I had missed the chance to fish for redfish around Wilmington NC last summer and I've been jonesing ever since.
I was getting reports that the winter fishery had been outstanding and to make the trip down if I could get the chance. My buddy David, aka "My Leakey Waders" had the day off, so we decided to do a shotgun trip down to Southport - there and back in one day. The weather report was for overcast skies, light winds (NE 5 MPH) and temps in the low 50s.
We left Virginia Beach at 2 am, cruised past many flashing blue lights on the way to Emporia, VA and then rocketed down I95, then veered south to Wilmington and then SW to Southport.
My inherited aluminum battleship!
My little skiff was in the shop for repairs to a leaky prop seal so our boat of choice was a 14' aluminum battleship - a Sears-built aluminum canoe loaded with rain gear, a couple of 8 weights, spare paddle, stakeout pole, push pole, camera, and some tasty flies.
We got to the Southport marina at around 7:45 am and found ample parking (not a good sign). We paid our $5 launch fee and shoved off (see #1 marked on the aerial below) Our plan was to fish the low tide flats around the Elizabeth River.
We started out fishing along the banks of the creek (#2 below). The weather reports were a farce! It was blowing at least 15 and I don't think the temp ever got above the mid 40's
We moved on to the marsh island marked #3 above. There was a broad beautiful sandy flat that extended to the south of the marsh island. We didn't see any pushes or disturbance. It was cold!
Next, we tried fishing up into the narrow creeks at #4 above, hoping to find fish holed up and hiding in the quiet waters there. No luck!
We continued to fish the shoreline and the oyster outcrops we could see until we got to the Cape Fear River (#5).
We turned to the right hoping to find a lee and fished along the points and shoreline of the big cove at #6. Nothing.
We could see the exposed extensive oyster flats at #7 and held out hope for a school of reds in this fishy spot. We struggled to hold the canoe in place with howling winds and a light drizzle but we didn't' see any fish sign and our efforts were for naught.
We paddled into the wind and back to the ramp and called it a day by about 1pm.
We stopped by the Intercoastal Angler in Wilmington. Underwhelming….Is there a better fly shop in the area?
Got some java juice and turned the car north. We went big…we got skunked…we went home. Made it home by 8 pm.
Yes, it was fun, we enjoyed the brotherhood, we saw many oyster catchers (cool) and were harassed by a mooching pelican, blah, blah, blah…..but we wanted the pull!
In retrospect, perhaps our (my) judgement to pull the trigger was clouded by the lure of the adventure. The weather really was less than ideal. David is too nice and agreeable….(but don't change on me bro!)
On the flipside, we got to see a new area and will be that better prepared for the next foray for NC reds. Can't wait for the next chance!