Fish Post

Tidelines – July 18, 2019

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Writing my Tidelines column is typically an opportunity for me to thank and promote a captain friend that has graciously taken me out on the water in search of some fish to write about. This issue’s Tidelines, though, is an opportunity for me to show appreciation for not one but all of those captain friends, as well as some mechanic friends.

Yes, as I write this week, I am feeling very exposed. I’m getting back from a short family vacation just prior to our print deadline, and in the limited days leading up to that vacation, all of my planned fishing trips fell through, either from weather or mechanical failure, but mostly due to weather.

So on the last day before flying out, I threw a Hail Mary pass, loaded up my own bayboat with gear, bait, and three friends, and headed out to hopefully find a nearshore flounder bite. That’s where this article turns into a plug for all of my captain friends, as I am a much better angler when fishing with captains than fishing on my own.

My friends and I found a modest flounder bite about two miles out of Mason’s Inlet, but as I remember and reflect, I realize that getting the Hurley boat offshore was a more successful event than the actual fishing. In addition, writing about the Hurley boat gives me an opportunity for a promotional plug, and since promotional plugs are really what I do, I’m going to turn now to recognize Scott and Ethan of Shoreline Marine in Wilmington.

Scott Goodwin and Ethan Knight say they started Shoreline Marine in the early 2000s, but they made Shoreline Marine official about two years ago when they moved into commercial space on Market Street behind Greenes’ Marine. Scott and Ethan have known each other since they were kids crossing paths at Trails End, and now the majority of their work together includes outboard repair, electrical wiring and re-wiring, pumps, and all kinds of boat outfitting—basically everything but fiberglass work, explains Scott.

The way that Shoreline Marine factors into this story is that Scott found a unicorn for me—I was looking for a slightly-used Suzuki four-stroke 140 or 150 in great condition and at a reasonable price, an engine I thought didn’t exist and would ultimately lead to me digging much deeper into my pockets to buy a new engine, but then one evening Scott called and told me he found the perfect fit for me—a 2018 Suzuki four-stroke 140, well maintained, still under warranty, with only 50 hours and at a fair price.

The 2018 Suzuki 140 was on the back of my boat and humming along as JJ, Robert, Bob, and I headed out Mason’s Inlet late in the afternoon with a couple of numbers newly loaded on the Garmin. We took the hard right turn where Mason’s shoals across, headed down the Wrightsville beachfront, and then turned left to venture out between the breakers and into the 2-3’ chop that made for a bumpy ride offshore.

All smooth so far.

We were loaded with Spro bucktails, Gulp soft plastics, plenty of Carolina rig materials, and a livewell full of mullet minnows.

Everything is still smooth.

We came up on the numbers and saw some small ledges on the screen that got us excited. Bob deployed my Minn Kota so we could use the anchor feature and not even have to pull the real anchor, and I grabbed the remote and started studying the screen to get us back on the ledges and spot-locked.

My friends caught flounder immediately, with the first four or so fish being undersized and coming off of live bait on Carolina rigs, but then Robert brought up a flatfish on a bucktail/Gulp that went about 18”.

This is where it starts to go less smooth.

The flounder bite suddenly died, and when I looked again at the screen, it looked flat and uneventful. No ledges. I kept trying to re-establish our position, but struggled with wind, with waves, with the timing of the spot-lock, with the direction of the boat, with everything, but mostly I struggled with having to look down and focus on that damned screen.

You see, when I am on the boat of a captain friend, I don’t have to worry about the boat’s position. I grab a rod, usually already rigged, and drop down or cast in a suggested direction. Off of Figure Eight Island on my own boat, though, I had to stare at the GPS screen, and after about 30 minutes or so of swaying and rocking and trying to read and think, I no longer felt like fishing. I felt swimmy-headed, borderline seasick, and told my friends that we needed to head back in.

I will work on my spot-lock anchoring skills another day, but in the meantime I will be sure to appreciate my next, more-traditional Tidelines fishing trip where I hop on a captain’s boat, make no decisions, bring with me little more than sandwiches and drinks, and then wait for the boat to be in position.

When I do head back out on the Hurley boat for a “Tidelines Take Two,” though, Scott and Ethan will likely have me even more prepared for success, as we have talked about not just cosmetically improving my boat’s dash and console, complete with new starboard, switches, and gauges, but also adding a C-10 Suzuki color display that will track such specs as hours and fuel burn, as well as be ready to network into my GPS.

If you are looking for good mechanics in the Wilmington area, then check out Scott and Ethan at Shoreline Marine by visiting them on Facebook (ShorelineMarineNC) or by calling them at (910) 297-4210.

I’m hoping that the new look of my dash, combined with the C-10 display, will mean my boat will put itself on those small ledges next time.

Or maybe I just need to invite Scott or Ethan aboard for that “Tidelines Take Two” fishing trip. When we get outside of Mason’s, I’ll ask them to show me how the electronics work by putting us on some ledges. Maybe I could get them to show me how on a half dozen trips or so before they catch on?

JJ Khoury, from Wilmington, with a keeper flounder caught off of Mason’s Inlet on a bucktail/Gulp combo. He was fishing somewhere in the vicinity of a ledge but never exactly on the ledge with Gary, Bob, and Robert on the newly-repowered Hurley boat.