Fish Post

Tidelines – June 22, 2017

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Perhaps sometimes the universe is working against us, or perhaps we only perceive the universe to be working against us when in reality it’s pushing us in a rewarding direction and we just fail to understand.

That’s my philosophical way of saying that I traveled to the Outer Banks to go sight casting for cobia but ended up going flounder fishing…and it was an unexpected great time for sure.

Team John Cena–Owen, Ethan, Gary, and James Hurley–with their Father’s Day catch of spanish and a blue weighed in during the Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open.

On the morning that I was supposed to meet Capt. Aaron Beatson of Carolina Sunrise Charters, I started my early drive from Hatteras under clear skies. Those clear skies, however, gave way to a thick fog and overcast conditions just before the Oregon Inlet Bridge, and they stayed with me all the way to Wanchese Marina where Aaron was loading up his boat with more rods and tackle than two people should need for a day of fishing.

Our plans to go sight casting for cobia would not only be next to impossible given the conditions, but heading out of Oregon Inlet with less than 50’ of visibility would pose any number of safety risks for his charismatic 20’ 1950 custom Carolina, originally built in 1958 and restored in 2006.

Our plan was to try some different inshore fishing spots in hopes that in time the rising sun would burn off the fog and cloud cover, hence the need for all kinds of tackle. Spoiler alert—the clouds and fog didn’t lift all day.

Aaron first stopped to drift over some grass beds that had been holding speckled trout, but apparently the weather front that had moved through and left in its path the day’s northeast winds (after over two weeks of predominant southwest winds) had also affected the trout. After finding only a couple of modest fish, we pushed to some flats bordered by deeper water channels, a local habitat know for holding puppy drum.

The story on the red drum flats was the same—we saw some fish pushing water but ultimately weren’t able to get the fish to take either our soft plastic or cut bait offerings.

The desire to feel a pull on the end of a line grew over the course of the morning, as did our growing anxiety for the fog and clouds to lift so that we could go in search of cobia. A small patch of sun broke through, so we slowly headed out Oregon Inlet to idle north to a little point that often hosts some surf red drum.

The little point had plenty of churning white water, perfect for holding red drum, but neither Aaron nor myself really wanted to anchor up in the swells and watch rods with cut baits sitting on the bottom.

By now the tide had turned, and Aaron noticed lots of pretty water flowing in past the existing Oregon Inlet Bridge and all of the construction going on just inshore of the new bridge. We were no longer fighting the universe. Our path was suddenly clear. We were going to drift fish for flounder on the incoming tide, targeting the clear blue water flowing into the sound.

And once we gave in to the direction that the universe wanted us to follow, the hot fishing action we desired immediately followed.

Gary Hurley with a keeper flounder caught drift fishing in the shadows of Oregon Inlet Bridge. He was bouncing bucktails and flounder strips while fishing with Capt. Aaron Beatson of Carolina Sunrise Charters out of Manteo.

It took little more than a couple of minutes to hook into our first flounder of the day. And that first flounder was followed by a second and a third and on and on until we stopped trying to keep a tally.

Yes, most of the fish were small, but keeper-sized fish were mixed in. And there’s just something about a hot flounder bite that’s fun. The plan to chase cobia had brought Aaron and I together, but the struggles of the morning followed by the shared experience of landing two-at-a-time flounder (Aaron likes bouncing a two bucktail rig off the bottom, with both hooks trailing with either a flounder belly strip and/or a long ribbon of squid) had solidified our new friendship.

While I’m being a little reflective, I’ll finish with stating the obvious—it’s fun to fish with your kids on Father’s Day.

This year Fisherman’s Post moved the dates of its annual Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open to Father’s Day weekend, and once again my kids and I fished this very kid-friendly event under the name of Team John Cena.

Ethan (age 5) joined us for the first time, and with the help of kids’ Dramamine (and the sugar in Powerade and gummy bears to counteract the sleepy effect of sea sickness medication), he did outstanding, helping the team reel in both spanish and blues.

Lucky for all of us we had already registered our team name before seeing the movie Captain Underpants on Saturday night, because on the boat Sunday morning the boys were wondering aloud about changing our name to Professor Poopypants or Team Uranus—the Gassy Giant.

And now that I’ve gone from the heights of theoretically wondering about the unknowable forces of the universe all the way down to base potty humor, I’m ready to wrap up Tidelines. After all, I must have ended up here for a reason.