Fish Post

Tidelines – June 21, 2018

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Would you have made the same decision? Would you have put your kids on the cover of your fishing publication?

Yes, it’s a little self-indulgent, a little nepotistic, but if someone else had sent in a photo of two kids smiling and each holding up a citation spanish mackerel with pretty blue water in the background, then that easily would have been a cover contender.

My early morning road trip with Owen and James started as many of ours do, with them eating waffles and drinking green juice while I sip on one cup of coffee with a second in the drink holder. They stayed awake until just before Jacksonville and then drifted off, while I finished the now quiet drive to Casper’s Marina in Swansboro to meet up with Capt. Johnathan Garrett of On Point Fishing Charters.

If we didn’t have weather good enough to go outside in his bayboat, then Johnathan would have taken us redfishing, but the weather was good, so we soon pulled off plane a little west of the Keypost, a ledge about 1.5 miles off of Emerald Isle.

Johnathan put live pogies on scaled down king mackerel rigs, while I handed the boys the mandatory sunscreen. Owen and James had yet to finish applying before the first line started screaming drag and then the second.

With greasy hands they grabbed the light tackle spinners and started the game of smooth and steady retrieve. Johnathan reminded them each a couple of times to keep the rod tip up and not try to horse the fish in, and the boys listened well enough to each bring in their fish.

James, the 11-year-old, had landed a modest king, and Owen, the 12-year-old, was disappointed to find a small shark on the end of his line.

The Keypost often holds kings and big spanish, and Johnathan’s technique was simple—bump the outboard in and out of gear to try and maintain a 2 mph drift/troll. If the boat gets over 3 mph, then you’re probably dragging the baits.

To the braid he ties 10’ of fluoro. All you really need is about 6’ of fluoro, he explained, but if you tie on 10’, then you can keep re-tying plenty of rigs before having to change out the fluoro for a longer piece. The rig is just a two-treble wire rig, but Johnathan likes the wire before the first hook to be really short. Sure he gets some bite offs, but the shorter wire leader, he’s seen, helps keep the bigger spanish mackerel from shying away.

Owen Hurley (age 12) with his second biggest spanish of the day, a near-6 pounder hooked on a scaled down king mackerel rig and a live pogie. He was fishing with Capt. Johnathan Garret of On Point Fishing Charters.

While the boys tried to wipe sunscreen residue from their hands, Johnathan pitched another pogie off the stern, and this time the bite was instantaneous. The fish struck a second after the bait hit the water, and Owen began the patient fight again. He was anxious to land something other than a shark, so when the captain called out that he could see color in the water, we were all happy to see the silver of a mackerel, as opposed to the light brown and dull color of a shark.

Owen posed with his 10 lb. king, we released it, and then Johnathan threw out another pogie. Again it was only a matter of seconds before the bait was smoked and James was reeling in another king. The mostly king bite quickly turned into a mix of spanish and kings, with our kings averaging 9-10 lbs. and all of our spanish going a hefty 4-5 lbs.

It was about the time that we expected every spanish to be a 4+ lb. fish that we once again had a double hookup. Owen brought his in first, and Johnathan estimated it to be a citation fish (over 6 lbs.). Owen got to enjoy the solo limelight for about two minutes before James brought in an even bigger spanish.

Later that morning at the Dudley’s Marina scales, we found Owen’s fish to be 6.55 lbs. and James’ to be a whopping 7.9 lbs. The boys did the citation paperwork, and then we headed over to Casper’s.

If I had more space in Tidelines, I would tell you that three days later the boys and I would fish off of Wrightsville Beach in the Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open and weigh in a three-spanish aggregate of 3.35 lbs., a smaller weight total than any one spanish we caught off of Emerald Isle.

Those big spanish are probably still off Emerald Isle, so give Capt. Johnathan Garrett of On Point Fishing Charters a call at 9252) 670-4523 or visit him online at to book your own hunt for citation spanish. He can also target red drum, trout, flounder, or just about any species you find inside or just off the beach.

And I’ll finish by promising not to use the Fisherman’s Post cover again to celebrate my two oldest kids, no matter how legit the catch is. However, when my 6-year-old sees his two brothers on the cover, I reserve the right to make a future concession.