Monday, July 30, 2012

Caramba Captain publishes swordfish article

Guy Harvey swordfish print titled - Cutting Edge
Captain Dale Lackey and Amy Dukes with Governor's Cup
Captain Dale Lackey is known best as the Captain of the sportfishing boat named Caramba. The breaking news is that Caramba, owned by Bob Faith, has just won the 2012 Governor's Cup Billfish Series that is based on release points. Releasing billfish to fight another day is very sporting and Captain Dale Lackey and Caramba are making their mark. This team also won the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series in 2010 and in 2006, fishing from the 57-foot Custom Carolina boat built by Sunny Briggs. Captain Dale Lackey is a James Island native, and he is literally gearing up for hunting season right now by planting food plots. While the Governor's Cup season is now concluded, except for the Series Awards, there is still time for offshore trips to target swordfish. In the May / June 2012 issue of Big Game Fishing Journal, Captain Dale Lackey contributed an article about the Carolina Night Bite for swordfish. While no hot links are available for his article, let me share that only the top charter captains are beckoned to submit articles to this particular publication, so Congrats are in order! If you can locate a print edition, you will see some great photos of swordfish with Bob Faith, Capt. Lackey and mate Will 'PeeWee' Thornhill holding them by the transom of Caramba. Swordfish trips out of Charleston are usually the overnight variety so the article covers the weather required for such a trip, the schedule for a typical day, rigging the bait spread, and even which hooks and bait work best. The article closes with, "And just like that the stars disappear and we see the break of dawn. The replays of the night's action flows freely through the cockpit, and despite our exhaustion from the all-nighter, we cannot resist the temptation to troll for an early morning blue marlin bite before heading back home."

To view past blog entries about swordfishing, which includes a swordfish article I wrote for the Charleston Mercury, click here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 Edisto Gov. Cup - Day Three / Results

Lehi Baits custom lures for Edisto winners
Dexter Elliot and his Day Three 13.4-pound tuna
Day Three of the Edisto Governor's Cup sent 24 boats to sea to determine two things 1) the winner of the Edisto event and 2) Best Billfish Boat for the 2012 Gov. Cup Series. Sportin' Life elected to fish back-to-back and they led the Edisto event with 7 sailfish releases. Caramba elected to fish back-to-back days, and released 4 sailfish on Day Two giving them the unofficial points lead for the Series title. Caramba will sit on Day Three while Home Run, Micabe and other contenders in the the Edisto event and the Gov. Cup Series will be fishing. After Day Three fishing was completed, it was Laff-A-Lot winning the Edisto Gov. Cup tourney on the strength on their release of one blue marlin and two sailfish (combined with Thursday's four sailfish releases.) Micabe finished second with eight sailfish releases, and Sportin' Life finished in third with seven sailfish releases. In the Series both Caramba and Home Run finished with the same amount of release points - 5,175-points - but Caramba wins the 2012 S.C. Governor's Cup based on time of release!! WOW!! During the Edisto tourney a total of 6 blue marlin and 82 sailfish were released. All three Day One meatfish leaders held up, with Lady Angler honors going to Joanna Strickland for releasing three sailfish from Wildlife, and Youth Angler honors going to Rance Jennings for releasing four sailfish from Micabe.

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

Friday, July 27, 2012

2012 Edisto Gov. Cup - Day Two

Fontaine Bergen with her 25.6-pound mahi
Only three boats elected to fish on Day Two at the Edisto Governor's Cup - Crystal Blue, Caramba and Sportin' Life. Which sets up a big finish for the Edisto tourney and the Gov. Cup Series on Saturday. Hot weather will greet the fans again today at the 5 p.m. weigh-in, and the crowds are running quite large. Here are some more fish photos from Day One at Edisto.

Bennett Wyatt and his 27.4-pound wahoo
My photo in the 2012 Edisto Island Guide

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Edisto Gov. Cup - Day One - 52 Sailfish

2012 Edisto T-shirt design
E.J. Nettles with his BIG mahi mahi
The entire fleet of 27-boats went fishing out of Edisto Marina today for Day One of the final event in this year's Governor's Cup Billfish Series. After four events, a clearer picture of who is vying for the overall title is now available with Caramba in the points lead with 4,175-points followed by Home RUn with 3,775-points, Sadie Beth with 3,775-points, Syked Out with 3,475-points and Reel Passion with 3,375-points. A sailfish bite of extraordinary portions came to pass on Day One, with 52-sailfish caught and released! Plenty of the boats were shaking their heads about missing other sailfish bites too! No marlin were released! Micabe, Home Run and Trash Man are in the lead with five sailfish releases each. Heaviest tuna goes to Joanna Strickland on Wildife with her 25.8-blackfin. Heaviest wahoo goes to Tom Blanchard for his 41.0-pound HOO aboard Reel Hooker. Youth angler E.J. Nettles (age 10) leads the mahi category with a 25.8-pounder caught aboard Short People.

Joanna Strickland from Wildlife
To view past blog entries about the 2012 Gov. Cup click here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 S.C. Tree Farm Award Winner for District 12

Bob Franklin, District 12 winner Jeff Dennis and John Spearman
Symbol of Tree Farm and certified wood products
The South Carolina Tree Farm system recognizes private landowners each year who excel in managing their tree farms. Stewardship of lands frequently involves wildlife habitat management as well, but forestry practices are what is truly in focus for Tree Farmers. It is a great honor, that I have been recognized as the District 12 award winner for 2012! The Tree Farm Awards Committee visited Snipe Hill on June 27 to judge and grade timber practices that I had put into motion which included logging, prescribed fire, herbicide spraying and other hardwood control methods. My local Clemson Extension Agent, Bob Franklin, has mentored me as I took Master Tree Farmer classes and attended numerous landowner field days, which provide examples of how others are managing their tree farm. An interesting fact is the my grandfather was a forester with the S.C. Forestry Commission and he first enrolled Snipe Hill into the Tree Farm system in 1951, and we were given Tree Farm # 61 - so I am only too glad to follow in his footsteps.

To read a feature article about the District 12 Award click on The Colletonian.

Modern day Lorax at work cutting trees

Farm truck between corn crop and pine trees
To view past blog entries about the Tree Farm activities click here.

SSI dinner with SC Aquarium at Circa 1886

Chef Marc Collins with Megan Westmeyer from S.C. Aquarium

Seared tuna steak with green tomato gazpacho

Yellowtail snapper sashimi

Fine dining and SSI combined for a great experience
         Circa 1886 is a platinum-sponsor of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SSI), which is administered by the South Carolina Aquarium. The monthly SSI dinner on Monday July 23 was sold out, as seafood enthusiasts gathered for a summertime celebration.
       Cordials were served using the new Harvest brand Vodka, and patrons were allowed to cool down after a sweltering hot afternoon. Some of the staff at Circa 1886 have been at their station for 10 years, and the service on this night was excellent.
        The first course offering was a thin sheet of Yellowtail Snapper Sashami, just a little thicker than what might just melt in your mouth. Served with garlic chili oil, pickled ginger espuma, cilantro salad, bean sprouts and toasted peanuts, the first course presentation was memorable and tasty.
Speaking before the second course of pickle-fried Carolina white shrimp, Chef Collins told diners that fresh local shrimp is the hallmark of the Holy City. His shrimp offering is prepared with dill from pickles and is fried in a bit of hot sauce. Chef Collins informed diners that the shrimp would not be hot, and he was right as the shrimp brought a warmth to the taste buds, but not a heat. Still, the Paco & Lola Albarino white wine helped to lessen any heat factor.
The third course seared tuna steak was served over a green tomato gazpacho. Westmeyer warned diners that while this fish was sustainable, sometimes the methods of gathering tuna are harmful. Specifically, long line vessels that leave their hooks set out for long periods can create unintended bycatch mortality. The tuna was consumed with an olive tapenade and a crispy foccacia bread, and washed down with Glattzer Gruner Veltliner, which proved to be an extra-dry white wine.
The main course consisted of Wreckfish Coq Au Vin, that was served over Carolina grits with Head of the Woods mushrooms. In full concert with the Chalone Pinot Noir, the highly-migratory wreckfish was delicious and the mushrooms were an excellent addition to the mix. Westmeyer revealed that wreckfish arrives into port at Cherry Point Seafood on Wadmalaw Island, allowing local chefs easy access.
The dessert course was daring in that it also incorporated seafood. Have you ever had vanilla and lobster panna cotta? Chef Collins’ final creation came shaped by cup-molds, and held the consistency of pudding, and brought a wow-factor to the final course. A final salute from Circa 1886 to patrons came in the form of Warre’s Otima tawny port wine.

To view this review on Guy Harvey magazine click here.

To view past blog entries on SSI click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SCDNR Sea Turtle Trawl Experience

SCDNR's Mike Arendt with a loggerhead sea turtle

A Florida Fighting Conch came aboard as bycatch

Devil Fish, also known as Manta Ray

Kemp's Ridleys turtles are not as large as loggerheads
Accepting an offer from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, I went on a two-day cruise aboard the 75-foot trawler Lady Lisa as an embedded journalist. Departing the docks at Fort Johnson on Monday July 2 at 6 a.m. - the crew of ten headed to sea. Using large-mesh shrimp nets that did not utilize Turtle Excluder Devices (TED's) the mission of the turtle survey is to catch sea turtles, submit them to a brief physical exam, and then return them to the Atlantic Ocean. Each turtle is tagged three places, one tag each on each front flipper, and one tag equivalent to a microchip. All of the SCDNR actions are permitted by the National Marine Fisheries office, and the data they are collecting is supplied to many other researchers, all focused on conservation of sea turtles. When a loggerhead sea turtle came aboard during the first trawl on July 2nd, it became evident how fortunate I was to be right beside this ancient species of turtle that lives right in our coastal waters. We cruised south on day one and ended up dropping anchor right off of Edisto Island, catching a second loggerhead that afternoon.  Tuesday July 3 got off to a great start when a Kemp's Ridleys turtle was hauled aboard, and again I found myself in the presence of a long-distance swimmer that had likely traveled from the Gulf of Mexico. SCNDR's sea turtle biologist Mike Arendt explained to me about the work his team is completing and we made a brief video about their examination of one of the loggerhead turtles.

To view past blog entries about sea turtles click here.

Lowcountry Fishing Report - 7/24/2012

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Charleston Inshore Report:  Bart Manley with The Charleston Angler has now migrated from the Market Street location up to the Summerville store in order to work with the Summerville fishing club and the new Summerville Chapter of CCA! In his final fishing report he relates that water temps at the end of July are hovering in the high-80's. With more and more flood tide levels occurring, the redfish are waiting to move up into the flats at high tides in order to do some tailing and really work over the fiddlers. The trout bite has been particularly hot though, and extremely dependable. Bart shares high hopes that spawning appears to have gone well last winter, and that anglers may continue to see higher numbers of trout into the future. Fish for trout during the last few hours of the incoming tide for best results, using D.O.A. shrimp under a popping cork. The flounder bite is doing well, and they are eating mud minnows or artificial lures with regularity. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Hannah Wheeler and Sean Pendarvis with a nice
double-up on redfish, before releasing them
Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West Ashley says don't get caught sleeping in on your day off! The early morning hours are producing an awesome topwater bite for trout and reds casting Super Spook Jr.'s and Rebel Pop-R's. Begin the morning fishing in shallow waters and then slowly move back to deeper water with structure in it. Then rig a Cajun Thunder float with a live minnow, finger mullet or a shrimp about 3.5-inches down to test out the trout bite. Don't want to mess with live bait? Then try out the new Trout Trick soft plastic bait, rigged on a gumball style jighead, or go with a MirroLure 17mr. The sheepshead bite is still consistent using fiddler crabs at the jetties, with some black drum mixed in. Bull redfish can also be found at the jetties, dynamite hole and the grillage. Tarpon have showed up in good numbers with numerous reports of jump-offs and catches from North Edisto Inlet up to Bull's Bay. Finally, spanish mackerel have been steady in the tideline extending out from the jetties for anglers looking for some light-tackle or fly-tackle fun. For all the latest seminar information visit Haddrell's Point.

Charleston Offshore: Scott says that while billfishing usually hits a downward turn and the meatfish bite isn't far behind, this year the bite is staying steady. Captain Joseph on Game Day reports dolphin in shallow around 120 to 130-feet of water. The sailfish are now being found in water 250 to 500-feet deep. Bottom fishing for black sea bass is strong in 50 to 100-feet of water using jigs and live pinfish, with some grouper reports coming from 75 to 125-feet using butterfly jigs.

Bart says that the offshore results have slowed down a little bit, but that dolphin and wahoo are still being caught in good numbers, typically in deeper waters. The July weather pattern of rain and heat really serves to keep the wind down, so plenty of anglers have ventured out to try bottom fishing. Black sea bass have been easy to catch in 55 to 100-feet of water and the grouper bite is going great guns over live bottom in 90 to 120-feet using cigar minnows and live pinfish.

To view past Lowcountry fishing reports click here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Edisto youth build and launch boat

Official boat launch, Friday July 13

Kit Fox leads and gets kids engaged in the outdoors

A smile and a boat rounding into shape

Students paddle the first sea trial
Getting youths involved in boat-building is not an easy task. Factor in that the Edisto Island youths involved in this project come from a Title One school, then this feat is even more impressive. Of course,  a lot of hard work comes into play, starting with Kit Fox who is a Student Support Specialist at Baptist Hill Middle School. The boat-building project is part of the Communities in Schools program and had a great deal of support from Edisto's Learning Through Loggerheads organization. To read my feature article, published in the Walterboro newspaper click The Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about youths that are engaged in the outdoors on Edisto click here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cobia is now a gamefish in S.C. waters

CCA South Carolina press release :
To view past blog entries about CCA in S.C. click here.
To view past blog entries about cobia click here.

Angler with cobia at 2011 Fishing For Miracles tourney
One of South Carolina’s most popular saltwater species, cobia, now enjoys a new level of conservation with the status of gamefish, thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly in the waning hours of the regular session. The legislation, proposed by the Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina (CCASC) and shepherded by Sen. Greg Gregory, was a collaborative effort between CCA SC and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The passage of this measure is consistent with both CCASC’s and the SCDNR’s call for taking proactive management approaches to manage our state’s marine resources that calls for establishing regulations to support a species before deep and often drastic draconian measures are required.

 “South Carolina has a very unique opportunity in the recreational angling world with regard to our cobia fishery, literally, one that is not replicated to this degree anywhere in the country to my knowledge” said Tony Constant, CCASC Government Relations Committee member from Beaufort. “Because of the progression of meaningful management steps taken over the years, right now the recreational angling community’s eyes are being opened to the value and level of importance that South Carolina continues to place on its marine resources and recreational angling opportunities across the board, and our collective efforts are going to make the palmetto state a destination fishery”.

In South Carolina, tarpon, red drum, speckled trout, and several species of billfish are recognized as gamefish because of their clear recreational fishery value; cobia presents the same warranted situation. While found worldwide in tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate waters, extensive DNA work by the SCDNR indicates that fish return to the same location in South Carolina, particularly Port Royal Sound, each year between late April and June to spawn. It has been found that Port Royal cobia and offshore cobia come from two different genetic stocks and offshore fish likely spawn offshore. This occurrence in South Carolina coupled with a healthy, relatively abundant cobia stock has provided the opportunity for anglers to enjoy a very unique encounter and often a successful fishing experience leading to a rise in the fishery’s popularity as well as providing an economic win for many coastal communities. Gamefish status will not affect current recreational or commercial size and creel limits of the species, which is currently managed federally by the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.

“Anglers today, more than any other time, are prepared to take reasonable action for the improved, sustainable management of our fisheries” said CCA SC executive director Scott Whitaker. “This step for cobia, in conjunction with the many other sound fisheries management actions taken by the state of South Carolina, will play a profound role in the future opportunities and enjoyment of our fisheries for years to come”.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TIDE magazine - Tarpon article

Cover of July / August 2012 TIDE
The cover of the July/August edition of CCA's TIDE magazine depicts a tarpon jumping off the page and into your imagination! The corresponding article inside TIDE on page 22 is written by Jeff Dennis, titled Silver Bonanza, and is about the rising tide of tarpon fishing in South Carolina. I want to thank Capt. Steve Roff and Capt. Jordan Pate for working with me on the article, which discusses the positive effects from this somewhat new fishery on the S.C. coastal economy. Perhaps CCA in SC needs to come up with a new recognition program for those who reel in an S.C. tarpon, and we could call it The Order of the Silver Scale! The articles in this issue of TIDE magazine are not available online, and are written by CCA staff and other distinguished outdoor writers. To get your copy of TIDE coming in the mail, you have to be a member, and today marks the unveiling of the brand new CCA website! To view it click Join CCA. To view the latest TIDE menu offering for herbed shrimp click recipe.

To view past blog entires about articles by Jeff in CCA's TIDE click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jailbreak at Jetties / Sheepshead, Carolina Style

My Tiger-Stripe sheepshead,
 caught 7/16/2012 at the Charleston Jetties

Daryl and Blake Hodge in the Lowcountry
Capt. Todd Stamps with a fine black drum

Available at Anglers Mart in Moncks Corner
The dog days weather pattern of July offers some good calm water opportunities to get close to the Charleston jetties for sheepshead. Often called the convict fish for their black and white prison bar markings, Captain Todd Stamps guided our trip to round up a few sheepies. With the current falling, we set our fiddler crabs right next to the rocks, and it wasn't long before I had the first sheepshead coming to the boat, shaking his head all the way. Next, it was Todd who tied into a beast of fish that turned out to be a nice black drum. That drum did not want to come to the dip net and I can report being overwashed with spray that the drum's tail kicked up while I was outstretched. After making a few fish photos for the new Carolina Style brand that our friends at Wrecking Crew are promoting this summer, it was back to the rocks. The next sheepshead I reeled in was bigger than the first, but it also was distinctive for its markings. The big sheepshead had a Tiger-Stripe marking on him where one black bar did not extend all the way to his dorsal fin - making it very unique. Nature had selected this sheepshead to have a change in pigmentation, which makes it a fine trophy. As we reflected on this rare fish I counted myself fortunate to have caught it with long-time friend Capt. Todd Stamps, and wearing the Carolina Style shirt that represents the sportsmen of S.C. very well.

For more photos of sheepshead click here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

1000th blog post / Meeting Lefty Kreh / book review

Lefty Kreh shares his casting knowledge with outdoor writer
Lefty Kreh in July 1982 with a nice salmon,
 taken from the Spey River in Scotland
When Lefty Kreh came to town for a fly-fishing demonstration I was fortunate to meet him. Kreh is now in his 80's but is still effusive and vibrant and so very willing to share his knowledge of fly-casting with others. As a prolific writer and photographer Kreh serves as great inspiration for this young-at-heart blogger who wishes to convey the positive messages from our outdoor traditions like fishing and hunting. Conservation is now the bedrock and foundation of these pursuits today as sportsmen continue to learn that limitless harvests for the cooler or the game bag will not be sustainable. Keep reading Lowcountry Outdoors for all the latest news, sporting tales and nature photography - and remember to share it with your friends! Thanks to Lefty Kreh for the copy of ALL THE BEST, written by Flip Pallot, in order to share a book review with those who have read my outdoor column for the past eight years in the Charleston Mercury. To read about this coffee-table book click here.

To view past milestone blog entires (700th, 500th, etc.) click here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2012 MegaDock - Final Results / BIG Wahoo(s)

Robbie Freeman gives Micabe a champagne shower
Reel Patience crew with a 46.6-pound HOO
The final day of the MegaDock Tourney proved as the deciding factor for the best billfish boat competition, and for two out of three of the meat fish categories - with several large wahoo coming to the scales. Micabe wins the MegaDock on the strength of their one blue marlin and two  sailfish releases on Day Three. They jumped to the top of the MegaHeap when angler Michael Ebert handled the blue marlin, making that a cool 100 blue marlin all-time that he has caught and released! Micabe owner Mike Larrow supports the Governor's Cup Series 100% and his boat is hull #42 from Jarrett Bay Boatworks. Once back in port, and after verification from SCDNR of the release photos from Day Three, MegaDock marina manager Robbie Freeman greeted the Micabe crew with a champagne bath for two reasons: 1) to commemorate the 10th annual MegaDock and 2) to celebrate Micabe becoming the first two-time winner at the MegaDock. Micabe bumped Reel Passion into second place, and that put Caramba finishing in third. Over at the weigh station things got off to a hot start when the Rookie IV brought a new tuna leader to the scales - with angler Chris Ravenel's 14.6-tuna - which took home heaviest tuna award at the end of the night. A series of large wahoo came through the scales next including a 46.6-pounder, 51.4-pounder, 50.6-pounder and the eventual winner - a 57.4-pound HOO caught by Jessica Mitchell from the El Tejano. The Day One mahi leader held up for Lucky Hooker angler Kevin Meany. Youth Angler honoree Loche Johnson from Petrel was awarded a MegaCleat trophy as was Lady Angler Joanna Strickland from Wildlife. Emerson Read from Sadie Beth won the first-ever Best Mate award. The tenth annual MegaDock awards were held at the Rice Mill Building, and drew a large crowd of fisherman and fans from the S.C. Governor's Cup Series.

Jessica Mitchell and the winning HOO

Bryan and Bill Ingram with a nice HOO
For past blog entries from the 2012 MegaDock click here.

To view my wrap-up article for Guy Harvey Magazine click here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

2012 MegaDock - Day Two Fishing

45-pound HOO for Kirkley Russell
Ian Shorkey with his BIG mahi for Reel Passion
With 15 boats offshore on Friday, Day Two of the MegaDock Governor's Cup, that means that 26 boats will be fishing on Saturday. Both the billfish bite and the meatfish bite continued on Day Two with Reel Passion releasing two blue marlin and one sailfish to storm into the points lead. Caramaba had two blue marlin releases on Day One and currently sits in second place - and both boats will be fishing to win today! All of the meatfish leaders from Thursday held up on  Day Two. Catches of note include 10-year old youth angler Locke Johnson who released his first ever blue marlin while fishing from Petrel. Angler Ian Shorkey brought in a 38.2-pound dolphin fishing from Reel Passion, and Kirkley Russell reeled in a smoker 45-pound wahoo for Russellhatt. The best tuna on Day Two went to Justin Corder with his 12.2-pound caught from Petrel.

Lucky Hooker with Day Two mahi

Locke Johnson holds the blue marlin release flag
To view more blog entries from the 2012 MegaDock click here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 MegaDock - More News / Photos

Karl Kemppainen from Hatterascal
and his 41.6 pound mahi mahi
Suzanne Nelson and fish from Artemis
Day Two at the MegaDock began with fifteen boats untying their lines and heading to the offshore waters in hopes of raising some billfish. On Day One it was El Tejano hooking up with a large blue marlin right after lines in at 8 a.m., only to have the acrobatic fish 'jump off' the line according to angler Todd Baxley. It was Baxley who reeled in the winning blue marlin at Big Rock, so he has a good size reference about how big that blue marlin is - and it 's still swimming offshore of the MegaDock right now!

Amy Bennett with a skipjack caught from Rodeo
For more blog posts from the 2012 MegaDock click here.
NEW - Outstanding Mate Award