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Labor Day Stripes

I had the opportunity to get out with my buddies, Lee and Joe (, on the Friday before Labor Day. I knew I probably wouldn’t make it out that weekend — not with all the crazy boat traffic — but with the predicted light winds and currents, we made the trip to the island for some striped fish fun.

There were sheepshead about forty feet down, chewing on fiddlers and mole crabs. There were spades all along the pilings, and you could find them by looking into the water.

Once you find a school, drop a clam down, wait for the tap and swing away. For the sheepshead, I used a dropper loop and a 40-pound mono paired with a 2/0 Gamakatsu live bait hook, while for the spades, I used a ¾-ounce egg sinker before a swivel 20-pound leader and a #2 live bait hook.

Boat traffic was actually quite light for a Friday, but it seemed as if the entire fleet were coming in for the weekend.

I turned around just in time to see an enormous swell. I told Joe that he might want to turn into this one to get away from the pilings. If you don’t spot such a swell in time, it can quickly turn your day from good to bad.

After we had cleared the set, Joe looked at me and yelled, “I couldn’t see you when you dropped into the wave!”

It was a great day to spend with some great people. Water conditions were good, but for the first mile or so from the beach, there was a slight red tide. Since temperatures are decreasing, this shouldn’t be as bad as last year. Be careful out there, and tight lines everyone!

North Carolina Red Fishing

As the end of summer classes drew near, things became more intense. This week, I was in class and knew I would be exhausted, physically and mentally, when I returned home Friday night. I ended up studying from 4:00 on Thursday to 2:00 on Friday, followed by a 5:30 wake-up call. Knowing this, Allison decided to come to North Carolina this week to spare me from having to drive the four hours home.

On Saturday, we worked out and really enjoyed being together, but Allison knew I wanted to get out onto the water, so she agreed to go with me to a nearby creek for a chance to catch some reds. I borrowed a kayak and obtained some intel from Tim at Allison and I planned to head out early next morning. I got up and crept from the room to catch some bait off the dock behind the bachelor officers’ quarters. Taking my cast net, I ended up with a four-finger mullet and several dozen peanut bunker. I caught so much, I had to throw half of them back.

Allison and I found a spot where the incoming tide was washing over some oyster shells and put out a spread, despite the wind. After a half hour of no action, I was ready to move and asked Allison what she thought. She said that a ladybug landing on her kayak meant good luck, so I rebaited the rods and we both waited.

I’ve learned that Allison is the lucky one, and this day proved no different: Minutes after getting set up, Allison had a screaming run and ended up fighting and landing a healthy 19-inch red — her personal best. I rebaited her, and she had another run, but it was short-lived. She got another but was cut off on the oyster shells. I got another solid run and boated another 19-inch.

Having all our bait stolen was a first for me. These reds were biting like smaller fish, pecking and staring at the bait. If you waited for the twitch, you could hook the fish; otherwise, they’d pick you clean. By the time we figured this out, most of our bait was gone. Then Allison hooked up to another red that tried to run her around a crab trap and up the oyster bar! She made it back over the bar and masterfully landed it using the boga grip. Measuring 20 inches, it is her new personal best!

Without bait, and with the tide turning, we left the fish snapping. We were all packed up and leaving the parking lot by 11:50. It may not have been a ton of fish, but we had a great time, leisurely hanging out and relaxing between bites.

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