NC Railbird hunting and Saltwater fishing guide

Wilmington, N.C.  

Inshore Fishing and traditional Rail Bird Hunting Charters

Inshore Fishing charters ​​
Traditional N.C. Rail Bird Hunts​​

Book a railbird hunt- tide !
N.C. DNR offers-(Youth only)
Duck Hunts ) the first 1st Two Saturdays in FEB.'
Ohhh...your papa didn't know about that? Speak to your grampa...see if he knew.

Salty or Freshwater
Light Tackle or Fly Fishing 

(4 hour charters)

1 P $350 
 and $100 ea additional person for Fishing charters Spring-Summer-Winter months .
The  Lower Cape Fear Delta is alive and teeming with millions of crabs, shrimp (Brown/White) as well as a myrid of plegic species; as well as experiencing hundreds of thousands of migrating birds/wildfowl/waterfowl of all species throughout Fall and Winter and again during the spring time too.​​

One can see a number of interesting things in our bays and inlets. Bottle nose dolphin, Riddley's Sea Turtle, motor just out of the bay near the drop off along the deep "thoroughfare cut to the river chute" during the Full Moon Week of August and you might see Tarpon "daisy - chaining" that is an act of swiming in a pourposing fashion one after another".  If I have my Tarpon Fly Rod with them, I would aim about three-feet INFRONT of one nice Poon, and if he inhales it, it will certainly "dance" for you! I've seen small tarpon on the SE Side of Buzzard's bay (small ones under 25 lbs smashing up mullet, but never prior to that first full moon in August.

 In the deeper creeks and inside bays you willl occasionaly see a small or a large Sea Turtle where there is  a big, deep hole.
There are a few ancient Indian (Shell Rings) deep in the back country, I came upon them by accident, while drift fishing during a great June flood tide in 2001 for big reds, and as they are very deep in the backcountry of that delta,  IMHO, I  believe very few living people outside of myself and a Plastic Surgeon from Boulder, CO have ever seen them in the past 20 years.  I'd kind of like to keep it that way.

 This delta marsh complex along the Cape Fear River experiences millions of gallons of fresh wather that slam into the incoming tides- of the Atlantic Ocean, yet because of this great mix of oxygen: shrimp, crab, and hundreds of millions of plegic species get to feast on numerious species of primary/seconday food sources.

Sportsmen and watermen- need to protect our Cape Fear River and all it's tributaries from gill nets and only then will we see a massive rebound in all the major sportsfish species especially in this unique Delta.

What does one do ?

The TAR HEEL State's  Marine Fisheries Department is politically influnced  by a handful of "Commercial Netting- Lobbists" who care more about- their poundage and the thirty pieces of silver as they betrayed the millions of Voters & sportsmen who will one day soon enough....see the end of Gill Nets, pound nets, commerical giging by 2021 through a massive state wide -Letter Writing Campagn that is on going. Why not add your own letter dear reader?


*Please take up that "mighty pen/pencil" and write a  personal letter to the NC-DNR

N.C.  Marine Fisheries Commission,

and voice a strongly worded statement--

"I am writing to request a state wide ballot to stop all gillnetting and trawling- inside N.C. barrier islands, bays, inlets and creeks effective  JAN 1st 2020. Send a copy to your State and Federal Congressman and Senator as well.


* Even the liberal TV News Networks that abound across the Carolina's  will not admit the truth that

..."N.C. is the "last state in all the 14 Southeastern and Gulf Coastal states that still allows the destruction of sporting fish (by commercial gill netting and shrimp - trawling) in our ICW, Bays and Coastal Inlets resulting in by-catch destruction that happens inside N.C. barrier islands

Use your freedom of speach- through the peaceful means of writing a personal letter to the N.C. Marine Fisher's Council and let them know you want to see these gill nets disapear and stop those shimPerhap trawers from operating in August- September in our ICW and near our shrimp breeding marshes. 

Do you wonder why..why...why...has every other state's legislature in the SE and Gulf Coast states of stopped gill netting & shrimp trawling INSIDE their barrier Islands, however  N.C. Marine Fishers Commission still allows - millions of pounds of sportsfishing speces that get rolled up in these nets, each and every year in N.C. Inshore waters.



4 hour Fishing Charters are $350 1P, and $450 for two person s.

Joe Guide only books a small number of fishing trips in the spring, summer and fall; so you better pick up your phone & leave me a "detailed message" of what day in what week and month that you would like to go fishing.

I would check my {Guide & Tide Book} for that day or week and see if those days are available on my guide calander- before I call you back and you can lock down a particular day and time and boat landing where you can meet me.

The Client will always meet me at a designated Public Boat Landings.


Please let me know if you or your fishing buddy - desires to fly-fish or just utilze light-tackle.


I go Wadefishing after tailing Reds only during a flood tide, however it has to be a tide that is big enough to allow big reds to think they can have their way - crunching and munching on Fiddler, Peeler, or Mud crabs. 

 I try to ensure that all my clients who desire to wade-fish and chase tailing reds in the  backcountry flats experience a interesting and exciting adventure! 


Spring and summertime might be over rated by kids today who seem to spend hours playing with game-boys and other expensive electrical toys. 


When I was mighty young-the good ol' summer time was kids time... and Mrs. Mary Jane Pompy used to run us kids outdoors after the Disney show, or Lucile Ball show was over

 It must have been around 9 am most mornings. Now she would not let us back into the house, until it was half an hour before Lunch, unless it was raining. Our farmhouse was so far out of town, the mailman didn't come out until about dark.


I reckon, if I was living in California, some one of the neighbors might have called- one of those Social Workers: (big ol'educated women, who wore their hair up in a bun, and wore comfortable shoes...and might have concluded that all us kids were  treated mighty bad by Ms. Mary Jane.

I'm telling you all the truth...Mary Jane Pompy could tell some stories from way on back in ancient times, and she always said that, "... summer time was kids time, for growing up, and kids time should be spent out of doors, running arround in the green grass of the  big lawn in our bare feet.

Now we played  kick the can, walked about three miles back to Grandfather's big Pond and went fishing, or we just found  a quiet shady spot under a big ol; shade tree and read a good book, like Amelia Bedelia, or something more serious like Theodore Roosevel's adventures, (WHEN THE WEST WAS WON) or one of those National Geographic Magazines that the Baptist Ladies Association tried to keep out of the eyes of youngsters in those times.

I always liked getting the mail, about the time, that the National Geograpic Magazine came in every month. 


You readers, might not had such a upbringing like we did in the low country.

 I lived in a county where Miss America of 1957 grew up. Two counties over, Teddy Pentergrass grew up, and the South Carolina great Supreme Court Justice Taylor Stukes had a home, about two or three miles away.

I heard him speak a number of times. I think he took a degree from HARVARD. 

     Now in my summertimes,  we read a lot of old Outdoor Life magazines, or those Field & Stream ones which had some great outdoor articles from across the USA and Alaska, and the World. FIELD & STREAM wrote a wonderful 6 page Feature Article on Cape Fear River Rail Bird hunting just last Oct/Nov 2018 (Road to Railbirds). Google that and read it for yourself.

There was a stange magazine from way up north...must have been around Michagan or Minissotta called:  Fur, Fish & Game magazine. Ice fishing stories and bear attacking trappers, and stories about Mad Trappers, and mad wolves, things that other magazines in that day and time never talked much about. You ever read any of those?  


Summer time was when kids of all ages- got cut loose from teachers and schools and  a lot of those mathmatical formula's.


Our county was so poor, that it must have been ranked about the poorest county in that state, hoever, we rarely saw Summertime was "June bug" and fishing and frog gigging time... in freshwater ponds, or gigging flounder under a Carolina Moon at low tide" in the saltwater flats by a Colman Lantern -suspended across the hole in a Inflatable intertube.
     You might still remember times like those Carolina summer times in your mind. You might even want to go to Carolina in your mind.


You may recall such times in yo' life when the air on a springtime afternoon just kinda smells prettier - than any other day smells. 

Friend, you may recall, as I do, the magnolia's blooming and busting out to overshadow the Rose bushes come springtime in Carolina.

We had a church lady that came over to baby sit little bubby....
 and every summer day she was there....  Mrs. Lavina Martha Washington Pompy crafted - delicious "frozen OJ popsiclices" ---made out of love and a righteous indignation that more young children of our day and time, just need to drink  more vitamin C.

     Vitamins were supposed to be mighty good for you. She always said "Turnp Greens" and "Brussel Sprouts"
were supposed to put hair on your chest, but I just couldn;t figure that one out, as I was just about eight years old when I heard that story.

 Now I wanted to believe in Santa Claus, and the Tooth fairy...but one of the kids at school went around telling the little kids, that they were not real, and there was a hell of a fight on the play ground.

Took the principle and some maintance fellows just to brake up, that fight that day. I just kinda sat up on the swingset and watched the show unfold all around me.


So I guess you could say that I had a pretty good life - growing up as a kid with all the outdoors to be running around,ddddddddddd and the beach wasn't much more than a hour and half drive.

However when gas was 40 cents a gallon, and living on a farm, with parents who survived The Great Depression, illnesses like Polio, and the Whooping Caugh, Spanish Influenzia and WWII defining their lives in the midst of a ever-changing world and economy.

I guess you might be saying you were lucky not to have been growing up at that time.  Vietnam was dragging out into a mighty long conflict overseas, and Nixon was in office and ol' Elvis Presley wasn't as popular as Dolly Pardon or Sonny and Cher or the Rolling Stones...but  I certainly remember being taking out to fish one of those new - plastic worms that came from some fellow in Ohio.

Those plastic worms were for Bass Fishing, those Largemouth black Bass, not the striped bass that ran in schools in the Santee Cooper Lakes.

     My grandfather liked to paddle his ten foot jon boat and smoke his cigar and would occassionaly throw a popping bug, or a wooly-bugger, or a rubber ant for bream if they were bedding down in the spring. He was always after a few of those big ol' black bass, and he wanted to try a package of those Worms from the CREME WORM Company INC. of somewhere in Ohio.
     My Grandfather was a lawyer, like his younger brother Edward, (who practiced up in D.C. before the US Supreme Court). However they were fly fishermen from way back.


     I still have one of their old fly rods with a old  martin reel and still will use it occassionaly to fish for Bream in a Black River stream,  or a large fish pond with that fly rod.

Yes sir, we had summer times that were enjoyable,  back in those days. It was quite different from today's hurry up and wait, and wondering if any one in the newspaper business can tell the truth, because on CSPAN...which I like to watch when having a cup of coffee in the early AM durng those winter months when it is too cold and nasty to go fishing, and nothing is in season, except maybe CROWS, and they don't gang up on the Owls until  late March. So you got some time on your hands to think more about things that are important to think about. 

Back in the winter time I remember sitting by the Fireplace after church and lunch, it must have benn in the afternoons; when we started watching that AMERICAN SPORTSMAN show on the TV.  ABC had a great market share of millions around the USA watching  Mr. Curt Gowdy and some famous celebreties out fishing and hunting. I remember watching Andy Griffith and that guy with the voice of the babbon on the Disney Animmated Movie JUNGLE BOOK (Texas Phil Harris) hunt snow geese down there outside of BIg Boggy NWR in SE Texas. That was memorable...or Fred Bear with his bow and arriow stalking a POLOR BEAR. Dangerious.   Or Lefty Kreh (who recently died) and Joe Brooks fly fishing with Ted Williams, or Big Crosbey after Bonefish or Trout or salmon...differnt places around the World. Needed to see those places and parts of the world and try to catch some fish like that. 

My whole family liked watching  FLIPPER, GENTLE BEN, Mutual of Omaha's WILD KINGDOM, THE WALTONs, shows like that that demonstrated good values and good behavior. My mama liked watching Johnny Carson befoer bedtime. My papa was a farmer back in those days and we had some cattle and some pigs and he always turned in around 9 PM because he had to get up around 4 every morning. There was a old Resturant called the Central Coffee Shop, run by a big Greek Family that came over from Greece prior to WWI, and the grandfather was good friends with my grandfather, and I went to school with their kids, but their kids headed out for th ebig cities of the nation and places like that are fewer and fewer in our nation. 
Some restruants had class, waters wore Tuxedo's and white gloves to serve you. Dinner time meals at some restrants demanded all gentlemen must wear Coats & Ties for the Dinner Meal. It was own the door. Things started changing around 1963 -1966 I reckon. At least that was what I was seeing, lots of positive changes going on. Fishing was getting better and better too. I could climb to the top of the Grain Bins prior to Thanksgiving prior to a big Cold Front pushing down from up north, and see Flocks of Ducks flying down across the sky most every evening for days and weeks I reckon. It was always too cold back then to do that but once in a while.  


Well now one of my brother was a artist, and he always dress up funny with all the bell bottoms, and flowery shirts too. Just like James Brown did or Elvis I guess. You know like rock stars in those days dressed...kinda wild.

Papa knew that he was not going to be a farmer and let him go off and visit my mama's half-sister Margret "Peggy" Parish (the childrens book author of Amelia Bedelia). 

She was a hoot. She taught English at a lot of Indian Reservation and was quite a wild tomboy growing up prior to WWII. She studed English at USC and that Yale Professor that became so famous for his Outdoor Writing....Haveligh Babcock encouraged my aunt to write funny stories about the people she grew up with on the farm.

I got to meet Dr. Babcock when he hunted quail when I was just a little fellow carring my dog whistle. "Where is your shotgun, young man? He asked me, I said I was working the quail dogs, and a guide did not bother with anything but the pointing dogs, and their ability to work a covey and the singles, and I did not need anything more than the rawhide lanyard and SS Whistle which I wore around my neck.

Well now, we were hunting on Joe Moore's Santee estate, where the wild birds were still quite plentyful, and I was following my father and told to be quiet and to meet the professor that taught Aunt Margrate at the University. He wrote quail hunting articles for FIELD AND STREAM and OUTDOOR LIFE Magazines.  That was the day, so very long ago...where Dr. Babcock, and he called me "JOE GUIDE".

 My older brother was quite the funny person, telling jokes and reading those magazine from NYC and California. He always said he was going to Hollywood some day, and be famous painter, or artist.

He was always studing someone interesting, like that Picasso fellow from Spain, or one of the great painters from Itally.

Now, I don't know about you,  however, I did not leave anything in  Paris or Rome or New York City where my Aunt Peggy lived.

I didn't want to go any giant city that was filled with mean gangs that sold drugs, or killed people or beat them up to a pulp. I had read  that book Billy Graham talked about on the radio. The Cross and the Switchblade author- witnessed the gospel amid the gangs up there in those decaying parts of Brooklyn and the East End of that great big city called the BIG APPLE. However I did not care to go there unless it was to one of those great big Universities when I came of age to do some big time studing after High School. Time might have other plans in our lives and our own journeys through life are not set out so nicely or neetly. 


Now your life might have been quite different from my time growing up. Lordy, I did not have my own Cell Phone untl the Army issued me a duty cell phone when I was a young officer, and I really did not want to used it, because there was always a lot of trouble happening that the Duty Officer and the Officer of the day had to deal with after hours. I say that 60% of the time, we had to deal with trouble makers, and about 10% were real time issues that would worry just about anyone if you had to read the book which was a recod of the event in the life of any duty officer. Yet that is altogether another story- for another day and time to be told. Let's get back to talking about fishing.


I liked fishing in the pond or the big lake for striped bass, or with that older Preacher (who had studed in Scotland), and talked kinda funny. The Rev. Dr. McCloud Frampton was a good man, one who could recall drift fishing the beautiful of all carolina bream fishing rivers the Ashypoo. He had also spent a year or two over in Scotland, and he didn't play golf, when he had time off he fly fished. It was one of the greatest things outside the Bible that he taught me. We caught a lot of fish. He had two boys one was a great concert pianist, and the other had more degrees than a themomoter and was in a big city church far away from Carolina. I met both of them when I was a young fellow, but neither impressed me more than their father's attention to detail about the Double Haul Cast in fly fishing for the big species. The Salmon, the Bonefish, the Tailing Redfish. 

 He taught me to throw a fly rod properly- just in case I ever got to travel and fish for Salmon in Alaska, or those Bonefish or Tarpon like we saw Lefty Kreh doing on AMERICAN SPORTSMAN on TV as a kid. 

 I was encouraged to write to Lefty. He actually replied to my letter and asked about where I fished and to write back to him every couple of years. He was a good fellow, a Army Veteran from WWII. He was taught flyfishing by Mr. Joe Brooks who wrote those fine fly fishing stories for the big Outdoor Magazines.

I told Lefty, that  I watched him on TV,  and I wanted to fish those flats and steams where he fished around the world one day. Alaska was as far away as Christmas Island in the Central Pacific, a small atoll, a speck of a dot in my little Globe of the World. I liked reading about  Australia, my Gandfatherhad met some good fellows from his WWI days over in France and England and he always talked to me on our walks about the proud Australians he knew during that Great War to end all wars.

and I could read about those places, but never thought I might actually fish those areas, until the Miliary sent me all over the world and the USA too. 

Perhaps you had some dreams in your day. Did you ever act on catching one of those dreams? 
Now  some of you reading this story have all grown up...and perhaps some of you are sucessful business men or women, or perhaps evern- "Captains of Industry" in some big city of our nation.


You might desire- to book a
"stress free" Inshore Fishing Charter with Joe Guide for the late Spring or Summer time, while you are on Vacation at Bald Head Island, Figure 8,  or perhaps you are enjoying a week or so over in Wrightsville Beach,  or Carolina, or Kure' Beach with yo' family.


Let me know if you deisre to bring your own fly rod, or you can use one of my fly rod outfitts: I have SAGE, and two types of TFO 8 or 9 wt fly rods rigged for tailing reds in the spartina grass.

I use a lot of CRAB Flies or Mud Minnow Patterns designed by Bud Rowland of Lower Laguna Madre' in Texas, or some super crabby flies by Connie Mack Moran of CREATIVE FEATHERS of LaMarque, TX.

You FISHING...or just sitting at home Wishing?

If you try to understand the tide system you realize that tides bring oxygen and microorganisms which bring in baitfish and pelagic species.
+++ cannot catch a fish sitting inside yo' home in that lazy boy rocker.

Have you got some practice casting your casting at home in your front yard or a pond with good clearance for your backcasts.

Be Prepaired before you go fish.

I like fishing two hours prior to a flood tide in the spring- Fall, and in the colder weather I prefer to fish the falling tide . 

**You need to leave a message to inquire about available Fishing dates. 

Each fall the Speckled Sea Trout run from the middle of October through late December. Peak runs of specks occur after water tempretures hit 58 degrees. Specks can run in cycles...with every third season showing up with larger numbers of fish in your region.

Wade fishing for big reds occurs in our inshore saltwate when the water tempretures are 68 - 80 degrees F.

Tides gotta be high enough for reds to get into certain flats via feeder creeds during a flood tide.

Big reds do not travel onto flats  until three conditions  occur. Threfore you can start seeing reds tail or push into feeder creeks which these fish feel SAFE from Preditors. They can be spooking all spring-summer-fall months, however you got to lead them, and stalk them quietly and succently with a lure that looks like their food source they are seeking. 

We can find tailing redfish from the new moon of May - until about the second week during the New/full Moon of October.

     It is all about h20 tempretures, food sources and enough flooding and hunger to drive single fish, pairs and pods to pursuue primary and secondary food species in a particular flooded flat. Really big reds can be quite "spooky" too. You got to stalk these tailing reds for that is what you are doing- hunting these tailing fish during an incoming, and flooding flood tide.  
 $350 1P  or  {$700 for 2 P)
4 hr charter

So...picture are sitting   in a skinny water Skiff that is "rigged out for-- Railbird hunting" for a region, and a delta marsh that you must see in order to believe that heaven on earth...truely exists.  You can turn back the clock, a hundred years or so. This is not the HISTORY CHANNEL...although there is a ton of history throughout this coastal region.

Never...never...never...have you ever, experienced wing-shooting such as a Railbird flood tide hunt. 

However, to do got to pick up your phone, and make me a call...and BOOK a RAIL BIRD FLOOD TIDE today, while there are dates that are available.

If you are only looking through websites...then you might as well go back to sleep, or go read a good book. However, if you are intrested on an affordable ADVENTURE here in JOE GUIDE's - backcountry neighborhood... you got to simply...pick up that phone in yo' pocket... and make me a a good date/flood tide hunt. 


You are being poled around a flooding marsh (during) a big lunar tidal week.

Big tides...lots of migratory railbirds have pushed down the Atlantic Seaboard coastline from Cape May NJ...or DELMAR or Eastern Virginia down to where you are along the N.C. Coast.


Your guide, a old salty fellow, ex- US Navy fellow is using a push-pole and you are sitting in what is called the  "gunners chair" -- with a O/U or perhaps a classic Side by Side Shotgun- in your lap, and you hear the old guide say, " Here we go now young man....'mark left...10 o'clock...25 yards out"...there are four railbirds...CAN YOU see them, young fellow?

Can you see them there? We will be in position shortly...get yourself ready now."

You focus...and are mighty glad your wife packed your polorized esung glasses. It can get mighty bright out on these flats.

The guides words...fload over the water..." get ready now."

Your eyes focus, and the guide pushes your skinny water skiff through a vast flat of spartina-grass...and you take sight of some railbirds. You only see one or two the others must be hidden in the sparting clump of grass. Got to trust the guide...See and focus on just one..bird.. just focus...on one railbird.

You  get ready shoulder your shot gun. You look forward off the bow of the boat, and wait for that railbird to flush... out of the grass..out of this beautiful  saltmarsh. All around you is spartina grass...creeks and cuts...shallow bays of mud, and marl, and oyster clumps.  Miles and miles of spartina grass flats.

The old guide pushes from a lofty poling platform. He is scanning the area for other birds. The tide is mighty big this day you booked months ago.

Guide is ...poling you and that skiff through the marsh, closer...and is almost time...the railbird is not even fifteen yards in front of you and the wind is at your back..and he flushes...with all the fury of a pheasant...or a quail ....but no dogs pushing these migratory marsh birds...the "marsh chicken of the sea island flats ," the guide says.
As he poles you up to retreave your first railbird...a Clapper, the second largest of the railbird species of which four are huntable along the Atlantic Flyway.  


MARK LEFT...about 75 yards...four..or five railbirds they be swiming now...trying to evade us....but the wind is in our favor...and Lord willing..we will get to them shortly...time to put that railbird in the bag and into the YETTI Cooler sir...the guide you ready yourself for the next adventure in the Cape Fear Delta marsh.



"The Old Man Guide says...young man, you get ready now...these railbirds are spread out on that pice of floating dead grass. You put an extra shell where you can get to it... there be more than three birds here...and they all going to fly with de' wind in their' sure! 

\.A flushing of wings...something-- you have never experienced before, but heard about ... and read about.

This is your experience...a "Traditional Guided Rail bird hunt".

JOE GUIDE is your host down in Coastal Carolina. You read about him in various articles or national magazines.  

He is the author of THE RAILBIRD HUNTERS BIBLE (2014)

You can experience the history and the nature of the CAPE FEAR RIVER DELTA...where millions of gallons of fresh H20 crash into incoming tides and there is all around you...a vast array of nature, fish, and fowl...crabs and crustations....migratory species of birds and wildlife abounds.


It is you,  and your guide and perhaps your best friend travel to the Carolina coast to experience this with you for the very first time.

Lots of history down here in SE North Carolina. It is the city with the largest flowing Fresh water River that funnels it's waters all the way eastward to the sea. Now you are experiencing it. The wind and nature...and a vast marsh...filling up with an incoming Super Flood tide. Your Guide calls it a RAILBIRD FLOOD TIDE.

You might feel as if you have traveled back in time a hundred years or so....nature here along the Sea beautiful to behold. Tons of history here. The guide points out historical aspects of the countryside...from the Revolutionary times to the present. Was he a professor years ago? And the is such a great amount of wildlife throughout a region one has to see to behold. The Ferry boat blows its whistle not ten miles away. There in the distant is where N.C. Author ROBERT RURKE grew up and wrote about life growing up among watermen and fishing and hunting and the important aspects of any boy growing up in a ever changing world. are here. Wilmington, N.C. the beaches and the ancient Port City with the CAPE FEAR great big river.

15 BIRD LIMIT...on Clapper and King Railbirds. Did you bring enough shotgun shells? You might miss a few times if the wind is blowing hard. It is blowing today.... give us a call, and secure a four hour hunt charter for you and your hunting buddy...your grandson...or your father and you.

while dates are available....
What are you waiting for...?

Pick up that phone...or fill out JOE GUIDE OUTFITTER (Contact Form) on this website...and inquire about booking a railbird charter this season...or the next season.

In November 1832  John James Audubon wrote in his journal that he "...watched a Charleston gentleman, hunt railbirds from a wooden skiff."
The sportsman used a pole-man to push his skiff with an ash-wood push pole, and the gentleman told J.J. that he always kept two 30" Manton (SxS) loaded and capped -

"...jest in case he got into a big flock of railbirds as - gentlemen/sportsmen of his caliber always shot railbirds while flushing from the marsh".

"It reminded me of Quail Hunting, sometimes two or three railbirds would jump out of a clump of Spartina Grass. The push poler had to have a keen eye for the birds in the marsh, and the skiff replaced the quail dog in this lowcountry wingshooting endevor;  commented Audubon's friend"
the pastor of the Charleston Lutheran Church who had moved to Charleston just the year prior, and whom Audubon was visiting while in Charleston, S.C.

Rail bird FLOOD TIDE CHARTERS we will hunt the  incoming - full +  falling tides that occur throughout  a particularly large Lunar flood tide.

Bag Limits are quite liberal to say the least.
25  Sora + Virginia Railbirds per day

15 Clapper and King railbirds limt  per day or in Aggragate.  

70 Day Split-SEASON
starts in the month of September on one of the first big flood tide days and runs through late November and sometimes runs into December depending on start date.


It is more exciting than you can imagine...(READ the OCT/NOV 2018 FIELD & STREAM feature article on railbird hunting the Cape Fear River.

* Understand that the freakish "super-tides" only occur 3 - 4 times every month. Some occur after sunrise or prior to Sunset, so keep that in your mind you need to find a great flood tide date to book, and book early if you desire to experience this unique wingshooting oportunity. It might remind you of hunting quail birds as a young person with your father/grandfather. I kinda hope you can recall those kinds of memorable hunts. 
You see, this kind of wingshooting is only possible when we have the great big flood tides, these marsh birds are mighty damn smart and stick tight to heavy marsh and only leave it when the tide floods that thick territory during a super or kind flood tide. Have a lot of wind certainly helps and having twelve knots or more of wind will certainly help the guide poling that skinny water Railbird super skiff.
Railbird hunting is all about the tides! 

There are the super/king tides and the winds during that hunt day.

Some  strong winds can influence the tide too, and increase a tide's height.

Heavy rains that dump into the Cape Fear River's  tributaries can also increase the flooding along the lower Cape Fear River too.
You readers might find it somewhat hard to grasp, however,  I have seen days when "two inch" tidal variance- can turn a good day into something quite special ! 

In my book -- The RAIL BIRD HUNTER's BIBLE (2014) I discuss what factors are in play, those unique aspects between a normal tide, and what encompuses a Super Tide or the King Tide's.

Understand that you may only see 4 or 6 KING TIDES each season, and some of those may occur after sunet due to lunar conditions.
You need a big enough tide to get those railbirds- out of thick cover.

How can you best practice for railbird hunting? 
(The very best practice is by shooting a round of  trap- from the 16 yard line). 
What is the best SHOTGUN to use when Railbird hunting?

I'd recommend you consider bringing a 20 ga, or 28 ga shotgun Auto, or O/U, or my personal favorate...the SxS.
If you bring one of those afromatics be sure to plug that before your hunt.
Shells should be Low/brass #6 or #7.5 non-toxic which can be found at most Wal-Mart Sporting goods section.
If it is going to be a windy day, you really should bring- one more box of shells, --than you THINK you may need that hunt day.

Friends...hear me now...I've had dozens of gunners over the years  who ran out of their "one box of shells," and these fellows did not have their fifteen bird limit by the time they ran out of shotgun shells, and these would  always occur on very windy days.

    I have had many a gunner have to stop some mighty good railbird hunts, because he shot his only box of shells and were still just a few birds shy of his limit.

 A 12 ga shotgun is just - too much gun for railbirding, however...if you are 75 years old, or older...I will certainly allow you to shoot a 12 ga in my skiff.


The current record is a 15 birds limit in 19 shots. It was done by a Chapel Hill, N.C. Psychiatrist with a 28 ga o/u on his very first railbird hunt in late September 2009.
I might add, that particular doctor, who has more degrees than a themomertor; has hunted two other trips with me, however has never shot those kind of numbers in his other hunts. I might add that it was  mighty windy those other days when he gunned with me on such fowling adventures.
** I've seen a whole lot of gunners use 28 -35 shells to kill a limit of railbirds. Sometimes they fly much faster than you think they can, or you run into a Sora or two and they can destroy ol' general average.

You will be sitting in the gunner's chair (near the bow of the skiff), and you will need to make 15 - 25 yard shots. We seem to have more wind in November, and you certainly need to adjust your swing and need a better lead and swing through. 
You will gun railbirds from our skiffs that are rigged-out special for railbird hunting and fly fishing.
Your guide will pole your skiff in flooding Spartina grass flats and marshes where we normally find them. 
NOTE...**New Customers pay in full ** prior to booking a specific date.

90% of my clients are return customers.
Note:  throughout a 70 day season. We can find all four huntable railbird species that migrate through our regional Atlantic Seaboard Coastal marshes, however two species of railbirds are more dominate: the Clapper and the Sora during  the first two months of the season, but the bag is in aggrigate.

Clapper Rail birds domiate most limits.  Although there are quite a number of Sora killed during the latter parts first two months, and I do occassionaly see a few  Virginia and King Railbirds later in October and November seasons. 
There is no doubt that I see  more "Hybred King rail birds" each year as the larger King rails cross-breed with the more abundant Clapper.
The King and the Sora congregate in the fresh water Rice meddows along the N.E. Atlantic Flyway migration path where natural wild rice still grows. The Sora makes a soft "Peep...Peep...peep sound".
Clappers utilize the sound- "Kak..Kak...Kak", and variations of a lonely Clapper Hen call at first light and twilight are used to sound out where others are in the tall spartina grass.
These  two species -- occassionaly migrate with the larger Clappers during their full moon migration flights, (especially prior to NorEastern Cold fronts) that occur in late October and November.  
In example Maine's Naragansitt Bay's rice fields are full of Soras on SEPT 1, but by the third week, they have migrated down to the CT River Rice meddows, or the Rice Meddows of New Jersy's SE near the Delaware Bay. Those birds will migrate through the Cape May marshes and migrate with Clappers down to the Carolinas in late September or later in late October depending on bad storms impacting their regional area.

NC DNR Youth Only -Waterfowl Hunts ** FEB 2 & 9 Sat AM hunts 
0530- 0930 hrs
BOOK get a seat...

(Only for Youth ages: 8-14 + must be accompanied by their papa/granfather/or mama on one of these N.C. Special -Youth Duck hunt charter. *No licence needed for these unique DNR Hunts.

The guide is registered and licenced. DNR allows this only two morning hunts each year, so we can help raise up YOUTH DUCK HUNTING with positive Sporting values. 

HOW MUCH Does it Cost ?
$50 per Youth..there is a ten-shell limit + minimum of  NMT three Youth (3) hunting per morning on this duck hunt.

2012 - 2019 DNR
Youth Duck Hunts were booked solid. Therefore is your papa or grandfather going to secure a Youth for my 2020 DNR Youth Duck hunts mornings?


(NMT (3) Duckaholics & one Parent  in my skiff Max # 


FEB First two SAT AM -Youth ONLY
Special duck hunting  days

These are
unique and are quickly booked up.

Call or leave message about availablity for your son or grandchild if they like duck hunting and are between the ages of
  8 -14.

N.C. DNR 2019 Youth Hunts dates:
 SAT FEB 2d   BOOKED...Father and three kids, and

Saturday Feb 9th,  (CURRENTLY Booked...) 2019. 

These morning hunts only the Youth can hunt on these NC-DNR Youth Only Waterfowl Hunt days first two Saturday's in FEB.

 Youth Charter special FEB Duck Hunts--- Youth Hunting  must be accompanied by their non-shooting father or grandfather
 with a valid NC DNR waterfowl hunting licence on him that morning.

We will utilize a boat blind, and hunt over decoys with calling.

The youth will see what a real waterfowl hunt is all about.

  Joe Guide will discuss with the youth about the history of Duck Hunting in America; flyways and migration of species, and about safety and good sportsmanship behavior. Also  how to ID duck species and lessons learned in 53 years of hunting waterfowl.

If requested he will recite one of Robert Rourk's favorate duck hunting stories about the first time he went duck hunting  which is recorded in THE OLD MAN & THE BOY.


See YOUTUBE - " JOE GUIDE reads Robert Rourk: THE OLD MAN & THE BOY".  LIKE US on YOUTUBE...We love comments.

**You will meet your guide @ a particualr boat landing, or at a church parking lot, nearest to the location of where we will be launching the skiff that morning.  

***We might even be checked by the DNR- game warden (Mr. Geen Jeans)  that will certainly be exciting. All pumps/auto must be plugged. 

If the youth has passed his "Hunt Certificate," please ensure that is in his waterproof bag --during these special "Youth Duck Hunts" the first two Saturdays in FEB, just in case the Game Warden drops in for a visit.

ONLY the YOUTH can shoot during DNR-NC Youth Waterfowl hunt.

Father's sit beside their youth hunters during the hunt morning. Dress for nasty cold weather. Rain jackets are recommended to be packed with a 15 shell limit per youth for this hunt.

**These Youth Only Hunt Charter's book out early..therefore please contact me early for availablity.**


Wingshooting for Rail birds
Railbird season runs
Sept - Oct - Nov .

There are a limited number of SUPER / KING FLOOD TIDES to book throughout each 70 day season.  This is most imortant and hard to grasp that there are only 15 -18 "Super flood  Tides" that occur during the whole season each year.

If you desire to BOOK a CHARTER- you got to secure a good RAIL BIRD FLOOD TIDE day for your hunt date.  We go when the tides are really big.

  The Atlantic Seaboard is quite unique marsh as the Cape Fear is a different river from say the Santee or the Congree, or the Wando, or the ACE Basin in coastal South Carolina. Even in NE North Carolina the New River and the Neuse River has great  areas where there are some marshes that flood, however their tides are not as high, due to the geophysics and therefore do not experience- bigger tides except during great storms.

The Lower Cape Fear River has it delta marsh regions. These are quite vast and all are different in a great number of ways. There are two major shrimp species that migrate at different times of the year. There is little food sources for ducks or geese, and the salitity in some are greater or less depending on the number of cuts and feeder creeks that flood various areas.

Marsh hens love to eat shrimp larve, seeds and spartina snails and smaller fiddler crabs too. They tell me how heathy the marsh is every year. I visit them during breeding season in March/April and do a bird count and see where the larger nesting areas are located. Researchers use the railbird's occassionally to study this species and to test the marsh and see what the birds are eating,  Their occassionally look at the railbird's livers to determine what is going on in the march ecosystem which is where these birds get their nourishment and their zest for life in the marsh. 

You will need to spend some time reading my RAILBIRD HUNTERS BIBLE if you are intersted in the devlopement of these species, and those various locations across the USA where the four huntable species may be hunted.

At present two states do not allow railbird hunting, and these are California and Oregon.

It is all related to one endangered species of railbird. This would be the elusive "California King Railbird," that is currently on those state's- "endangered species list" in the Pacific Flyway.
It is endangered primarily due to the bad checmicals that the cities and counties allowed to drain into San Fancisco Bay throughou tthe years; and negetively impact their local marsh habitat in the Sacrmento Delta. The CALF DNR still always Waterfowl hunting many of those same areas, which makes no sense to me, nowever that is the way things are in Calfornia.

Although an occasional NE can blow in that increases the flood - tide tremendiously, even on a low tide day.
This is an advantage when there has been a great deal of rain in northern portions of N.C. those tributaries drain into the CAPE FEAR RIVER and that impacts our tide system
You got to learn that scouting is necessary and that is when I keep up with the migration and where the birds have shifted in a marsh that might be 10,000  - 20,000 acres and the birds occassionaly shift after arrival into our marsh backcountry, I try to keep up with the larger numbers of railbirds. 
You got to realize that I let the wind be my friend. It helps me with my poling an covering a particular flat.

You will hear me talk about the importance of tides.

Let me explain. The super or the king flood tides  are very unique lunar tides. These vary at lunar cicles, and can increase by direction of heavy winds or in cases following heavy rainfall that flows into the river system that impacts a coastal delta.

Super Flood tides and King Tides always equate excellent gunning days railbirding.

Old timers called these great big tides a "railbird flood tide" .

You determine when you can find time on your schedule, and then speak with me about when that month will have the biggest tides we can hunt, or perhaps the first big tides of the early season, or three days following a great freeze or snow in the NE will cause a migration of railbirds down in massive numbers. In September we have our Resident Raibirds, however if you understand first and formost reason that the best wing-shooting  on railbirds will occur during a great Flood tide. You have  a unique mathmatical formula...

WIND x FLOOD TIDE's of a 5.3 > lunar tide = good or exceptional rail bird -- gunning conditions necessary to make ones hunt a me moriable adventure" .

I guide the *traditional method of Railbird hunting* 

*The Guide uses a push pole - to push the clients in a skinny water railbird skiff, that is poled, or rather pushed with modern day push-pole (STIFFY PUSH POLES)  through a flooding shallow marsh. The gunner sits in the front "gunners chair with his shotgun in his lap" {pointed out or off the side} or laying on his lap.
When the railbirds jump...the guide will give the safety statement;  "Mark Right or Mark Left" ...the client will then shoot the railbird while in flight.... trying to shoot within five seconds of the bird's jumping (Joe Guide's -5 sec rule of railbird hunting) . A gunner who can hit twenty clay pigeons on a 16 yard line on a Trap Range -- can crunch about 80% of the railbirds that you shoot, if you can focus your aim on them within their first five seconds of flight.

Railbirds jump up from the marsh kind of like a quail busting out, or similar to a Pheasant jumping from heavy cover, and normally  most railbirds will fly with the wind in their butts 95% of the time.  
A good guide will always be talking to his client, (keeping them informed and gives direction...shuch as, ("Mark Right...bird is at 2 OClock position." Sir, can you see the bird yet? It is off the front 15 yards...get ready.
Can you see them now sir? There are three birds in that clump of green spartina. Can you see them now? Ok...very well. Get ready - they are going to Jump.
The Client sits in the big front gunnar's chair during the hunt- this is done- as the tide rises and then peaks and during the time that it starts to fall.

When the tide peaks at 5.3 > it will force the railsbirds out of the marsh. If there is a super tide 5.4 or a 5.5 h/t  railbirds get forced out - of the heavy grass, and strart to look for dead spartina grass-mats---to  ride out these great big flood tides, on this floatsom. Gunning railbirds during these big flood tides, can be quite exciting and I 'get my clients deep into the backcountry skinny water 's thickest cover- THAT IS WHERE  these migratiory birds tend to congregate.
If the wind is blowing greater than 14 knots, you will probably wish you brought a second box of shells, or a 12 ga with #9 shot.
Friend, It is not as easy with the winds in their butts, as it seems in my rail bird hunt videos on YOUTUBE. The average gunner takes 28 shots to kill a limit of 15 railbirds; especially if the wind is blowing 12 knots or more.

Please also note that 90 % of my clients return to hunt with me from  throughout over the USA. Get you a good railbird flood tide day. I will let you know what days are best for your to book during a particular hunt day. Book your charter early. Seasons are set by April 1st, however NLT August the 1st. 
GOOGLE my Rail Bird Hunt videos on YOUTUBE (JOE GUIDE RAILBIRD Hunts) to see how its done.   

chase redfish & Speckled Sea Trout
Flood tide redfishing occurs during the warmer months which allows for stalking... tailing redfish- during incoming and falling flood tides of 68 degree H20 or greater.

A lot of my clients really enjoy stalking reds - however you got to have the tides for that to come together.

For Specks or Flounder, it is focus on areas where these species can best be found, and the h20 tempretures are key factors.  Let's look at Speckled Sea Trout. These fish tend to enjoy hanging out in deeper pools, or drop off or cuts....and feed during the tidal movement and are available in larger schools/pods starting around the week prior to Halloween/All Saint's Day. These schoolie Specks come in from the sea and in the fall and the early fall, they show up in some mighty exciting schools of smaller fish which we call {Spikes} and are caught but only through catch and release. There is a minimu length Slot of 14" and N.C. only allows you to keep four (4) Specks per trip per person. 

The Speck King...always tells me that he prefers fishing the "Falling Tide"...which he believes  are better tidal movement for Speckled sea Trouth fishing, so I  will try to focus on fishing for SPECKs -- (two hours prior, to two hour after of the falling tides - and this is good mathmatical formula....for chasing Reds and Specks.


     Perhaps wade fishing is not your cup of if you don't feel comfortable wade fishing, just let me know when you book your fishing charter.
You just let me know, and then I can pole you across a flat, with the wind at your back, and you can enjoy sitting or standing in my great  big Front chair on the bow of my skiff, and you just fish from that position.

** You got to wet your line to fish, and you cannot catch fish if you line is in the boat. 


However...if you do desire to wade fish, and stalk tailing reds - you gotta bring your "ankle high Wade Boots." Short  spartina grass flats where we wade are good and firm bottoms, You must have your own flats shoes to wade fish. Or at least a old pair of high top basketball shoes. I use my old desert or jungle boots.

Practice your casting BEFORE you come down to fly fish for reds with me. This is not NE or SW Florida or the Keys...I am not goign to yell at you like Florida's guides if you miss a cast. I am going to wade beside you, and point out fish, and show you why they are feeding in a particular flat and why the fish are not in some flats and why all these factors need to occur, and how the Lunar system tides ebb and flow with the tides and hope that you will enjoy your time out on the water.

You can wade fish miles of flooded spartina grass flats. However you gotta understand that reds will feed in some flats and not in other flats, especially depends on the hight of the flood tide, H20 tempretures and especially the "primary or secondary" food sources that are available in certain flats, but are not in what appears to be other flats, and why these factors are important to the plegic species and is a factor driving their feeding. Crabs are usually the key in these flats, more than shrimp or smaller pelegaic species.
*I explain all these things in great detail within my Fly Fishing Book (RED FISH on a FLY) . 
In the late Fall and spring we can target Speckled Sea Trout which start showing up in schools about the middle of October through December like clockwork.

(( Photo: All four huntable speices- are represented in this limit. The Atlantic Flyway King, the Virginia, & Sora railbirds, and the rest are Clapper railbirds in this aggregate 15 bird limit, by a client from Virginia- during his second day of a two morning railbird hunt charter))
     Wilmington, North Carolina
     You can experience the Lower Cape Fear backcountry in all its beauty throughout the seasons of the year, but remember this delta region consists of thousands of acres of bay, creeks and hundreds of drainage ditches, and many saltwater duck ponds. Robert Raurk wrote about this area a great deal in his classic stories found in the book:  THE OLD MAN and THE BOY.  ​​ ​​
     Field and Stream and Outdoor Life has written about the CAPE FEAR  Fishing and hunting regions throughout the years. Perhaps you have read the articles about me - that brought you to this website.

     The Delta Marsh of the Lower Cape Fear River has an average depth of 3.3 feet however it does have a number of big holes back in it's larger creeks, and its many different channels run the length of the heavy rock  "cribbins"  which seperate the first and second bays. These inner bays or shallow sounds make up the three major larger sections of big water, with heavy and short marsh flats that form unique back country and shallow flats extending out  to the Cape Fear River Ship Channel about a mile or so to its west. The barrier sea islands run southward to boarder Smith and Bald Head and cut up by smaller, tree and scrub inner islands.  

     The "rock cribbins" along the first two back bays protect the inside  backcountry flats and bays and marshes from storm deteriation and slow the tidal flow flooding. These rocks actually date back to approprations during President Grant's Administration and were completed during President Grover Cleveland's administration, however this works project was interrupted throughout those years-  due to politics and congressional funding.

     Mr. James Sprunt's exceptional book: CHRONICLES of the CAPE FEAR  1660 - 1916 explains more fully those aspects. The inner channels were dug out by steam shove and dredge, initally by free-men of color under very difficult conditions, and later by other contract workers.

There are miles of shallow flats throughout the Lower Cape Fear delta region. These flats are inter-connected by 1.5 - 4 ' deep spider and ribbon - creeks  which flood and drain the flats and hundreds of ancient duck ponds and spartina grass flats. The bays, flats, and backwater duck ponds dominate the landscape of backwater fishing & wildfowling habitat and are hard for most skiffs to get to-- unless you have a unique skinny-water skiff like the one  I use for your Rail bird hunting or Fly0-Fishing adventure.  
​​Do you... desire to experience exceptional Wingshooting or Inshore saltwater Fishing with light-tackle?

If you enjoy the outdoors and getting out in the back country this will be the kind of fishing, or hunting experience that you will enjoy if you book a fishing or wing shooting charter with

You make the call...or text... Joe Guing Tide, a super flood tide, or a railbird flood tide

 YOUTUBE has many different long or short videos you can see.
Google... "Joe Guide Railbird hunts...or Joe Guide Fishing Video Clips" .