Tidelines – May 23, 2019
Prior Fish Post staff met up with current Fish Post staff last week for an afternoon of inshore fishing, and while it wasn’t a first time for this type of “reunion” trip, the day did offer several firsts in other categories.
Capt. Christian Wolfe (prior Fish Post), of Seahawk Inshore Fishing Charters, met Katelyn and Rosa (current Fish Post) and me at the Fort Fisher boat ramp, where we loaded up drinks and food before idling out in the general direction of some working pelicans.
This time of year, as Christian explained, there were always lots of pogies readily available in this first bay, and the abundance of pogies was clear when Christian didn’t wait to see or hear the tell-tale flip but rather threw out a couple of blind casts and easily filled up the livewell.
Our plan was to first target sheepshead on some structure, and hopefully by the time we had some fish in the cooler, the tide would be just right for targeting the upper-slot red drum he had found. This school of red drum, he continued, had been predictable and reliable for about 2-3 weeks now, so he was confident (hopefully confident) they would be there on this day, too.
Katelyn and Rosa enjoyed the boat ride from the seat in front of the console, taking in the picturesque sights of Fort Fisher, Buzzards Bay, and the surrounding creeks—a first time in this area for each of them. We passed a couple of kayak anglers, and then two boats anchored up, but that was our only company before arriving at a sheepshead location, some submerged rocks along a bank with no more than 5’ of water.
Christian’s rigs were fairly standard—Carolina rigs with a shorter leader and a strong hook. He likes to use a 2/0 Owner Aki hook tied to a 12” or shorter 50-60 lb. mono leader. His instructions were to “give the hook slow, little bobs” and try to feel the subtle bite, a bite he likes to describe to clients as “half of a pinfish bite or a little tick in the line.”
On each of our rigs he put one-armed bandits, inserting the hook into the place where the back leg meets the body and leaving the barb inside the crab.
Rosa, the Fish Post novice, struggled a little with getting the hook close to the rocks and making contact with the bottom. I, too, struggled, but struggled with missing bites. Katelyn, though, didn’t struggle, and she put our target species in the boat—her first sheepshead ever.
Christian is a fan of the run-and-gun method, so after about 10-15 minutes when the bites stopped an no more fish came over the gunnel, we moved on to another piece of structure. This one had deeper water and a stronger current, so Christian made sure to tie us up-current to help our baits get in position to be on or under the structure.
This second location, apparently, had slower fish or less smart fish, or maybe I somehow found my rhythm, but off of two different pilings I found 3+ lb. sheepshead, enjoying the dogged pull and fight after the successful, quick hookset. Each fish came into Christian’s waiting landing net, we took some photos, and then changed our focus to red drum.
Christian catches red drum year round and in a number of different habitats, but in the late spring he especially likes deeper water, current, and structure (such as docks). He still felt confident that his go-t
o spot would produce for us, but before going to the sure thing, we scouted some other areas to see if they were holding fish.
One spot up a creek held fish, but the fish were bluefish that liked to bite our live pogies in half. Another spot was quiet, a third produced nothing but a large croaker, and so we decided it was time for Christian’s sure thing, a deep hole near a dock in a creek off of the Cape Fear River.
“I like to keep it simple,” Christian told us. “I put a live pogie on the bottom, put the rod in a rod holder, and then let it sit.”
We were still going to throw Carolina rigs, but now the rigs had a little longer leader (14-16”) tied to a 3/0 hook.
He put two rods out and was preparing a third when one of the two rods bent over dramatically. Rosa had no chance of grabbing the rod before the more-seasoned Katelyn. This would have been Rosa’s first red drum ever, so we joked Katelyn a little as she reeled in what we all thought was something of an insignificant fish for her. Then we found out it was a first for Katelyn—her first over-slot red drum caught inshore—and it wasn’t but a few minutes later when Rosa landed a 25” redfish—her first red drum ever.
Christian’s “sure thing” red drum spot had lived up to its name.
We landed a couple more, and then headed back to Fort Fisher where Christian cleaned our stringer of sheepshead and the one upper-slot red drum we kept.
Capt. Christian Wolfe, of Seahawk Inshore Charters, will be targeting red drum all June (and throughout the year). He also likes to put clients on flounder, trout, sheepshead, and black drum inside, as well as spanish, blues, and cobia just off the beach.
To book your own trip with Christian, you can call him at (910) 619-5053 or visit him online at www.seahawkinshorefishingcharters.com.
Christian would love to take you on a trip to target your own list of possible firsts. Remember, there are very few guarantees in life, but if Christian says he has some dependable fish, then he means it. Just don’t pressure him to go immediately to the sure thing. Even if it is your first time and you’re a little anxious, enjoy the foreplay, whether the foreplay is sheepshead, bluefish, or just enjoying the feeling of seclusion.