Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dolphin on the Fly article

Keep a fly rod at the ready for dolphin
Peanut dolphin with a tag in it
It takes some planning to end up on the ocean blue with a flyrod in hand, but anglers looking to tag and release some dolphin, find it to be quite a sporting challenge. Summertime is the best time to find the schools of small or 'peanut' dolphin that might like to linger around the transom of your boat, allowing for multiple casts or for multiple hook-ups! Look for 'structure' on the water to target, like the mats of sargasso weed that stack up along tidelines. Charleston's own Don Hammond runs the Dolphinfish Research Project and can be found on the docks in the afternoons, recording data about harvested dolphin that can relate information like the current health of the migratory stock that are off the S.C. coast that day.

Large weed mats offshore can hold dolphin

Don Hammond measuring harvested dolphin
To view my latest feature article in the Charleston Mercury on dolphin tagging click here.

To view past blog entries about migratory dolphin click here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lowcountry Fishing Report - 5/29/2012

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Scott Hammond knows how to wrestle a gator !!

Charleston Inshore Report: Bart Manley at the Market Street location of The Charleston Angler says that both the month of June and water temps in the 80's are fast approaching. The redfish continue to be active and have been tailing when the tides are right, like the first part of June. Fly fishermen will want to tie on small crab patterns with bead chain eyes, which can make a more subtle presentation.  Traditional anglers should throw live bait under a popping cork rigged with a mud minnow or shrimp, and let them swim just alongside the grass for some solid strikes. Bart reports that the trout and flounder bite continue to be good. He steers his customers towards artificials like the Z-man Minnowz with paddle-tailz in shrimp color, and DOA shrimp in Fiji Chix color. With an inshore fishing tournament every Saturday for the next few months, it's time to get in the mix and try and win some prizes! Charleston will host the IFA Redfish Tour on June 2, and the Carolina Lady Anglers will fish that same day. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at The Charleston Angler.

Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West has done some speckeld trout fishing during the past three weeks and has positive news to report concerning the health of their stocks. After a couple of brutal winters in 2010 and 2011, the trout have made a fantastic comeback, and Hammond is finding 20 to 40 trout each morning he has fished for them. Both the numbers of fish encountered and the size of the fish have been impressive and Hammond has put the bogagrip on fish weighing 4 to 5-pounds, which he refers to as the true gators of the Lowcountry! What to catch all those trout on? Well Scott advises a good variety such as live shrimp under a popping cork, live pinfish too, as well as Mirrorlure's 17mr, Zman Paddlerz and DOA shrimp! Fish for the trout in 4 to 6-feet of water along hard bottom areas and shell rakes. Redfish are staying in their summertime pattern, meaning that during low water, anglers should target them around structure like docks. Don't overlook the flounder being caught around inlets and in the harbor. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Charleston Offshore Report: Scott says that solid numbers of dolphin are being reported from anywhere as shallow as 100-feet and as deep as 1800-feet. The wahoo bite is becoming more sporadic with the best reports coming lately from the SouthWest Banks area and along other areas of the ledge. Blue marlin have been showing up lately with dozens of reports of fish in the 150 to 300-pound range, which is typical for spring. Finding a weather window to fish has been this year's biggest challenge.

Between Tropical Storm Alberto and Tropical Storm Beryl there sure has not been a lot of offshore fishing days in May, but Bart tells me that the dolphin and wahoo bite have been consistent. Most of the offshore news came from the Georgetown Governor's Cup where over 30 billfish were caught and released in just two days of fishing by the 35-boat fleet. One blue marlin was brought to the docks to be weighed-in by the Charleston boat Wildlife.

To view past fishing reports of the coastal Lowcountry click here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dr. Guy Harvey / Memorial Day visit

Guy Harvey signs a T-shirt for a smiling fan

A print with his 2012 signature, and Guy at work

Fans from Columbia who picked up Guy Harvey magazine

Guy signs a military poster for Memorial Day
Dr. Guy Harvey made another visit to Charleston over the Memorial Day weekend, and was available to sign t-shirts and more at the Palmetto Moon store. With a new line of designs that feature the U.S. Armed Forces, Guy Harvey has shown his appreciation for our servicemen and our veterans! Lowcountry Outdoors would like to echo those sentiments and say THANK YOU to the soldiers (and their families) that have helped to preserve our freedoms! Dr. Guy Harvey is a marine biologist who is focused on conservation of the oceans, and when I was able to speak with him in Charleston, he proved knowledgable about the Governor's Cup Series of tournaments and was delighted to learn of the high numbers of billfish releases recorded over the weekend in Georgetown. While at the Mount Pleasant Towne Center, Guy Harvey was glad to meet his fans and stopped to make plenty of souvenir photos with them too. Autographs with his patented signature and the 2012 date stamp were added to t-shirts, tervis cups, posters, prints and more. The waiting line stretched outside the door and into the sunshine, as fans from both far and near came by to meet the man who helps to bring the fishing lifestyle a bit more into everyday life with his expressive drawings of the gamefish that they love.

To view a past blog entry about how Guy Harvey partners with CCA in South Carolina click here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 G'town Gov. Cup - Results & Fish Pics

Rance Jennings at Georgetown
Tropical Storm Beryl condensed the 2012 Georgetown Landing Marina Governor's Cup into just two days of fishing - on Thursday and Friday, with Saturday being blown out by the tropical force winds. The fleet knew about the onset of the winds and nearly all of the sportfishers fished back-to-back days in order to utilize their full eligibility of two days of fishing. Sadie Beth out of Charleston emerged as the best billfish boat at Georgetown for releasing 5 sailfish on Day One, and added to their points on Day Two by releasing two white marlin, finishing with 1625 points! Finishing in second place was Benchmark out of Mount Pleasant with the release of two blue marlin and one white marlin, with 1525 points. Rounding out the top three spots was Daymaker out of Georgetown with their release of two white marlin and one blue marlin, with 1225 points. The blue marlin that was brought to the docks by the boat Wildlife did not count in the Georgetown tournament since it did not meet the minimum length requirement of 105-inches. The youth angler award went to Rance Jennings, age 7, for his dolphin that weighed 9-pounds, and caught from Micabe out of Hilton Head. The lady angler award went to Holly McAlhany fishing on the Syked Out, for releasing a blue marlin on Day Two. The Day Two totals for fishing by the fleet yielded 8 blue marlin releases, 8 white marlin releases and 3 sailfish releases.

John Horton and G'town marina staff members

Marc Heiden with a 30.4-pound mahi
caught aboard No Problem

Brad Lyles with his 53.8-pound HOO
caught aboard Christy II
To view past blog entries about the 2012 Georgetown Governor's Cup click here.

To view my 2012 wrap-up article in Guy Harvey magazine click here.

To view reports from past years at the Georgetown Governor's Cup click 2011, 2010, 2009.

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 G'town Gov. Cup - Blue Marlin boated by Wildlife

Crew of Wildlife with blue marlin
The second day of fishing at the Georgetown Governor's Cup tournament saw nearly the entire fleet go fishing again, due to a predicted tropical system in the area on Saturday. A good number of billfish releases were recorded on Day Two. The meatfish bite was less than Day One, and all the previous meatfish leaders held up on Day Two. The marina was consumed with 'dock talk' all afternoon as friends and family of the boat named Wildlife reported that a blue marlin was onboard and headed to the scales. Georgetown marina manager John Horton made preparations to receive the sportfisher and the blue marlin at the fuel dock. Upon arriving, SCDNR officials went aboard to measure the blue marlin, which must be 105-inches in order to be accepted by Governor's Cup rules. The fish was deemed to measure less than 105-inches (unofficially it was 104-inches) and was not eligible to be accepted in the Governor's Cup tournament. In fact, the rules stipulate that the undersized fish be registered as 'minus 600' points for the points total for Wildlife. The blue marlin weighed 348-pounds. Since the federal guidelines for a legal harvest of a blue marlin is 99-inches, the crew of the Wildlife still have a whopper of a fish story to tell. The crowds that gathered at the Georgetown marina were appreciative of the big fish, and SCDNR removed biological samples from the blue marlin.

Wildlife unloads a blue marlin

Close up of a blue marlin

Blue marlin on the scales
For past blog entries about the 2012 Governor's Cup click here.

2012 G'town Gov. Cup - Day One results

Georgetown docks come alive after Day One fishing
Bob Faith with leading dolphin
Day One of the Georgetown Governor's Cup saw the 36-boat fleet poised to head out to sea. Alas, the Summer Girl suffered boat trouble and had to remain in port. However, the Sadie Beth went out to fish, suffered boat trouble and was able to effect repairs AND manage to release five sailfish to take the Day One first place points lead with 1000 points! A bevy of billfish releases were made on Day One and three boats were tied at 900 points for releasing one blue marlin and one white marlin apiece - Daymaker, Benchmark and Rookie IV. Unofficial totals for the entire fleet include 7 blue marlin, 8 white marlin and 6 sailfish releases - with no blue marlin brought to the dock. Plenty of meatfish were brought to the dock as the ocean conditions that brought the billfish bite also included dolphin, wahoo and tuna. Leading in the dolphin category was angler Bob Faith, fishing aboard Caramba, with his 44.8-pound mahi. Big Kahuna's Rhett Spencer grabbed the wahoo lead with a 61-pound hoo, and Kenneth Tucker from the Christy II leads the tuna category with a blackfin that went 17.6-pounds. Lady angler Tracie Chandler brought a 20.2-pound mahi to the scales from the boat named Wildlife, and 7-year old Rance Jennings fishing aboard Micabe weighed in a 9-pound dolphin. Overall, the boats that fished South of Georgetown seemed to encounter more fish than the boats that went North. Two more days of fishing will help determine the winner of the first Gov. Cup event of the summer.

Kenneth Tucker with the leading tuna

Rhett Spencer with the leading wahoo

To view past blog entries about the 2012 Governor's Cup click here.

2012 G'town Gov. Cup - Fishing Report

Greg Smith on the Blue Sky

Tideline Outfitters oyster shell camo on the bluewater

Gov. Cup's Wally Jenkins with a mahi at the weigh-in

A Shearwater is checking out the bait spread
Ocean conditions were near perfect for fishing on the first day of the 2012 Governor's Cup Billfishing Series out of Georgetown Landing Marina. The wind layed down overnight on Wednesday night at the marina, and despite some close-together swells on the way to the fishing grounds, the ocean conditions were ripe for billfishing. The Gulf stream's blue waters were never clearer, and lots of weedlines were available for the 36-boat sportfishing fleet to troll for billfish, and meatfish too. Riding along on the Blue Sky, I can report two-foot ocean waves with very little whitecaps, and plenty of scattered grass to keep the mates busy clearing lines. Smaller dolphin were available, but not targeted on this day, as the fleet sought out blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. The committee boat reports when Lines are In at 8 a.m. for fishing and when they must be removed at 3 p.m. - signaling the time to return to port for boat-cleaning, a weigh-in and fellowship with the Georgetown community. The coordination between the Georgetown Landing Marina, the Hampton Inn and Land's End restaurant make this stop on the Gov. Cup Series a unique and pleasant experience.

For past blog entries about the 2012 Governor's Cup Series click here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 Gov. Cup Kicks Off - All At Sea article

Custom Lehi lure and Gov. Cup logo
Crew of Blue Sky in 2010 with blue marlin
The 24th season of the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series begins today with a Captain's Meeting at Georgetown Landing Marina. (which is hosting their 45th annual Blue Marlin tourney!!) Fishing begins on Thursday and continues through Saturday to determine the winner of the first leg of the 2012 Series, which consists of five tournaments along the coastal Lowcountry from Georgetown to Edisto. My comprehensive interview with SCDNR tournament director Amy Dukes is published in my feature article for the June issue of All At Sea magazine. Stay tuned for an on-the -water report from Thursday as I fish along with Georgetown-based Blue Sky.

Gov. Cup herald on top right of cover

The sign says it all - let the tourney begin
For past blog entries from the 2011 S.C. Gov. Cup Series click here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Atlantic Cup: Bodacious Dream first to Newport

Bodacious Dream was first in the New York to Newport leg

Route of Bodacious Dream on approach to Newport

Entire Atlantic Cup competition schedule

Atlantic Cup Merchandise 
The second leg of the 2012 Atlantic Cup was sailed from New York to Newport, after an exciting first leg that sailed from Charleston to the Big Apple. The first ship into port for the second leg was Bodacious Dream, followed by Mare - the ship that won the first leg. Mare is the leader of the 2012 Atlantic Cup thus far but the format is about to change. The two long-distance legs were sailed with a two-person crew, but the day races in Newport that commence on May 26 and 27 will require a crew of six people. The excitement is building as the fleet will compete for the title of Atlantic Cup Champion.

To view past blog entries about the 2012 Atlantic Cup click here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Weather Channel / T.S. Alberto coverage

Jim Cantore reporting about T.S. Alberto from the Charleston battery
Satellite image of T.S. Alberto
Tropical Storm Alberto seemed to be off the north coast of South Carolina on Saturday, one day after its formation on Friday May 18. (and just thursday the ocean had been calm enough for fishing) But by Sunday afternoon the first tropical storm of the season had nudged south of Charleston, edging near Savannah. The Weather Channel dispatched veteran storm reporter to Charleston's battery on Sunday to report on the storm conditions, given the fact that the maximum winds had been 60 miles per hour. Despite the findings on Sunday that the storm is weakening (by the hurricane hunter planes), Cantore was glad to speak to me about Alberto and more, since we had been golfing buddies once before at the Hootie Monday after the Masters event. "I take these storms one at a time, and I don't set up any kind of goalposts in May for predictions, and then try and guide the entire season through them," said Cantore. "Eighty-degree water temperature is key for the strengthening of any tropical storm and the Gulf Stream waters are just above that mark, so if Alberto comes into contact with those waters, then it may stoke the fire again. When you think of S.C. today, there has been a lot of development since 1989 and Hurricane Hugo, so their is more risk involved." Cantore also interviewed Mayor Joe Riley on the battery, and Riley told him that Charleston officials were being vigilant about tracking Alberto, but had yet to open any emergency offices. Everyone seemed to agree that Alberto's best attribute was that he brought cool and breezy conditions to the Holy City at a time when the heat is usually building towards summertime levels.

Jim Cantore makes notes about climactic conditions

To view past blog entries about weather click Weather 101 - 2014 Ice Storm - Eisenhower Tree

Inaugural Bohicket Marina Redfish Invitational

Capt. Reed Simmons and Ashley Lowder with winning redfish

Ryan Kennedy and Caroline Smith and top Lady Angler

Emery and Nicholas Macpherson LOVE Bohicket Marina

Congratulations to the 2012 winners
The sunsets of Bohicket Marina were on full display during the Inaugural Bohicket Redfish tourney, and it's a good thing since Tropical Storm Alberto crashed the party and largely shut down the fish bite. The top prize for the 25 two-mans competing on Saturday May 19 was for the heaviest aggregate weight for three redfish. Veteran redfish tournament team Capt. Reed Simmons and Ashley Lowder fished out of Shem Creek and weighed in just two redfish at the Wappoo Cut weigh station. Their two-fish aggregate weight (taken from two 23-inch red drum) totaled 8.7-pounds, and they were able to top a three-fish aggregate weight (of smaller reds) that were weighed in at Bohicket. Simmons told me that the Northeast wind was howling the entire time, and that despite seeing a large schools of redfish, they only enticed two slot-limit reds to eat - fishing with DOA shrimp and Mirrodines. First place paid $1200 cold cash, and the winning team also managed to wrangle in the prestigious Largest Trash Fish category as well for a ladyfish they caught. Speaking of the ladies, Ms. Whitner won both the lady angler award and the ugliest fish categories for her big dogfish. Pat Welch (of Bohicket Marina) won the most spots on a redfish category and Scotty Davis (of Lowcountry Fly Shop) won the fly fishing category. Rock-A-Billy blues, barbecue and brews followed the weigh-in on Saturday as tourney organizers made sure that their anglers had fun after the hard day of fishing was over.

To view past blog entries about the IFA Redfish Tour click here.

The 2012 Bohicket Governor'c Cup is coming up in June, and to view past blog entries from the Bohicket Billfish tourney click here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Migratory dolphin fishing is hit and miss

Bull dolphin and Ritt Ritter of Prowess

Guy Harvey Magazine t-shirt and fighting mahi

Weed mats and dark skies encountered on May 17

Austin Crosby, Tommy Lewis and a fresh-green mahi
Exceptional does not seem to be the best way to categorize the 2012 dolphin migration two weeks into May, with offshore anglers reporting spotty conditions. With the early onset of warm weather, many presumed that the dolphin would arrive by mid-May in full force, but only a mix of smaller mahi with a few larger fish are being tallied. Of course, this does nothing to dampen the spirits of those anglers determined to charge into the blue waters of the Gulf Stream to see what fish can be raised. On May 17 the crew of Prowess, a 37-foot Buddy Davis, ventured out under early morning thunderstorm conditions - the kind that brought 4-inches of rain to James Island overnight! Yet the climactic conditions made for a nice ocean for cruising to the fishing grounds, where sunlight and warm temps were in and out all day, but the 'fishable' conditions allowed for good trolling. The first fish over the transom was a peanut dolphin that was tagged and released for Don Hammond's Dolphinfish Research Project, but the next several went into the fish box for supper. Although flying fish were seen, and the weed mats were present, there was a lack of bird action and not many aggressive fish in the bait spread. Most of the fish were hooked well behind the boat on a deep drop line, and the mahi all averaged 20-pounds. Thanks to Ritt Ritter and Tommy Lewis for sharing all of their fishing knowledge on this day, including which songs are approved as fish-raising music, and thanks to Captain Brian Gulski who worked hard to put us on the fish.

To view past blog entries about migratory dolphin click in May click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Famars fine guns adds U.S. focus

Tim Ross with FamarsUSA at Bray's Island

NEW Famars gun cases

An example of world-class Famars shotgun engraving

Wonderful wood accents a Famars firearm
Famars fine Italian guns, known for master engraving work, has opened it first-ever office in the United States in Rhode Island. The new FamarsUSA will focus not only on their guns, but on a line of gentleman's knives and the accessories required for a sporting lifestyle. Tim Ross and David Rodin represented FamarsUSA at a recent shooting expo in the Lowcountry, and were skillful in sharing how the new company vision is playing out in 2012.To view my feature story on FamarsUSA visit the Internet at Charleston Mercury.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lowcountry Fishing Report - 5/16/2012

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:

Capt. Johnny Crislip and a Charleston Cobia
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West actually got out of the store and into the boat for a 'heat check' of the inshore fisheries and found that the fishing is hot! In only a few hours of fishing a live shrimp under a cajun thunder float, 22 trout were handled. The action came in a spot with hard bottom, 4 to 5-feet in depth, and with a steady washing current. Three redfish, two flounder and a sheepshead beat the trout to the shrimp along the way, and Scott verified just what all his customers had been reporting - it's time to get on the water! Use minnows, shrimp, mullet or menhaden to target redfish now, and anglers are locating them along heavy structure at low tide levels. Gulp baits, Z-man shads and DOA baits are also very productive this time of year. Some bluefish and Spanish mackerel can be found around Castle Pinckney already, and keep an eye out when the tide and wind serve to trap bait against the shore - that is always a great opportunity to troll through for marauding toothy fishes! Don't forget to check the inlets for flounder, using a slow-drift method. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Bart Manley from the Market Street location of The Charleston Angler begins, saying with water temps consistently in the 70's, the inshore bite is at the point of no return! Redfish are all pretty active now with a lot of live bait pushing in the estuary to give them reason to celebrate. Now is a great time to target redfish or trout by fishing a live bait under a popping cork, such as a mud minnow or a shrimp. The flounder bite has been smokin' hot and Bart says to go with the 'fluke killer' rig. On the fly fishing front, the tide tables indicate that later next week the tailing redfish will be available for those wanting to break out the LONG-rod, and to fish fly patterns with some copper flash to them. Bart says not to overlook the fun of crabbing, and that putting out a trap or even a chicken-neck is a great way to gather a seafood supper. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Captain Johnny Crislip with Tighten' Up Charters out of Toler's Cover Marina tells us that the fishing has been nothing short of excellent. (He usually backs up this claim daily with a post on his FB page.) He reports bait such as finger mullet and menhaden already in large numbers this year, and his shrimp boat friends reported seeing the FIRST tarpon of the summer too!! Flood tide fishing for redfish sees Crislip using EP crab pattern flies, EP swimming mullets and various shrimp patterns. If the wind does not allow for fly-casting he has been scoring with Gulp shrimp, Zara spooks or blue crabs rigged on a one-ought circle hook. Fresh bait can make all the difference, so Crislip advises putting some focus on netting bait whenever they present themselves - keep it fresh! Cobia fishing has been really good this year, but these finicky fish can refuse to eat at times, so Crislip's Pro Tip is to be ready with at least four different types of bait; he likes two live bait options and two jig options. To fish with Capt. Johnny Crislip give him a call at 843-532-9238.

Charleston Offshore Report: Bart says that mahi and wahoo reports have been strong as of late, and to continue to slow troll jigs as the water heats up. Anglers are looking South for cobia, and slow reports have given way to more consistent ones. He recommends casting Hogy jiggn' baits in dark colors at the brown cruising fish. Of course, don't forget about the live eel option, which is always a favorite for this blogger. What could be more slippery than live eels in a five-gallon bucket - NOT MUCH!

Scott reports that the wind has been an enemy here lately, particularly on Saturdays, but all of the offshore anglers who ventured out into the Atlantic ocean report that the action is wide open, and the fish box is hard to close! Joseph on the Game Day reported back finding quality dolphin in as little as 130-feet of water - which is in perfect range for center-console anglers. Greater numbers of mahi are being found on out to 1600-feet though, and that is the realm of the sportfisher fleet. Wahoo are still consistent along the ledge and on temperature breaks, so use the latest intel to locate blue water. Blue marlin reports have been strong off the coast with numerous boats having close encounters such as Can't Complain, Prowess and Sadie Beth.

To view past Fishing Reports for the Coastal Lowcountry click here.