Friday, October 30, 2015

Kit's Tackle: Glass Minnows on Pamlico Sound

I had the opportunity this October to pack some Glass Minnows from Kit's Tackle on a plane east out of Helena, Montana and introduce them to some salt water fish in the Pamlico Sound between the Outer Banks and the North Carolina mainland. It had been nearly a dozen years since I'd targeted redfish and speckled trout. This trip was a long overdue adventure to join my dad on a blast-and-cast he and his brother Ed make every year. I was once regularly a part of it back when the tradition was being born more than 20 years ago. It also includes some freshwater fishing and whitetail deer hunting, but I was particularly excited to hit the salt.

We took fish on some standard plastics, some suspending plugs, and some walk-the-dog topwaters - but there was always at least one rod in the rack with a Glass Minnow attached. It won MVP of the trip hands down, responsible for taking the most fish and the widest variety of species. It also took my three biggest reds and my largest trout. It picked up some flounder. On days too windy to head out into the Sound it caught largemouth bass in the more sheltered freshwater.
We primarily fished the Rainbow and Jailbait patterns in quarter ounce and three eighths. Water depth was rarely over five feet and often as shallow as two. The retrieve was a standard jigging retrieve, but almost always making contact with bottom on the fall. Sometimes it was a more subtle swimming retrieve, or a 'hover' in current. Long casts to the marsh grasses, paralleling cutbanks, and perpendicularly across points were the rule.

My dad knew the water, having dialed it in during my absence over the previous decade or more. We hit the spots he knew would have trout, we hit the spots where he always sees reds, and we jumped to points of shoreline that seem to always produce. He pulled flounder off the sandy bottoms, we found reds over rougher ground -  such potholed stretches or oyster beds - and nailed the trout anywhere there was current and along steeper banks carved from the marsh clays by wave action.

Trout were the primary fish, and the Glass Minnow landed a couple hundred. Most were small - the bigger trout of fall hadn't moved into the Sound in numbers yet. We did boat a couple around the 20 inch mark. Most of the reds we caught were 14 to 18 inches, but we got up over 20 several times and nearly broke 30 inches with a few fish, the Glass Minnow taking three between 26 and 29.

The jigs took a beating, standing up to fish after fish.  Even when a bait had to be retired because the toothy trout had cut away nearly all the skirt and the hook shank had been reshaped a few times after being crushed by multiple reds, the painted heads showed little wear.  My dad was impressed and commented how they'd earned a permanent spot in his arsenal.

Tossing jigs was only a portion of this fantastic outdoor adventure that spanned ten days and three generations, seven deer in the freezer, old friends, revived memories, family kinship, and thousands of miles of travel.  But Jiggin' the Dream was brought to life in the Pamlico.

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