Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 7/22/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:

This July 2014 Snapper harvest reveals
 Leatherback and Loggerhead hatchlings.

Photo By Scott Mijares. 
Inshore: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West says 'Go walk the dog!' No seriously, get a few super spook jr topwater plugs and go walk the dog early in the morning along shell rakes and creek mouths for some explosive action from trout, ladyfish, bluefish, and redfish. The topwater bite has been good the past couple of weeks, and so has the flounder bite. Live minnows or a jerkshad fished near rock piles, creek mouths, as well as in sandy coves have been producing solid numbers of flounder and some good sized flatties as well. Redfish continue to take cut mullet, live shrimp, and Zman Ultra ShrimpZ fished under docks at low tide, or along the grass edges and shell rakes at higher water. Spanish mackerel are still schooling up tight along the tideline just off the front beaches, and the bonnethead sharks are around in big numbers willing and ready to take cut mullet and half of a blue crab. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore: Dredge season is here, and Scott reports the sailfish are too. Yep now is time to put the dredges in the water and tease up some great sailfish action. Reports of 2, 4 and 5 sails a day have not been uncommon with many more “shots” being reported. A few dolphin are still being found here and there, plus some wahoo are still hanging around in the warm water along the ledge. The recreational season for Red Snapper opened last weekend, is open this weekend, and is also open to the recreational angler Friday 7/25 and Saturday 7/26. Anglers bottom fishing the Red snapper season last weekend all found good numbers of snapper to fill their one per person limit, but more incredibly was the size of some of these snapper. Red snapper weighing twenty pounds were common, with a handful even larger than that. Take advantage while the season is open. For more from 2013 Red Snapper season click here.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fly Fishing For Rainbows and Hook In Hand

My over-sized pond trout, and hook is still in hand
My frist day of fly fishing a private pond for rainbow trout in Western North Carolina was aided by guide Jack Mincey who shared his Tips for Pond Trout with me. The next day I returned to the trout pond with my trusty Orvis Fy Rod and a plan to catch some fish on my own. At first the fish did not seem to be biting, so I practiced my casting knowing that the two-acre pond had plenty of area to cover. When I did see a trout rise to eat a bug off the water's surface it was in a cove that I could reach, while casting from a dock.

Dropper rig fly hook in my thumb - OUCH.
A couple of strips of my line and I was hooked up solid, but with what size trout? The day before I had seen that these pond trout came in two shapes, large and over-sized. When my fish made a run to the far end of the pond, burning drag and my hand as the fly line initially peeled, I soon knew that I was tied into one of the over-sized variety. What a Fight! Not only did this rainbow trout have 'shoulders' but he had room to operate, and I used my lifetime of angling knowledge to play the fish, never giving in to the trout's plan to spoil the fun and break off my fishing line.

Fighting a Rainbow Trout with 'shoulders' 
After a rod-bending experience, I stepped off the dock and into the water's edge to try and land the fish, even though I did not have a net. I surfed the fish up near the bank and tried to get a grip on the 23-inch stout rainbow, being mindful of the hook in its upper jaw. As I lifted up the fish, the slimy and squirmy trout made another play for freedom and slipped out of my hands, causing a second small hook rigged on a dropper to get lodged into my thumb. OUCH.

First attempt to handle the BIG rainbow started off well
My first instinct was to cut the line between the trout and the hook - which stops the fish from yanking the hook, and thus causing more pain. So after a lifetime of saltwater angling, this is the first time that I had a fish hook enter my body. I still have a trophy rainbow trout at my feet and hooked on my fly line that I surely must release in good condition. With the hook in my thumb I found I was able to hold and lift the fish by simply keeping it held out in a prone position. We made a photo, removed the hook with forceps, released the trout, and then had a seat on the dock to take a deep breath.

In a remote location, the only thing to do was to try and remove the hook using forceps for the quickest possible fix. Luckily, the hook was small and the barb had not come thru the skin. Using forceps, I grabbed the hook shank and pushed downwards and backwards, and found out that this technique makes human skin stretch up forming what looks like a tent of skin. I stopped that attempt, took another breath, wiped away some of the blood. I took another grip on the shank and tried the same procedure and this time the hook backed out of my hand, presumably through a hole that I had just stretched just enough to release the hook. While the hurt finger did finish my fishing plans for the day, I was grateful for the fish fight, and for another rich experience, full of emotions, along my outdoors trail.

To view a past blog entry about the N.C. Fly Fishing click Jackson County or Hazel Creek or Rivercourse.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Costa Summer Style and Harpoon Readers

See What's Out There! At River Palm Cottages!!
There isn't much more essential gear for summer style than a pair of polarized sunglasses. Coastal life is just that much more fun when one isn't fighting the glare off the water, or perhaps the seabreeze and blowing sand while on the beach.

Anglers will tell you that Costas are valuable all year long for each and every trip on the water, and professional anglers will carry multiple pairs so that they can change out lens colorations for changing light conditions.

Capt. Greg Snyder can rig DOA Lures like a Pro
shown here with Costa shades and hat
Hat, leash and cleaning cloths are all essential
Of course everyone has their favorite pair of frames, and that is largely depends on how it fits individuals across the eyes and on the head. I have worn out Costa Fathom frames in the past, but a slight design change prompted me to try a similar frame, the Costa Harpoon. I have the tortoise shell frames with grey 580G lenses, and they fit me snug over the yes without touching my skin.

These are not large wrap around frames, rather they are a good middle ground for minimizing light intrusion, yet allowing a peripheral field of vision. These shades have a stainless steel spring hinge on the arms and a rubber patch at the end of the arms for better grip when behind the ears.

New for Costa is the option to get reading glasses inserts into some of their frames, and this includes the Harpoon reader lenses. It does take some getting used too, looking through these Reader Glasses, but for those with aging eyes these lenses can greatly assist re-rigging endeavors. Because no one wants to fumble around with small knots when there are fish to be caught!

For past blog entries about Costa sunglasses click Double Haul or Fantail or Jose.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guy Harvey Magazine - Inshore Arsenal for Shallow Water Rods

Blair Wiggins with an S.C. Redfsh and Flats Blue rod

What’s the first thing that you grab for when loading up the boat to go fishing? Fishing Rods are where the proverbial rubber meets the road for anglers. Some might say we are spoiled rotten with the variety of rod makers, and the array of rod lengths and strengths available, but the complete angler wouldn’t have it any other way.

Several inshore rods are highlighted in the article
Anglers become used to a certain action rod for inshore casting, and its true that the reel and the fishing line play a role, but it’s the rod that gets a Grip and a Rip each time. Rod action has value when fighting a fish too, and if you have too much whip at the tip, then a stout fish might win the battle. And too stiff a tip does nothing for the fun of a fight when smaller fish are in play.

Summer issue cover artwork
One family in the rod making business runs Biscayne Rod in Miami. Owner Eddie Carman shares that his grandfather Carl started the operation in 1948. “This is where I’ve worked my whole life.” Said Carman. “We like our rods to be tough, so our 80-percent graphite blank is both light and rigid. Our Billy Baroo rods are actually named after an old customer who always used our rods and then gave us a report about their toughness, and they come in a true mono class rating from 4 to 20 pounds.”

Another family is making rods in the Midwest, and the Schluter brothers made some noise by winning the 2013 ICAST superlative of best saltwater rod for the Legendxtreme Inshore rod by St. Croix. These Made in the USA blanks are very light and they come with a new Extreme Skin rod grip that becomes slightly tacky when wet, which can help when fish slime is present. Their reputation as a high-performance rod maker is touted by their logo stating Best Rods On Earth.

A little further West is outfitter Wright and McGill with their 88-year history in the sport fishing industry. Looking to partner with a professional fisherman, they chose Blair Wiggins from Addictive Fishing TV to help design the Flats Blue saltwater rod series. “My blue camo rods will spook less fish,” said Capt. Wiggins. “The benefit of a light rod like this one is that you can cast artificial lures with it all day and not get fatigued.”

To view past blog entries from Guy Harvey Magazine click Oyster Recycling or S.C. Lottery or  Kite Fishing or Dolphin Tagging.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hinckley Company - Customer Loyalty tied to Service

Captain Verlaque and On The Rocks

The Hinckley Yacht company was founded in 1928 in Maine, and they still produce everyone of their luxury sailing yachts and jet-powered picnic boats in Trenton. With the extended boating season in the Southeast, a significant portion of the fleet will migrate to southern ports, and Hinckley Yachts has a full-service boatyard available in Savannah, Georgia. 
The General Manager for Hinckley Yachts in Savannah is Dustin A. Hartley, and the boat yard is accessible via the ICW or Wassaw Sound and lies four miles from Historic Savannah. “We offer a full range of yacht services for Hinckley owners and for all other boats too,” said Hartley. “We utilize two travel lifts, one is a 35-ton lift and one is a 50-ton lift, and we can handle anything up to 65-feet in length.”

Mr. Randolph J. Friedman of Mount Pleasant, S.C. lives on a peninsula known as Haddrell’s Point which overlooks Charleston Harbor. He purchased the boat in 2004 and named it On The Rocks.

“I had always wanted a Hinckley Yacht of my own, since they carry such a distinction for quality and for beauty,” said Friedman. “When making my purchase I told Hinckley CEO Jim McManus that I was unique in that my Picnic boat would stay in full view from my home.”

Picnic Boat named Seaweed from Kiawah Island
“For starters, the Picnic boat really compliments my home, and its beauty is important to me,” said Friedman. “The lines on a Hinckley are classic and subjective, which is no surprise since the boat is designed to connect with an owner’s sense of on-the-water aesthetics. In fact, that same beauty motivates me to keep my boat maintained as best I can.”

“We have six-foot tides twice daily, and since the jetdrive only draws two feet of water we have more clearance at low tide,” said Friedman. “I also think it has a shorter beam than other 36-footers and we love spending time aboard On The Rocks.” The same sentiment among others is why Hinckley owners are very loyal, and often become repeat customers.

To learn more about the composite hull construction materials used for modern hulls, and to view a full selection of sailboats and jetboats, then visit their website at www.HinckleyYachts.com. Informative videos share the experience from Hinckley boat owner gatherings, and one can purchase the coffee table book titled Hinckley Boats: An American Icon.

To view the entire feature article click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about classic wooden boats click on Osprey or Annalee or Aphrodite.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Lifestyle and LifeProof Phone Cases

The summer lifestyle in the Lowcountry involves the beach and saltwater at times, and dust and heat at others, and a LifeProof case can offer protection from a range of smartphone doomsday scenarios.
Dip net, hackey sack, Lifeproof case and dry box;
Getting ready for a day at the beach
In 2014 I choose to add a LifeProof Fre waterproof case to go with my iphone. After multiple trips to the beach, splashing around in fishing boats and sometimes just plain getting caught in summer pop-up rainshowers, I can relay that the waterproof case adds a measure of confidence for the outdoorsman who is on the go.
The Otterbox dry box is good for car keys, wallets, etc.
These LifeProof cases fit a multitude of cell phone styles too, like the popular Samsung Galaxy phones. The iphone case is very slim in profile, lightweight and its easy to install. A high risk factor for a smartphone is being dropped, causing the glass face to shatter, but the LifeProof case absorbs most drops and preserves the life of the phone. 
LifeProof Fre case adds freedom to your day
When it comes to LifeProof accessories, I like is their suction cup car mount, which holds the smartphone in place for maximum hands free use. I have found that the battery life new phones is much longer than in the past, and that even seldom use of a car charger can suffice to keep it fully charged, and the suction cup holder makes the car charging process very easy.
Are there other worthy smartphone cases on the market? You bet. Did you know that the popular OtterBox brand is actually part of the same company as LifeProof, which might explain their commitment to keeping smartphones dry and functional more than most. 

The Otterbox Pursuit dry box is a good option for safeguarding gear like key fobs, wallets, cell phones with no case and cleaning cloths for sunglasses. I picked out a size 40 dry box in clear and put it on the beach and watched while a wave came up to wet it, but the rubber o-ring and locking mechanism ensured that the contents stayed dry. 
A LifeProof case makes sense for me, though it may not for everyone, but the difference may be picking up your cell phone after a day at the beach and instead of a ringtone you hear that familiar monotone that comes from placing a conk shell to your ear. Can you hear me now?

To view this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about summer lifestyle click on Free Fly Apparel. or Surfing Apparel.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Exploring Edisto Island - Dolphin Strand Feeding

Dolphin Watching is a great Lowcountry past time!

Once one becomes immersed in the natural surroundings of the Lowcountry, sometimes special wildlife sightings are revealed. There are many creeks and waterways where sightings of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin are common, swimming along and breathing air from its blowhole. While it is much more rare to witness a dolphin strand feeding in just inches of water in order to eat fish, one drama in the highly evolved food chain of the saltwater estuary.
The best way to get into position to watch for strand feeding behavior is to get on the water via boat, canoe or kayak. Surrounded by acres of spartina marsh grass, which is the nursery grounds for young fish and crustaceans, it becomes clear why these are some of the most productive fishing grounds for dolphins.
Dolphin in shallow water looking for a meal
Some spots on land afford views of tidal creeks where dolphins swim, and visitors can blend in to the maritime forest of pine trees, live oaks and cedar trees while keeping a sharp eye out. Edisto Beach State Park by the Indian Shell Mound offers one such vantage point and Botany Bay WMA overlooks several likely locations on the backside of that barrier island. No doubt there are numerous areas on Edisto Island that offer views of the water, and locating them all can just be part of the outdoor fun.
Some say it’s the gentle slopes found along this part of coastal South Carolina that allows the dolphins to practice strand feeding. The surface of the water can appear serene, but unseen by the human eye the dolphin are rounding up baitfish below. Once they have them corralled they push them towards a mud bank and literally chase them out of the water. Whoosh! The bait will exit the water to try and escape, but the dolphisn have learned that their prey will not escape.

To read the entire feature article click on Explore Edisto and then click yellow bookmark.

Dolphin biology chart
To view past blog entries Exploring Edisto Island click on Botany Bay WMA, or  Surf Fishing, or Bird Watching or Quail Hunting, or Governor's Cup.