It was early afternoon when I finally shifted GHOSTONE to 4H and got out on the beach, Dr Chung and I passed fishy lookin’ hole after hole on our way south toward a pin dropped by Ed Tupper, who was already out there. Justin Rienerth, Jess Rienerth, Durand Beasley and Jessica Thai were fishing other holes, but only a couple of dinks and a small dogfish had been added to the leaderboard.
After a couple hours on different holes, the smell of skunk was in the air. Ed suggested we head to the south end to fish at sunset.
“I know they’re here somewhere, we just need to find them!” -Ed
As we pulled up we saw a woman dragging a redfish up to her truck, and a guy out on the bar all bowed up with another one on. With the writing on the wall, Dr Chung and I tied leaders and jigs onto light/medium action GS inshore prototypes, pulled up our waders and we all headed out through a slew to the bar where the waves were breaking at knee to thigh depth.
Wooo hooooo! Ed almost immediately hooked up, which would set the tone for a red-and-black drum blitz that lasted for the next few hours of fishing til dark and from before dawn the following morning. Justin got on one, then Durand and Jess T, Doc Chung, Ed again, Jess R, I hooked up, everyone was on fish after fish after fish…
It was a beautifully sick sunset moonrise session. Excitement was so feverish that we could hardly even take a break to drag a red back through the slew to the cooler. You didn't want to miss a minute of the action. It went something like this: cast and let your jig drop on the bar, jig it once, twice, BANG! Set the hook, a sick fight ensues on light action rod to muscle the fish right up to your hip in the waves and whitewater, a hand under the belly and supported against your waders, waterlogged clothing and waders, full body smiles, laughing loudly, and before you could even take the hook out and release your fish someone else was bowed up and you were screaming for them!! Sometimes 2,3,4 rods going at a time. Rinse and repeat over and over until your elbows and wrists start hurting. Then do it again…
The moment was magic, and everything else disappeared in a blur of moving water, spotted tails, raucous laughter, and a sunset that seemed surreal. I had as much fun seeing that hook set moment happening all around me as all the fish I pulled in myself. Stuffing black drum in both pockets of my waders, I looked left and right I saw rods bowing up and smiles from ear to ear as the bite turned up and continued full volume til it was dark and I was the only one left out there.
“Full moon rising to one side, epic sunset on the other, my wife & all my buddies hooked up at the same time. It doesn’t get any better than that. Moments like this are why I live on the outer banks. Just like good waves, I can’t get enough of moments like this.” - Justin
Local photographer Robert Chestnut and his fiancé Rachael met us along the way, and during the blitz Rachael caught her first fish ever! What a first fishing experience, I bet she’ll be hooked for life.
That evening Jess caught Durand washing fish in the hotel shower, followed by an evening of beers over dinner and more smiles and stoked stories of the day’s fish, old skate videos, and faraway friends in common. As dinner drew to a close promises were made to wake up at 4:30 and be on the beach by 5am. Back at the hotel we crashed, exhausted…
After rolling around restless a few times the alarm went off. Ooof. Black as night, we woke up and got moving slowly, thinking we’d hit ‘em again at twilight waiting for the sun to rise. We turned right onto the ramp and out onto an eerie moonlit beach, making our way south toward the spot.
When we arrived the crew was already there, drinking coffee and waiting for enough pre-sunrise glow to get in the water.
At the first crack of dawn we put on wet waders and headed through the trough out to the bar. The tide was a little higher with a lot more water moving around so everyone else went in and started throwing from the beach out into the deeper water at the end of the trough. Just as I realized I was the only one left out on the bar, I got my first red of the day only 10 feet away from where I was wading. A miscalculation of trough depth and I got a bunch of water in my waders. I pushed up north a bit to where the trough narrowed and started throwing a quarter ounce jig into the waves and letting it bounce around on the bottom.
I snagged a nice black drum bouncing the jig around, and then looked down to see Ed bowed up again throwing from the beach. I waded back into shore and sloshed back over to the Jeep, and by the time I got there Justin and Dr Chung were already hooked up. "Nothing like catchin' redfish at dusk AND dawn" - Dr Chung
Durand was on another one by the time I made my first cast from the beach. “It was one of those rare weekends where you have the whole beach with just you and your buddies and big schools of drum. A weekend that I won’t soon forget." It took a much longer throw to reach the ledge of the bar, where the fish were schooled up and feeding, but as soon as a cast would hit bottom a redfish would slam the jig. Whatever Ed was throwing had some kind of magic redfish sauce on it, cuz he had a fish on every cast for a while, and seemed to be hooked up whenever I looked up.
“I’d never experienced fishing like that before and I am so grateful to have experienced it with good company. Everyone was so supportive and happy. An unforgettable weekend to say the least!” -Jessica
So many slot drum coming in I just remember fat reds flopping up in the waves, perma-smiles on every face, and nonstop hooting for each other, fish after fish. So many we lost count, but all in all, we estimated a couple hundred redfish and black drum between us over both sessions.
Jess Rienerth put an eloquent bow on it, “Classic outer banks magic. The days you mostly only dream of because they so rarely happen. We’ve been trying to catch a drum blitz like that [down there] for years now. I’ve never seen a sunset like that before, even on the outer banks, and we have the best sunsets in the world. We’ll be telling that story for decades.”