Captain's Log

Nathan Edwards enjoys the first Cast & Blast of the season on the Cape Fear Coast, NC


I have had the pleasure of fishing/guiding angler Nathan Edwards for over five years this season.The  consummate sportsman Nathan is comfortable with just about any manner of gear you put in his hand be it spin, bait cast, fly, shotgun or bow. How this lifelong NC native has escaped a good old fashioned rail hunt in the marsh after all his years afield is beyond me but I was determined to make "it" happen as long as the tide would allow us to reach the flooded marsh.

Conditions weren't perfect as the wind was somewhere on the verge between breezy and howling as we set off from the ramp. We both are optimists when it comes to fishing and agreed the wind would luff out as the afternoon progressed. In spite of being wrong about the wind we were right that it would help build the tide and expose not only the prized sight of tailing redfish in the grass but also aid us in flushing Virginia, Clapper and Sora Rails from their cord grass hiding spots.With a compliment of gear including 7 and 8 wt fly rods, light tackle fast action spinning rods and one Stoeger 20 ga. Uplander Double Gun we were ready for all that the marsh had to offer us on a rising tide afternoon.

Our first stop found us working in the lee of the spartina marsh along the edge of a creek. The amount of bait seeking shelter along the grass edge had small trout and flounder constantly busting the surface and feeding on the helpless shoals of finger mullet while deeper in the grass redfish erupted on baits and crashed loudly against the grass stalks. Nathan cast his topwater plug along the edges of the grass hoping to lure the fish we heard deep in the grass and simply out of reach from most lures or flies. We decided to switch gears in favor of the double gun and hunting rails while waiting on the redfish to get into more fishable waters.

It proved to be the right call. On our first pass through the thick grass I poled us into position to flush the rails  downwind and out of the heavier grasses and we were able to quickly flush and take three nice birds. We continued our hunt, flushing and shooting rails, talking about the different types of cover the birds would use, harvesting many and missing some others. Yes there was some heckling but it was all good natured. Nathan hadn't pulled the trigger on a shotgun since last winter and to be honest he didn't appear rusty; dropping numerous singly flushed rail and finishing on a perfect double. Much of the fun included discussing the shots taken, whether capitalized on or not, off hand shots, gun characteristics and the flight and behavior of the birds. One highlight included the flushing of the rare Sora Rail. Just the sighting was worth the effort of poling several hundred acres of grass with a gunning buddy on the bow.

The tide finally flooded well enough to put some redfish into tailing mode in spite of the ever present winds keeping them off balance as they pirouetted in the shallows in search of shrimp and crabs. I lined Nathan up on a couple of nice tailers, a bit finicky in the wind, before we found a stud wallowing in the grass. The water was shallow enough at this point that we had not only the tail waving in front of us but also the fish's back out of the water as it cruised within casting range. In similar fashion to his shotgunning style, one shot:one bird, Nathan executed an excellent cast with our super top secret soft plastic and the fish showed no hesitation as it exploded on his lure! My favorite sight of the day was watching that brute ten pound redfish kick water three feet in the air as it sprinted off of the flat and hearing Nathan's happy nervous laughter.

We finished the perfect day when we landed that redfish. We quickly took some pictures before releasing him to fight another day. I have to thank Nathan for trying his hand on hunting clapper rails and tailing redfish in the same tide. We had a the prefect day for a Tarheel State cast and blast and I look forward to more adventures in the future whether rod or gun.

Fall is most certainly in the air and you don't want to miss the opportunity to test your skills on a Cast and Blast or simply in pursuit of the last tailing redfish of the 2012 season. Please call, email or try the Spotted Tail Reservation Management Service on the website. I look forward to seeing you on the water this season.

Till Next Tide,
Captain Seth Vernon