Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Historic Commercial Harvest Closure for Dolphin


Harvest of Atlantic dolphin remains open for recreational anglers
The federal government is having more and more to say about the marine natural resources off the Southeast coast, and depending on the species of fish, that can affect recreational and commercial fisherman. In this case, the first-ever closure of the commercial harvest of Atlantic dolphin will begin on June 30. This closure does not affect recreational anglers, who remain free to pursue this prized and pretty fish, but it does signal to everyone that these resources are not limitless.

Jack McGovern is an Assistant Fisheries Manager with NOAA and he told me that this was indeed a historic first-time closure. “With the authorization of the Magnuson-Stevenson Act by Congress in 2012, Atlantic dolphin commercial catch limits were set, but for whatever reason they did not meet those amounts the last two years,” said McGovern. The current closure goes into effect from Maine through the East coast of Florida and is scheduled to reopen on January1, 2016.

“An amendment to the commercial catch for dolphin has already been approved which will increase their catch-share limit up to 10-percent of the fishery,” said McGovern. “That amendment has to undergo a round of public comments at our annual South Atlantic Fishery Management Council summer meetings. If the amendment is enacted, then the commercial harvest of dolphin could potentially reopen in the fall of 2015, allowing commercial fisherman another opportunity to harvest the remainder of the new limits.”


What this means to recreational anglers is that their own catch-limits must shrink by the same amount now allocated to commercial endeavors. Roughly 90-percent, a large majority will remain with recreational anglers in 2015 if the amendment takes affect. The commercial closure is done in the name of protecting the dolphin-wahoo fishery, but some might question how adding more to be taken via commercial efforts actually helps the fishery. And to the non-angler and general public, a commercial closure simply means less availability to fresh mahi at the seafood counter and possibly in restaurants.

To read more of this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view the latest Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report click here.

To view past blog entries about recreational fishing for Atlantic dolphin click 2015 - 201420132012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 
 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Field Notes and Photos - June 2015

Carolina Wren nest with speckled eggs
Field Notes is a column I began eleven years ago in the Charleston Mercury newspaper, but as the amount of newsprint space in the 'salmon sheets' has diminished, so has the space for my nature photography. Now when I have a fresh batch of observations I share them via Lowcountry Outdoors.

To view past Field Notes click on February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011  
Caterpillar on parsley,
 Black Swallowtail Butterfly




Black Racer - They doesn't stop when confronted!
Goslings on the move
Surprise bluebird nest in farm equipment

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Aluminum now part of 2015 Ford F-150

The 2015 4 x 4 Supercab is perfect for year-round farm duty
When the 2015 Ford F-150s rolled out at auto shows and dealerships, the public learned that aluminum was now a part of the frame composition. Adding few tweaks to the look of the exterior body helps to present the entire package as new, and I was able to test drive a 4 x 4 Supercab version of this truck in the striking Blue Flame Metallic color. This F-150 may be lighter with the new aluminum, but it is the same height and size dimensions that keep it feeling like a full-size truck.

Supercab Doors Open in opposite directions
The 2.76-liter V6 Ecoboost engine powers this model of the F-150 that spans a whopping 145-inch wheelbase. Driving the car in both town and country I found that the truck’s size was similar to many other trucks and SUVs on the road. While on the farm, the truck offered no resistance when cruising around the edge of cornfields, or crossing freshly plowed dirt and dust that is waiting for rain and fall food plot plantings.

Dashboard console controls
A heat wave has gripped the Lowcountry for more than a week now and the Ecoboost engine comes with the Auto Start-Stop feature as standard. This engine with 325 horsepower and 375 pound of torque allows towing capability of 8,500 pounds and payloads of up 2,250-pounds. The way the Start-Stop feature works is that when the vehicle comes to a stop, and one’s foot is on the brake, the engine shuts off to reduce fuel usage. As soon as one’s foot is lifted from the brake pedal the engine starts back up.

To view this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 6/24/2015

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Golden tilefish, not to be confused with sand tilefish
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West shares that scorching air temps have jumped water temps well into the 80's, and fisherman are having best success inshore during the mornings and evenings. The topwater bite at dawn and dusk is worth trying, but the overall bite during mid-day has dropped off considerably. Flounder continue to take live minnows and jerk shads fished in 3 to 8-feet of water along rock edges and creek mouths. Reds are hanging out in the shade underneath docks right now, with cut mullet and Gulp! shrimp being hard to beat. Trout are still taking live shrimp or a Vudu shrimp fished 3 to 4-feet below a popping cork along shell rakes and drop offs with hard bottom. Sheepshead have been seemingly hit and miss, with one day hearing reports of 20 to 30-sheepies, but the next day only a meager few are caught. Spanish mackerel are thick of the front beaches and inlets right now, providing great fast action when casting clark spoons and small silver casting spoons underneath a frenzy of diving birds. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: The dog days of summer may have slowed the dolphin bite to only a few fish here and there, however the past week has seen some solid wahoo reports coming in from 130 to 250-feet of water. In addition to the wahoo on the trolling side, a fair number of sailfish and white marlin are being found along temperature breaks in 400 to 1200-feet of water. Bottom fishing continues to produce plenty of table fare with vermillion, triggerfish, and sea bass. Occasionally a few golden tilefish can be landed too, like the photo submitted by Capt. Pete Loy. Numerous large red snapper are also being caught, but their is no keeper season for them presently. Live pinfish, cut squid and cigar minnows have all produced solid bottom catches when fishing over live bottom areas in 65 to 110-feet of water. The king mackerel bite is expected to begin to peak heading into July and late summer while slow-trolling over live bottom areas in 50 to 90-feet of water.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

To view my story about fishing with Blair Wiggins of Addictive Fishing TV click here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Florida Visit with Addictive Fishing TV Host

Blair Wiggins #ShowYourMogan
If it’s June, then the heat is on down in Florida, and the rainy season, with afternoon thunderstorms crank up by July. Heading down to Jensen Beach, Florida I was able to meet up and go fishing with Blair Wiggins, host of Addictive Fishing TV show. We weren’t filming on this day, but we were testing out some artificial baits from his main sponsor DOA Lures. It was back in 2010 when Wiggins was filming in Charleston that I first saw him in action, and this most recent trip gave me added perspective of the angler known as the Mogan Man.

June 21 at Mt. Pleasant store opening
The term Mogan is a nickname for a large fish, and it’s a cross between sayings like “Monster” and “Biggan.” Captain Blair Wiggins was a professional guide for many years in his home state of Florida, and then went on to be successful on the redfish tournament trail by winning the FLW Championship in 2006. Fast forward to today, and Wiggins has become so well known that he has signature fishing rods for sale. For a look inside the Addictive Fishing TV show check out this segment filmed with local guide Champ Smith.

When the fish weren't biting, we had two youths in a john boat
motor next to us and shout a HELLO as fans to Blair,
who of course invited them on board to make a souvenir photo - TRUE story!
On June 8, when we motored from the Stuart inlet to fish a spot known as the Hole In The Wall, Wiggins utilized a rootbeer DOA baitbuster to fish in the tide that was flushing out. I had caught a snook in this same location two years earlier, but this time it was Wiggins who got the strike and reeled in a 35-inch snook, also known as a Linesider for the lateral black line running down the side of its silver body. Wiggins knows how to pose a fish for a few photos, and we made sure not to keep it out of the water very long, since we understand that the best way to protect our marine resources is to set an example and practice catch and release tactics.

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

To view the latest Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2015 Carolina Billfish Classic - Final Results

Wahoo and Mahi - what could be finer in Carolina?
A fleet of 28 boats went fishing on Saturday at the Carolina Billfish Classic, and Reel Passion was able to release a blue marlin to pad their Day One lead. Angler Michael Runey was on the rod Saturday, giving them three blue marlin releases in two days, and they clinched back-to-back wins in the 2015 S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series.

Saturday also saw two new meat fish leaders for wahoo and dolphin, while no tuna were weighed in. The heaviest dolphin was weighed in by angler Jason Watkins fishing onboard the Sea Tiger and he gave credit for his 46.2-pound mahi to his fellow mates on the boat. Russ Parker told me that he had to work on Friday and could not fish, so he made the most of his one day offshore on Saturday by snagging the top wahoo that weighed 38.2-pounds.
Reel Passion crew and family members

To view past blog entries from the Carolina Billfish Classic click 20152013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

Official Results for Carolina Billfish Classic:
First Place Billfish Boat:
Reel Passion - 3 blue marlin released - 1800 pts
Owner: Bill Ingram
Captain: Gary Richardson
Russ Parker and the top HOO
Second Place Billfish Boat:
Three J's - 2 blue marlin and 1 sailfish released - 1400 pts
Owner / Captain John Spencer
Third Place Billfish Boat:
Caramba - 3 sailfish and 1 blue marlin released - 1200 pts
Owner: Bob Faith
Captain: Dale Lackey
Outstanding Dolphin:
Jason Watkins: 46.2-pounds
Boat: Sea Tiger
Owner / Captain: Jerry Smith
Outstanding Wahoo:
Russ Parker: 38.2-pounds
Boat: My Three Sons
Owner: Hunter Edwards
Captain: Michael Mattson
No tuna landed
Sea Tiger's winning mahi mahi
First Place Lady Angler:
Jean Hood - 1 blue marlin released - 600 pts
Boat: Compromise
Owner: Robert Hood
Captain: Larry Branham
2nd Place Lady Angler:
Marry Hoover: 14.6-pound dolphin
Boat: The Moover
Owner / Captain: Mark Hoover
First Place Youth Angler:
Graham Rogers (12): 1 sailfish released - 200 pts
Boat: Rascal
Owner: Norman Pulliam and Foster McKissick
Captain: Mark Rogers
Second Place Youth Angler:
Bridget Hoover (14): 37.4-pound wahoo
Boat: The Moover
Owner / Captain: Mark Hoover
Third Place Youth Angler:
EJ Nettles (13): 34.0-pound dolphin
Boat: Solid Surface
Owner/Captain: Aaron Nettles


Friday, June 19, 2015

2015 Carolina Billfish Classic - Day One

Youth angler E.J. Nettle (navy shirt) and his leading wahoo
A week-long stretch of scorching and near record heat draped over the Lowcountry leading up to the third leg of the Governor's Cup Billfishing Series. The Carolina Billfish Classic is based out of Toler's Cove Marina which is in Mt. Pleasant on the causeway to Sullivan's Island. The format for the 2015 tourney was modified to utilize only two back-to-back days of fishing on Friday and Saturday. A total of 28 boats went fishing on Friday and found a nice ocean with very little chop and the fishing was very good with nine blue marlin released, one white marlin released and six sailfish released.

Harry Hood and his mahi from Compromise
The Reel Passion released two blue marlin to charge into the Day One lead with a total of 1200 release points. Second and third place are tied on released points, so it is the time of release that determines who is ahead. Caramba is in second place with one blue marlin release and one sailfish release, while the third place boat is the Pertrel. It is worth noting that there were many more blue marlin seen in the bait spreads today, and multiple boats reported close encounters that did not result in a hook up or a lengthy fight. At least one grown blue marlin was spotted, along with a good number of smaller blue marlin.

The Carolina Billfish Classic allows for boats to fish out of their home ports, so several boats are fishing out of Georgetown Landing Marina. One of the Georgetown boats is the Mirage, and they ended up weighing in the leading dolphin after Day One with a 40.1-pound mahi caught by Carroll Campbell. Back at Toler's Cove it was the Bad Becky from Edisto that weighed in a 39.6-pound mahi, finishing under a half-pound behind the dolphin reeled in by the Mirage.
Crew from Russell Hat with a nice HOO

In the wahoo category it was 13-year old E.J. Nettles weighing in the heaviest wahoo at 34.0-pounds caught from the Solid Surface. E.J. Nettles is also leading the Outstanding Youth Angler category with the same wahoo. Second place youth angler is 11-year old Harry Hood with a 9.0-pound mahi. The Outstanding Lady Angler after Day One is Jean Hood, fishing aboard Compromise, for releasing one blue marlin worth 600 release points. Congrats!

Day 1 Unofficial Results for the CAROLINA BILLFISH CLASSIC:
First Place Billfish Boat:
Reel Passion - 2 blue marlin released - 1200 pts
Owner: Bill Ingram
Captain: Gary Richardson
Sea Tiger's 28.2-pound wahoo
Second Place Billfish Boat:
Caramba - 1 sailfish and 1 blue marlin released - 800 pts
Owner: Bob Faith
Captain: Dale Lackey
Third Place Billfish Boat:
Petrel - 1 sailfish and 1 blue marlin released - 800 points
Owner: Harry Johnson Jr.
Captain: Thomas Wynne
Outstanding Dolphin:
Carroll Campbell - 40.1 pounds
Boat: Mirage
The 40.1-pound dolphin brought in by Mirage
Owner: Bill Monckton
Captain: Homer Rachels
Outstanding Wahoo:
EJ Nettles - 34.0 pounds
Boat: Solid Surface
Owner: Aaron Nettles
Captain: Andy Nettles
No tuna landed
Outstanding Lady Angler:
Jean Hood - 1 blue marlin released - 600 pts
Boat: Compromise
Owner: Robert Hood
Captain: Larry Branham
Outstanding Youth Angler:
EJ Nettles, age 13 - 34.0 pound dolphin
Boat: Solid Surface
Owner: Aaron Nettles
Captain: Andy Nettles
Second Place Youth Angler:
Harry Hood, age 11 - 9.0 pound dolphin
Boat: Compromise
Owner: Robert Hood
Captain: Larry Branham

To view past blog entries from the Carolina Billfish Classic click 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010