The Trap was about three feet from the boat when the last fish struck. With a heart pounding slam and boiling water, fifty yards of line quickly left my reel. A red and gold torpedo was bulging a wave of tannic colored water across the shallow flat as I maneuvered the boat and myself to continue the fight.
Redfish! Like most reds, this one fought hard for some time making a number of runs. But also like most reds, he then came relatively quietly to the side of the boat.
My Boga Grip bounced at just over seven pounds. Thats not huge as redfish go, but on todays trip he was a fitting tribute as the last fish of the day.
Ordinarily, I would not be bragging so about a seven-pound redfish. But today he was special. You see, today we were fishing for and catching black bass! The grass flat we were on was in a cove off Doctors Inlet in the St Johns River.
While fishing the St Johns, it is not unusual to catch quite a number of redfish upriver. Reds are estuary feeders, and young fish under two pounds can be caught on almost any shell bar or grass flat.
I can remember numerous trips that produced a black bass and redfish on successive casts.
A number of rivers up and down the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico coast for that matter are free flowing estuaries. By that I mean that there are no locks or intrusion dams that prevent the migration of fish. The St Johns, St Marys, Altamaha, Roanoke and St James immediately come to mind. These tidal rivers provide a continuous flow of fresh water into the salt marshes, helping insure the survival of future marine generations.
My son was fishing the annual striped bass run out of Weldon, NC, last week. Weldon is 200 miles inland on the Roanoke River, and the dam at Roanoke Rapids stops the fish migration at that point. He called me to report he had caught about seventy stripers in a partial day of fishing all of them in the four to eight pound range. My arms ache thinking about it!
But, he called back a few minutes later to tell me something he forgot on the first call. In addition to all the stripers they boated, his partner managed to catch a flounder yes, a saltwater flounder.
What that fish was doing so far upstream is beyond me, but it brings up an important fact. If the river runs to saltwater, you can most assuredly catch both freshwater and saltwater fish in the areas of salinity change.
Fish will take on color variations based on the water conditions. Ive caught redfish along coastal beaches that were silver and white. Ive also caught redfish from tannic, mangrove water that were very dark in color.
This red was a beautiful dark golden bronze on the back. The dark color moved to deep gold along the sides and to a lighter shade of gold under the belly. Two irregular spots were on each side of its tail, and that wonderful light blue, almost iridescent hue glowed on the tailfin rays.
Tim really wanted to keep that fish, but I simple had to let it go. It was the end to a perfect day of fishing, and a beautiful fish like this had topped it off. I had no choice but the revive this one and watch it swim away, the end of another perfect day on the water.