by Ashley “The Drumminator” Williams, GOPC Kayak Fishing Team
This weekend was the perfect example to take full advantage of all the benefits kayak fishing has when searching the saltwater flats for redfish. I planned my trip accordingly for tides and locations.
Where I chose to fish was the very popular (and what I consider my kayak fishing stomping ground) Fort Fisher. With a low tide estimated to be around 9:00am it would be the perfect chance to paddle out and start wetting lines at the peak fishing opportunity. I have eleven years of experience fishing and scouting the creeks in this area so I knew where I wanted to be. Fort Fisher is a gem of a fishing location and what makes it even better is the lack of boat traffic and their inability to access many areas, especially at low tide.
I pulled into the Federal Point boat ramp around 6:00 and began to unload my gear. The ramp has undergone renovations within the last year to which I’m split over. The ramp has been improved greatly but I’m still waiting on that promised kayak launch they’ve been talking about adding. Mion may have gone out of business in 2006 but I’m determined to keep these Current Sandals forever and do not like digging them out of mud flats.
There is a walkway that has been added this year so visitors can get down to the small “beach” section which I’d say around 50 yards wide. Traditionally this is where kayakers have launched from along with wind surfers who frequent the area. But as I said earlier, you’re prone to losing a shoe.
The wind was blowing from the south and predicted to build through the day so I decided to concentrate today’s efforts on spinning tackle. I tied up a few lures, courtesy of Marsh Works Inshore Tackle, before unloading a rigging my Hurricane Phoenix 130. While unloading my friend Jeff pulled into the ramp with his Wilderness Systems Commander 120. After talking a bit we discovered that we both had the same destination in mind and would paddle out together.
Today was an exceptional day for me. Fort Fisher is the water I taught myself to kayak in. Prior to that, my father brought me here to surf fish on the beach and wade fish in the marshes for redfish. In the interest of covering more ground behind the marshes my father helped me get a kayak for Christmas in 2009. That following fishing season was the start of an amazing career in kayak fishing which has opened many doors for me ever since. Not only do I recognize and appreciate those opportunities but even more so, I recognize and appreciate the friends which I’ve gained through the years. It’s not just the fishing that I enjoy, it’s knowing that around any creek bend I can bump into someone I know and share the day with.
It’s those friends who helped support me with phone calls, message, and visits when my father, at 55 years old, passed away after an eight month battle with cancer on October 22nd, 2010. I had been ready to give up the paddle and rod because the memories were too strong of our time on the water together. It took a phone call with a friend (and part owner of a competing business) to tell me I was stupid to quit and give it all up because my father wouldn’t want me to do that. So on Sunday, with a laugh and grin, I shoved off and began my first trip back. I think dad was pleased with the results.
Well Jeff and I squeezed into a creek and paddled our way back into it. This whole area is full of creeks which contain deep holes and channels. At low tide the redfish just seem to get stuck and hang out until the tide returns. From the kayak it’s easy to slide into this places and cherry pick them all afternoon while boats pass back and forth from a distance. Jeff started the day off with a couple of nice redfish almost immediately. At Jeff’s recommendation, I changed up lures and quickly picked up a couple myself. There were a lot of hits and misses as well from this area. After a while of no hits we moved on to explore a few other areas. We saw quite a few redfish moving along individually and no schools. Some were crashing bait against the grass and didn’t show any interest in our lures so we moved on.
Later on we went out separate ways as I was due back home soon. On my way out I came across a school at the mouth of the creek we first fished in. I quickly landed two more redfish and lost three. The last redfish was fortunate enough to return home with me and join my family at dinner that night. All in all it was a good day fishing. To pick out and area ahead of time, get there, and land four redfish from 21” to 26” is a good trip.