This scene reminded me a lot of "never give up a
hole." Trust me when I say that I don't like giving
up too many places on the water. After all, other
guides don't like this sharing stuff. But, honestly I
never see other fisherman let alone other guides in the
places I take clients. So it's ok. And, this was a
very special charter. Besides I don't own the water.
It all started with a call from Carmel Cunningham of St.
Augustine, Florida. She wanted to book a 4-hour casting
class and a follow up on the water charter the very next
day. They would be staying at the Harmony House, a wonderful
old Victorian B&B in New Bern. This was also a special
holiday for her husband Joel, a fine fishing guide.
Tell me there isn't any pressure when another guide
and his wife book you.
Carmel was anxious to learn new skills and apply them
to catch fish. Guess what? Beard's Creek is such a
great place to fly-fish. I figured that would be a
terrific place because you don't have to cast more than
Since Carmel and Joel were coming to North Carolina for
the lesson, we could fish some other choice spots.
Atlantic Beach isn't the only place to find big fish.
Plus, not many people know this area like I do. Except
maybe for a few other locals. Lesson one day and
practice put to the test the very next day.
Our class was small for a Saturday morning. Only three
students. I like it that way. It is close to having a
private lesson and the students get to help each other.
The casting class starts with the basics and then goes
quickly into simple line feed and then the wet and double
haul techniques. We use 7 and 8-wt saltwater rods with
WF-Floating lines. Carmel took to this like a fish in
water. I've seen few new anglers master a double haul
so effortlessly. The key is timing and execution. Take
the wrist and strength out and you will cast better. The
four-hour class flew by quickly.
The next morning I met Joel and Carmel at the Lawson Creek
ramp in New Bern. By the way, this is a really beautiful
park with 8 ramps and plenty of parking. It is also a
great place for the kids with ball fields and restroom
facilities. We had a late start by most standards, 8am.
But the weather was beautiful. We had a bright blue sky,
light wind, and favorable tide conditions. In Beard's
Creek, according to my calculations the tide would be
ebbing at about 8:30 and the fall would start close to
10:30 am. For Beard's Creek this is how it must be.
The entrance is fairly tricky since it has a very narrow
cut to enter. But it has everything the angler likes:
deep holes, large flats, good cover, and places to dodge
We were headed for the Neuse River and a couple of side
tributaries that few people know exist. Motoring down
the river, you could see the reflection of the sunrise
At Cherry Point Light. The water was a cobalt blue
with shades of blue greens towards the banks. Birds
lit up the morning sky. A kayaker made his way along
the west bank. We motored slowly taking in the scenery
and also to make it easier for the man in the kayak.
About 150 feet from the kayak a huge tarpon shot out
of the water and jumped about 4 feet above the water's
surface. The kayaker was unmistakable shaken as he
paddled furiously towards the close bank and away from
where the tarpon cleared the surface. I can't imagine
what the kayaker was thinking when that silver king shot
through the water. I know what you are thinking?
Crossed my mind too.
Farther south now we passed the entrance to Broad Creek
and Goose Creek. I pointed in the direction of the
Minnesott Ferry. The North Carolina ferry system is
free and you can ride across to Havelock at the Cherry
This is a popular fishing area for locals, but very few
guides know of its existence. Because of a strong tidal
flow it holds flounder, tarpon, jacks, Spanish, kings,
flounder, redfish, spotted sea trout, blues, and striped
bass, and at the right time of year we get bonita. A
couple of lesser known creeks and flats hold large reds
and trout. Just to the north, and along the second wide
sweeping turn to the left is a small creek that flows
to the north. It is just wide enough for a boat. Once
deep into a couple of curves it starts widening out and
then makes a sharp turn to the right.
A hole cut into this corner is a great place to fish if
you are worried about getting stuck on a falling
tide - and you should be. This is Lost Creek - one
of my all time favorite spots to take fly anglers,
especially new ones. Carmel and Joel could not believe
the beauty of this area. They looked a little worried
as I motored in and around the first bend.
"This is a really deep cut. I bet I could get my boat
in here," said Joel.
I didn't respond, just kept motoring in, and then at
a place we call the mailbox (an old box perched on a
pole), I shut down the engine and climbed on to the
"Nope! I would never get my boat in here," Joel answered.
"Oh, you could get your boat in here, the trick is
getting it back out." I replied.
I poled about 200 feet and stopped. I used the pole as
an anchor and secured the boat.
"There is a cut just in front of us. I'll be poling up
along that edge, near the myrtle shrub. We need to decide
who wants to cast first and then the other angler can help
with mending the line and helping out."
Carmel was first up and Joel mended the line. On the south
side there was a little creek that fed from the main channel.
The flat is mostly mud with a few oyster bars. I made a
wide swing to work all the edges. Most of the predator
fish hang on the drops next to the bars and then come in
and crash the bait near the scrub. This area holds a lot
of reds and big gator trout even though we are at the
upper limits of the trout's range. Most trout average
4 to 6 pounds. Occasionally you will find a bigger one.
Top water flies work best.
Carmel stepped up to the bow and started to cast. She
was having some trouble dealing with the fly and almost
hooked Joel twice. So I staked off and we did a few
practice strokes to get warmed up. I laid out a nice
cast and handed the rod to Carmel. We were using a
new black popper fly I had just tied the night before.
It isn't a good idea to try a new fly out on a client
before having tested it. But I liked the action and
thought it would work.
"Just do a couple of short little pops, like that." I said.
"Yes that looks good."
On the third strip, the fly was buried by a redfish. "Hold
the rod tip up." I said.
"Do I reel?" came back Carm's reply.
"No! Just play him off the line, but keep the line taut."
Carmel was all smiles and just had a ball catching her
first redfish [puppy drum around here] on a fly after
one lesson. I wish Lefty had been there.
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.