The reels were screaming

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bill Caldwell, of Dillwyn, and Lloyd Seeley, of Farmville, took a few days earlier this year to go down to Carolina Beach in North Carolina to live bait fish offshore, and temperature played a key role in their efforts.

“We found that the cold weather that plagued us here this spring also had the same consequences in North Carolina,” Caldwell said. “The water temperature inshore was in the mid-60s, and everything seemed to be off by a couple weeks due to the earlier unusual cold weather.”

He noted that the first day they were there, they could not find live bait, menhaden, in the inland waterway anywhere.

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“We found that they haven’t showed up yet in any large numbers, and the few were scattered,” he said. “On the second day we had the same issue, so we went to a local bait house to pick up some shrimp and squid to catch some different live bait to carry offshore.”

Caldwell related that one of the area salesmen at the bait shop in Carolina Beach told him and Seeley about a little unknown place in the Cape Fear River not too far from where they were.

“He told us, ‘If you can’t find bait anywhere else, this place is the last resort,’ so he drew us a map, and we set off to find this secret place,” Caldwell said. “After using Google Earth on our phone, we were able to find it, and it was exactly as he described, and it was full of menhaden.”

It was an old dredge pond off of the river in brackish water that was 20-25 feet deep and a couple of acres across, Caldwell cited.

“The difference was the water temperature here was near 70, because the water never completely drained when the tide changed,” he said.

He noted that several throws with the cast net yielded all the live bait they needed to go offshore.

The first wreck they went to was 10 miles offshore, and Caldwell said they noticed the water temperature was in the mid-60s still.

“We were looking for king mackerel or any game fish on the submerged wreck that was on the bottom, but from the recorder we found nothing,” he said. “But we did run into a school of bonita that were fun to catch on the spinning rod with a gotcha plug, but we released them.”

Caldwell said he and Seeley went 10 miles more offshore to another wreck. The water temperature went up to 68 degrees, and they found the king mackerel were there.

“That’s what the live bait was for, and it didn’t take long for the reels to start screaming,” Caldwell said.