Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/30/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Flounder caught on DOA shrimp
Charleston Inshore Report: Bart Manley at the Summerville location of The Charleston Angler calculates that water temps at the end of April will be consistently around 70-degrees. This has long been the temp that marks the summer fishing season in the Charleston Harbor. Since the latest cold front, fishing has picked up, and the flood tides have brought more reports of tailing redfish. Fly fishermen should pay particular attention to the small live baits that enter the estuary right now trying to mimic their shape while adding a flash of color. Conventional anglers are finding success with the Z-Man minnowz in new penny color. If using live bait, try rigging a mud minnow under a popping cork, or put a piece of cracked blue crab on the bottom. Flounder are showing up and taking DOA shrimp in clear with metal flake. Reports on the trout bite have been even better lately, with fish up the creeks, and some even being landed off the Charleston Battery. Bart's rule of thumb on trout is that if one color is not working, make sure to switch it out without much hesitation. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler. To learn about the BIG 32-pound striper caught at Lake Murray click here.

Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West Ashley sheds his turkey camo for his trout fishing tackle in May and is on the hunt for 'gator' trout. He shares that they are most abundant in spring, and with the second mild winter in a row the trout should be growing big. While April saw a few specks in the 20-inch range caught, May is the time to look for the 22-inchers or bigger! Target structure and feeder creeks with a good current flow in 4 to 8-feet of water. Baits like live shrimp and live menhaden are always a can't fail, but artificials such as Zman Paddlerz and Trout Tricks will also produce trout. The majority of redfish have transitioned from large winter schools over to smaller pods of fish and are readily available to anglers. From fishing under docks at low tide, to tailing redfish at high water in the grass flats, they are seemingly everywhere. Live minnows and cut bait work well for reds, but don't overlook the fun of fishing with artificials like Gulp jerkshads, chatterbaits and DOA shrimp. Bluefish have begun schooling up in the harbor are the Charleston jetties, and Scott recommends a #00 clarkspoon or casting jig in order to try for the fast-action provided by these piranhas of the saltwater. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point. To view the results from the 2013 CIA sheepshead tourney click here.

Josh Boyles at Southern Drawl Outfitters in Hilton Head joyfully announces Cobia, cobia, cobia! The Broad River aggregation is in full swing, whether anchored up or sight casting with a fly rod. Menhaden are in now, but finding them has been hit or miss. Greenies and whiting have been the go to baits when soaking them on the bottom. Casting options include Hogy lures or even live blue crabs. The redfish are tailing too and the trout are biting, and it's a great time to be a Lowcountry fisherman. In the offshore fishery, HHI anglers reported some HUGE weedlines last week and that helped bring the dolphin to the area. Everyone needs a break from the wind to go offshore, but grouper season opens May 1, offering yet another incentive to get out there. For more store information visit the Internet at Southern Drawl.

Offshore Report: Scott tells us that for the past few weeks the offshore fishing has yielded some decent action, but only when the wind would allow. Bluewater anglers that slipped out last week brought back solid reports of dolphin in the mix now, with 5 to 15-mahi per boat. Early May is usually the threshold in time when anglers see large concentrations of migratory dorado. The best dolphin reports came from 400 to 600-feet of water where a decent temperature break could be found. Considering that decent numbers of wahoo and blackfin tuna continue to find the fishbox, this is a splendid time to go offshore. Consult Scott for frozen baits and what to spool up with for 2013!

Bart shares that the mahi bite has really picked up, and that the wahoo bite continues to be strong. Bart prefers trolling dark colors like black and purple with orange on Ilander lures rigged with ballyhoo. Some cobia sightings have Bart thinking that May will bring lots of positive reports back to the docks. Stock up on Hogy Jiggn' Baits to tempt these brown bombers who infiltrate S.C. waters each spring.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 Wild Turkey season cooled down by wet weather

I found this shed antler near to my swamp gobbler
The 2013 wild turkey season came along right when the drought-busting rains fell in South Carolina. The Lowcountry saw an average of 11-inches of rain in February, but it was the continuation of cloudy grey days with smaller amounts of rain that added up to SCDNR declaring the drought over. Weather will always play a part in the outdoors, but wild turkeys seem to gear up to gobble better during clear sunny weather. The 2013 season was a time to pick your hunting days wisely, since plenty of wet days cut down on the hunting opportunities. As we reach the conclusion of the S.C. season on May 1, I am hearing reports that some turkeys have still not mated, and that the reproduction season is being pushed back by the weather. Either way, outdoorsman are reporting water laying up in places they have not seen in many years, which is another sign of groundwater recharge. Overall I can report that plenty of success was found by those with a serious turkey hunting agenda, and I believe that turkey stocks in general are on the rise. Turkey managers will be looking for a dry window to sow this year's chufa seed in May in order to attract wild turkeys for next season. It was on April 3 when I was hunting over a food plot and a gobbler began to sound off at 9 a.m. in an area that I knew was holding turkeys. The gobbler stayed in the woods despite my changing positions on the edge of the plot and varying my turkey call selection. Making the tough decision to move towards the tom, I found that he was tucked away in a hardwood run beyond the pines where he was comfortable in his strut zone. After a stealthy approach to the edge of the hardwoods, I set up and began calling. The tom would answer with a gobble but would not come to me. I could see that he was strutting, and that no other turkeys were around. About 30 minutes passed because I could not move again, and it was simply a waiting game now to see which way the tom would move. At 10 a.m. he shut down his gobbling and began drifting down the hardwood bottomland towards my position. He did not come directly but more in a satellite type approach. Coming into the clear at 46-paces, my turkey load found its mark for a clean kill, and the memorable duel was complete. A hunt experience like this one keeps one looking forward to the 2014 wild turkey season!

To view past blog entries about the 2013 wild turkey season click here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 Charleston Inshore Anglers Sheepshead Tourney

David Jones and his sheepshead gets a salute from Chris Mock
Youth angler Alex Siebel
The 2013 CIA sheepshead tourney is always the first big fishing event of the summer season, and the 172 entrants proved that point - competing for a first place cash prize just over $1000. The Charleston Inshore Anglers club uses the Castaway Restaurant on James Island for both their Captain's meeting and their weigh-in which ran from 4 to 5 on April 27. Fishing conditions varied since the wind shifted from Northeast to North during the morning, and many reported rough conditions. Fishing inside Charleston harbor with fiddlers, the two-man team of David Jones and Chris Mock hit pay dirt while fishing with fiddler crabs next to bridge pilings in heavy current. David Jones boated his best ever sheepshead, a 11.02-pound brute, to claim the first place in the 2013 CIA tourney. Congrats! His fishing partner Chris Mock took second place in the 2013 CIA with his 8.64-pound sheepie. What a combo! At last check, these local boys were taking their sheepshead and their checks to a taxidermist to have the fish and the memory preserved - which sounds like the right thing to do! Check the scoreboard photo to see those who finished in the money, since the CIA pays $$ for the top ten spots. Best youth angler sheepshead goes to Alex Siebel for his 3.64-pound convict fish. An award was also giving for the largest dogfish, and SCDNR was on hand to cut out otoliths from the sheepshead for biological studies. The CIA tourney was once TOP SECRET but now everyone seems to agree that this is a great way to spend time on the water.

To view past blog entries from the CIA sheepshead tourney click 2009, 201020112012.
Top Ten scoreboard
Kevin Mischke with his 6.96-pounder

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lake Murray striper tips scale at 32-pounds

Kevin Yates and his trophy striper

A once in a lifetime striped bass came from Lake Murray on April 10 for dedicated striper angler Kevin Yates. Each spring the striper bite comes to life as the bait moves into shallower and warmer waters, and the stripers begin to prowl before spawning. Trolling is a common practice to locate stripers, but it was a fateful first cast of the day that hooked Yates up with the striper of his dreams. “I have caught plenty of stripers in the 20-pound class, but never topped the 30-pound mark,” said Yates, of Irmo. “I was fishing alone and decided to drift the boat by a rip rap wall near the dam and next to a 40-foot hole. I always use a fish finder to locate the structure that I think will hold fish.” Yates was fishing with a medium-heavy Fenwick rod and a Penn Battle reel spooled with 30-pound braid. “I cast a 7-inch bass assassin lure in pearl white and the big fish sucked in the bait,” said Yates. “I set the hook once and nothing happened, so I set the hook a second time and the striper took off with such a rush that I had to start the motor and chase the fish.” Knowing that this was the fish all anglers hope to hook, Yates said he continually prayed out loud that he could get the fish to his boat. 
Any fight with a big fish while on your own can be especially worrisome, but this veteran angler played the striper well. His landing net scooped up the striper with the tale of the tape measuring the fish at 39-inches. Yates chose not to release this striper for the purpose of mounting his trophy fish, but otherwise supports the catch and release of Lake Murray stripers. 

To read more from my feature article on striper fishing click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about freshwater fishing click here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

RBC Heritage in Hilton Head decided in playoff

Graeme McDowell strides across the green

Despite winning the 2010 U.S. Open golf tournament, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland has been on a winless streak since then. With a howling Northeast wind along the coast of Hilton Head on Sunday, most other players were unable to shoot a score under par. McDowell won by making the fewest mistakes, including a par on the picturesque 18th hole during a playoff. Furthermore, the PGA Tour enjoyed its second playoff in two weeks, pitting 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson against McDowell. Simpson had a putt to win the RBC Heritage on the final hole of regulation play, but he could not find the cup. Simpson needed three putts during the playoff on 18, and McDowell needed just two. It should be noted that the wind was blowing so hard that it even affected the roll of golf balls on the greens. McDowell spoke after the win, sharing that he had played well each round for the tournament, but that his putter heated up on Sunday. A hot putter is often the type of thing that can make a difference sorting out winners at pro golf tourneys. Since the entire field had to play in the same overcast, cool and windy conditions it equates to a level playing field for the players. 

To view more of my feature article click Colletonian.

To view a past blog entry about the 2013 Masters click here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Charleston Race Week - Day Three / Awards

TeamWork Racing collected the most honors at the 2013 CRW
Sailors race towards the double diamonds of the Cuzway 
Sunday racing at the 2013 Charleston Race Week was almost completely canceled due to a small craft advisory and high winds gusting above 30 miles per hour. One race was completed on Sunday, but in all other categories, the leaders after Saturday's races were determined to be the winers. An awards ceremony at the Charleston Harbor Resort always serves to cap off CRW and the final results can be found here. Cloudy weather continued Sunday afternoon during the awards that saw plenty of the winning sailors collecting hardware, Gosling's rum and Sperry shoes. There is a vibe after each Charleston Race Week that says, yep we competed on the water and now we celebrate the sport of sailing. I can't remember a year with so few protests, which no doubt reflects on the caliber of sailor that is attracted to the Holy City for this annual springtime regatta.

Heart Breaker collects a custom CRW trophy
To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2013201220112010, and 2009.
Team Island Flyer poses at the Sperry shack

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 Charleston Race Week - Day Two

Team Spookie claimed first place HPR on Friday
The end of the first day of racing saw all the sailors back in port before a storm front entered the area and brought rain and thunder. The beach party got cut a bit short due to the weather, but not before the daily racing awards were presented by race director Randy Drafts. Conditions on the water for Saturday will be a little less windy, and a lot less warm, with a Northeast wind forecast to fill out the sails. Don't forget the Sail Charleston event at the Maritime Center, which is also a good location to watch the sailing. Other land-based reference points include the Charleston Battery, Demetre Park on James Island and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island.

The North Sails brain trust shares sailing information
To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2013201220112010, and 2009.
Thanks to the girls from Gosling's Rum

Vineyard Vines; always stylish

Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 Charleston Race Week - Sailing Begins

The Best Around the Buoys boat at 2013 Charleston Race Week
Sailors round the offshore buoy in windy conditions
The 2013 Charleston Race Week presented by Sperry Topsider got underway on Thursday night with a Captain's Meeting and a beach party complete with Gosling's Rum, fish tacos and warm sunny weather. Friday morning greeted sailors at Charleston Harbor Marina with overcast skies and winds that were gusting over 20 miles per hour. Around 200 sailboats took to Charleston Harbor and the offshore race course beyond the jetties for the first full day of racing at the 2013 CRW. Of course, wind is essential for sailboat racing, and the conditions on Friday were ideal, but strong winds can also test gear. Some boats returned to the marina early after equipment failures, and the offshore media boat also returned early after we lost our dinghy to rough seas and had to tow it back into port. All the while, harbormaster Stan Jones is keeping a pulse on the Charleston Harbor Marina since it is completely full of sailors and regular slip customers. Daily awards after each day of racing begins at the Friday afternoon beach party, and continues until the final awards on Sunday afternoon.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 201220112010, and 2009.

Boat # 13 bears a lipstick logo on the inshore course

Grey Sea Kite shoes from
Title Sponsor Sperry

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Freshwater fishing tips for April / May

Nothing like catching some brim in April
Freshwater fishing in the river from a kayak!

Youth angler and a nice smallmouth bass
Sometimes the old wives tales are just what is needed to prompt a return to a favorite hobby like freshwater fishing. When the dogwoods are in bloom, the panfish head to the shallows to bed. If Catawba worms are on the trees again then the catfish are biting, and a full moon makes all freshwater fish swoon. Whatever the reason, perhaps April is the time to head inland and revisit the fascination with freshwater. The allure of freshwater fishing begins for most in their early youth with catches of brim or panfish, which fight well and eat well. Joel Townley is a Columbia resident who loves the outdoors but also is in the tackle business with the Pure Fishing company. “If the water levels are average in April, we can catch big shellcracker and brim in Lake Murray during bright sunny days,” said Townley. Any large amount of rain in a small period of time, like the area received the last weekend of March, is not conducive for fishing success. “It’s all about the sun warming the water in a cove during the midday,” said Townley. “We will target these coves and find the brim in one to two-feet of water. A stealthy approach into any cove is paramount. I like a Shakespeare ultralight rod and reel combo with four to eight-pound test line. Rig up live worms under a splitshot and a bobber drift fish until you locate a spot that produces fish.” Blue catfish begin their spawn in April and Townley recommends fishing out of Cross with Clayton Crawford. “The catfishing can be great but the best bite is usually early morning, late afternoon and all night long,” said Townley. “Identify creek channels that catfish use as highways next to shallower slews, and then anchor up in the shallow water. Setting out multiple rods increases the chance of success and I like a seven-foot Ugly Stik with Abu Garcia reel, and we always use cut gizzard shad for bait.” The typical blue catfish range from 10 to 40-pounds! Another freshwater option is to try for smallmouth in the Broad River, but keep in mind that access points are more limited for this fishery. “When other areas are crowded, I head for the river,” said Townley. “Cast small crank baits by Sebile or soft plastics by Berkley into the eddies on each side of the river and retrieve them slowly. Braided line helps when encountering structure and the average smallmouth weighs one to two-pounds, with a four-pounder not uncommon every once in a while.”

To view past blog entries about freshwater fishing click here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 Masters Tournament - Aussie Rules

Adam Scott talks with his caddie Stevie Williams
Aussie Rules were in effect at the 2013 Masters golf tournament! PGA golfer Adam Scott finished strong on Sunday at The Masters, and gave his home country of Australia their first ever Masters Championship. The old adage is that The Masters does not really begin until they play the back nine holes on Sunday. The 2013 tournament proved that to be true once again, and then some, since a two-hole playoff was necessary for Scott to finally defeat 2009 Masters Champ Angel Cabrera. Australians love their sports, and their superstars, and after winning The Masters Scott commented about how legendary golfer Greg Norman inspired him and a legion of youth to take up the game of golf in Australia. Norman never won at The Masters, despite some terrific efforts, but now he knows his prior efforts are still paying dividends. Fortunate to attend the first round of golf on Thursday at the 2013 Masters tournament, I can report that the spring dogwoods and azaleas were in beautiful bloom. The playing conditions on Thursday were benign with little to no wind blowing on the course, and the greens soft and receptive. Several players were able to best par be several strokes on Thursday, but then Augusta National proved to be very stingy for the next three rounds. Through three and a half rounds of golf, it was not clear that Adam Scott would win. In fact, it was not clear at all who would claim the title of Masters Champion. It seems that another adage of The Masters is true, that it is a golf tournament unlike any other.

2013 Masters patron badges
To view my feature article on the 2013 Masters click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about The Masters click here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/16/13

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Beaufort Redfish caught on a DOA shrimp with
Captain Danny Rourk
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West relays that water temperatures pushing into the upper-60's the fish have been responding accordingly. Remember, the magic number in Charleston harbor for great fishing has always been 70-degree. More consistent spotted sea trout action is being reported with 15 to 20-specks per trip not out of the ordinary. More important is the size of trout anglers are seeing, with quite a few 'gaot' trout in the 24-inch range, which is likely a dividend of two mild back-to-back winters. Target creek mouths and shell rakes in 5 to 7-feet of water for trout, with the larger specks holding in deeper water associated with heavy structure. Live baits such as minnows and shrimp are a can't fail, but artificial baits including the 17MR Mirrolures, DOA shrimp and Zman Streakz have also been producing very well. Reds are in a bit of a transition this time of year, staying in schools, but becoming more susceptible to hopeful anglers. Cut mullet, live minnows, and Gulp! shrimp are the baits of choice lately for redfish. Sheepshead remain scattered about anywhere from inshore dock pilings to nearshore reefs. Fiddler crabs are a good bait but oysters and live shrimp can and will also produce a strike. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Bart Manley at the Summerville location of The Charleston Angler knows that water temps are the key for spring fishing, and reports of angler success are beginning to surge. Tailing reds are being spotted in a few flat areas as they progress into their summer pattern. A morning bite has been the best for fly anglers to cast a crab or shrimp pattern with copper flash to the redfish. Spinfishers can lob a Z-man scented Paddlerz in Redbone color for a chance at hooking up. Live bait continues to produce with mud minnows the number one bait for all, but move on to cracked crab in order to target larger reds. The trout bite remains good and a few flounder are showing up on DOA shrimp. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Josh Boyles at Southern Drawl Outfitters in Hilton Head reports that the cobia are HERE!!! A few cobia have been caught in the Broad River, which is the usual spot. Pogies are here now and Josh predicts the cobia will begin to stack up at the nearshore reefs. Inshore fishermen are enjoying tailing reds again and the trout bite has been pretty good. The wahoo series and shootout is now complete with Capt. Michael Perry on the Papa Bear winning the series and Robbie Maroudas on the Tuna Hut winning the shootout. Overall the weather was windy for the series but the Hoo bite was strong. For more store information, including the current renovations, visit the Internet at Southern Drawl.

Offshore: Bart says that with the steadily improving conditions the mahi bite is beginning to pick up. The wahoo bite remains strong, and the blackfin tuna do not disappoint.  Focus on the moon phase and use dark colored lures like black, purple and orange and troll at slower speeds with an Ilander and ballyhoo combo. Next up, Bart is looking for the cobia to move into the nearshore waters and hang around the channel markers as they migrate north. Target cobia by casting plastics like the Hogy Jiggin Bait to entice a battle with a brown bomber.

Scott warns not to delay when it comes to putting together the odds and ends on your offshore boat right now. Great reports of wahoo are coming in from the Georgetown Hole and SouthWest Banks, along with solid numbers of blackfin tuna. Common reports have included three to five wahoo per trip and three to fifteen blackfin per trip. Try to find a warm eddy of water to tap into the best fishing right now. Pull small baits like sea witches and small chuggers rigged with cedar plugs for the blackfin tuna. Use larger lures with medium or large ballyhoo for the wahoo. While the location of fish is highly variable, the best reports are coming from the 150 to 200-feet of water. Many wahoo have been grande in size with from 50 to 75-pounds!

To view past Lowcountry saltwater fishing reports click here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hobie kayak writer's conference - Day Two at Port St. Joe

Florida redfish and Hobie drybag on the grass flats
With the return of tranquil waters and warm temps, the Hobie writer's conference settled in for Day Two of fishing in Gulf County Florida. Right off the bat a Spanish mackerel and two smallish trout were 'boated' and the rays of sunshine were welcome after the deluge on Day One. We went on to catch redfish and trout over grass flats along the main coastal highway in Port St. Joe. The day concluded with a reception by the St. Joe community and mayor to welcome the friends of Hobie to town.
To view a video from Day Two click here.
To view past blog entries about Hobie click here.
Morgan Promnitz with a nice Florida flounder

Hobie paddle drive for their kayaks

FLOUNDAH on DOA shrimp

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hobie kayaks fishing in Port St. Joe, Florida

Small flounder caught in inclement weather on DOA paddletail
Hobie is a company that built their name on sailing, but they are bullish on the world of kayak fishing and convened a writer's conference in Port St. Joe, Florida for some field tests in Gulf County. The weather on April 14 was marked with a powerful low pressure system that was surging through the Gulf of Mexico. Near constant rain, driving wind and a threat of severe weather did not stop the scheduled fishing trip. Using peddle drive systems to maneuver and Hobie Stake Out anchors, the kayak fleet was able to fish the flats in St. Joseph Bay for trout, flounder and redfish. The fishing action was cut short by lightening and the soaking wet anglers will focus on fishing another day, and will enjoy spending time at the Windmark Beach lodging while the weather passes.
Link for Hobie kayaks
To view past blog entries about Hobie kayaks click here.

Nathan Chennaux - Set the HOOK!!

Dustin with a nice trout and best fish of the day

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sail Charleston clinic and Race Week regatta April 20

Melges class sailing during the 2012 Charleston Race Week

Ever wondered what sailing might be like? Want a chance to find out? Then check out Sail Charleston a free, one-day exhibition of sailing for non-sailors. On Saturday, April 20 at the Charleston Maritime Center, you can learn all you need to know about sailing opportunities in Charleston. From 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that day, you’ll be able to meet and talk with representatives from local yacht clubs, sailing associations and sailing-oriented businesses. You can also check out a variety of boats from single-person dinghies to world cruising yachts, and get a variety of giveaways such as hats and bags.
And, if you’d like to get out on the water that day, for a nominal fee of $10/person you can take a short tour of the harbor and check out the exciting racing action of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week – the largest regatta of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Right here in Charleston Harbor, 300 sailboats with competitors from all across the U.S. and from 15 countries around the world will be competing. 

A few of the organizations on hand at Sail Charleston include:
  Charleston Community Sailing (junior and adult sailing programs)
  College of Charleston Sailing Association (adult sailing programs/rentals)
  Sayre Sailing (retailer of small sailboats and performance sailing gear)
  St. Barths Yachts (sailboat dealer)

  Charleston Yacht Club (one of the area’s five yacht clubs)

Sail Charleston is an adjunct event of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week and is organized by volunteers from Charleston Ocean Racing Association. The association’s goal is to promote the fun and camaraderie of sailing and make it available to anyone who might be interested. So come on out to the Charleston Maritime Center on Saturday, April 20 and find out what sailing is all about.
WHAT: Sail Charleston – a one day exhibition of sailing opportunities in Charleston.
WHERE: The Charleston Maritime Center (10 Wharfside St., right near the South Carolina Aquarium)
WHEN: Saturday, April 20 (from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
WHY: Because sailing is one of the most fun sports you can do in Charleston.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.sailcharleston.org

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FoodSaver vacuum sealer is a GameSaver

FoodSaver goes to work on my 2013 wild turkey breast meat

Deer hunters rely on local processors to provide them with cuts of meat in vacuum-packed bags. Vacuum sealing of bags can make a lot of difference regarding freezer burn on more delicate game like turkey meat or fish filets. Anyone who has lost game meat to freezer burn in the past, will be glad to learn about the FoodSaver countertop device that allows them to better preserve their hard-earned table fare. After trying out the FoodSaver GameSaver Silver which retails for $200, I was surprised by it’s ease of use. With turkey season in full swing, it is time to prepare the pink and delicate turkey breasts for storage in the freezer. Using a roll of plastic provided by FoodSaver, I can adjust the size of the plastic bag used to seal up for freezer storage. The GameSaver appliance has a sliding cutting blade that makes a clean cut on the plastic each time it is needed. One end of the bag is inserted into the GameSaver appliance and the ‘Seal’ button on top is used to heat seal one end. Load the game meat into the bag and then place the open end of the bag into the GameSaver appliance and press the ‘Vacuum’ button. The machine makes a bit of noise as it sucks the air out of the bag, before finishing by heat-sealing the bag. The meat becomes somewhat flattened in the process and any juice that is sucked out of the bag is caught by a tray in the GameSaver which can be easily emptied. The entire process only takes minutes to set up the machine, seal the bags, and to clean it all up and label the bags.

To read more of my feature article on FoodSaver click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about cooking wild game click here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Boat motor trouble makes friends quick - All At Sea

Yep, boat motor trouble makes friends quick!
April edition cover 
The weather in September of 2009 near Georgetown, South Carolina was still hot and ripe for fishing charters. Hoping aboard with Captain Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy guide service went pretty much as planned. McDonald took Clinch Heyward and I to a known fishing hole in Winyah Bay and while fishing with a live shrimp under a cork we proceeded to catch trout, redfish and even a nice sheepshead. You don’t often see these three species of fish in the same spot, so I coined any such occurrence a Sheepshead SlamCaptain McDonald navigated his 19-foot boat into the ICW in order to visit some redfish holes between South Island and Springsteen Plantation. Almost immediately the big redfish started chewing and our day was quickly nearing the time when a cold beverage was in order. Just then another fishing boat came by us, and before they left our view we could hear their outboard motor cough and shut down. All three of us, boat owners and life long mariners, knew that we had to go and offer assistance to start the motor or render them a tow back to the landing. When a boat goes derelict in a remote spot such as this, it does not matter if one is on a paid fishing charter or not. A sort of universal feeling settles in based upon empathy from past experiences with boat motor trouble.

To read the rest of my story about towing them to the landing click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries from All At Sea click here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring birdwatching bonanza with Leica sport optics

Putting the Leica spotting scope to the test
Red-breasted nuthatch at the peanut feeder
The birdwatching bonanza that lasts the entire month of April is taking full flight with the arrival of warmer temperatures. Everything from raptors to Neotropical songbirds will be migrating into and through every habitat found in the great outdoors. Lowcountry resident Hamilton Boykin is a product specialist with Leica optics, and he shared a few options with me from their high-end line of sport optics. Serious birders will employ a spotting scope to search for small birds located at great distances. The Leica APO Televid spotting scope retails at $3900 and offers an 82 mm objective lens diameter which is great for gathering light in less than optimum conditions. “The largest upside to this type of scope is the burgeoning digiscoping market which allows cameras to mate with the scope for the purpose of outstanding nature photography,” said Boykin. “Western U.S. hunting guides employ these scopes too, so it’s not just for birders.” Another Leica product on the high-end is the 8 x 42 Geovid high-def binocular with a built in rangefinder, which commands a price of $3000. “Leica’s compact binocular option is the 8 x 20 Ultravid and it retails for $699,” said Boykin. “It’s small design is helpful when taking it along for a field trip. Besides birders we see turkey hunters select this option, archery enthusiasts and law enforcement officials involved in undercover work.” Founded in Wetzlar, Germany in 1949 Leica remains a leader in the fields of sport optics and cameras.
An upcoming date of interest for birders is the Santee Birding Festival on April 26 - 28, which is run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with lectures and field trips at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge.

To view my feature article on spring birding click on Charleston Mercury.

To view past Birding Journal blog entries click here.

Leica Ultravid optics after the hunt

Hamilton Boykin at the POMA conference

Sunday, April 7, 2013

2013 Family Circle Cup - Finals / Serena Williams wins back-to-back titles

Venus versus Serena !!
Saturday April 6, 2013 will be fondly remembered by those fortunate to be involved in both the Cooper River Bridge Run and the Family Circle Cup semifinals. Sunny and crisp weather gave both events and extra boost after a cold and rainy few days, and the respective competitions each delivered compelling drama.

Venus and Serena share a sister-grip after the match
The show-stopper on Saturday however was the Women's Tennis Association sister act, with Americans Venus Williams playing against sister Serena Williams for the first time at the Family Circle Cup. With Serena William's ranked #1 in the world, and both the defending FCC champ, and the reigning WTA-weekly champ, the national media were present and the world was watching. In covering the FCC for the past five years I have never seen the stadium court at full capacity, but the crowd on Saturday came very close! The 1 p.m. match was just that popular, even though Serena held a decided advantage in athleticism and a confidence carryover from an extended 12-month romp through the world of women's professional tennis. Therefore, it was with swift execution that Serena won the first set 6 games to 1 over sister Venus. The second set saw Venus win a few more points, and garner a few more cheers from the crowd for a valiant effort, but soon the two would meet at the net for a downplayed handshake. Notable absent was any yelp or fist-pump from Serena for dispatching this opponent.
Voegele follows through on a ground stroke

It should not be understated that the FCC is a premiere level event that brings the top talent to Charleston each year, which serves to better the entire sport when storylines such as this one develop during the course of play. In the second semifinal match the 9th seeded player Jelena Jancovic needed three sets to advance against Voegele and into the Sunday finals. FCC doubles play followed the singles matches, but the oohs and aahs from the Williams VS. Williams helped to make the 31st annual FCC one to remember. During the Sunday Finals on April 7 at 1 p.m. it was Serena Williams defeating Jancovic in order to claim back-to-back FCC titles in both 2012 and 2013. What a great champion for the Family Circle Cup - AGAIN!

To read my feature article about the 2013 Family Circle Cup click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the tennis tournament click 201920182017 -  2016 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

Jancovic runs down a volley

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 Family Circle Cup - Semifinals features Williams VS. Williams

Serena Williams prepares to volley on Friday
Venus Williams returns serve on her way to the semis
The sister act of the WTA Tour is playing head to head on Saturday March 6 at the Family Circle Cup. The top seed Serna Williams will face off against sister Venus Williams (5th seed) at 1 p.m. on the stadium court. This will mark the 24th time that the Williams sisters have gone head to head, but it will for the first time at the FCC. The second semifinal match will follow with 9th seed Jelena Jancovic versus Stefanie Voegele. Friday's playing conditions varied from cloudy and cool, and then to warm and sunny during the afternoon. In particular the play in the Lucie Safarova VS. Soran Cirsteau afternoon match was crisp and compelling - with Safarova the winner. Playing in their second match of the day on Friday, due to rain delays on Thursday, it was Serena Williams who eliminated Safarova later in the day.

To view past blog entries from the Family Circle Cup click here: 20132012201120102009
Lucie Safarova slides into position for a winner

Jelena Jancovic questions a line call