Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Atlantic IFA Tour in Georgetown

The folks from the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) and the city of Georgetown, SC did an outstanding job on the second leg of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour for the Atlantic Division. The objective of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour is to catch one redfish and one speckled trout. For South Carolina this means that the redfish can’t be smaller than 15 inches and the trout must be greater than 14 inches. Since this is a Catch, Photo and Release style tournament the redfish that can be caught, photographed, and release can be up to 45 inches. This limit is established by the maximum length of the measuring device that is provided to all participates.

My plan for this event is to fish Murrell’s Inlet. This decision is based from my experience from the week before when I pre-fished an area known as South Island Ferry Landing that is located on the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW). This area looked like it might be pretty good for some redfish along the shoreline of the ICW towards Winyah Bay with a possibility of some flounder. Although the flounder are not part of the program for the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour it would not hurt to at least pick up some dinner. At the mouth of the ICW at Winyah Bay are some riff raff rock piles that would be good for speckled trout, redfish and flounder. I managed to make it the mouth but the weather turned nasty with rain. My only issue with the rain was the lightening that has off in the distance. So to be safe I paddled the Jackson Big Rig back to the landing before the real storm arrived within unsafe distance. I managed to get back and the Big Rig loaded before the storm arrived. This scouting trip was a bust as I did not have the time to really test the waters.
I will need to revisit this area someday so I can really see if this section if the ICW and the Winyah Bay will be a great area for targeting redfish and trout. But for next Saturday I will be checking out Murrell’s Inlet as I have fished this area several times before with the Jackson Cuda 14 and the Big Tuna for flounder, trout, and redfish. So I had very good confidence that this area will produce for the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour.
Pre-fishing the Murrell’s Inlet area on Saturday launching from oyster shell recycling area, I was able to locate some nice trout. Unfortunately I was unable to keep and on the hook and land into the Jackson Big Rig. I still as unable to locate any redfish but I decided that I would commit to this plan. At this time I headed back in to the launch site as it was getting close for the captain’s meeting at the Campbell Marine Complex located under the Sampit River Bridge. Twenty-two kayak anglers planned to compete in the second leg of the IFA Atlantic Tour. At the meeting we learned the general rules and that we can launch at safe light which was reported to be at 6:15 AM.
Arriving to the oyster recycling area to prep the Jackson Big Rig about 30 – 40 minutes prior to safe light, I discovered that the entrance was gated. This resulted that my plan for my launch site was not possible as I did not know at what time the gate would open. So plan ‘B’ for launching the Big Rig had to be put into place. There is another launch sight a couple of miles down the road at Morse Park Landing. The issue with the landing at Morse Park is that at low tide there is the possibility that the water level at low tide can be a problem even with a kayak.
At 6:15 AM it was time to launch into the skinny water that is remaining in front of the ramp. Launching into the really low water the Jackson Big Rig did a great job. I did not notice any issues with the Big Rig gliding out to the deeper channel even with the two or three inches of water above the pluff mud. Once into the main creek I observed trout hitting the surface. So I started casting towards various points, creek mouths, and oyster beds in the hopes of a trout or a red to take the top water lure. Unfortunately either I missed the hook set or the trout missed the lure. At any rate it was exciting.
As the sky line started getting brighter the top water action stopped so I switch over to a ¼ oz jig head with a Slayer SST. I started casting this towards the various oyster mounds, points, and creek mouths. I was not having any luck with this setup. Except at a small section along the main creek there was some action as the bait fish were jumping out of the water and occasionally there was some feeding action from something.
Working my way to the nervous water I made a cast. The next thing I know I had something big on. Two head shakes and the mystery fish was gone. This did not feel like a redfish or trout. It felt more like a bonnet head shark. The mystery fish did not have any issues with the 15 lb fluorocarbon leader. So I have to believe the mystery fish had to be a shark of some type.
So I retyped another jig head and attached a similar Slayer SST. Then I swapped for a rod that had attached a Lucky Craft Pointer 48 SP Ghost Minnow. This is a hard body lure that is 2” in length that is classified as a suspending lure that suspends at 1 – 2 feet. This lure in Charleston has been really productive on the speckled trout. Maybe it will be productive here on Murrell’s Inlet as well.
I managed to get a good hit and was soon fighting a fish. Soon I landed a pair of small bluefish, one on each of the trebled hooks on the lure. Then I managed to land a small pinfish using the 2” lure. I decided at this point that I should change and go back to the jig head and the Slayer SST. I need to at least catch something that would qualify for either a trout or redfish. After all these are the named species for the IFA.
Also by changing lures; it was close to the time to start working back to Morse Park Landing. As I worked the shoreline along the main creek I had a hook up the Slayer SST. I had a nice lizardfish. I then had a long dry spell between this point and the landing at the park. I decided to anchor in the Weston Flat for a while as I had notice some surface action around the oyster beds. At this time I decided to go back to the Lucky Craft Pointer 48 SP lure. I fan casted the lure to the various oyster mounds and got a hook up. It was not big but I managed to land a small croaker into the Big Rig.
It was getting about 1 PM so I decided to head back to the landing. Load up the kayak and head to the weigh-in. I feel that it is important to at least show up and support the winners and the anglers that caught fish. Of the twenty-two anglers that participated there were only seven yak anglers with fish. The top three finishers were the only ones that caught the required trout and redfish. The other four only caught redfish.
From Left to Right: Robby Freeman, Stephen Yurkevicius, Justin Carter
Justin Carter received third place with a total length of 33.63 inches. Robby Freeman got second place with 35.38 inches and also the biggest trout at 15.38 inches. Stephen Yurkevicius blow everyone out of the water by achieving a total length of 49.25 inches; Stephen also got biggest redfish with a length of 34.25 inches.
The month of August proved that the dog days of August truly happens. One thing for sure that the Jackson Big Rig, the Raymarine Dragonfly, and the Micro Anchor performed flawlessly for me during the tournament although my fishing abilities were not flawless.

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