Twice in the last week, in the middle of an oppressive heat wave, I have taken two very cool fishing trips.
It’s taken me a while, but I am finally learning to appreciate the unique fishing destinations that are close to home. Travelling to the Florida Keys to chase tarpon is a lot of fun, but that is a multi-day trip and it can get expensive. Last weekend, when the temperature topped 100 degrees, I went wading in a river.
We have not had much rain lately, so the river was fairly low and as clear as a mountain stream in the shallower areas. While two friends waved fly rods for bream and my son fished for bass, I drifted a live minnow under a bobber, for gar.
I know a lot of guys who fish that would never consider using live bait. Some fishermen are fly-fishing purists and others think it is not sporting to use, minnows, shrimp, or crickets. I also know a lot of people who would never think of purposely trying to catch a “trash fish” like a shark or a gar. But I just like to catch fish. The method does not matter to me, I like them all. I have an old recipe for cedar-planked gar, but I planned to release any gar that I caught.
The river we fished is less than five minutes from my house. The cool water was refreshing to wade in and we caught some fish. It took me a while to figure out how to catch the prehistoric-looking gar, with teeth that would make a barracuda jealous, but I finally figured them out. I’m sure there are larger examples in this river, but the ones we caught kept us busy and put up a great fight.
Daron Hyatt with a nice longnose gar. The North Carolina record for longnose gar is 25 lbs.
A few days later we loaded up the kayaks and headed for the southern coast of North Carolina. It was just a day trip, but what a beautiful area to visit. North Carolina has far more than her fair share of beautiful and unique places to visit. At Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, just south of Kure Beach, the beach is open to four-wheel-drive vehicles. We drove down the strand and launched the boats into the marsh that rings the back of Bald Head Island. We missed the best part of the tide, but the isolated beauty more than made up for a lack of fish. I saw so many unfamiliar species of birds that I ordered a shorebird guidebook when I got home.
We spent the afternoon lounging on the beach with our closest neighbors more than half of a mile away.
If you don’t have a kayak, Hook, Line and Paddle in Wilmington has rental boats and you can launch them from the boat ramp that is just past the Fort Fisher ferry dock if don’t want to drive on the beach.
I hope to make return visits to both of these locations this summer and into the fall. Maybe I’ll see you there. If not, I’ll do my best to catch one for you.