Thursday, July 4, 2013

Folly Creek Fishing on Independence Day

For the 4th of July, I had the privilege of meeting and fishing with Katrina’s father; Earl. Earl is from southern Georgia; the area where vidalia onions reign from. So since this is Earl’s first time angling from a kayak, I provided him with the Jackson Cuda. He will just see how super great these kayaks are. I sure that he will enjoy the Elite Jackson Seat since he is about three years older than me, this seat if the most comfortable available in any kayak.

So I decided that we would fish the Bowens Island area. The creek in this area is known as Folly Creek that eventually feeds into the Folly River. In this area an Indian tribe, the Bohickets, inhabited these barrier islands. Launching from this area is done at the Bowens Island Restaurant where Charleston Outdoor Adventures (COA) operates an Eco-Adventure guiding service that features the local saltwater estuaries, wildlife and Barrier Island ecosystems that the Charleston coast showcases. Besides tours and kayak rentals they also provide kayak fishing in the area. If you have your own kayak you only need to pay a launch fee of $2. The great concept of this launch is that motor boat traffic is at a minimum.
So we launched and paddled toward the right towards an area that is known as Kings Creek Flat. In no time, Earl had a hook up. A poor man’s tarpon was doing acrobatics for Earl. If you are wondering what a poor man’s tarpon is; you would recognize the fish as a ladyfish. Before he could land the ladyfish, the fish had thrown the hook. I would tell that Earl was stoked about this excitement.

We continued our way to the first dock system at the opening to Kings Creek Flat, but there was already a boat fishing that dock. So we continued on into the flat. I decided that we should try to anchor where a small creek and several oyster mounds to see if there were any fish in this area. So I rigged up a popping cork with a size 1 Gamakatsu circle hook with a mud minnow and casted out. While waiting for some float action; I started casting a D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad on a red jig head just to keep busy. I decided to take a glance for the popping cork but could not see it, I after bring in the artificial lure; I picked up the rod with the popping cork and the mud minnow. Uff da! Fish on!
For some reason my line got wrapped around an oyster mound and I could see a fish splashing along the edge of the mound but I could not identify the species. So I had to figure out how to untangle my line from all those oyster shells. I thought that I would get out of my Big Tuna but I sank a bit into the mud, so I decided that this was a bad idea. My other option was to paddle around the mound and try to pick up my line and collect the fish. This plan was working and I managed to collect the mystery fish. Uff da! A small 15 inch shark.

So we decided to move to another fishy looking area. I use the stick-it pin and the anchor trolley to position myself near a small creek draining out of an area of spartina grass hoping that maybe a spot tail or two will follow the outgoing water. Casting the popping cork and mud minnow near the outlet; I just let it sit. I took the rod with the D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad and started fan casting around the anchored area hoping for a redfish, speckled trout or even a flounder to strike. Occasionally I would feel a bump but it would feel more like one of those 8 inch bluefish or maybe even a small pinfish. Uff da; they always seem to hit just short of the hook taking off the tail from the soft plastic lure. I would look for the popping cork after every retrieve; the cork was acting like some type of fish was playing with the mud minnow. I wasn’t going to set the hook as a circle hook is a self setting. This means when the fish decides to take the bait and the fish swims off the fish actually sets the hook for you. After the cork stayed down under the water I raised the tip of the rod to put some tension on the line to determine if it was fish on. Uff da; it felt like a nice fish. It remained close to the bottom so I thought maybe it will be a nice flounder. Then I got a feeling from the rod that whatever it was had me snagged on the bottom but no it started fighting again. Then it dawned on me that I had hooked a small stingray; the feeling of it as a snag was when the ray would get to the bottom and partially dig himself into the mud.


When he finally decided to surrender to me and finally came to the surface, the mystery catch confirmed my gut feeling that I had a sting ray on the end of the line. Danger! Danger! Uff da! Uff da! How I had the challenge of removing the hook from the stingray and releasing him unharmed. Stingrays small, medium, big, huge, whatever have this barb located about mid-way on their tail. This stinger is not smooth but has a series of barbs so if they manage to sting you this protection device that they have will be embedded into you. Contact with the stinger causes local trauma (from the cut itself), pain, swelling; muscle cramps from the venom, and later may result in infection from bacteria or fungus. The injury is very painful, but seldom life-threatening unless the stinger pierces a vital area. A trip to the nearby clinic or hospital will be in order to have the barb remove. In some situations if the sting ray has the hook deep into their mouth it is best to cut the line and let they swim free. Eventually the hook will rust and fall apart and not harm the fish. This is the best reason not to use stainless steel hooks in fishing. In my situation the circle hook did it job well and the stingray had been hooked in the corner of the mouth. So it was a simple hook removal.

During my fish fight; Earl had some big that took half of his D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad off cleanly in a single strike. So while he attempted to get the tackle box out of the milk crate in the Jackson Cuda’s tank well; he kept leaning and the next thing he knew he had turtled the Cuda. So he was grapping everything that he could so that nothing would be lost. Uff da; at least the bottom was hard and only about 3 foot deep. I managed to get there to help him locate the equipment and back into to Cuda. During this time he noticed that he had a fish on one of the rods that had been tethered using a rod leash. So he took the time to bring in a small shark. Removed the hook and released the shark. So now we had to search for the tackle box. Since it did not float and the current was not bad we figured it had to be just under the kayak. Eventually, I found the tackle box; Earl drained the water out of it, replaced the C.A.L. Shad on the jig, and then we had to figure how to get back into the Cuda. I suggested that he sort of lift himself into the Cuda butt first and then swing his legs into the deck area. While he attempted this, I would hold the kayak in place from the opposite side. On the first attempt he was back into the Cuda. At this time decided to move to another area in search of a spot tail.

Paddling deeper into Kings Creek Flat; we had a small pod of dolphins pass us on their way out. Uff da; that was every exciting being that close to these mammals as they swam by us; especially for Earl thinking that maybe they might get too close. As I approached a small creek mouth next to the spartina grass I noticed a nice spot tail crushing bait in the opening. I made my way to the spot and casted into the area. Twitched the C.A.L. Shad but nothing, tries again, still nothing, finally a drifted way too close and noticed still nothing. Either he departed for another feeding area or I spooked him off into deeper waters.

We came to an area that had some huge oyster mounds; uff da; these were more like mountains then mounds. If these would be covered at high tide the water would probably be four or five feet easy with the top of the mounds only being inches or at best a foot below the water. This area had to have some nice fish holding in this area. So I went with the same method as earlier; the popping cork with a mud minnow and fan casting a C.A.L. Shad around the anchored area. Occasionally I would get a hit on the shad while fan casting toward the shore, near the oyster mounds, toward the center of the flat but the strikes were always short.

The popping cork with a mud minnow was a different story; shark after shark I was catching and releasing. Occasionally I would lose one because they would bite through the leader material. In this case on the popping cork the leader material was 15 lb fluorocarbon. About the third time that I would have to clean it up; I was getting sort of annoyed about catching these cookie cutter sharks. There were so many of them; I almost forgot and thought that I was bream fishing.

It was getting late in the day. We decided to head back to Bowens Island and head home. Although Earl did not catch a spot tail, we developed some form of friendship that only anglers know, his first kayak experience was full of adventures, and he also caught some fish. Maybe someday I will be in his end of the woods and I will be largemouth or catfish angling in some of his areas in Georgia.

I hope that your 4th of July had some spectacular fishing results and fireworks as mind did. Tight lines!

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