"Go softly by that river side
Or when you would depart,
You'll find its every winding tied
And knotted round you heart."
I remember my uncle quoting that many times when I was
younger. Fishing gets into your core and you just can't
shake it loose. And, why would you!
The New Year brought the freshness of a cold morning.
The river and creeks were dead, still. Not a ripple
anywhere. A thin layer of ice crystallized at the surface,
but only in the shallower areas. I knew it wouldn't last
long. Give the sun time to warm things up. Water
temperatures fluctuated, but averaged around 40 degrees.
Yes Sir! That's cold by Florida standards. And, well
the fishing, not to mention the fly-fishing, gets extremely
Only the reminiscent haze from my breath and the lingering
smoke from oil filtered in the morning air. My engine
coughed and whined, and finally turned over. She
stuttered and then smoothed out as she started to warm
up. The fly rod was cold. But the Little Tunny line
stayed surprisingly supple in the freezing water. It
cast nice and smooth and delivered the big zonkers and
rattails to their targets. When it is cold, the flies
have to get to the bottom where the water temperature
is warmer than at the surface.
I was surprised to see pelicans. They scouted the edges,
looking. For what seemed an awful long time they circled
and then with a twitch of their head dove down, straight.
Pelicans are great anglers. They have been known to catch
such big fish that they wouldn't be able to fly away. This
one pelican scooped up a baby spotted sea trout, our target
for the day. So we went fishing with the pelicans. For what
seems like a long time, we watched as the pelicans made their
pass along a point in Vandemere Creek. The sun was warm
against my black fleece jacket. We moved closer to the
area where the pelicans began to group. Greg put a
chartreuse weedless leech and cast to the grass line.
Strip. Strip. Strip. Wait. He waited a long time before
the line started to go taught.
"FISH ON!!" he yelled. And the sound resonated across
the water like an echo from far away.
About ten minutes later the small trout spit the hook near
the surface. As he swam back to his hideout a pelican
came down for an easy snack. It was still early and
the water temperature at the surface was 46 degrees.
That meant the trout were still on the bottom in about
12 feet of water. Four hours of fishing this spot was
loosing my angler's interest, so we packed up and motored
down to Trent Creek in Bayboro. We stopped by a point
near Marker 9 to eat lunch. It was warm with the sun's
rays beating on us. This was a good break from the
morning of hard fishing.
Trent Creek is an estuary off Bay River. This is a
wonderful place to fish. There is good tidal current
with deep ledges on the turns. Holes can be more than
20 feet deep. In the winter fish will group in the
deeper holes to stay warm. The trick is getting a fly
down deep and that calls for intermediate and sinking lines.
It was late afternoon by the time I motored up past the
Highway 55 Bridge crossing Trent Creek. Myrtle Shrub
leaves fluttered in the wind. The air was warmer and
the water temps had risen to 52 degrees. The creek was
active with mullet. Every once in awhile a large gar
would roll on the surface. Rock were there too and ready
to make a meal out of a passing mullet. The mullet run
really thick here and I've seen anglers snag them with
Gregory set up with a 7wt Scott HP and a nice cast near
the bend of the creek. He let the fly settle down.
He waited patiently for the current to take the deep
Clouser to the bottom. He fished the Clouser for more
than 30 minutes before changing to a Wallace Eel fly,
my version; tied with purple hackle, black marabou and
teal ice chenille on a #1 751Q hook with weed guard.
He cast a couple of times to the same spot and waited.
With each cast he varied the strip, but it was always
a slow retrieve. It was late in the day and the sun
was going down. Everyone was getting tired and except
for the three trout hung earlier (hung is a local term
for boating fish), this creek was wearing out our patience.
At dusk everything seems to be in slow motion. Gregory
was tired from casting all day. But he wasn't giving up.
Cast after cast, he let all the fly line out to the backing.
He let the current take the fly. Then pull the rod tip
up and drop it fast. This caused the fly to rise fast
and flutter back to the bottom. On his fifth attempt
the line went tight. Backing was screaming off the reel
and heading for the next bend in the creek. We pulled
up the anchor and started after this fish. Not knowing
what lay at the other end of the line. I thought it
could be a big gar. We weren't sure.
Line kept going out. Slowly Gregory turned this fish
and started reeling in line. We got to a smaller creek
just on the west side of the bridge and the fight stopped.
Gregory reeled in a 6-pound sea trout, biggest one he
had caught on a fly. This fish was so spent that it
would have been senseless to release him. We arrived
back at the dock tired and cold but refreshed from a
great day on the water.
The sun had gone down. But Gregory was a lit up with
a beautiful fish!! You'll enjoy the outdoors more with
your sons or daughters.
Please don't teach your trash to swim.
~ Doug Sinclair
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.