Sliding across the sea…

This weekend was another of those perfect fall weekends on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, lows in the 40’s and highs about 70. I had a chance to get out of town with my friend and fishing buddy Sam. I picked Sam up about 9AM Saturday and we drove to Emerald Isle NC. Late start, as I’d been out of town at a conference, and got home just in time for neighborhood Halloween festivities ;-). Got to Emerald Isle about noon, and met my dad at the beach house. Threw some fishing gear in the boat and headed to the marina with Sam & my dad. We weren’t very optimistic about the fishing, as the tide was falling, but it was a nice day. Motored to the Bear Inlet channel and gave it a go. My dad managed one speckled trout, I had a pinfish, and Sam was skunked. “Should have been here in the morning,” was the word. However, we decided to take the boat up the back channel from the inlet to the ferry dock. An interesting trip…though the tide was dead low, still had 3 to 6 feet of water in many spots — one stretch only had a foot. Had to lift the motor up and pole across the shoal. Saw several spots that ought to hold speckled trout, though, and as an exploratory trip was quite successful. Headed back to the marina as it was getting late, and a dinner of steamed oysters.

Today (Sunday) dawned clear and absolutely calm, headed for a temperature of 71F, Indian Summer for sure. My dad decided to stay around the house, and Sam and I headed out after breakfast. Got on the water about 8:45AM and headed to a likely trout hole. Sam and I each quickly caught a trout (he on his flyrod, and me, heretically, on a spinning rig). Thought our luck might be changing, but not so…churned the water for a while with flyrods and spinners. None of the boats nearby was doing any better, so we headed over to Bear Island (Bouge Inlet end) and tried flyrods in the surf a while, but nothing doing. Water is still a bit warm for the specks to move out of the estuaries toward the ocean. Since we weren’t catching fish, and since it was such a calm day, we got in back in the boat and headed out the inlet into the ocean. Just low rolling swells, and absolutely beautiful — not a cloud in the sky (but no seabirds working schools of blues, either). Saw several pods of bottlenose dolphins, all told, must have been 100 of them, rhythmically working a school of fish…they were everywhere around the boat, some leaping out of the water, some slowly rolling, some slapping their tails as they dove into 30 feet of water. We tried casting and plugging, but no strikes. Oh well…

As Jimmy Buffet sang in Brahma Fear,

“Yes, I own a whaler boat

It slides across the sea

Some folks say I’m part of it

And I know it’s part of me”

Well, mine’s a Carolina Skiff, not a whaler, but this is what I was humming as we ran outside Bear Island toward Bear Inlet. Some other skiffs were working the shoal just west of Bear Inlet, but started moving away as we approach; missed that bite. Headed across the Bear Inlet bar on a couple of rollers and into the channel…banked around the shoals and found a hole to try a few more casts. A sea robin and lizard fish were it. Down the channel toward the ICW. Stopped in a bend right before the waterway. Saw a fellow catch a trout, and decided to make a few more casts. No hookups, but several short strikes, so fish were there. We didn’t catch any more, and decided to head on back so we could get back to central NC by supper. Sped down the waterway thru Swansboro and back to the marina.

What a day! Perfect fishing, and though the catching could have been better, still was one of the best days I’ve had on the water in a long while.

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