Thursday, August 27, 2015

Potting Killies and Catching a Redfish

Four years ago, we potted killies galore off the end of the boardwalk leading out to the salt creek from our rental house. Many of them large, about three inches long, they led to Matt hooking a flounder of about 20 inches at the Ocracoke Pamlico Sound boat launch. He led it to the ramp, too big to hoist with light tackle, stepped on algae slick as ice coating concrete, and slid on down, flounder taking him in tow before it threw the hook.

Two years ago, no killies at all. Is the population cyclic, or did the hurricanes have to do with it? This year, we caught about a dozen-and-a-half to fish the dock two days ago, no real big killies in the lot. We caught a lot of pinfish, and I did hook something of at least a couple of pounds, but it could have been an eel, for all I really know. The fight felt odd.

Shortly before sunset today, I checked the killie pot and found a nice, big, three-inch killie along with another smaller. Six total to take to the dock, along with shrimp from Tradewinds Tackle. I told Matt to bait up with the big one.

"You sure?"

"Yeah. Keep the bail open and your finger on the line to just let go if something hits hard. But pull it away from any pinfish."

Those pinfish marauder anything put under. I saw a woman two days ago lower an entire chicken neck on a cord for any blueclaw crabs. The pinfish just swarmed upon it and took it entire--down to the bone--like pirahnas.

Soon Matt fought something good-sized, certainly for the dock, and let it up the ramp after a few short runs.

"Nice meal of a croaker," I said. A second later, "It's a red drum." I saw the spot near the tail and it mesmerized me for a moment. "Not sure what keeper size is."

"Doesn't matter. We'll throw it back. Can't believe I caught a red drum." Matt had it in hand.

We had flown to Charleston, SC, last November, the whole family, minus Sadie the black Lab, to pursue and catch red drum, as well as enjoy the city. Redfish are great on the Outer Banks too, the North Carolina state fish.

"I got lucky," Matt said.

"It sets a precedent. If only we could catch a lot of those big killies."

Nevertheless, conditions felt great this evening. Wind bearing down from the northeast, cloudiness, sunset. Good fish move through here on occasion, but mostly its pinfish like the many we caught after Matt's lead. I also caught two other saltwater panfish of another species obviously related closely to grunts.

 Potting Killies
Ocracoke Boat Launch Dock


  1. Here it is! The title is the most intriguing part. Potting Killies and Catching a Redfish. But in the story you called it a red drum. To a non fisher like me, it's all rather exotic, but Potting Killies really caught my eye.

    1. Redfish. Red Drum. Channel Bass. Scianops ocellatus. Potting the killies is part of the fun.

    2. Matt has a bigger redfish for the camera in Carolina Lowcountry Redfish Schooling take the Fly.


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