So what did you think about those tides last week? Lord have mercy, those were some dandies.
It may be that y'all aren't tide watchers, but if you were anywhere near water then you had to have noticed the water was so high there wasn't a speck of marsh grass showing. One day the tides were 9 1/2 feet; the next day just shy of 10 feet. All I can say is, that is a whole lot of water flowing in and out.
Most fishermen dread big tides like the ones we've had, but this boy loves them. If you look at my calendar, I put big gold stars on the dates when the tides are predicted to be huge. Neither work nor wife can deter me from fishing on these once-in-a-blue-moon tides.
My excitement over fishing during big tides goes way back to my childhood when I discovered that I caught more big fish during these periods than I ever did during regular tides, which average around 7 feet.
What do I look for when we have these moon tides? I guess I'll start with low tide because like it's opposite -- high tide -- there are usually negative tides during these periods. A negative tide simply means the tides are a whole lot lower than they are during normal, everyday tides. Sand bars and oyster beds that you never knew were there magically pop into view. Though this might sound stupid, I love to go looking for redfish during these super low tides, because in my simple mind less water means the fish have fewer places to hide.
See, I told you it sounds stupid.
Finding reds during these tides always seems to pay off for me. On the first day of negative tides last week, I went fishing with a friend of mine, George Edgar, a Palmetto Bluff resident, and two of his buds, neither of whom had ever caught a redfish.
Two days prior to our trip I had seen a wad of redfish on a flat, but just when they picked me up at my dock, the wind started blowing. We headed out anyway and when we got to the flat, it quickly became obvious that between muddy water and the wind, it was going to be a bust. I had to think of a spot out of the wind, so off we went to small creek I hadn't fished in some time.
We eased into the creek. The water couldn't have been more than 10-inches deep, so we basically went as far as we could until we were mired in the mud. Almost immediately, we noticed tails and fish busting just ahead of us. I knew they were redfish, and they were in water so shallow it barely covered their backs.
Using Cajun Thunder corks and 6-foot leaders, all hell broke loose. "Fish on!" Catching reds in super skinny water doesn't get any better as they rip across the shallows. I don't remember just how many reds we caught, but it was a bunch and all of them were exactly 23 inches, the top of the slot limit. George's friends broke the "never caught a redfish spell" and went home with two fish apiece, while graciously releasing the rest.
What a day.
The next day, I agreed to help Capt. Bill Parker on his boat The Runaway. It was an outgoing tide, and Port Royal Sound was our destination. Using strips of mullet, it took nearly 10 ounces of lead just to keep the bait on the bottom, but it worked. We caught some stag (or bull) redfish in the 25-to 30-pound range. One guy on board was rather pessimistic, telling me over and over that he never, ever caught fish when he chartered a boat. Just when he said it for the umpteenth time, his rod bent double. I am a huge believer in mojo so after he landed that big red, I took great satisfaction in picking on him for the rest of the trip.
There is one fish I really target during huge tides, and that is flounder. People always ask me about flounder and why they can't catch them on hook and line when there are so many around. My answer to that is, I don't know. But if you want to increase your chances, go when the tides are the biggest.
My bait of choice is live finger mullet, and I look for places with lots of flow and fish in the eddies that border that flow. Last week alone I caught at least 40 flatties, and three of them were more than 7 pounds. When they get that big, you swear they're halibut.
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.