We found these today just 10 miles offshore- time to go fishing! The bite is on! Capt. Brant McMullan Ocean Isle Fishing Center
- Brant McMullan
Address: 65 Causeway Drive, Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Page 74 of 424
~~Where do I even start? I'm too tired to give the whole detailed story but here goes.
Stephanie and I hit the water this morning for the first day of the IFA championship in Houma along with 103 other redfish teams from across the southeast. The tournament winner is decided by the heaviest 4 slot (18" - 27") redfish- two fish each day.
Without any better intel, we opted to head back way west about 100 miles to an area I had scouted earlier in the week. I found a decent bite over there and the most encouraging piece was the fact I caught a 7.5lber that was only 25 inches. Finding fat/heavy redfish that stay within the slot limit is the name of the game. The problem with this area was the depth of the water where the fish were holding was too skinny for me to get my boat into. I just had to hope we could get close enough before running out of water to get a shot at the fish.
Everything went according to plan on the way over. We made the run in an hour and 45 minutes and didn't hit any obstacles! As soon as we arrived to my area I immediately noticed the water was already very low. I knew we wouldn't make it very far back into the ponds that were holding the big fish. We made a shot at it and sure enough, I need to push back another 100 yards to reach all the fish I could see milling around. Talk about frustrating. More of that to come. We had to back out and try to fish the surrounding area that had more water.
We started the catching with a couple over slots 28" and 29" in the nearby area. I moved back out to the opening where I had found another group of smaller fish earlier in the week. This time though I started a little further up at the opening to another pond. I looked off in the distance and commented to Stephanie, "what in the world is that? It looks like the lochness monster". I could see a mass of movement in the water about 150 yards away and figured it was an alligator. As I got closer I was shocked to see 5 separate wolf packs of redfish aggressively feeding in a big open pond. The water was once again shallow but this time I was able to push back close enough to get a shot. For the next 2 hours we sat pinned down in the same spot and hammered the reds. These were quality fish. I knew we were in a good situation and the nerves began to set in. It was a calamity of errors for a while losing numerous fish but still we managed to put fish in the boat. The agonizing part was every single fish was right on the 27" mark. They were perfect or nearly perfect. We'd catch, measure, weigh and repeat. Everyone was so close and we'd go back and forth on whether or not to cull. We finally settled on two fish, both just under the 27" mark on our board that weighed 7.5 and 8.25. The schools started to disipate so with just a few minutes left I made a last attempt to get back in the pond where we had tried first thing in the morning. I knew these fish would be heavy if we could get to them. We tried to push through the skinny water but once again, we just couldn't get where we needed. Just then, I see a pig swim up and nail him. He's right on the line again and just under 8lbs. We measure 3 times and he makes it but barely. Let's roll the dice.
We have the run timed down to the second, so we quickly throw all the gear into place and haul boogy back east. About half way through the run I open the release well and see the dreaded sight of an upside down redfish. Reminicent of last year's SKA Nationals adventure when Amy and I rode inside the bilge pumping the gas ball for 50 miles, Stephanie rode the rest of the trip back to the scales doing cpr on the fading redfish.
We make it to the scales with about 3 minutes to spare and a redfish taking his last gasps. We broad slide into weigh in, grab a couple weigh bags and get the fish to the bump man who measures and approves the fish. All this time we were worried to death about our redfish that was just about to die. Well the good news is, he made it. The bad news is apparently as the fish was transitioning from being alive to dead his body relaxed when he went on the measuring board he measured 27 1/64". Too big. "What!" Needless to say, I was fit to be tied. We had measured 3 times and he made it each time. Not this time and that's the that.
So, from the highest highs to the lowest lows so goes the life of a tournament fisherman. Now with a few hours to digest this day, I can honestly say it was one hell of a ride. It didn't end like we had hoped but the ride was still exhillarating and that's the rush we live for. Once again I'll have to chalk this up to the learning curve on my quest for redfish tournament glory. I will be building a more precise measuring device moving forward but honestly I'm not sure that wouldve changed anything. Sometimes, stuff just happens. We had incredible fishing and got to feel the tournament fishing adrenalin. Mission accomplished.
Next up for me in the redfish world is back to the HT Elite series in March. This is the big, high profile tour that I hope to put my full efforts into. This one will be televised this year on Discovery America and I intend on showing up! Enough hard luck lessons already! It's time to break through.
So, having been DQ'd on day one, we really didn't have much left to fish for in the tournament. We packed it up and headed home....Yeah Right! Nope, we shifted this program east and rendevouzed with Team OIFC/NO Limits Capt. Brant, Rube, Amy, Derek and Chris Campbell in Venice, LA. They are down here filming No Limit's shows on tuna and other offshore species. Tomorrow morning though, Chris is going to jump on with me and Stephanie with the objective of getting a good Lousiana redfish show in the can. I have no idea where to go here in Venice but as I've said before, it'll be an adventure!
A day in the life of....one day we'll look back at days like this and tell stories. "You do it for the stories you could tell" (Jimmy Buffett)
Capt. Chris Dew was kind enough to take my brother inlaw and three nephews offshore yesterday in a stiff north westerly wind. The ocean was chopped up a bit, but it was all wind wave and no swell to it. It made for a much more fishable day than we had originally thought. We made our first stop about 18 miles out with spanish mackerel busting everywhere. We were not really interested in spanish, but I am sure with some spoons damage could have been done. We had one quick strike that ran like a king for about 3 seconds, but no solid hook up. We drifted the area dropping squid on the bottom picking on the black sea bass. We found one keeper in that area, but the bite was steady. We decided to head for deeper water where more keeper size black sea bass should be hanging out. To our surprise the sea bass bite was nearly non-existent, but we caught several b-liners. That will work too! The amberjack did not disappoint either giving my family a tug to remember for a lifetime. My youngest nephew Elijah put a whooping on the rest of the crew. Elijah caught the most keepers, a huge barracuda, and the biggest amberjack 40+ pounds. It was a great day for us all. I talked to Caleb today who shared that they have already eaten the sharks and b-liners that we kept. Thanks Capt. Chris Dew for a great day! See ya on the water!
Michael Steigerwald is one of my original clients from 5 years ago. Michael and Felix joined me on a half day trip looking for redfish action. We hit the beach looking for the big boys, but got eaten up by the sharks. I recieved a few reports around Yaupon that the action was slow there as well. I made another call to check on the jetties and the report was 3 fish were caught all morning. We stuck it out in the skinny water finding lots of stingrays, a few flounder, a couple of black drum, and of course Michael pulled out a nice redfish. If it is flat, Felix can catch it! Felix wore out the stingrays and caught several flounder. Thanks for fishing with me again Michael. The first picture is of Michael nearly 5 years ago with our first fish together on 6lb. test line. The second picture is from this trip. See ya on the water!
I wrapped up my last day of scouting today. The IFA championship tournament begins tomorrow. The winner will be determined by the heaviest combined weight of 2 slot redfish on Friday and Saturday. My teammate (wife, Stephanie) arrived this evening and we are all systems go. Boat is fueled and iced. All the rods are rigged and we are locked and loaded. We are prepped for success, now if the fish will just surprise me and give up a good weight.
I fished a half day today in a completely new area from where I've ever been down here. That's the cool thing about the Louisiana marsh. There is always a new area to check out. What's also cool is that more than likely there will be fish there. Today was one of the best days of redfishing I've ever had. The sight fishing was amazing. I was sitting there watching dozens of fish looking for someone to tell about it. Fishing alone does have its drawbacks. I caught and saw a ton of fish today. Unfortunately they still weren't the right fish. They were all 5.5 to 6.5lbs. Skinny fish just won't cut it in this tournament. These fish aren't the ones I need for the tournament but man, it sure was a fun day.
So, without knowing anything better, we will strike out tomorrow to the west where I fished yesterday. It's roughly 90 miles away. I don't have great fish there but it's the best I've seen. I caught a 25 1/4 inch fish that weighed 7.5lbs. That means there is potential for there to be an 8+lber there that will measure. We'll give it a shot. I'm just excited to put Stephanie on this incredible fishery down here. If the right fish show, we'll catch em. If not, we'll catch whatever gets in our way.
Kyle and Lakelyn from near Statesville, NC joined me on a half day celebrating their honey moon. In my opinion, there is no better place to spend good quality time together than out in the great outdoors. We hit the beach again looking for a hero drum, but no action. We headed back to a few red drum holes in the backwater with no action. I hit a flounder hole and Lakelyn drilled a nice 19 inch fish. We quickly caught one more and the bluefish started chomping. We started boucning around finding lots of little fish and a couple of short reds. Stopped at the Ocean Isle Beach bridge for a last ditch effort. Lakelyn drilled a beautiful speckled trout. Kyle battled with the bridge monster for several minutes until the line finally broke. There are still some big stingrays hanging around. Enjoyed having these honey mooners onboard! Congratulations! See ya on the water!
The water is still warm, but starting to cool down. The backwater action has seen some good moments this past week. The winds have been switching around often lately stirring the water up a bit. Bait fish and shrimp are still hanging around and easily collected with a few good cast with your cast net. Most of my groups last week wanted to catch something to eat rather than target the bull reds. We have enjoyed action from all species this past week catching black drum, red drum, speckled trout, sheepshead and flounder on most of our trips. All very good table fare. I hope to be back out there targeting bull reds before the week is up. See ya on the water!
~~So after my day yesterday and theorizing the fish here locally are "beat up" I decided I needed to expand my search area. From Houma, I am roughly 100 miles west of Venice, LA, which is the area where traditionally the heaviest slot reds live. Most of the redfish highliner anglers will likely be heading that way. I haven't fished too much around Venice so I was a bit reluctant to make that run today. Additionally with all the northeast wind the already shallow waters around Venice will be even skinnier as the wind blows the water out of the inshore ponds. But still, I studied Google Earth last night and made a plan. I dropped the boat in early this morning and proceeded about 1/4 mile to the first swing bridge I had to pass on the way to Venice. As is typical with trying to plan too much, my plan was over before it began as I found out the bridge would not be opening until 8am so the school buses could get through. Go figure. So what does Team OIFC do in a spot like this? True to reputation, I reversed course and ran 100 miles in the opposite direction of the rest of the fleet and my original plan!
As I've said before, it's an adventure and this one was just getting started. Taking a 100 mile run through the Louisiana marsh is not a simple deal where you plug in a waypoint and sit back as the miles click down. It's hair pin turns, gate jumping, broke down oil rig dodging, weeving around gators, and running wide open in 8" of water. About half way to my destination this morning my mind started drifting and the next thing I knew I was high and dry in the middle of the Atchafalaya Bay. I was running 50mph and started bumping so I hammered down thinking I could swerve out of it. Negative. I piled it up....bad. So what do you do in a situation like this? First move, check cell phone for service. Nope. Any boats in sights? Nope. This was one of those bad groundings. I wasn't in a tight ditch with land nearby. I was in the middle of huge wide open bay and never considered there'd be a mud flat in this big body of water. You'd never know either as the water looked like chocolate milk. Ok, next step is to see how stuck I am. Can I power out? Nope, 4" of water. At this point I stopped, took a deep breath and tried to think my way through the situation. I could see a crab trap about a 1/4 mile perpendicular to the boat. I noticed the trap wasn't sticking out above the water so I knew the depth had to be at least 2' (the height of a crab trap). That's a good piece of info. I knew if I might be able get out and push the boat in that direction. Did I mention it was blowing 20 knots from the north east? That complicated the matter a bit. Anyways, I got to thinking about a time when Brant, Rube and I piled up the 32' Yellowfin in Drum Inlet and the technique we used to get out of that jam. Here's another good piece of info if you ever get stuck. When you try to power out and you put it in forward, it drives the stern down which is already the lowest point of the boat. However, if you put the engine in reverse it actually drives the bow down and lifts the stern. So putting the main engine in reverse and then turning the trolling motor backward on the front and turning it on wide open, I was able to drag the hull across the mud until I reached the crab pot I had seen and the deeper water. Wow. That was close!
Onward and upward. I kept on and made it to my fishing area another 50 miles away. The good news is I found fish and my theory of less pressure would equal more aggressive fish. The bad news is the fish are wanting to hang in very shallow water and just can't get the boat as close as I need to. It's a matter of a couple inches of draft.
Tomorrow is my last day of prefishing. I've got one more area to look at it in the morning. If that doesn't pan out, I'm likely to make that same run again that I made today. I feel better about taking my chances with the shallow water and no boat pressure than banging it out with the rest of tournament here. I hate I didn't make it to Venice. The winners will likely come from there. I'll have to put that on the list for my next exploration mission.
Now that's a smooth skeg!
Cary Campbell invited his good friend Bill Dudley down for some bull redfish action. This time last year the bull reds were eating the prop off the boat. The action has been a bit more spread out this year. The beach bite was red hot late September this year, but has really tapered off now. The Little River jetties is seeing the most consistent action as of late. The bull redfish can be caught on both falling and rising tides. However, the rising tide in the late afternoon has seen the best action lately. Large king size pogies, live or cut on a Carolina rig is the ticket to having some success. Bill Dudley finally found his first couple 40 inchers fishing with us Saturday morning. The sharks also ate us alive along with a few stingrays. The line stretching action was none stop. Some big critters out there right now. See ya on the water!
I have been a bit absent from reporting here lately. I have been trying to make it a point to slow it down a bit and spend some quality time with my boys. My youngest son Jasper stayed home with me Monday as no trips were scheduled. We spent the day doing all sorts of things, but getting on the water was the best. We caught plenty of live shrimp for my next trip and caught several fish on Jasper's ultra light outfit. Jasper's best catch was a solid 17 inch speckled trout. Jasper says, its not a speckled trout, its a MONSTER FISH! Priceless memories...Come on down and lets go fishing. See ya on the water!
I got started early today and made it back to the ramp just before dark. I put in a full day of scouting and had mixed results. My previous experience in Houma led me to believe the fishing is always on fire here. By normal standards I had a banner day. But, for Houma, it was just so so. What I believe is going on is that this the third tournament in 3 weeks in this area and the fish have been beat on pretty hard. That combined with dirtier than normal water has the fishing not at its peak. With all that said, I still had a fun day. I sight fished most of the day and saw around 50 fish or so. The bad news is I haven't found the right fish yet. Most everything was between 5 and 6 pounds. It's going to have to get better than that. I'm going on the hunt tomorrow. Not sure yet, but either going very far east or very far west. It's an adventure.
Keith Whitman from Charlotte with his FIRST flounder EVER.
7.35 lb Citation Flounder
Caught this one on a live finger mullet in the ICW