Tidelines – Aug 2, 2018
“Do you want to drive the boat or throw the cast net?” Christian asked as we pulled up to the shoreline on the oceanside of a bay off the Intracoastal behind Masonboro Island, one of the bays he’s been fishing since he was a little kid.
On our way through the maze of oyster beds and water that never got deeper than 3’, Capt. Christian Wolfe, of Seahawk Inshore Fishing Charters, had pointed out a little pocket along the grassline and between two points. It was there, he told me, that he had caught the first redfish that he could remember.
He was seven years old at the time, and the main reason he remembered that fish was because he and the 7 lb. red drum had been mentioned in StarNews’ feature, the Little Star. Most of the regular content for Little Star centered on kids and sports, but Christian and his “first” red drum had made it in.
Mullet was everywhere, so I thought this a good time to volunteer for cast net. My first cast was something of a banana, but it didn’t matter. I still brought in about a dozen baits. Christian heckled me and my throw a little, so my comeback, as I freed the last half dozen baits that didn’t fall out of the net because they were gilled, was to try and deflect about the mesh being too large.
We added the mullet minnows to a livewell that already hosted mud minnows and some live shrimp. Christian had the live baits left over from an afternoon charter in the lower Cape Fear River, and now he and I were out trying avoid storms long enough to catch a few fish to talk about in this week’s Tidelines.
He idled us away from the bank and in the direction of a point about half way towards the other side of the bay. While he navigated more oyster beds, he continued to tell me about fishing this bay as a kid.
Back when he caught that first red drum, he was most often fishing with his dad, Jeff. They had a 16’ Carolina Skiff, and at that time Christian’s favorite rig was a float above some split shot and a small treble hook. He used bait shrimp more than anything else, but he also remembered rigging the small treble through the back of the live mullet.
Then when he was about 14 years old, he was allowed to take the boat and fish the bays without parents. This was when he really developed his passion for fishing, as he would get on the water by 5:00 am and fish all day long and cover every pocket, every point, and every bit of shoreline up and down all sides of the bay.
The grownup Christian that I was fishing with, he admitted, no longer had that kind of patience (or time). He now liked to be more selective and move from spot to spot more quickly, so we bee lined it to a bank that he could regularly depend on holding at least a couple of fish.
Back when he was a young teenager, his favorite rig was 10 lb. braid and 20 lb. fluoro leader tied to a glow chartreuse Redfish Magic soft plastic, an orange and black Skitter Walk, or a gold Johnson spoon.
These days, though, he’s returned to being more of a bait fisherman. Our rigs were Carolina rigs, made up of the lightest egg sinker he feels he can get away with (most often a 3/4 oz.), about 20” of 50 lb. mono leader (he doesn’t see much benefit in using fluoro when Carolina rigging), and a 3/0 Gamakatsu inline octopus circle hook.
Since we would be fishing over oyster rocks and a hard shelly (and snaggy) bottom, he added a float on the line about 12” up from the start of the leader. The float slipped over the line, eliminating the need to re-tie, and then once in place was wedged tight with a plastic pin. We each threw out a mullet minnow, trying to get our baits right up against the grass. The tide was near high and still rising, so we thought our best play for a red was to get the bait sitting close or even in the grass.
One cast landed a little short, and that mullet was soon swallowed up by a black drum. The other plopped down in the middle of some flooded grass, and that mullet came tight to a slot red drum.
Live bait fishing for red drum is what Capt. Christian Wolfe, of Seahawk Inshore Fishing Charters, does more than any other type of fishing. He can and still does take out clients to throw artificials for reds, but live bait fishing is his bread and butter.
Christian targets red drum throughout the year, and he also likes to hook anglers up with black drum (dead bait), speckled trout (Carolina rigging live bait just like we did for the reds), and flounder (more of a bycatch when targeting reds).
If you’d like to get on the water with Christian, a guy who grew up on the ICW and in the lower Cape Fear River, then check him out online at www.seahawkinshorefishingcharters.com, or call him at (910) 619-5053.
I think you’ll find that the grownup Christian isn’t far from the childhood Christian that fell in love with and dedicated himself to fishing. The grownup Christian may not use trebles for red drum and now has the advantage of a Power-Pole, but he’s still that Little Star that believes in bait (please call him Little Star when you see him).