Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 East Cooper CCA Banquet

Having fun on the back deck next to Shem Creek
Seared tuna - NOT BAD!
Recreational saltwater anglers gathered by the boatload at the Lighthouse on Shem Creek for the 2013 Celebrating Conservation banquet put on by the Coastal Conservation Association. Sponsor Chair John Gourdin helped to set a new S.C. State record for sponsor members with 120,for the East Cooper Chapter in 2013. Members who enjoy benefits like advocacy for saltwater issues, and TIDE magazine. Warm and sunny conditions on Shem Creek graced the silent auction on the back deck, which was also the location of the watering hole. Unique items included K2 coolers, scuba certification, glass bowls, Palmetto flag made of tim and maybe a fish motif sign or two! was glad to partner with Guy Harvey Inc. to donate a framed and signed limited edition print to help raise funds for conservation. Inside there was plenty to eat like seared tuna, peeled shrimp and pork loin with all the fixins. The live auction featured quail hunting, beach destination travel plans, turkey calls and the ever popular cooler with mysterious contents that goes to the highest bidder! Committee Chairman Jay Brown was on hand to make sure everyone had a smooth experience from checking in the front door to buying lots of raffle tickets to support the cause of saltwater conservation. Fishermen were still talking about the big blue marlin landed a week earlier in Georgetown, and angler Dixon Pearce was in attendance. Other hot topics included the strong cobia bite right now, and how the weekend weather forecast was shaping up. Since this is the only stop on the CCA banquet trail held on the water, it adds a unique flair to this already successful event.
Oystaflage and Guy Harvey swordfish print

Smiles and little blue cups for conservation

To view past blog entries from the East Cooper CCA banquet click 2012, 2011, 2010, or 2009.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cobia on fly and light tackle in the Broad River

BIG cobia on light tackle in the Broad River on May 27
TFO rod and light tackle cobia fight
Fishing with Captain Danny Rourk on Memorial Day led to a chance encounter with my best ever cobia. Fishing with light tackle it took about 20-minutes to fight the fish and reel it in to the waiting net of Captain Rourk. The conditions were flat calm and my TFO-rod with medium-action stayed bent during the entire fight, while the Shimano stradic reel spooled with 20-pound Power Pro peeled line each time the fish sounded. Standing on a raised platform in the bow, I see the 50-pounder swimming directly in front of the boat. I signal Captain Rourk to stop the boat, but the cobia quickly turned 180-degrees and closed the distance to us until it was under the boat. I hurried to the back of the boat and cast the eel into the water. Nothing happened. Captain Rourk went to the bow and began looking for the fish back that way. Just then, my cork began to bob up and down in a rapid motion. The eel had sighted the cobia and began a frantic attempt at escape. The big cobia showed up on cue, eating the eel and taking the float down for good this time. “Go ahead and set the hook now,” said Rourk. “With light tackle the plan is to keep pressure on the fish during the fight, but not to horse it up.” Despite some head-shaking by this cobia, the steady fight tactic worked very well. “I book fly-fishing trips for cobia as well,” said Rourk of TailWind Charters in Beaufort. “I’ll utilize a big and flashy streamer pattern comparable to a tarpon fly. The bigger the better. And I like either a 10-weight or a 12-weight fly rod for cobia fishing.” Paul Burton from Bray’s Island reeled in a smaller cobia on his fly rod and we took its measurement. Since it did not meet the minimum requirement of 33-inches, he gladly released the fish back into the Broad River.

To view more of my feature article click on Colletonian.
To view past blog entries about cobia click here.
Cobia cut-back !!

Paul Burton from Bray's Island with a cobia on the fly rod

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bluewater adventure at Gov. Cup aboard Can't Complain

Brian Cannon and his mahi mahi
Michael Mattson on the gaff
The day of offshore fishing on May 23 began at 4:30 a.m. as Mullins McLeod told his crew that the 50-foot Rybovich would shove off then. McLeod is one of the boat owners in the Governor’s Cup fleet that also serves as the boat Captain. His first mate is George Campsen, but he also had mates Michael Mattson and Jordan Parker on hand to help run the cockpit during the tournament. Friends Brian Cannon and Hunter Edwards rounded out the bluewater angling crew. A three-hour ride to the gulf stream proved rough, having to navigate through two thunderstorms just off the coast. By 8 a.m. when fishing officially begins, the storms had passed and the ocean layed down to make for a beautiful fishing day. “This boat was made in 1981 by John Rybovich and I have enjoyed fishing it in the Governor’s Cup for the last six years,” said McLeod. “Besides this tournament I usually like to compete in the Edisto Governor’s Cup later in July.” By 10 a.m. it was clear to McLeod that the dolphin bite was going to be substantial. “I see a lot of bait stacked up in the water column using my depth finder,” said McLeod. “We’ll stay right here and hunt blue marlin for a while, but the dolphin may bother us.” Normally a day of fishing can be defined as a big success when plenty of mahi mahi are put in the fish box, but not during a billfish tournament. It was Day One of the 25th Anniversary of the Governor's Cup, and it also happened to be my birthday! Having an early-summer birthday provides the rare opportunity for offshore anglers to have a 'Happy Mahi-Day." No billfish were raised by Can't Complain this day, but it was Sportin’ Life that proved to have the luck on May 24 when they hooked and landed a blue marlin weighing 534.2-pounds, helping them to earn the top boat honors for the 2013 G'town Gov.Cup. 

To view more of my feature story click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about bluewater adventures click here.

George Campsen is the mate on Can't Complain

Jordan Parker handles a skipjack tuna

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 5/28/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Surging Mahi caught in May
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West tells me Man, you got to love the month of May. Air temps in the low to mid 80's and water temps in the low 70's makes for an inshore bite that is off the charts. Flounder have been showing up in good numbers and good sizes, with the better reports coming from rock piles and heavy structure in 4 to 10-feet of water. Live minnows or a live mullet is the old standby method of targeting some flatties but don't overlook a Z-Man jerkshad or a Gulp 3-inch shrimp. Trout have been around in good numbers, with many fish exceeding 22-inches. Live shrimp fished around shell rakes in 4 to 8-feet of water is always productive, but if you want to go for a gator trout over 24-inches, try fishing a little deeper with live mullet or a paddle tail grub in 10 to 15-feet of water. Keep in mind the majority of the large trout right now are females and full of roe, and every fish that you can release like that equals more trout in the future. Redfish continue to be found all over from smaller 'wolf packs' of 3 to 6-fish per school. Live minnows and cut mullet are the natural baits of choice for this, but a wide variety of artificials can also be used to target these fish. Spanish and bluefish have also begun to school around the jetties and castle pinckney early in the mornings, and a 3/4-ounce casting jig in silver is all it takes for some fast-paces action with he Spaniards. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrells Point.

Bart Manley at the downtown location of Charleston Angler reports that the big tides of May have anglers stalking tailing reds on the flats. Fly anglers are having success throwing crab or toad patterns. Those who prefer spinning tackle are having success with the Z-man 3-inch minnowz in bad shad color with a 1/8-ounce jig hook. Live bait options include mud minnows under a popping cork, and cracked crab fished on the bottom. The trout bite is steady using live shrimp. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Offshore Report: Bart dishes that the mahi and wahoo bite is good, along with several blue marlin releases. Some sailfish are showing up, but the tuna bite has slowed. Traveling to the Broad River on Saturday, Bart found the cobia bite to be good using live eels and menhaden for bait, whether fished on top or on the bottom. There are good reports of cobia at the nearshore reefs too.

Scott shares that any avid offshore fisherman will say that May is the best bite, especially for dolphin. This year offers more proof of that with very strong numbers of mahi in the 5 to 25-pound range, with the fish showing up from 90-feet to 1800-feet. A decent wahoo bite remains as well in 130 to 250-feet, and the rate of encounters with blue marlin is on the rise.

To view past Lowcountry saltwater fishing reports click here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Charleston To Bermuda Sailing Race

The wining crew aboard Falcor
The biannual Charleston To Bermuda sailing race was recently contested. Beginning with a kick-off party at the Charleston Yacht Club on May 15, the C2B race welcomed representatives from Bermuda to the Holy City. The actual race start was on Friday May 17 at 2 p.m. in the Charleston Harbor. Three boats competed in the race; Charleston-based Azura - a 65-foot Swan, a

The C2B hardware

Azura crew leaving Charleston Harbor

Jenny Walker, Margeaux Rogers and Debbie O'Hara
trimaran from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey named Falcor, and a 49-foot boat Halcyon. The 777-mile ocean race was won on May 21 by Falcor - Congrats! Debbie O'Hara is the Vice Commodore at the Charleston Yacht Club and shares that plans are already underway to continue and grow the race in 2015.

To view past blog entries from the 2011 C2B click here.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2013 Atlantic Cup - Bodacious Dream is overall winner

Bodacious Dream #118
The 2013 Atlantic Cup began in Charleston and ended up in Newport, Rhode Islandd. Congrats to Bodacious Dream for winning the overall competition! For the full wrap-up article click here. Special shout out to the Charleston crew aboard the Icarus for winning the inshore series of races after arriving in Newport!

To view past blog entries about the 2013 Atlantic Cup click here.
Racing the 2013 Atlantic Cup in Rhode Island - Photo By Billy Black

Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 G'town Gov. Cup - Results and fish pics

Best tuna from Eddie Buck Jr. on Rookie IV
Best dolphin from Crystal Blue
and Buck Bessinger
The 2013 Georgetown Blue Marlin tourney was unlike any other in the 46-year history history of the event. The three day event enjoys a unique partnership with three facilities, The Georgetown Landing Marina, the Hampton Inn and Land's Inn restaurant (see photo.) Marina manager John Horton made remarks at the awards party on Saturday night to spread the word that he wants to grow the number of entries next year! What they can't count on again is the unexpected cool weather that graced the 2013 Gov. Cup, causing anglers to wear jackets on Day Three of fishing. And no one expects for two blue marlin to come to the docks on the same day again either. Day Three saw six boats go fishing in rough seas, but in the end it was the two-day points total amassed by Sportin' Life holding on to claim the 2013 title of Best Boat. Finishing in second place was Rascal, and Frayed Knot was third. Day three did see a change at the top of the tuna standings with Eddie Buck Jr. from Rookie IV bringing a 22.8-pound blackfin to the scales; and he released a white marlin on day three too! The best wahoo was 60.4-pounds from Day One, and the best dolphin was 48.6-pounds caught on Day Two. More tourney details and fish fight interviews from the Sportin' Life will be published here on WednesdayMay 29. The top youth angler was Andrew Jennings from Micabe for his Day One mahi that went 21.4-pounds. The top female angler was Kathy Baxley with her Day Three mahi that went 19.0-pounds.

To view past blog entries from the 2013 Georgetown Gov. Cup click here.

To view reports from past years at the Georgetown Governor's Cup click 2012201120102009.

A big Georgetown WELCOME

Stephen Godfrey with a 36.8-Hoo
from the Christy II

Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 G'town Gov. Cup - Day Two yields TWO blue marlin weighed

Angler Dixon Pearce and owner Graham
Eubank look over their leading blue marlin
Angler David Croom from Arica
Buck Bessinger and leading mahi
The 25th anniversary of the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series is just itchin' to get started! The first event at the Georgetown Landing Marina witnessed two blue marlin weighed in on the second day of competition. Arica brought a very respectable blue marlin to the SCDNR scales that measured 105-inches (the minimum requirement by S.C. Gov. Cup standards) and weighed a healthy 415-pounds. The next boat to weigh-in their blue marlin was Sportin' Life. With a blue marlin that measured 111 1/4-inches, they tilted the scales to 534.2-pounds. That's good enough to take the G'town tourney lead with one day left to fish (includes their release points too), and they lead the Gov. Cup tourney for now with four events left to go. Owner Graham Eubank is no stranger to the Gov. Cup, having already served a term as the Chairman of the Gov. Cup Advisory Board. Captain Mike Glaesner is the long-time pilot of the Sportin' Life and angler Dixon Pearce is veteran bluewater angler. Congrats to all three! A new dolphin leader came to the scales on Day Two when Buck Bessinger showed up with a 48.6-poound mahi. A good wahoo weighing 53.6-pounds came from Fred Hardwick on the Showtime.

To view past blog entries from the 2013 Georgetown Governor's Cup click here.

2013 G'town Gov. Cup - Day One results

Rick Donovan with his 41.0-pound mahi from Arica
Thomas Pierce with tuna from Christy II
The fleet of 33 sportfishing boats left the Georgetown Landing Marina early on May 23 in search of a fast start in the 25th Anniversary S.C. Governor's Cup Billfish Series. Oceanic conditions were stormy with rough seas on the three-hour ride to the fishing grounds, but by Lines In at 8 a.m. the ocean had calmed and offered very pleasant conditions that were conducive to fishing. I was fortunate to be at sea on the 50-foot Rybovich called Can't Complain with a seasoned crew. Lots of billfish were hooked up this day, but the story seemed to be the number of 'misses' on Day One, with a two boats going 0 for 3 on blue marlin, and several boats going 0 for 1 on blues. The Rookie IV did release one blue marlin, but they experienced a double-header bite and dueled with them both for one hour, before the larger blue marlin jumped off. The tournament radio chatter was constant with all of the hook-ups and just over 20 releases, in what equals a great S.C. billfish bite! In the end it was Frayed Knot that did the best recording two blue marlin releases and one white marlin release for a total of 1500-points and first place. Full Pull is in second place with two blue marlin released and 1200-points, followed by Blue Sky with one blue marlin and one sailfish is in third with 800-points. Back at the docks the heaviest dolphin was 42.6-pounds caught by Rob Shore on Chasin', with the best wahoo weighing 60.4-pounds reeled in by Jamie Beard on the Big Sky. The tuna bite was off, with only one brought to the scales, giving the lead to Thomas Pierce on the Christy II with his 17.8-pound blackfin tuna. Most of the fleet elected to fish Friday, going back-to-back, due to the threat of windy conditions on Saturday.

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

Ashley Dent represents for Frayed Knot

46th Annual G'town Blue Marlin Tourney!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Edisto Shootout for Lowcountry Redfish Cup

Ron and Caleb Davis of Edisto Island took second place

Team Slots 'N' Reds with their winning fish - Congrats!
Redfish are the most popular inshore saltwater species for anglers, and a new fishing tournament called the Edisto Shootout attracted 22 teams on May 18. Launching at the Dawhoo Bridge Landing that morning, the anglers fished in and around Edisto Island for redfish, before crossing the North Edisto for a weigh-in at Bohicket Marina. A pair of upstate anglers brought the heaviest redfish to the scales and won a Power-Pole anchor system for their boat, while a pair of Edisto anglers claimed second place. The rules of the Edisto Shootout specify that two-man teams will compete, using only artificial lures to target redfish. No live bait or cut bait is allowed, which keeps the competition even. Only two redfish can be weighed in by any one team, and the fish must be kept alive in the baitwell in order to be released after the weigh-in. Fish are measured first to verify that they fit into the legal to keep slot limit, and then they are weighed in. The nickname for the winning team is Slots and Shoulders, as in slot-size redfish and fish with ‘shoulders’ enough to fight hard. Craig Bradford of Edgefield and Todd Fusco of Simpsonville brought two redfish to the scales at Bohicket Marina that measured 22 and 7/8-inches each. Keeping in mind that the slot limit is 15 to 23-inches for redfish, they were successful in catching two reds that were barely legal. The upside to larger-size redfish is that the combined weight of their fish was 8.07-pounds, good for first place.
Edisto Shootout weigh station with Brian Rose

To view the remainder of my feature story click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries for the Lowcountry Redfish Cup click here.

2012 LRC overall champs Team Flats Broke at Bohicket Marina

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 is S.C. Governor's Cup 25th Anniversary

2013 Blackfin tuna; Release Marine is a Gov. Cup sponsor

May edition cover hails Gov. Cup
The South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series is an official program of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The brainchild of former South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell, the annual summer series consists of five privately run billfish tournaments. In 2012 the Series set a new record with 300 billfish releases, and a fleet of sportfishers are ready to fish the 25th season hoping to swamp that benchmark. Governor Campbell was extremely passionate about offshore fishing, and his family kept a second home on the S.C. coast at Murrell’s Inlet. The nearby port of Georgetown served as home base for their 35-foot Bertram, the Second Lady. “Our mother, Iris Campbell was the first lady of S.C.,” said Carroll Campbell III. “The very first Governor’s Cup tourney was fished out of Georgetown, but they already had a long established blue marlin tournament. But size limits on blue marlin were practically unheard of and people were killing billfish, even if it was only good for second or third place. My father’s idea was to try and replenish the billfish stocks with the new format of awarding points for each billfish release. If you consider the total number of billfish releases now off of S.C. each year, the success percentage is way up.” Wallace Jenkins is the senior biologist and Program Coordinator for the S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. Amy Dukes is the Tournament Director for the billfish series. “This summer we will be celebrating, because 25 years ago Governor Campbell’s vision for billfish conservation became a reality,” said Dukes. “Offshore anglers, marine biologists and the citizens of South Carolina are all grateful for his efforts.” The 2013 schedule begins with the 46th Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament from May 22 – 25. The Bohicket Marina Invitational on John’s Island runs from June 5 – 8. The Carolina Billfish Classic fishes June 19 – 22, and the Megadock Billfishing Tournament runs July 10 – 13. Finally, the Edisto Island Marina Billfish Tournament from July 24 – 27 will complete the competition.

To view my feature article in the May edition of All At Sea click here.

To view past stories in All At Sea click here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Over Under gear - Sporting leather goods

T-shirts and leather belt by Over Under
Front Pocket wallet is good to go for the dog show!
When I found out about Over Under clothing based in Jacksonville I wanted to find out more about their gear. With a working dog for a logo and a name that accentuates the shooting sports, these folks were on the right track. Most hunters love their dogs and their guns with equal fervor, but the gear that takes them from the field and then back into town are not far behind in esteem. The Over Under leather goods are quite distinguished including the front pocket gentleman's wallet with shotgun shell insignia. Perfect for holding ID, credit card, biz card on the outside, it also has a money bar to corral your cash on the inside. Heading into a more modern world, plan on carrying less in your wallet, and get used to this comfortable front pocket derivation from the norm. The Cannon's Point multi-shotgun shell belt is made of bridal leather and has several shotgun insignia along its length. Like all Over Under products these belts are made in the USA. For the dog try the Huntington Leash, a 5-foot lead with a leather handle that is imprinted with the Over Under motto of 'Preserving the Sporting Lifestyle' - also equipped with a D-ring to attach to one's belt when the dog is off leash. Of course Over Under clothing carries a wide variety of t-shirts and hats that depict labs, guns, birds and everything that is right about the outdoors. Check out Over Under on FaceBook, Instagram and other social media outlets to see what a robust following this crew of young enthusiasts is educating by providing consistent and positive posts. Here's a tip - if you are a UGA grad, then you might already know the Over Under gang! And it's no wonder they chose dawgs as their company mascot!!

To view past blog entry about sporting leather goods click here.

With my Over and Under shotgun at the 2013 U.S. Open

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cordray's Taxidermy - 2013 update

Kenneth Cordray delivers: from deer hoofs to ducks
Drake redhead duck
The middle of May is a good time to stop by Cordray's taxidermy in Hollywood for a visit with Kenneth Cordray. Lots of deer hunters are dropping  by to pick up their deer mounts, and I even spotted a few latecomers bringing by racks for European mount servicing too! A bird or two from wild turkey season are on display, as well as a duck or two from waterfowl season. A big boar mount on the wall came from very near to the Cordray farm property and there may never be a better time than now to target a big boar in the Lowcountry Outdoors, hoping to find a 'tusker' which can make a good candidate for Cordray's Taxidermy. Why is now a good time, because wild pigs are increasing their range and older, bigger boars may be the ones to explore new territory, thus giving an opportunistic hunter a good chance at success. Cordray's taxidermy can also mount alligators, fish and small game, are they are up for a good challenge like the time that I sent over some special deer hoofs. The deer hoof gun rack should provide a grand story to share with others when sharing fellowship at the farm in the future. Also, when I harvested a mature redhead duck in the Gulf of Mexico, I chose to bring the redhead back home to Cordray's for a mount. The story goes that I shot a beauty of a redhead out of Willtown Bluff as a younger waterfowler, but chose not to mount it since I incorrectly assumed I would be seeing plenty more redheads in my duck hunting plans, but they proved scarce until a Christmas Eve hunt. Now the redhead drake joins a menagerie of ducks on the wall, since I won't be making the same mistake twice when it comes to celebrating a unique duck.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Lee Taylor picks up two deer mounts for family

To past blog entries about Cordray's taxidermy click here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Atlantic Cup: Bodacious Dream first to NYC video

First to NYC in 2013
With an elapsed time of just over four days, it was Bodacious Dream completing the trek from Charleston to New York City the fastest. All eight sailboats in the Atlantic Cup field finished in succession within four hours of the leader. TO view a great video of Bodacious Dream entering New york habbor at sunset click here. Icarus racing finished in 4th place and for a complete list of the first leg finish click here. Of course, the second leg of the Atlantic Cup begins on May 18 and sends the fleet towards the next destination in Rhode Island.

To view past blog entries about the 2013 Atlantic Cup click here.

2013 Race Schedule

Sleeping berth and ropes inside Icarus

2013 Atlantic Cup fleet in NYC

Friday, May 17, 2013

2013 U.S. Open of Sporting Clays

First time in South Carolina - welcome U.S. Open!
No. 3 High-bird sporting clays station
Georgetown County is known for being home to outdoor pursuits like saltwater fishing and hunting, but the U.S. Open of Sporting Clays takes the spotlight from May 13 - 19. This event comes to South Carolina for the first time ever, and Back Woods quail club near Andrews is the setting for this week long blast of the shooting sports. Owner Rick Hemingway is making others proud by creating a facility that can handle bringing such a prestigious event to the area. With shotgun enthusiasts from across the U.S. and foreign countries in town, it is said that all of the hotel rooms in the area are booked up, and the local economy is booming. The culmination of scoring to decide the 2013 winners will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - so there is still plenty of time to go and experience the U.S. Open. To keep auto traffic down, guests are having to park by the main highway at the Back Woods gate and then are offered a golf cart shuttle to any shooting area. In fact, golf carts are available for rent too, and it's a veritable swarm of UTV's and golf carts at the U.S. Open, with many of them tricked out for sporting clays action complete with team names and gear stickers. Check out the vendor village for high-end shotgun displays by title sponsor Blaser and many, many more. Other vendors include shotguns chokes, electronic shooting protection, ammunition makers and even Sporting Clays magazine. Friday night's Welcome Party from 5:30 to 7:30 is for both shooters and guests, with another social to follow on Saturday night, followed by the final day of competitive shooting on Sunday. I look forward to seeing other high quality sporting clays events visiting this area of the Lowcountry in the future.

Promatic trap machine elevated for effect

Trophies ready for the Sunday awards ceremony

To view past sporting clays events at Backwoods click here.