Fish Post

Tidelines – September 13, 2018

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While it’s fun to bond with fellow soccer dads on the sidelines while we watch our boys play hard in tournaments, it’s also fun to bond over fighting a big red drum.

I called up fellow soccer dad Adam Tucker at the start of the week and asked if he could get away from work on a Friday to throw popping corks for citation red drum. We would need to leave Thursday evening after the kids’ soccer practice, I told him, so that we could wake up in Oriental and be at the boat ramp by 6:00 am to meet Capt. Guion Lee of Green Creek Outfitters.

Apparently Adam’s work week was flexible enough. We left Wilmington around 8:00 pm, pulled into River Neuse Suites a little after 10:00 where Stu had two rooms waiting for us, and it took only a couple of beers before we were ready to get some sleep before the 5:15 alarm.

Capt. Guion Lee (left), of Green Creek Outfitters, and Gary Hurley with the first big red drum of the day, a 46″ fish caught on a popping cork rig off a 3′ shoal in the Neuse River.

The Oriental public boat ramp was busy the next morning, and most of the boats had multiple rods already rigged with corks. Guion quickly got his boat in the water, and the three of us made the left turn out of Oriental to head in the direction of the Pamlico Sound.

We looked for bait and birds on the run, but Guion already knew that he wanted to start our day on a shoal situated between two points of land that were basically on the border of where the Neuse River meets the Pamlico Sound. We came up on the shoal, which sat in about 3’ of water, and motored over to the far side where the shoal dropped off to roughly 8’ of water and then 18’ a little further off.

One of the goals when throwing popping corks is to find the bait, and Guion’s location delivered. The three of us watched schools of menhaden and “rain bait” move around the boat in every direction, so anticipation was high as we put the trolling motor down and grabbed our rods to begin casting.

Guion’s terminal tackle consists of a Back Water Candy popping cork, 2-3’ of 50 lb. mono as leader, a 3/8 oz. jig head with an extra strong hook, and then a 5” DOA swim bait (white or green/white) and lathered in Pro-Cure.

The three of us spread out on the boat, with Guion in the bow, me in the middle, and Adam in the rear. The bait was numerous and close enough so that we all could work different pods in different directions.

“This is just a game of having your bait where it needs to be and when it needs to be there,” Guion offered as we started to cast and cover water.

I then asked him about the goal when casting.

“You want to throw your plastic right to the bait,” he told us. “In it, around it, as close as you can get to it. Cast it in the middle—all the bait will make a halo, and then your bait is sitting there all by itself.”

He also pointed out the difference in the bait. “Most bait you see is going to be going in one general direction,” Guion explained, pointing to several schools of bait off the starboard side. “Agitated bait is what we want. Agitated bait starts doing the death circle. You’ll see it marching in a circle, then suddenly changing directions, and it will be rougher on the surface.”

Not long after his explanation, I threw to a patch of nervous bait. The cork disappeared, and drag started screaming.

My fish made the classic big red drum initial run, and then stayed up, out, and away, using weight resistance to make a slow, sweeping circle off the stern. When in a little closer, it made some surface splashing, and then went on a couple more runs, but much more modest runs.

The fish, now beside the boat but just out of reach, made a move towards the engine prop and then another move to the trolling motor, but ultimately it came into Guion’s waiting landing net.

During the fight, the three of us had prepped for the fish to come into the boat. Adam had grabbed the camera, and we talked in advance about how to stage the photo. So when the fish came over the rails, Guion and I moved to the bow, put the fish in our laps, and Adam snapped a couple of quick photos so that we could get the red drum back in the water to swim away healthy.

Adam Tucker (left), of Wilmington, with a 42″ red drum caught on a 5″ DOA soft plastic under a Back Water Candy popping cork. He was fishing where the Neuse River meets the Pamlico with Capt. Guion Lee of Green Creek Outfitters.

Then less than five minutes later, Adam’s cork went down, and we enjoyed the same fight, the same photo opportunity, and the same release.

Landing a citation red drum had been a “bucket list” fish for Adam, and in less than one hour from leaving the ramp, he was able to strike it off the list.

As the sun grew higher in the sky, the bait disappeared and more boats moved into the area, so we decided to head for spots with less traffic in the direction of Oriental. Guion was happy with landing two quick fish, especially since most of his colleagues were still looking for their first fish of the day, but he admitted that his spot had disappointed him a little bit.

“I was hoping to see some blue-winged teal so that I could come back next weekend to hunt, but all I saw was some black ducks that I can’t hunt until November.”

Just as big (bigger?) as his passion for fishing is his passion for taking clients on guided duck hunt trips. Guion transitions into a hunting guide from November through January, targeting productive hunting lands in both Oriental and Lowlands.

Capt. Guion Lee, of Green Creek Outfitters, spends his springs and summers as a fishing guide out of the Wrightsville Beach area, from August to September he comes to Oriental for the big red drum fishery, and then it’s back to Wrightsville for fall trout and red drum fishing.

For more information on both fishing and hunting opportunities, you can call Guion at (252) 617-0024 or visit him online at

I’m still looking forward to the next out-of-town soccer tournament, where Adam and I can rehash red drum details and let the others talk about the bad calls of the referees.