I could see no reason not to take my little plastic boat down with me and see if I could find some fish. William Ragulsky was also going to be in the area on other kayak fishing business, so we decided we would get together and try to plunder another kayak from a N.C. tourny. This would be a CPR event, with the combined total length of 1 redfish and 1 speckled trout being measured, hence the name Spots and Specks.

This was a very informal tourny, with the registration and captains meeting held the morning of, at the public ramp into the Basin @ Fort Fisher. Lauch time wasn't until 8:00. Billy had won the Hook, Line, and Paddle tournament with a trout from the fort, and I had fished here a bunch in the past, so we knew we could find fish, it was just a matter of finding bigger fish.

We started the morning trolling the wall that separates the Basin from the Cape Fear River with a 3" Bayou Thumper and Mirrolures. There are several places where the wall has broken apart, and the current rolls through carrying bait back and forth from the river. It didn't take long to get my first bite, and with the head shakes, I was sure it was a trout... until I saw those beady yellow eyes.... Damnit! Bluefsih.
We trolled the wall around to Zeke's Island and worked that area for a bit, drifting along the wall and casting. There was very little bait in the water, so it looked like it was going to be an all artificial day, which I don't mind one bit. We decided to head through the Cribs and down to the second bay. Billy quickly picked up a 13" Spec as we left the wall and trolled along Zeke's. A few minutes later my rod bent over but as soon as I picked it up, the fish came unbuttoned. I left the line out and began paddling again trying to match my previous speed when it bent over again. This time I made a good hook set. The fish stripped a little drag, shook its head a few times and came over the side of the boat.
At just under 17" in was no gator, but if I could find an upper slot Red, I might have a chance at this thing. We worked our way down the the second bay, trolling the whole way, picking up smaller fish here and there. We weren't hearing of any trout much bigger than 17" being caught, so I still felt confident that I had a chance at this thing.

Billy ended up way out in front and I eventually lost track of him, as his boat is much faster than mine. The tide was moving out pretty fast now, and having my specks, I went in search of my spots. I found a very shallow cut between a grass island and the shoreline with a muddy bottom. This looked promising, so I slowly worked my way in, keeping my eyes peeled for signs of activity. There was only about 18" of water and it was crystal clear, but the breeze was blowing a little, and I couldn't get the sun at my back, so spotting the fish was proving difficult. As soon as I entered the creek, I paddled right over a redfish and he spooked, leaving behind a cloud of muddy water. After spooking 3 or 4 more fish, I finally spotted one ahead of me slowly cruising around waiting for the current to push bait to him. My heart was beating like the first time I shot a deer. I made a perfect cast and he immediately hit the Thumper, but it was a short strike. Luckily, I hadn't tried to set the hook, and just kept my retrieve steady. He was chasing the bait- couldn't have been more than 3 or 4" behind it. I paused my retrieve for a split second and he short struck again. At this point he was only 15' from the kayak. He saw me and disappeared into a cloud of pluff mud. I worked my way throught the rest of the cut, a spotted a few more, but was unable to cast to them before they spooked.

I met back up with Billy, and we worked through the same area one last time looking for a redfish, and found one more, but Billy made a bunch of commotion and that fish was long gone. I'll let him tell you the story, if he wants. We trolled our way back to the ramp and both picked up a few more small trout, but nothing worth keeping.
        This one went somewhere around 13" but hopped back into the water before I could get a clear picture. We ended the day with lots of specks but no spots. The winner, with a 18.5" redfish and a 18.25" speckled trout took home a new boat from KC Kayaks. I took home dinner, so I wasn't empty handed.
Gotta love the bait well in the Malibu Stealth. Almost 5 hours after catching this guy, he was still live and kicking, and that's without the aerator plumbed. As always, it was a great day on the water. Always glad to wet a line with Billy. NCKFA puts on a few great tournaments every year, and the Wrightsville Beach/Cape Fear/Fort Fisher area is fantastic place to kayak fish. Check it out if your looking for a new fishing destination.


  1. Nice post, Seth. I gotta get down there one of these days.

  2. It was a blast brother! I guess you are a better person than I, cause I would have outed you in a heartbeat. Good post, and can't wait until the next trip down!