Cape Fear River – 6/29/2017

Launch sequence commencing in T minus 5, 4, 3...

I took a day off work on Thursday to get the yak wet and try to catch some fish. In planning the week, Thursday looked like a good fishing day as it would follow a few days of sunshine, so the river waters would be slow and relatively clear.

The evening before, I took my oldest son to our new secret bait fish location to catch green sunfish. We caught about 20 fish in an hour. I'm so glad I got turned on to this place because it looks like it's dead reliable for acquiring bait quickly and easily.

That night I had several family commitments so I didn't get a chance to pre-load the car until really late. I ended up going to sleep after midnight. But on Thursday morning I got up at 5:30 AM to get to the lake early, but while there was still light.

A fine morning for fishing

It was a gorgeous day. Relatively cool for this time of year, but not so cool so that the fish hunker down. I forgot my fish finder battery so I can't tell you the actual water temperature, but warm to the touch. I'm going to guess low 80s or so. There was a lovely mist floating over the water. I pretty much had the river to myself for an hour or so.

Plenty of bait and some nice laydowns

My hope was to catch a big flathead or blue, but that was not to be. At the very beginning of my time on the water, my bait got absolutely mauled by some kind of large fish. The pole was twitch-bending but never that nice deep bend to set the circle hook. The fish was wily and spitting it out. When I reeled it in, the bait fish was haggard looking and you could see where a fish had chewed on him. It was the rough abrasive scrape of a catfish mouth. I went ahead and cast it back in to the same location. It was more of the same - an obvious bite, but no set of the circle hook. This time when I reeled it in, the bait fish was bitten in half with the tail hanging on by part of the back. Dang!

I put a new fish on, but unfortunately that was all the big fish play I got.

I think I need to start well before sunrise. I think these big fish are mostly active and feeding at night and I caught the very tail end of it.

Waiting for the big one. And I'm still waiting.

Once I began thinking that I wouldn't get any more action from the big cats, I re-rigged one of my rods for channel cats. The channel cat rig was extremely successful. I'd paddle to a laid-down tree and tie off to a branch. I'd toss a bait fish on my big cat rod into a likely location (another lay-down, bank overgrowth, etc.) and put that rod in a holder. Then I'd handhold the channel cat rod and fish the area around me with punch bait under a float, just dropping the hook into the water next to the yak.

The channel cat rod got bites one right after the other and I caught 20+ fish. All of them were small – some ridiculously so – but fast action is always a lot of fun. I released all of them. I think next time I'll bring an ultra-light rod and reel for the channel cats. That will increase the fun factor while keeping my heavy rods free for the big cats.

Over the July 4th weekend, I think I'll work on some bass fishing. I might take my kids out on the kayak just to paddle, no fishing. But next time I get a chance to fish on the Fear, I'm going to start a few hours before sunrise and see if I can improve my luck with the big fish...