Those who know me know that hunting is my passion and fishing has always come in a distant second. Some people say that the best fishing in our local waters happens about the same time as hunting season, making it an easy choice for me to hunt rather than fish. Even so, the cold fronts that move in and out of our coastal area in January and February create the perfect conditions for exciting fishing in the marsh waters right in my backyard in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina!
My good friend, and accomplished fisherman, John “JP” Pruitt called me and said, “The tide is right, the weather is perfect, and I found the fish! Now come on and let’s get out there!” JP has a second home on the creek and has put in a lot of time finding fish. Around 4 p.m., with temps in the low 50s and a cold wind blowing, I arrived at JP’s dock, with a pail of fresh, live shrimp I’d just picked up from Perry’s Bait & Tackle. Kyle, the manager at Perry’s, confirmed that the speckled trout were biting, and he was getting reports of nice reds as well.
Sworn to secrecy, I can’t disclose the exact location we fished, but JP knew just where to catch some nice trout. Areas of fast-moving water alongside oyster banks in the marsh make ideal fishing spots.
My casts were a bit sloppy at first—and trout rigs are all too easy to tangle. JP had to remind me not to “whip” the cast and then to be sure that my bail was open to allow the bait to drift freely with the tide. “If the float goes down, quickly close the bail and reel in that fish!” he told me as he was landing his first speckled trout. I remained intently focused on the bright red bobber, hoping for a sudden drop, and continuously checked my drift to make sure it was loose and flowing. JP showed off his skills, catching two more nice trout and a small spottail bass (aka redfish). And I got lucky a couple of times myself, catching two beautiful trout.
It was both peaceful and thrilling to see the graceful drift of the float interrupted by a sudden “blup” as the impressive fight began. With only a few more minutes remaining before the glorious colors of sunset faded to darkness, Captain JP called for “last cast.” With my spool nearly spent at the end of the drift, I had somehow missed that my float had gone under. The screaming drag told me that I might have hooked the big one as I struggled to coax the trophy fish to the edge of the boat. After a few minutes of stressful exhilaration, the 24-inch beauty was onboard. After a quick picture, we were careful to properly revive the 6-pounder for release and return it to its hopefully long and fruitful life. The photo doesn’t do justice to the beautiful fish’s vibrant coloration of pink and green and silver and yellow.
As the afternoon drew to a close, the spectacular sunset finally surrendered to night, reminding me that fishing is not always about the catch. As with hunting, the best parts of fishing are the experiences of being outdoors surrounded by pristine nature at its best. I had a fantastic time and felt quite proud knowing that I got my fishing mojo back!