Thursday, March 19, 2015

Charleston Fishing At It's Finest. Part 1.

Isle of Palms Marina
The long awaited reunion with my friends Matt Davis and Joe Stanfield finally happened as planned last weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. For a number of reasons my brother Steve failed to make this trip but luckily Matt's brother Chris filled in perfectly.  Matt informally introduced us to Chris as his Baptist Preacher brother from Kansas, sure now Joe and I were expecting to be on our best behavior! We'll it turns out Chris is really works in the 911 system and I suppose it probably entails the same issues, dealing with people in trouble for one reason or another, but it had me fooled.  Either way it turned out to be a great substitute as we all met around noon on Saturday in the Charlotte, North Carolina airport.  With Matt being the last to show up we got our bags and headed to the car rental area, picked up a van and headed towards Charleston, South Carolina which was about 3.5 hours away.  With plenty of things to catch up on and a few stops along the way we finally pulled into the Charleston area with our first destination, Isle of Palms where our booked charter fishing trip was booked.  Locating the exact boat and instructions for the morning we headed back towards the city to check into the Holiday Inn then go find something to eat.  Deciding to stay fairly close to the hotel we got a cab and headed to an entertainment area called Shems Creek, along a waterway near the coast.  Being somewhat of a yuppie place it was crowded and I wasn't too impressed with the food although we did have some great raw oysters in one spot.  We ended up at a seafood place and again, I wasn't too impressed there either yet it was getting late and we needed to have an early start in the morning.

Getting up early we had breakfast in the hotel before heading back to the marina before 7:30.   Our first mistake was to take a right turn that meant we had to drive almost 5 miles across a huge bridge into Charleston before heading back the other way.  Luckily traffic on Sunday morning isn't too bad and we lost little time getting to the boat.  After getting our parking pass and loading up with a few refreshments we headed out with Captain Chuck Griffin of Aqua Adventures Sport Charters in his 28 foot center console boat with a 250 hp Yamaha.  Our morning route took us through the inside channels that lead to a cut to the ocean about 10 miles from the harbor.  We were just at low tide and as the waves were breaking off the sand bar, it was obvious that we would have to work our way through the area as the water was only 3 feet deep verses probably around 8 feet at high tide.  Inching our way through we finally hit deeper water and headed for a small reef area which in itself was interesting.  Apparently when they were building the harbor in Charleston with granite from up north which was hauled in by barge.  One of the barges sunk with all the granite and created a small "barge" shaped reef in about 15 feet of water.  This was our first place to fish and although we did catch a number of different small fish, our main target was salt water sheepshead and black sea bass yet they were no where to be found.  It was interesting to fish this small area as one had to deal with both the wind and the tide currents making it very challenging to stay on top of the small reef using an anchor.  After about 30 minutes the Captain decided that we needed to move to the next reef, another 10 miles away up the coast. This reef was in deeper water and was again man made but was done on purpose rather that being because of an unfortunate accident.  Apparently when they made the new bridge connecting Mount Pleasant to Charleston they shipped all of the concrete rubble from the old bridge and dumped in the ocean making a very nice fishing reef that topped out at around 40 feet.   Our bait of choice was fiddler crabs, the kind that are found on beaches.  Although only a few had claws as big as this one you had to be careful as those things can
Fiddler Crab on a hook
really pinch as Matt and I found out!  Getting these on the hook took some challenges and if you weren't careful that claw would clamp down on your finger and even when it came off the crab, it's muscles continued to dig it into your skin.  It's a lot funnier after the fact but in Matt's case the crab claw actually broke his skin.  Either way they were pretty effective as we started catching both Sheepshead and Black Sea Bass almost immediately.  I guess the interesting thing is these are land crabs and not found in the water yet it's no different that catching walleyes with nightcrawlers, they aren't found in Lake Mille Lacs either.  A picture of a sheepshead was featured in a December 4, 2008 post when we fished in Jacksonville Florida that year but these were much larger and I the video I inserted makes for a pretty impressive set of teeth on this fish.  These things are made for eating crab, clams, anything with a hard shell as they have all the equipment needed.   No wonder we had a hard time hooking these fish as it would take almost 6 crabs to catch one fish.  The black bass were easier to catch and had to be over 13 inches to keep them and we caught plenty.

I am still waiting for pictures from the guys and hopefully will get them for next weeks post as I am going to take it easy for the weekend.  There still might be some fishable ice around, quite the opposite of the 80 degree weather we experienced in Charleston.  Stay tuned!

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