I finally managed to get my first fish of 2017 in the books on January 14, out at Surfside Beach. It was a foggy first fishing as dense fog blanketed most of the area; and the fog never did lift, even as the morning turned to late afternoon. The temperatures were at least pleasant and above average, especially when compared to the below freezing conditions of the weekend prior, which made the dampness of the condensation from the fog quite tolerable.
I did not start the day with much success; however, I had a very good finish. I had to try out a new locale, due to the construction activity at my normal spot (Beach Access 5) so I went down a bit further to Beach Access 6. There I cast out my bait and waited; and with very little bite activity the tide started rolling in.
The tide started working its way up the beach and there was fresh construction work in the form of a wall/berm that reduced the amount of available beach and/or high tide escape route, so I packed up my gear and started to head out. It was still early enough in the day to try another spot; and I found a spot on the beach just off Beach Access 4 that had no construction and plenty of beach to park and get out in case of higher tides.
Again I was not having much success in catching anything, or even getting a bite for that matter. The fog still had not burned off, so I decided to fly my drone around in the fog to see if I could get up above it to take a look around while I awaited some sort of fish bite. After a flight, it was time to call it quits and try another day.
I started packing up to hit the road back home. I had all but one rod packed away, and walked towards the water to retrieve it when it started to dance. Finally, at the last possible second, I had a fish on the line. I reeled the fish in, and it tuned out to be a nice 28″ Redfish on the hook. Needless to say, I was now hooked and stayed just a bit longer.
What I thought to be a very poor first fish of 2017, turned into a semi-successful first fish in the end.
Continue Reading Below for Fishing Conditions, Bait and Technique, and Catch of the Day.
Fishing conditions for my first fish of 2017 were actually quite nice. The temperatures were in the low 70s which were a nice departure from the below freezing conditions of the weekend prior. The above average temperatures also did not hurt when it came to staying warm in the dampness of the surrounding heavy fog.
The surf was as one could expect for January, there was strong current and chop; but overall it was not too bad for wading out, and sand anchors/spider weights had no issue with keeping the bait in place. The picture to the left is how the surf had looked at 12:24 in the afternoon. At this point, the tide was at its lowest; but was slowly reversing back towards high tide.
The tides overall were not all that drastic on the day. There were a total of three tide stages with the first being high tide at around 3:22 AM, followed by max low tide at 11:10 AM, ad finally swing back to a high tide at 7:03 PM. I ended up fishing the maximum low tide to about the mid point of the high tide.
If one believes in the Solunar forecast for fishing, it was slated to be a decent day as far as that bite forecast goes. Peak fishing activities for the area was predicted to be ~ 8:50-9:50 AM, 2:30-4:30 PM, and 8:20-9:20 PM with the main bite activity to be in the period starting around 2:30 PM. Oddly enough, it was during the scheduled peak bite activity that I saw any of my bites; and the one fish I landed, my first fish 2017, was at 3:30 PM (right in the middle of the period).
The fog had persisted throughout the entire day. I normally leave the back gate open on my SUV for quick access of fishing gear, food, water, and any other numerous supplies; and the fog definitely left quite a bit of moisture inside on everything after a full day of exposure and condensing. Below is the fog still persevering late into the afternoon (2:43 PM). It was a period where a very short glimpse of the sun came through which resulted in a nice fogbow.
Bait and Technique
To be honest there is not much technique in my fishing.
I had out two cheap rods and reels both with a general two-hook surf rigging along with a 2 oz spider weight on the bottom.
I was using frozen squid on one of the rods while on the other I had frozen finger mullet. The squid received no attention the entire day. Normally this time of year, the squid has been effective for me at landing a good amount of whiting, so I continue to use it as one of my main baits.
The finger mullet on the other hand, was slow at start and then started receiving a good number of bobbles and bites in the late afternoon. I typically do not use this frozen bait and have been inclined to only use mullet live when I can cast net it. I guess there is a first time for everything, and the frozen mullet proved to be the successful bait on the day. It was on this rod that I landed my first fish of 2017, a 28 inch Redfish at around 3:30 PM.
Catch of the Day
At around 3:30 PM, with frozen finger mullet in the water on a standard two-hook surf fishing rigging, the rod started dancing. At the other end of the line was a 28″ Redfish which was later grilled for dinner.
The time of catch was as the tide was coming back in; however it was not fully out of the low tide condition (still about 30 minutes away from the inflection point between low and high tide). The time was also between what was forecasted as peak bite activity for the day according to Solunar conditions. I try to always be at the beach for these Solunar peaks (within reason) as whether by circumstance or actuality, I do have a higher rate of good catch during these peaks.
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