Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.


Beard's Creek

By Capt. Doug Sinclair, Grantsboro, NC.


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 40 feet.

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 the wind.

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 Branch.

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 poling platform.

"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

About Doug:

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.


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