Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FLW Tour's Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray, S.C.

Scott Martin of Clewiston, Florida finished in 9th place overall

The FLW Tour is a series of bass fishing tournaments put on by Wal-Mart under the moniker of Fishing League Worldwide. The top bass anglers came from all around the Southeast to take on Lake Murray in the August heat to decide the winner of the season ending Forrest Wood Cup. Two S.C. anglers finished in the Top Five with Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity taking home the trophy and prize money on Sunday’s weigh-in at Colonial Life Arena in downtown Columbia.
Fervent fans were evident at the Forrest Wood Cup weigh in
Gagliardi never led during the four-day Forrest Wood Cup which began fishing on Thursday August 14, but he did advance each day in a tournament formula that requires results. Only 45 bass anglers qualify from the FLW tour to participate in the Forrest Wood Cup, which changes states every year. All the anglers fish on the first two days of the tournament, but then the field is cut down to only the Top Twenty, though all the anglers receive monetary compensation.
Andy Morgan was in town to fish Lake Murray
The entire week had bass fishing fans in frenzy with practice fishing days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday complete with events for family and media too. The FLW Tour brought a large entourage of tour sponsors with them to South Carolina and they set up a bass fishing expo in the coliseum parking lot for the entire weekend. Displays ranged from fishing equipment companies to Chevrolet trucks, and plenty of fishing celebrities were on hand like Jimmy Houston and Hank Parker.
Other sideline events included the State Fish Art competition sponsored by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources where kids of all ages could submit depictions of their favorite freshwater fish. Another fan favorite was the cook off on Saturday put on by the South Carolina Barbecue Association. All of the educational booths provided plenty of reasons for the public to turn out and enjoy the Forrest Wood Cup festivities before going indoors for the daily 5 p.m. weigh in.
The Day One weigh in on Thursday, although met with lots of fervor from the fans, proved to be a little light in the fish weight department. The FLW tour allows for five largemouth bass to be weighed in per angler, but plenty of these bass fishing pros did not bring a limit with them to the scales. Some of the anglers only had one or two fish to weigh in and a couple even struck out altogether.
Cody Meyer was a fan favorite at the Colonial Life Coliseum
Bass anglers wait at the aeration station
But with a slow weigh-in came the feeling that no one was out of the game yet, and that a strong second day could really change things. Some anglers had come from as far away as California, and they were not going to go home quietly. Plenty of anglers had sections of family in the crowd at the daily coliseum weigh-ins cheering them on, holding up handmade signs and doing all the things that demonstrate their complete support since winning the Cup brings name recognition, a champions banner and trophy.

At the end it was Gagliardi who was the most consistent angler, weighing in five-fish on three of the four days, giving him a grand total of 51-pounds and 2-ounces of bass, which was enough to grab the $500,000 winner’s check. The town of Prosperity, S.C. has a new reason to celebrate after the Forrest Wood Cup, and the FLW Tour can be proud of their champ and of the competition they provided at Lake Murray. 

To read this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about fresh water click fishing tips or North Santee River or King Kat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 8/19/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
The next 30 days might be the best for S.C. tarpon fishing
Inshore Report: Shane Clevenger at The Charleston Angler in West Ashley asks Captain Kevin Blair - What's your Go To setup in August? Blair begins by sharing that a large variety of fish are available right now including big redfish and sharks in deeper waters with flounder and trout more inshore. An inglux of bait like shrimp, menhaden and finger mullet have all predators looking for the opportunity to feed. Blair keeps about six rods rigged and ready and they average at least 7-feet in length.

Of course a couple of heavy-action rods are warranted and Blair keeps them rigged up with 60-pound braid, connected to a 25-inch leader of 50-pound flourocarbon and 6-ought circle hooks. This rig is good for live lining big mullet or menhaden around the jetties for reds and sharks. Attaching an egg sinker is easy to do if the current requires more weight to reach the bottom.

Blair has two rods rigged with 20-pound braid, 3/4-ounce egg sinkers and a 20-inch flourocarbon leader. He uses the 2-ought circle hooks to target flounder and small reds along the jetties or the marsh. Lastly he keeps two rods rigged with 15-pound braid and a 12-pound flouro leader with a 2-ought circle hook. These lighter rigs are good for using shrimp or finger mullet and a popping cork can be added to the line easily.

Blair says to remember to keep a cast net handy this time of year to gather any bait you may encounter. He also shares that it's not a bad idea to buy at least some bait before leaving the boat ramp simply to ensure you aren't ever fishing 'on credit.' For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Editor's Note: Tarpon are being found in abundance along the S.C. coast and the next 30 days are potentially the best for tarpon fishing in the Lowcountry for the remainder of 2014.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Driven Hunt 9-Point in Velvet / 2014 Opening Days Success Story

Harrington Bissell with his velvet 9-pointer,
with horseback drivers ready to assist.
Photo By Chris Silcox.
With the traditional August 15 staring date of deer season falling on a Friday, many hunting clubs celebrated their opening day on Saturday August 16. Though the heat of August is constant, many outdoorsmen will not let it slow down their sporting pursuits. One such story came from the Middleton Hunt Club in Charleston County where a stander used some scouting knowledge to pick a spot in the woods to try his luck during a driven hunt. Keep in mind that doe deer season is not yet open, so viewing any deer on the run calls for discretion, with veteran hunters better able to quickly distinguish the sex of a deer and make a decision about offering a shot.

Harrington Bissell slipped into a section of designated woods that the horseback drivers would soon stir up with their vocalizations and with a pack of hounds. When he found a shed antler from a 6-point buck near his assigned location he felt is was THE spot and set up his stool. The drive began quietly enough, and then a lone hound began to bay, and it sounded like it was coming closer. Scanning the woodlands for movement, he saw a deer bounding in his direction. A lot of small sweetgum saplings made the viewing difficult but when the white-tailed deer closed to within 15-yards of his position he clearly saw antlers in full velvet and squeezed off a shot from his shotgun and cleanly harvested the 9-point buck.

He blew on his hunter's horn to draw the attention of the horseback drivers who came to retrieve the downed buck. A tale of the tape showed the rack had a 13-inch spread with 9-points. This was the hunt club's first harvest in 2014 and it was Bissell's FIRST EVER buck in velvet, and weighed 133-pounds. The venison was shared among the club members and now one more person understands how the early deer season in South Carolina can reap special memories for those willing to get outdoors and hunt in August.

For past blog entries about Opening Days Deer Success Stories click on 2013 or 2012 or 2011 or 2010 or 2009.

To view past blog entries about velvet antlers click on NJ hunter or Bull's Island or youth hunter.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Passion Of The Wild - Inspirational Outdoors Stories

The First Book from Mike Giles of Mississippi

One of the duties of a responsible media member is to seek membership in an organization that strives to show that expertise and ethics are indeed integral parts of the job. It was through the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association that I met Mike Giles of Mississippi, and recognized him as a like-minded outdoor writer. Giles compiles some of his memorable outdoors stories in the form of a book titled Passion Of The Wild.
Giles relates tales that any outdoorsman who has spent a lifetime in the outdoors might recognize as rites of passage. His passage became a passion that he wants to share with others, and so he dips into his own family stories, and into his religious faith to relay memorable endeavors. Wild turkey hunting seems to be a favorite subject with Giles, followed by white-tailed deer hunting and duck hunting tales, all set in Mississippi.
Of course no one becomes a sharp shooting wingshot or an expert deer tracker without first experiencing failure. Dove season is a universal experience in the South and Giles shares that he was a poor wingshot for doves until his Uncle mentored him about swinging the gun on a passing bird. Many people know the frustration of emptying your gun at a dove without cutting a feather, while the next stander down knocks them down two at a time.
Rather than sticking with his devotion to big game like deer and turkeys, Giles made it a point to work with his Uncle to improve his aim and his dove shooting game while at a shooting range. Soon this story turns into an account from the next dove hunt and Giles crumples bird after bird with his new found confidence. At this point in the story Giles inserts an inspirational saying, and includes bible verses in other chapters.
In the dove shooting chapter it reads Imagine The Possibilities. “Don’t tell people how to do things, don’t tell them what to do and don’t tell them what you’re going to do for them. Show them what to do, how to do it and lead by example by doing it right.” Amen. I love this saying and the fact that it came from someone with an outdoors mindset, because it can be equally applied to all walks of life.

In the book’s final chapter Giles quotes Genesis 1:26 and how man should have rule over the fish in the sea, birds in the sky and the creatures on the ground. He shares how conservation includes the responsible harvest of our natural resources, and that stewardship is a part of God’s plan. Giles is using his writing to speak out about his passion for big bass, long beards and wide racks and I’m glad to call him my friend.

To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past book reviews click on Moonbird or Kayak Fishing or Audubon's Aviary.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 Early Migratory Seasons Set by SCDNR

Look for flocks of geese in freshly cutover corn fields

Goose getters will also return to the field in September for the early season on Canada geese which runs from September 1 – 30.  Shooting hours are 30-minutes before sunrise until sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 geese. Goose hunters will need a valid hunting license in addition to migratory bird permit, state waterfowl permit and a federal duck stamp. Specialized load and shot-size are also required, so be sure to read all SCDNR regulations carefully.

The second piece of good news from the feds involves the bag limit for early teal season, with an increase from four teal per day to six teal per day for waterfowl hunters. These blue-winged teal are the first ducks to migrate south and generally will be in the coastal impoundments of the Lowcountry and other duck ponds during the month of September. Teal are small birds and the increased opportunity to target just a couple more of them can serve to keep wingshooting skills sharp.

Early teal season hunters will need all of the same license and shot requirements, plus they have a different legal shooting time which runs from sunrise until sunset. Category II waterfowl areas on SCDNR lands are open for public hunting during early teal and goose seasons. All possession limits for the migratory bird season will now be three times the daily bag limit.
Another early hunting season announced by SCDNR is the two-part marsh hen season which begins September 8 – 12. The daily bag limit for king and clapper rails is 15 per day and shooting hours are 30-minutes before sunrise until sunset. The daily limit for sora and Virginia rails is 25 birds per hunter. The second season for marsh hens runs from October 6 through December 9, and hunter success usually coincides with the time of flood tides in the spartina marsh.

Did you miss the NEW expanded dove season dates for 2014 - if so, click here.

To view past blog entries about September goose hunting click Opening Day 2013 or 2011.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2014 Dove Season Expands / SCDNR amends Regs too

It will soon be time again for dove decoys and limits of doves

Wingshooters in the state of South Carolina have a double-barreled excuse to welcome the 2014 hunting season. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages regulations for migratory birds that travel across multiple states, and they have added twenty more days to dove hunting season! The increase was approved by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and will provide more days in the field for those who love the camaraderie of dove hunting.

Dove season is increased from 70 days in 2013 to 90 days during the 2014 – 2015 season. The traditional opening day remains set for September 1 and the early season runs until October 11. Remember that during the first days of the hunting season, until Sept. 6, the legal shooting hours for doves is only from noon until sunset. The next dove season dates are set for November 15 – 29 and December 13 through January 15. Legal hunting hours are 30-minutes before sunrise until sunset, and the daily bag limit remains 15 doves per day.

SCDNR also has made a variation in legal hunting practices over fields that have been top sown with wheat. Using Clemson Extension Service Guidelines, it is now possible to practice top sowing of wheat from Oct. 1 – Nov. 30 when spreading seed evenly on a well-prepared seed bed established by heavy tilling. Special spreading rates apply, and piling of seed can still result in a baited field, so be sure to check with your local Extension office about how to stay legal.

To read this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about dove hunting click on Opening Day for 2013, or 2012, or 2011, or 2010, or 2009.
For recipes click on Bacon-Wrapped Doves.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Folbot Float Trip - It's In The Bag

David Grubbs and Eric Thome
In searching out a small watercraft to enjoy on rivers and lakes, a modern kayak with a serious history is worthy of the spotlight. The Folbot kayak (pronounced Full Boat) is a foldable kayak that fits in a backpack style bag for transport when not in use. A visit to the Folbot warehouse in Charleston, their home since 1953,  gave a unique look into their current operations before we splashed a Folbot at a nearby kayak access ramp on the Ashley River.
Vintage Folbot float book
Grubbs digs in while paddling in the Ashley River

Jack Kissner founded Folbot boast just over 80 years ago in England. Kissner moved the Folbot operation to New York City in 1935 to tap the American market, eventually settling into Charleston, S.C. in 1953. The company changed owners a few times since the 1980’s with Eric Thome and Scott Peckham purchasing Folbot in 2012. Presently, Folbot is offering nine different models of foldable kayak in nine different colors.

Versatility is what sets Folbot apart, since the boat actually fits in the trunk of your car. No SUV, no pick-up, no roof racks – No Problem here. Summer intern David Grubbs, a local High School student, helped Thome and I load up three Folbots in the back of a Mercedes wagon. After a short drive to a public kayak landing in Charleston County I witnessed the assembly of the 13-foot Sporting Life model.
“The average set up time for the Folbot is right around 20-minutes,” said Thome. The backpack was brought down to the floating dock where all the parts were emptied onto the flat surface next to the kayak ramp. “In the backpack, the Sporting Like model weighs about 39-pounds. This water repellant skin on this model features Realtree Max-4 camouflage, which is our latest offering for those who like to fish or to hunt out of their kayak.”

It’s ironic that the vintage Folbot book includes a passage on page 167 about ‘Swift Folbot Waters in Carolina’ and mentions the saltwater marshes of the Ashley River. So with one eye on the past, and the other on new experiences I paddled the Folbot upriver and found it to be comfortable, easy to maneuver and fishable. In order to learn how to Unfold New Adventure on the water visit the Internet at Folbot.

How 'bout some Behind The Scenes action
To view the entire feature article click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about kayak fishing click How To or Forgotten Coast or Beaufort Blueways or Edisto River Flow or Tarpon Lodge.