Friday, September 30, 2011

Chas. Area Therapeutic Riding 20th Ann.

C.A.T.R. horse show memories 

Julia Nichols with Brad and Sally Rumph 

Margaret Blackmer, Winslow Hastie and Alicia McCory
When the sponsors, founders and organizers of the Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding (C.A.T.R.) set their minds to a cause they usually overachieve. For 20 years that cause has included exposing special needs youth, perhaps with autism or downs syndrome, to the experience of being in the saddle on a horse at their farm on John's Island. To be sure, these special riders are handled with great care while on the horse as safety is a paramount concern, but the dividends the riders receive after feeling the large animal respond and acknowledge their presence is something they can take away with them. On Sept. 27 at Magnolia Plantation the C.A.T.R. crowd decided to commemorate their 20th anniversary with an evening of fine food, music and more along the banks of the Ashley River. A silent auction raised funds for C.A.T.R. and a slideshow of past activities revealed just how galvanized this group is when it comes to equestrian outreach. There are many volunteers that work at C.A.T.R. farms because they enjoy their time together and they believe in the message of improving people's live through therapeutic horseback riding. Each year C.A.T.R. holds their own horse show for the special riders, and for more information visit their website.

To view past blog entries about equine activities click here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marsh Hen early season report

Capt. Todd Stamps in the Hell's Bay marsh hen stalker
Angus MacBride of SCDNR checks marsh hen hunters
Rob Bohnstengel, Clark Hinson and Ann Bohnstengel
Marsh hens on driftwood
The last week of September is the traditional early season for marsh hen hunting since it coincides with the flood tides best known as 'tailing tides' for redfish. With a liberal bag limit of 15 King or Sora rails per person per day, and no requirement in place for the use of steel shot, there are literally thousands of acres of marsh available for wingshooters. Shallow-draft john boats and flats fishing boats work well for probing around in the flooded grass for hidden marsh hens, but hunters are also allowed to get out of the boat and wade towards their quarry too. Marsh hen hunting is a wonderful Lowcountry tradition and the SCDNR law enforcement team actively monitors the hunting pressure out in the marsh, and thanks go to 1st Sergeant Angus MacBride for taking your humble blogger along on a marsh hen patrol that stretched from Sullivan's Island up to Bulls' Bay. SCDNR wants to know that the boats in use are properly registered, and that everyone who is shooting a gun has a hunting license, and that the shotgun is plugged to allow only three shells. Fisherman on the flats looking for redfish also warranted a quick check, as did a commercial crabber we encountered. The following day it was my turn to swing a shotgun at the scattering marsh hens with Capt. Todd Stamps. We poled the Hell's Bay skiff along hummocks in the marsh at flood tide and found ample numbers of marsh hens to target. Glorious weather gave us time to pause and appreciate our harvest and also to look for a redfish.

A limit of marsh hens from the ICW area

For a past blog entry about snipe hunting click here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Orangeburg Hatchery Celebrates a Century of Fish

US Fish and Wildlife Service - Press Release:

Mules and pond scoops led the way with the first excavation work to build the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery 100 years ago this month. Today the hatchery is an integral part of the community in Orangeburg, South Carolina, near Lakes Marion and Moultrie.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a public celebration at the hatchery on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, at 10 a.m. to rededicate the century-old facility.
“It’s an honor to witness a huge milestone of one of the real gems in the Service's National Fish Hatchery System,” says Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “Orangeburg has served a critical role in fisheries conservation in our Region, and its good work will become even more critical in the century to come.”
Wallace Jenkins assists Willie Booker at the hatchery
Service representatives, other organizations and agencies, and the community are invited to attend the free event, followed by a luncheon and hatchery tours.  Students from a local elementary school will plant a pollinator garden at the hatchery to commemorate the milestone.
Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery has adapted to serve the needs of Americans throughout its long history.  When first established it provided fish for subsistence, stocking local farm ponds and sending other fish by railcar all across the county.  Today it works with endangered species, including the shortnose sturgeon and freshwater mussels.  It also produces fish for recreation, like striped bass, a popular sport fish. The hatchery has made significant contributions to the area’s renowned fishing opportunities.  The total economic impact of recreational fish production at Orangeburg was more than $13.3 million in 2010, generating 127 jobs throughout many industries, worth $3.3 million in wages.

“The hatchery has been here for 100 years, that shows you the value of what we do.” says Willie Booker, who has been the hatchery's manager for the past 20 years.  “This hatchery and the work we do really mean a lot to people.  I am proud to be a part of it.”

COOL old postcard from 1920 showing how the hatchery used to look

Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery is a popular destination for 20,000 visitors each year, offering innovative outdoor classrooms, a nature-explore playground, trails, bird watching, a 100-acre lake and a visitor center with aquarium. By hosting special events throughout the year for youth, special needs groups and senior citizens, the hatchery promotes the increased quality of life and conservation benefits provided by healthy fisheries.  Orangeburg promotes the importance of connecting people, especially children, to nature.

To view a past blog about the Columbia fish hatchery click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011 Governor's Cup Awards reception

S.C. Governor's mansion at sunset

Mike and Governor Nikki Haley 
with Bill Ingram and Caroline Rhodes

Alvin Taylor, Willie LaDue and Chisolm Frampton 

Jim Goller with Harry Hampton Foundation
A stormy night in Columbia saw the Governor's Cup faithful gather at the Governor's Mansion for the end of year awards ceremony. Congrats to Reel Passion for winning the Outstanding Billfish Boat title.

To view the blog entry from the 2010 Gov. Cup Awards click here.

To read my feature article on Guy Harvey Magazine click here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Deux Cheneaux Dove Hunt

Julian Byrne is an apprentice in the Lowcountry Outdoors

Jim Minor and granddaughters love to hunt doves

Biscuit counts on his owner to shoot down birds to retrieve

Tyler, Lori and Chad in the dove field
A rainy, wet and humid week was capped off with a rainy dove hunt on Saturday afternoon at Deux Cheneaux Plantation. Friends, family and youth took up stations surrounding the sunflower field complete with dove decoys on a powerline to aid in attracting the grey gamebirds. Have you ever been in a dove field in September when a cloud passed over and provides a downpour? Veteran hunters most certainly have, and they know that doves can begin to pour into the field just as soon as the rain cloud passes. Saturday afternoon was no different as I picked up three doves after a rain shower, but as the weather cleared out, so did the doves - leaving some time to visit and share fellowship while in the field. Shooting teams consisted of an uncle and his nephew, a grandfather and two granddaughters, a mother and son, a father and son and a few assorted wingshooters. After the hunt, the doves were cleaned and prepared for a future meal while the kids that had been serving as retrievers in the dove field, were now able to play together in the Lowcountry outdoors while loving on the hunting dogs of Deux Cheneaux.

To view past blog entries on dove hunting click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Huck Finn fishing in Colonial Lake

Angler Chandler Kirby and fishing friend Wyatt Long

Rob Carter helps son Harrison catch his first fish

The City of Charleston has a gem in the saltwater-fed Colonial Lake downtown between Rutledge and Ashley Avenues, and the Recreation Department hosts the annual Huck Finn fishing day. Folks come from all around, and from down the street, in order to wet a line with youths from ages 4 - 12 to compete for a prize. More importantly this event gets families fishing together, and while the City no longer stocks fish before this event as they had in the past, plenty of wild pinfish, redfish and even a flounder can be caught in Colonial Lake. Humid but dry conditions greeted the Huck Finn anglers and the event was a big hit with the entire lake ringed by cane poles, tackle boxes, baitwells and BIG smiles.

To view past blog entries about youth fishing click here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SEWE takes over S.C. Junior Duck Stamp Contest

Joseph Addison submitted these woodies in 2011

2011 Federal Duck Stamp winner from Illinois
Kepra Hines entered this mallard drake in 2011
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the federal duck stamp program and the Junior duck stamp program each year to choose the conservation image that will help define each waterfowling season. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) and special projects coordinator Mary Roberts are now heading up the South Carolina portion of the national Junior Duck Stamp competition! SCDNR remains a partner in this program, but the Charleston-based SEWE will now administer the contest and provide for all the winners to be displayed in in a special exhibit during February at the Wildlife Expo. Students from grades K - 12 can submit entries into four different age class categories until the deadline of January 13, 2012. The S.C. 'Best of Show' will then be entered into the federal Junior Duck Stamp final competition. Art teachers at schools are an important part of this type program and Lowcountry Outdoors applauds the Junior Duck Stamp competition as a way to educate youths about our natural resources, and to better prepare them for the inspiration that one naturally derives from interacting with nature. For ALL of the contest details in the SEWE website click here.

To view past blog entries from the S.C. Jr. Duck Stamp Competition click 20152014 - 2013 - 2012 

For past blog entries for the Southeastern Wildife Expo click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lowcountry Fishing Report 9/22/11

Here is my latest Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry in the Charleston Mercury - click here.

There have been some great reports and photos of tripletail lately in the Lowcountry.
This is Capt. Mike Upchurch with a beautiful 3T that he caught south of Charleston a few years ago.
We worked together on an article called 'Vacation with a Redfish' about fishing in the HHI area.

To view past blog entries with fishing reports click here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NAWCA approves three $1M grants for SC ducks

Enhanced wetlands often translates into more ducks
Congratulations are in order for National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited. Each organization was approved on September 14, 2011 to receive a grant in the amount of $1 million dollars for conservation work in three separate areas of the Lowcountry Outdoors!!  Check out the details below and be sure to notice how matching funds can be leveraged with these North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants.

Project: ACE Basin: Edisto River Corridor Phase VI.
Location: Dorchester, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Orangeburg counties.
Congressional District: 1 and 6.
Grantee: National Audubon Society.
Contact: Norman L. Brunswig,
Partners: Lowcountry Open Land Trust; Charleston County Greenbelt Program; private landowner; The Nature Conservancy; South Carolina Conservation Bank.
Approved: September 2011.
Grant: $1,000,000.
Matching Funds: $7,876,344.
Nonmatching Funds/Other Federal Funds: $31,644.
Joint Venture Region: Atlantic Coast.
Flyway: Atlantic.
BCR: 27-Southeast Coastal Plain.

The purpose of the ACE Basin: Edisto River Corridor initiative is to create a largest forested wetland preserve at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest in Four Holes Swamp, and to add to protected lands within the riparian and coastal zone of the Edisto River and ACE Basin.  The forest’s wetland habitats support more than 140 species, including 38 species of breeding neotropical migrants.  This project will protect 13 tracts that include stream and river corridor, forested wetlands, salt marsh, brackish pond and upland habitat.  Species that will benefit include American black duck, mallard, wood duck, swallow-tailed kite, Swainson’s warbler, wood stork, and other wading bird species, as well as painted bunting, prairie warbler, common ground-dove, and northern parula.  The project expands Beidler Forest to 16,855 acres, enhancing public use for birding, canoeing, hunting, hiking and environmental education.

Project: Santee Delta and Winyah Bay Wetlands Protection Project.
Location: 14 South Carolina counties.
Congressional District: 1 and 6.
Grantee: The Nature Conservancy.
Contact: Marcia Whitehead,
Partners: Pee Dee Land Trust; Charleston County Greenbelt; private individuals.
Approved: September 2011.
Grant: $1,000,000.
Matching Funds: $2,102,600.
Nonmatching Funds/Other Federal Funds: None.
Joint Venture Region: Atlantic Coast.
Flyway: Atlantic.
BCR: 27-Southeast Coastal Plain.

This project represents the first of a three-phase effort to permanently protect strategic tracts in the Santee Delta and Winyah Bay region of northern coastal South Carolina.  Phase I will protect five tracts totaling 3,730 acres, including 2,951 wetland acres and 780 acres of associated uplands, to benefit breeding, migrating, and wintering birds.  Waterfowl species that will benefit from this project include American black duck, mottled duck, mallard, American wigeon and wood duck.  The project area will also support neotropical migratory birds during the breeding season and migration, including the swallow-tailed kite, prothonotary warbler, black-throated green warbler, Swainson’s warbler and wood thrush.

Project: South Carolina Lowcountry Wetlands Initiative II.
Location: Allendale, Beaufort, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Georgetown and Hampton counties.
Congressional District: 1, 2, and 6.
Grantee: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Contact: Craig Leschack,
Partners: Wetlands America Trust; The Nature Conservancy; Santee Cooper; South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Hasty Point Plantation.
Approved: September 2011.
Grant: $1,000,000.
Matching Funds: $5,580,822.
Nonmatching Funds/Other Federal Funds: $521,000.
Joint Venture Region: Atlantic Coast.
Flyway: Atlantic.
BCR: 27-Southeast Coastal Plain.

The South Carolina Lowcountry Initiative, covering 3 million acres across 14 coastal counties, seeks to protect, enhance and restore important wetlands and uplands in six focus areas.  This project builds on the successes of the first phase by continuing to leverage financial contributions, expertise and management skills of eight partners.  The six enhancement projects and four acquisition projects in this grant will permanently protect 2,251 acres of important wetland and associated upland habitats on private land through conservation easements, and enhance 2,844 acres of managed wetlands.  The long-term strategy of this effort is to build on the network of public and private conservation lands within key watersheds that provide critical wetland and upland habitat for waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, landbirds and other wetland-dependent wildlife and plants.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pending World Record Hogfish caught in S.C.

Wes Covington with the record hogfish

Hogfish are named after their natural beauty
Hogfish mouth on the Avet reel used to catch her
Veteran angler Wes Covington has been bottom-fishing for grouper for years, so when he got hooked up on 9/11/11 near the Georgetown Hole he thought he had a monster grouper on the line. Fishing with a Seeker Hercules jigging rod and an Avet Raptor HXJ reel, Covington used a top secret bait on a circle hook to entice the hogfish to bite during flat calm oceanic conditions, and tells us that this hogfish was twice as strong as a grouper of the same size. The record fish was weighed at Haddrell's Point West on the morning of 9/12 by store manager Scott Hammond, who was cool as a cucumber when he joked with Covington that he had just missed breaking the state record mark. Ha, ha. The current S.C. state record was caught in 1988 in Murrell's Inlet and weighed 20-pounds and 8-ounces. The hogfish was taken to SCDNR for biological samples, like otoliths (earbones), and the fish was also fileted for its tasty flesh. Did you know, that hogfish are more likely to be harvested via spearfishing since they are very reluctant to bite a baited hook? "A hogfish is almost the polar opposite to a grouper because a hogfish won't chase down a bait, making it a rare catch for an angler using a rod and reel," said Covington. After the SCDNR visit, it became apparent that Covington's 21-pound and 15-once trophy would also challenge the current world record for hogfish (21-pounds and 6-ounces), which was caught in 2005 near Frying Pan, North Carolina. Covington knew of the world record N.C. hogfish and had been following the progress of N.C. anglers that were trying to set a new record by catching an even larger specimen. It seems Wes Covington beat them to the right spot, and he feels very blessed to have caught this fish!

To view past blog entries about state record fish click here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

SellsFish Premium Seafood OPEN

September 17 Grand Opening

Paul Godbout, Scott Akey and Michael Godbout
Queen triggerfish for sale at SellsFish

Paul Godbout on the cover of Tideline 
The newest outlet for fresh seafood in Summerville is SellsFish Premium Seafood. Veteran angler Paul Godbout has brought his passion for fish to the seafood industry and has a brand new facility in Summerville on Highway 17-A across from East Coast Guns. SellsFish celebrated its Grand Opening on Saturday in style with a radio station broadcast from 1 to 3 and a FREE beaufort stew for their customers. The store is decorated with photos of Godbout's outstanding catches and their corresponding certificates of merit from the Trident Fishing Tournament. Godbout is well versed in the Sustainable Seafood Initiative and vows to keep that ethic while operating SellsFish Premium Seafood. Godbout has a business partner in Scott Akey and keeps work a family affair at the store by including his mother and sons in the day to day operations. No website just yet for SellsFish but you can keep a check on seafood specials by visiting their Facebook page!

To view a past blog entry about Paul Godbout's state record white grunt click here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2nd BTT Lowcountry Tarpon research tourney

Jake Ellington (left) was the winning angler
BTT's board members Andrew McClain and Jerry Ault

Bootsie from Hell's Bay shows off his tarpon flies
Dr. Ault was in town from Miami to share BTT's info

Dr. Paul Sasser and friends enjoy the Barbecue supper
The second annual Lowcountry Tarpon event sponsored by the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) was fished in Georgetown and Charleston county waters on September 16-17. The event successfully tagged a tarpon during its inaugural year in 2010, and the data shows that the tagged tarpon stayed in the Bull's Bay area for 30 days after being tagged on Sept. 16 before traveling to St. Augustine, Florida which is when the tag quit transmitting on November 7. No tarpon were tagged during the 2011 event, but one silver king was released giving angler Jake Ellington and his team of Capt. Michael Bruner and Scott Davis (Lowcountry Fly Shop) the honor of taking home the victory release flag - Congrats! A North wind and a cold front made fishing conditions tough but Ellington reports that they were fishing in Bull's Bay on a 17-foot Backcountry flats boat in about 8-feet of water when the 'big sardine' ate a large dead menhaden about 4 p.m. The crew had used up its live bait and were now down to 'insurance bait' and the conditions of the seas made for a tough fish fight, complete with their chum bag getting fouled in the prop, whitewater conditions on a nearby sandbar that they had to navigate via trolling motor, and lots of foam and spray. The awards supper in McClellanville featured band members from Lost Highway, and speaker Dr. Jerry Ault who indicated that BTT's key management concern for tarpon is sustainability with threats coming from overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution and climate changes. BTT is using state-of-the-art tags that communicate data automatically via satellite, revealing that tarpon can travel large distances in a short time - giving them an international management component. Ault also provided photographic evidence that countries like Mexico are still harvesting mature tarpon for 'Hang Em High' photos with the tarpon carcass relegated to become pig slop - No Joke! BTT's President, Matt Connolly, is a friend to the tarpon that visit the coastal waters of our Lowcountry outdoors and I support his call for future tarpon reasearch by tagging, measuring and releasing more tarpon in S.C. waters! Secondary sponsors included Hells' Bay Boatworks and and DOA lures.

For a past blog entry about my 2010 tarpon release in Bull's Bay click here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ashem Farm now public thanks to LOLT

The Lowcountry Open Land Trust is currently in their 25th, or Silver Moon, anniversary and just this week made another contribution towards quality of life in Charleston. The late Mrs. Emily Ravenel Farrow used great foresight to pass down her family's 44-acre farm to the care of LOLT. The property lies adjacent to Charles Towne Landing as well as marshy wetlands that help to define the Ashley River and so much of the Lowcountry outdoors. A conservation easement on the property is held by the Historic Charleston Foundation. LOLT entered a partnership with the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) when it sold the 44-acre Ashem Farm to them. This property will now be open to the public for future forays into this preserved and peaceful nook located in West of the Ashley. To visit a website about the property visit Ashem Farm. (Note: The website denotes the farm as 55-acres, because CCPRC already owned an adjacent 11-acre tract.)

To view a 20-minute video about the Ashem Farm click here.

The Silver Moon Gala is set for Oct. 20, 2011
To view past blog entries about LOLT click here. Don't forget that Oct. 20 is the date for the Silver Moon Gala at Lowndes Grove!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

4th Annual Joe's Buddy tourney

Bradley Shuford and Ryan Rescigno fished Sept. 10
The 4th annual Joe's Buddy fishing tournament was fished Sept. 10 with t-shirt dales and auction proceeds to benefitt the Joseph Daniel Shuford III memorial reef development. A great day of fishing finished up with a weigh-in and awards ceremony at Gold Bug Island with food and live music.

To view past blog entries about artificial reefs click here.

Here's a write-up on the good work going on at the Charleston 60 Reef:

The Charleston 60 artificial reef was developed in 1992, and is a half mile square area of ocean that has since been a testing site for reef building materials. In November 2005, the first installment of 100 concrete reef cones established the ‘Little Joe’ Shuford memorial section of the reef, and that work continued with 50 more concrete reef balls Monday, April 18.

‘Little Joe’ Shuford succumbed to a rare form of cancer on March 1, 2005, and as a testament to his love of the outdoors, friends and family rallied to raise money for the memorial section of the Charleston 60.

“This reef project is really exciting, and we couldn’t think of a better way to memorialize our son, a kid that loved the outdoors, than with the permanence of these concrete structures that improve fishing potential for others,” father ‘Big Joe’ Shuford said.

The installment of 50 concrete reef balls last week brings the tally up to 250 fish structures so far on the ‘Little Joe’ memorial reef.

“Their ultimate goal has always been 500 concrete reef balls,” said Bob Martore, reef coordinator with the SCNDR. “They have their own GPS coordinates to keep adding to when funding allows new additions.”

Fifty more reef balls were deployed at the ‘Little Joe’ reef in May. The price of 100 reef balls in 1995 was roughly $15,000, while the same amount today costs about $20,000 as the price of concrete continues to rise.

Reef Balls drop down to the Chas. 60 Reef

Funding has been going strong with friends Joey Gladden, Will Brown and Joey Petrides continuing to raise awareness for the ‘Little Joe’ reef. They sell bumper stickers and promote an annual Joe’s Buddy fishing tournament, which raises funds for reef-ball purchases. This year’s tournament will be Sept. 10 and it will raise money for more than just reef balls.

“Last year, they purchased five laptop computers for the use of cancer patients at MUSC hospital so that they can Skype with their friends,” said Shuford.

Regular diving and video surveys by SCDNR document the presence of marine species at the Charleston 60 reef.
“In the 90’s we added a 240-foot barge to the Charleston 60 reef and many armored personnel carriers, plus some experimental steel pyramid structures,” Martore said. “The variety of structure at this reef has made it a tremendous success because it gets a lot of fishing pressure, yet it continues to remain a consistent producer.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011 Teal Season / Doe Season - Opening Day

Brett Baker of DU is always ready for teal hunting
The date of September 15 means that doe deer are now in season until the conclusion of deer season on January 1, 2012. This gives more opportunity to deer hunters to harvest some venison for the family supper table. Deer Processors are set to go into high gear with the start of doe season, as hunter activity and success both increase with doe harvests.

The early teal season runs September 15 through September 30 and the daily bag limit is four teal per hunter. The legal to shoot hours run from sunrise until sunset during teal season, and both blue-winged and green-winged teal are in season. Remember to have your hunting license, HIP permit, state waterfowl permit and federal duck stamp in order to be legal. Non-toxic shot such as steel, bismuth or tungsten is required when waterfowl hunting.

Jeff shows off his GWT to friend Jim Clark

James Rembert appreciates an early season doe

Scouting is essential during the early season because the lack of other migratory ducks in the area makes the teal stay in only a few trusted locations. If a hunter sets up his decoys away from one of the locations being used by the teal, it could be a futile outing. Teal are small so try to use teal decoys or wood duck decoys to attract them, and a Mojo Teal motorized decoy with spinning wings is also a smart move.

For a past blog entry on the 2010 opener for teal and doe season click here.