“Should have been here yesterday.”
Words you never want to hear utter from someone’s mouth when you travel a long way in hopes of catching a hot bite. Those words sting even more when they’re coming from a buddy in your inner circle of friends who enjoys rubbing it in your face when you’re a day late and a dollar short.
A few weeks ago I entertained three guests (two at a time), acquaintances turned friends. I’ve met each of them through kayaking in some form or another. None of them had fished the Upper Coast. Grant and Damon arrived Thursday night. After a couple of cold beverages and plenty of banter you generally hear among long-time pals we decided to call it night in the wee hours.
A short night it would be. We had a long drive ahead of us. The 3:00am wakeup call didn’t give us much time for rest. No sooner than the moment I laid my head on the pillow I heard the clamor of my alarm.
Drowsy-eyed, I stumbled into to my living room to wake up the other guys who were passed out on my two couches. The scene reminded me an episode from my college years. Damon was already up. He said he was too wired to get any rest. Grant woke after he heard conversation around him.
We had one more party joining us, Sam, a long-time friend of mine, who was in town for the Thanksgiving break. We quickly loaded up and were on the road. One stop and 100+ miles of pavement later we found ourselves at our destination.
We stepped out of our trucks and as luck would have it we were greeted to warm air, light winds and cloudy skies. Awesome fishing conditions, especially in late November. Any chance we got to savor the conditions were ephemeral. A swarm of blood-suckers quickly made their presence known.
We rushed to get our gear unloaded from our vehicles. To an onlooker it must have appeared we were in competition, racing to see who could launch the fastest. Bathing in deet provided very little reprieve.
Constant movement was the key to relief. Our antics included a few dance moves to keep from standing static. We didn’t want to give the mosquitoes any chance to claim territory on our bodies. Very few words were spoken other than comments about how bad the mosquitoes were at the moment.
We launched in record speeds, but none of us celebrated our victory. Overcast skies and calm winds failed to keep the biting pests at bay. With deet seeping through our pores we pressed on determined not to let the insects dampen our experience.
Sam ventured off in one direction. Damon, Grant and I went another way. The tides were low and slack. Early, we caught a few redfish apiece, but the fish were extremely skittish. Grant managed to catch his first redfish on fly. He was stoked.
As low as the water was we decided to move deeper to see if we could find some fish more willing to eat. We struck gold. Every few minutes one, two or all three of us were hooked up. The bite lasted several hours.
We hadn’t seen Sam since we split that morning. I decided to head back and look for him to get him in on the action. The other two guys continued fishing.
I found Sam sitting on a shoreline near the launch dejected and covered in mud. He was relieved to see me. He fished for a few hours that morning but decided he wanted to meet back up. He searched nearly every crevasse in the marsh looking for us before he finally gave up. I asked why he was so muddy. He had no repellent, so he resorted to using mud as way to repel bugs. I couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t find any humor in the situation.
We met up with the other guys. They had continued to catch fish, albeit, at a slower pace. We all worked the area over well. Each of us caught a few more fish. By the time we called it quits Damon and Grant had caught the most redfish they had ever landed in a day. Somewhere around 30 or more fish each. Between the group we landed approximately 100 fish up to 30”. Most of our fish were caught on a TTF Flats Minnow in mumpy glo. Damon coined the name “Red Friday” for our great day on the water.
The next day was a marathon. Grant had to work so Rob took his place. A front blew in the night before and the winds were still howling that morning. I decided fish a spot near deep water but when we arrived the water was completely blown out of the marsh I wanted to fish. We decided to pick up and drive an hour in the opposite direction after already driving over an hour.
The next spot looked a little more promising. The water was a little low but I hoped it would concentrate the fish. That was not the case. We had to work for our fish. We found a few fish scattered. Rob and I caught a few nice reds. Damon could only muster up a few small reds. We decided to load up, grab lunch, and figure out a new game plan.
After lunch we decided to fish for trout. We waded for a few hours. Damon caught a keeper trout, the only fish we landed that evening. We finished the night on a friend’s lighted pier catching schoolie trout and small reds.
It was a slow post-front day on the water. Numerous times throughout the day Damon made sure Rob knew how good the day before had been. Should have been here yesterday.