Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Governor's Cup - 25th Anniversary Photo Essay

Mullins McLeod, McKenzie Hutaff and John Crislip and Lynn Zachrich (from left to right)
Pookie, Kirkley and Rivers all made the cut with big fish stories
The 25th Anniversary season of the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series season is now complete. The magazine for boating and saltwater interests all along the Southeast is All At Sea, and they have distinguished the 2013 Gov. Cup with a three-page photo essay featuring my images from the tournament trail.

To view the photo essay on the Internet click All At Sea.

To view past blog entries from the 2013 Governor's Cup click awards or results or blue marlin.

November issue - Cover

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2013 Friends of Nemours / Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Mike McShane, Dr. John Fitzpatrick and Ernie Wiggers
A Eurasian Eagle Owl swoops in and joins the luncheon!!

The Nemours Wildlife Foundation oversees nearly 10,000-acres of land in the ACE Basin alongside the Combahee River. The cost of research is ever increasing and the Friends of Nemours is a philanthropic group of citizens who support their efforts. Nemours brings in a speaker each year for the Friends luncheon and on October 19 the Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology came to speak about his birding work. Wildlife conservation through education and research is the mission statement for the Nemours Wildlife Foundation. A large part of their focus is on birds or avian species including migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and neo-tropical songbirds. There is even talk of bringing two endangered species, whooping cranes and red-cockaded woodpeckers, to the ACE Basin. Dr. John Fitzpatrick has traveled the world for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in search of good habitat for birds. “The Nature Conservancy recognized the Top 50 great places in the world,” said Dr. Fitzpatrick. “Of those 50, only 12 are in the Unites States and one of them is the ACE Basin! I want to thank the Nemours Board of Directors for preserving the legacy of Eugene duPont III by protecting the wildlife habitat here.” Ongoing research projects at Nemours include the study of black rails and mottled ducks. “Birds are superb models for how nature works and they are also sensitive environmental indicators,” said Dr. Fitzpatrick. “Furthermore, birds are the heartbeat of global annual cycles like the migration that occurs twice-a-year. Modern science at the Cornell Lab allows us to better map the travel of these birds and identifies the areas they are using at each endpoint of migration. Knowing where the birds are could be the reason that unifies groups for landscape-scale preservation efforts, similar to what has occurred here in the ACE Basin. The Cornell Lab is trying to conduct an orchestra of efforts to study birds on behalf of the earth’s biological diversity,” said Dr. Fitzpatrick. “Our citizen science programs are simply an attempt to organize the curiosity generated by bird sightings. One example in the Lowcountry is the Swallow-tailed kite citizen science program in partnership with the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw. Average citizens can simply report their sightings of this striking raptor via computer, and then we can map out where they are presently occurring.” The Friends of Nemours then viewed a flight demonstration with Jim Elliott of the Center for Birds of Prey feauturing a Harris Hawk and an impressive Eurasian Eagle Owl. It’s great that all these wildlife-oriented groups could gather at the Friends luncheon and give a HOOT about our wonderful feathered friends, and to celebrate the joy of birding.
Jim Elliot recovers a Harris Hawk during the flight demo

To view my feature article in the newspaper click Colletonian.

Terry Williams and Kay Merrill enjoy refreshments

To view past blog entries from the Friends of Nemours click 2017 - 20142012

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 10/29/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Sight-fishng via flyrod for trout and bass is great when the temps cool and the water clears up
Charleston Inshore: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West says that judging by the recent reports there must have been a jailbreak because the convict fish (aka sheepshead) have been absolutely on fire. Reports of fish in the 2 to 8-pound range have been rampant with catch numbers from 5 to 25-sheepies per trip. Live fiddlers and live shrimp are two of the best baits you can use and target the sheepshead around jetties, bridge pilings and any heavy structure in 6 to 20-feet of water. The fall trout bite has hit high gear, with great reports on live minnows, live shrimp, Zman DieZel minnows and Slayer soft baits fished around shell banks. Don't overlook the ever popular Trout Trick lure as well for good numbers of specks. The redfish have shown signs of schooling in larger numbers on the shallow low tide flats, where a chunk of cut mullet or a Gulp! shrimp are always hard to beat when casting to these schooling fish. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Beaufort Inshore: Craig Lupton at Buck, Bass and Beyond begins by sharing that the trout fishing remains good. Lots of numbers of trout are being reported plus some nice-sized ones are mixed in. The trout are eating the new VUDU shrimp under a popping cork and free lining a DOA shrimp in Avocado color is also working. Of course, live bait rigged under a popping cork should draw a strike when fishing near oysters. The redfish have begun schooling and anglers targeting them on the flats are using Zman paddlerz with a ProCure scent on it. The BIG red drum are still out there at the nearshore reefs and wrecks, and they are chewing on cut mullet, or Craig's pro tip is the SPRO bucktail jig tipped with a chartreuse Gulp swimming minnow. Weakfish, bluefish and black sea bass are also available at the wrecks right now. Flounder gigging is going great with the water clearing up nicely. The flounder are also eating well, with the Gulp chartreuse jerk bait, or the pearl swimming mullet the baits of choice.  The 170 bridge is producing good numbers of sheepshead and black drum, and the Paradis Pier at Hunting Island has been overrun with red drum. For more store info, and for their guided hunting offers, visit the Internet at Buck, Bass and Beyond.

Offshore: Craig has heard that lots of vermillion snapper, trigger fish and black sea bas are eating squid in 120-feet of water. The cobia are still out there and one customer saw four swimming together and ended up landing two of them using a big live greenback herring!! The herring was for the bottom fish, but when they were finicky, this resourceful angler put them to good use on the passing cobia.

Scott shares that the fall sailfish bite continues to just be so-so in nature, but there are acres of blackfin tuna holding along the ledge to provide some fast-paced action. Wanna try something different for the blackfins? Try throwing a large 'chugger' style topwater lure on a spinning reel into the school of tuna for some heart-stopping hits on the water's surface. If the tuna are down deep, just break out your jigging rod because nothing says 'Here fishy fishy' like a butterfly jig in their face! Some quality wahoo are still coming to the store scale in the 40 to 75-pound range, with most being found in 140 to 250-feet of water. Bottom fishing in 80 to 125-feet of water is producing vermillion snapper, triggerfish, large black sea bass and some decent grouper. Cut squid and cigar minnows are always a must have for some bottom fishing, but don't forget your sabiki rigs so you can jig up some live baits that are perfect to fool any finicky grouper holding down below.

To view past Lowcountry saltwater fishing reports click here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 SCDNR deer draw hunt yields 8-point buck

Upstate hunter and Lowcountry buck
Coyotes and white-tailed deer management story
A record of past hunts prepared by SCDNR
The SCDNR deer draw hunt for multi-sites includes Donnelly WMA and Botany Bay WMA in Colleton County, as well as two properties in Hampton County. The Palachucola WMA and the Hamilton Ridge WMA adjoin the Webb Center and the total acreage under wildlife management between these three properties is 25,000-acres. Fortunate to be drawn for the 2013 Palachucola deer hunt I was informed at the safety meeting of the 4-points on one side or a 12-inch spread buck limit, with coyotes and hogs both on the menu. There is a three deer limit on this hunt, either one buck and two does, or three does. Things got off to a quick start when I terminated a coyote moving down a game trail at 4:30 p.m., but I didn't see anything else after doing the right thing and mowing down that 'yote. The next morning the temperature dipped into the 30's and the deer were moving. Unfortunately I had to pass up three bucks that did not qualify for the draw hunt buck standards. That evening the north wind was up but all of a sudden at 6:30, with plenty of shooting light left, the wind completely stopped. Just then a 6-point buck came out and began rubbing his antlers against a palmetto frond. Then a bigger 8-point buck joined him in the rubbing ritual and before you know it the two bucks were rubbing antlers and conducting a back and forth pushing session. Having seen enough, I aimed my trusty .270 at the 8-point and let fly a 150-grain BTSP bullet. The 8-point buck did a mule kick and followed the 6-point back down the trail from whence they came. Despite finding blood, a chunk of meat with bone fragments, and some white hair - fate was not kind and I was not able to locate the buck before nightfall. Returning the next day at dawn with a DNR staff member we searched those woods for three hours and found no sign of a downed buck, and I can only assume that I did not hit any vitals on the animal. I know I am not the only hunter in 2013 to feel the sting of remorse after losing a buck, but I think the shot was a good one, and would likely take it again in if given the same circumstance. Of course, I was glad to see that other hunters had come out of the woods with their deer, like the upstate hunter that harvested a nice 8-point while hunting in the hardwoods along the Savannah River. Thanks to the SCDNR staff members Jay Cantrell, Ted Rainwater , April Graves Atkinson and David Tant for their good work.

Draw hunters check in for Palchucola hunt
To view past blog entries from Palachucola WMA click hunting or shooting range.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 Polo for the Point

Squadron of polo players - mainly named Limehouse!
Barry Limehouse tries to play this 'pop-up' with his mad skills
The 5th annual Polo for the Point was played under glorious sunny skies and mild temperatures. The epicenter for this polo demo is Limehouse Field located just North of Walterboro. Owner Buck Limehouse is the emcee for the event and is glad to open the door to his stables for a good cause - which is in this case to benefit The Colleton Center. Once a school, The Colleton Center holds a large performing auditorium and lots of classroom space and history. The Colleton Center is under the direction of Jean Harrigal, but it also is home to the Colleton Arts Council, and funds raised at Polo for the Point supports the cultural benefits that the arts bring to Walterboro. Beginning at noon, the event started with an acapella version of the National Anthem sung by Eliza Limehouse. A brief fox hunting demo, the Lowcountry Hunt showed off their Masters of Hounds, Whippers-In and about one-quarter of their pack of fox hounds. Tally HO!! Next up on the schedule was the youth chukka (or period of play) which notably included a couple of female riders, the next generation of Limehouse polo players. Finally the pro teams took the field and provided a whirling dervish of action over several more chukkas. The polo ponies raced up and down the grass arena which is the size of nine football fields! Meanwhile, on the sidelines a major tailgate party is always underway with a who's who of Colletonians on hand to sample the food and fellowship underneath an array of tents that are home to local businesses and sponsors. A best display award, best ladies hat award, kids face painting display plus silent auction packages to Broxton Bridge all help to add appeal of this once-a-year benefit polo match.

Some writings just cannot be improved upon!!

Brien Limehouse leads a charge towards the sideline
To view past blog entries for Polo for the Point click 2012, 2011 or 2009.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monster Gator Hauled out of Edisto River

Rob Flick wrestles open the jaws with Bobby Westbury
'Das one TALL alligator

On the next to last day of the S.C. alligator season, Rob Flick and Bobby Westbury hauled in a monster alligator just south of Westbank Landing. After an eight-hour hunting trip they returned to the ramp with a trophy gator that weighed 558-pounds! The monster gator measured 12-feet 9-inches in length, which nearly filled up their 22-foot Pathfinder boat, and it will yield nearly 200-pounds of gator meat. This is Westbury’s first gator season but his prior two trips out with Flick yielded no gators. Flick had been drawn by the SCDNR for a gator tag and was keen to use it before the season went out on October 12. They put in at dawn and rode south down the Edisto River from Westbank Landing into the creeks between Hope Plantation and Pon Pon Plantation. With gator season nearly over, perhaps the hunting pressure had subsided because this gator-hunting tandem was surprised to see the BIG gator loitering in a small creek channel and not trying to be elusive. When they approached the gator submerged itself but they were ready with heavy spinning tackle rods rigged with treble hooks. “I had a Penn Slammer heavy-action rod and a Penn 704Z reel rigged with 100-pound braid,” said Flick. They first hooked into the mature reptile at 10:30 a.m., causing the big gator to stay deep and to begin swimming off. “We didn’t see the gator again for 2.5-hours,” said Flick. “We broke out a second fishing pole outfit and snagged the gator, so that when one line would part, we still had contact with our prey. The gator tired around 1 p.m. after dragging us against the current about 500-yards.” When the gator rose to the surface and they saw his 6-foot long tail making powerful strokes back and forth in the water they looked at each other as if to say what do we do now? Neither of them had tangled with an alligator this size before! 
'Das a LONG alligator from the ACE Basin

To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click Colletonian.

(Photos provided by Cordray's)

To view past blog entries about gators click here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 Colleton Historical Society Plantation Tour

Grand live oak and a view towards the Ashepoo River
Avenue of Oaks leading to Combahee River
The 2013 Plantation Tour presented by the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society (CCHAPS) featured three properties that can trace their history to land grants in the 1700’s. Ticket holders were invited to take a unique drive down Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday in order to visit the White House. White House Plantation that is, where a barbecue lunch was served at their Quail Barn. The hunting wagon was rolled out for display so that tables and chairs could be set up inside the barn. The cooking team responsible for the tender pork and crispy rinds included White House manager Billy Youmans, Tadpole Baldwin, Robbie Hooker and Chris Rowe. The grounds tour continued using a walking trail that featured gardens, a dining hall, bunk house, peacock aviary, slave cemetery, ancient live oaks and a pond overlooking the Ashepoo River. This land between the Combahee and the Ashepoo was originally a land grant to the Bellinger family in 1702. The current owners are committed to preservation and conservation in this part of the ACE Basin and enjoy the sporting pursuits that the Lowcountry has to offer. At Fountainbleu Plantation the land was granted to the Fenwick family sometime prior to 1775, and it features a large hill with homesite and historic rice fields within viewing distance. Grand live oaks embellish the grounds and an ongoing cattle operation with pastures surrounds the homesite, which includes a family graveyard. Combahee Plantation off of White Hall Road and adjacent to Cuckolds Creek was originally a land grant property to the Heyward family, and it was a large rice producer. Today some of those same nearby rice fields are a part of the Combahee Unit in the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge and are teeming with bird life. This same area provides a panoramic vista of the ACE Basin from the main house. This property was recently purchased by a family intent on fostering the preservation of these grounds due to their historical significance.
Cuckold's Creek Vista from historic grounds

To view my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the Colleton Plantation Tour click 2012, 2011 or click on YRC Tour.

MOSS, MOSS, MOSS - grand oaks filthy with MOSS!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Red*Trout Celebrity Classic - Results

Grand Champion Guide and Team Grand Champ Anglers
Close-Up of 2013 awards
The 12th edition of the Lowcountry Red*Trout Celebrity Classic was fished under mostly overcast skies but the threat of rain didn't materialize, and the temperatures were balmy. The bite on Saturday was excellent, but things slowed down a bit on Sunday with a full moon in the works. Fishing to Catch A Cure for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, plenty of fish were caught and released for a good cause. Winning for top celebrity angler was Blair Wiggins who was guided by Capt. John Crislip. Runner-up celebrity angler was Mark Nichols fishing with Capt. Champ Smith. Team Grand Champion anglers were Ron and Steve Silverman and Grand Champion guide was Capt. Ben Alderman. The top lady angler was Kristin Laserta with guide Capt. Fred Rourk. Single Grand Champ angler went to Elliott Sykes from Banks Construction, the largest redfish award went to a 42.5-incher and the largest trout was a 22-inch speck. Grand Champs in the fly division were the father and son team of Mike Able Sr. and Mike Able Jr. - Congrats to all the participants! Organizer Alicia Parson with CFF and Channel 4's Dave Williams presided over the awards ceremony. To view photos from the Kickoff Party click 2013.
Ron and Steve Silverman have success

To view past blog entries for the Red*Trout click 201220112010, or 2009.
Top Lady Angler Kristin Laserta and Capt. Fred Rourk

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Red*Trout Celebrity Classic Kicks Off

The MOGAN man Blair Wiggins anchors this group at the Kick Off
2013 Red*Trout logo
The annual Red*Trout Celebrity Classic fishing tourney to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) kicks off at the Charleston Harbor Resort Pavilion with a catered supper and a fundraising affair. Celebrity anglers Blair Wiggins of Addictive Fishing TV and Mark Nichols of DOA Lures arrive each fall from Florida to donate their time and efforts to help drive this event towards continued success. Right off the bat a new tradition was instilled during the opening ceremony when the Memorial Rob Shore redfish trophy was awarded to local Capt. Champ Smith for his long-time support of this event - congrats! The two-man teams got together with their appointed fishing guides and mapped out their plan to fish with either spinning tackle or fly tackle during the two-day tourney. Then a large silent auction and live auction raised funds for CFF with fish prints, jewelry, flats blue rods and sporting trips to Savannah and Colorado. Lowcountry outdoors was glad to partner with Guy Harvey Inc to donate a limited edition print to the auction, and the 2013 Red*Trout marks five years of blog coverage for this worthy cause.

Champ Smith accepts the Rob Shore trophy from Bob Royal

Redbone Journal and Guy Harvey 'Amigos' print

To view past blog entries for the Red*Trout click 2012, 2011, 2010, or 2009.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013 Mark Nichols / DOA Lures seminar - Charleston

Mark Nichols is the center of attention after the seminar

Captain Mark Nichols is the founder of DOA Lures and was in Charleston to support a fundraising effort for a national philanthropic organization. Nichols is always glad to share his fishing knowledge with others and Haddrell's Point tackle shop served as his classroom on October 17. Nichols began by saying that he was in town to look for fiah, and that all anglers should remember to LOOK FOR FISH. When he returns to his home waters in Martin County he will have to relocate the fish that he 'knows' to be there. Fishing in the turbid and cloudy water of S.C. Nichols reminds anglers that he designed the DOA shrimp for presentation, but bouncing it off the bottom to kick up a puff of mud is perfectly fine if that's what the redfish are used to seeing. Yep, lots of pluff mud in the Lowcountry! He likes chartreuse color and says that it is 90% yellow and 10% green which helps it to pick up any available light. His latest rigging tip is to use a screw-lock hook on his shrimp that is already rigged with a rattle implant, helping anglers to fish in heavy cover like oyster bars, and don't forget the 30-pound Seaguar leader. To target trout, remember that they are suspended in the water column and will be looking up (versus redfish on the bottom and are generally downward looking) so attach the chughead accessory to any of his DOA lures to help it rise to the surface when reeling in, before letting it flutter down to the strike zone. At the end of the seminar Mark spilled the beans about his favorite colors and says that he will fish Arkansas Glow from Texas to the Carolinas, after that its more site specific but he loves golden brim, red over gold, gold and glitter, fiji chix and key lime pie.
Nichols sure can practice what he preaches

 Meeting up for a cold BEvERage afterwards
To view past blog entries about DOA lures click Mark NicholsAble Minded Charters.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gator Season closes; Bear Season up next

Gators are resting easier now that the S.C. is over
With over 1200 alligator tags issued by SCDNR in 2013, the alligators of the Palmetto State can rest easier now that the season closed on October 12. Next up for big game hunters with an eye to the extreme is the coastal black bear season from October 24 though November 5. The South Carolina coastal Lowcountry continues to amaze everyone with its wide array of wildlife pursuits. Hunters and anglers must be coming to realize that an outdoors lifestyle comes with many intangible rewards. One does not have to be a ‘consumer’ (hunter or angler) to appreciate the marshy vistas that thrive with bird life; plants and invertebrates that make the entire ecosystem hum with success. Just a few years ago, the state did not even offer an alligator hunting season or a coastal bear hunting season, but presently they both seem to be a sustainable offering for the foreseeable future. The SCDNR permit process is a good way to keep conservation in the equation about how much we extract from the environment. SCDNR will increase the number of bear permits in 2013 in hopes of increasing hunter success. The black bear population is increasing in S.C. and eventually a bear hunting season may come to other counties besides the three counties that have seen a strong bear migration southward from North Carolina towards the Santee Delta.

 To view my feature store click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries click bears, gators.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coyotes and S.C. white-tailed deer management

Coyote predation of deer fawns is very real;
fawn hoofs from October 2013

The overall population of whitetails has declined in recent years in the Palmetto State. The reasons for this slide include the introduction of new predators and a change in rural land management. What exists now is the chance for both the hunters and the non-hunting public to embrace a new normal. Hunters are recording more trophy buck harvests due to quality management, and fewer deer means less of a nuisance to the public. The QDMA National Convention held in July came to Athens, Georgia and the organization that was founded in the Lowcountry by Joe Hamilton is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Dr. Karl Miller is a long time deer scientist as a professor of wildlife biology at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry. Heading into deer season, hunters may ask themselves what do deer think about? Dr. Miller states that they think about what they can eat, and how not to get eaten.
“The question we hear the most is what should I do about the coyotes,” said Miller. “What we see in Georgia might not apply exactly in S.C. but for starters landowners need to monitor what’s happening on their property or deer lease. If you see coyote paw prints and droppings that does not mean you have a problem. When they begin to hurt fawn recruitment, THEN you have a problem.”
 “A trail camera survey is something that I can highly recommend as a way to monitor things,” said Miller. “Annual whitetail population recruitment should be at about one fawn per doe that lives to be six months old. If that number drops to one-half fawn per doe than that’s bad. This latter result sets up a simple choice for the future, either remove the coyotes or plan on removing fewer does.”
“Georgia has already reduced the number of either sex days in an attempt to reduce the doe harvest,” said Miller. “Opportunistic culling of coyotes by hunters can never hurt, but overall I don’t think this will add up to make a difference. There is a right time and a right way to remove coyotes, and I’d like to add that people need to be aware that misguided removal attempts serve to educate the coyotes, making them terribly tough to remove afterwards.”
“Some coyotes are more territorial while some groups are more transitory,” said Miller. “All of them have different home ranges, but the territorial coyotes are the ones to target. Staking steel traps in the ground to remove coyotes is best done in late spring and early summer, which is during the time of fawn production. Trapping on a small property is admirable, but it takes this type of effort on 1000-acres or more for best results.”

To read my feature article on coyotes and deer management click on Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about white-tailed deer management click here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Estimating buck age during the rut and beyond

A mature buck is more likely to break cover in daylight, 
during the rut

When judging the age of a buck should one judge the antlers or the body type? Deer hunters looking to add their name to the big buck harvest roster will be paying attention to both, plus the buck’s behavior. In general, a whitetail buck will look in prime physical condition at the start of the rut, but after a few peaks and valleys of non-stop activity they will begin to change appearance. The physical exertion bucks go through can cause them to slim down and drop plenty of pounds from their frame. A buck’s neck tends to swell during the rut, and serves them well during the all out antler clashes for dominance. Bucks that are 1.5 to 2.5-years of age will not have much neck swelling at all, hence the nickname ‘pencil neck.’ Bucks older than this age class can have very rounded necks that will draw attention away from the rack of antlers. A small rack and a thick neck during the rut can send conflicting signals to a hunter, and restraint must be practiced at such times in pursuit of a wall hanger buck. Besides buck body characteristics, hunters should consider buck behavior. Years ago during a hunt at Chessie Creek Plantation in Mashawville, I was watching a doe being chased by a young buck. Either deer would have been an easy harvest, but I waited on something better. Suddenly an 8-pount buck jumped out of the swamp and began a very ‘bucky’ type of walk, running off the other buck. Before the rest of the drama could play out, my .270-rifle made an accurate shot. These are precious rare moments when a hunter interacts with a mature whitetail buck, and they usually result in a tale of stupendous success or perhaps a tale of great woe. 

To view the entire feature article click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about big bucks click here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 10/15/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Pete Ferrara and his 23.5-pound Gag Grouper from the Island Sportsman Club Tourney
Charleston Inshore: Captain Stephen Fields with The Charleston Angler says that great fishing has arrived, and that both redfish and trout are chomping at the bit for every meal opportunity before winter.   Use low tide to target schools of reds on mud flats, and don't overlook any trype of structure associated with them like oyster bars. Cast artificial lures, hard or soft, and Field's recommends the Zman Paddlerz in smoky mullet coloration when the water is clear. For dirty water, try Live Target's Swimming mullet, or Aqua Dream's Gold Spoon. High tide has been producing redfish as well for Fields when he targets them just outside of the grass chasing schools of baitfish trying to make a hasty retreat. Despite this being the month of Halloweeen - the redfish have NOT been SPOOKY, and Fields says not to be SCARED to get up close and personal with the redfish that you'd like to tame. The trout bite can't be En FUEGO just yet, but it is plenty good on the middle incoming tide and the high outgoing tide. Locate drop offs near points and creeks and give it a few casts - it won't take long to find out if any specks are around! Rig Zman Paddlerz on a one-quarter jighead and toss it upstream of your target area, then let it sink to the bottom where you jig it every so often. Or go with the good 'ole popping cork rigged with a live shrimp or mud minnow running about 2 to 3-feet deep. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West shares that the month of October is often referred to as Red October, and for good reason. The big bull redfish have been showing up in good numbers off the front beaches, chomping on half a blue crab and cut mullet. One frenetic report of big drum in the surf came from Wild Dunes on October 12. The trout bite has begun to heat up as water temps cool down into the low 70's. What's producing some solid catch numbers for anglers is trolling for trout using a 4-inch paddle tail grub along grassy edges - which is a throwback to the days when all we had was either an all-yellow grub or and all-white grub to troll with and we managed to catch plenty of trout! The DOA deadly combo, which is a DOA shrimp rigged under a popping cork, is perfect for those casting towards shell banks and creek mouths. Inshore reds have begun to transition a little bit into larger schools now, and they are ready to inhale artificials like the new Savage Shrimp or Zman Pogz. Flounder have still been hanging around rock piles and structure in 4 to 12-feet of water and while live mullet or minnows are hard to beat for an old flat fish don't overlook throwing a 5-inch jerkshad jigged on a quarter-ounce jighead. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore: Scott shares that when the weather has allowed, the offshore trolling reports have consisted of great numbers of blackfin tuna in 150 to 200-feet of water. Some mid-sized wahoo are hanging around the ledge in those same water depths. The sailfish bite has picked up a bit in the past week, with fishermen getting 2 to 8-shots a day in 250 to 450-feet of water targeting pods of bait. Bottom fishing reports continue to produce some really large triggerfish in 80 to 110-feet of water, with plenty of vermillion snapper and some nice grouper mixed in. The bottom fish are taking live baits or butterfly jigs.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Grosse Savanne EcoTour - By Land and Water

Air Traffic : Blue winged teal to the left,
Glossy Ibis to the right
Add Vermillion Flycatcher to my Birding Life List
The Sweet Lake Land and Oil Company in SW Louisiana has a dilemma on its hands. Their 50,000-acre land holding for oil and gas development is just teeming with wildlife thanks to their longstanding ag and cattle programs. They have already constructed a lodge for visiting anglers and hunters that has been in use for just over ten years. But new for the 2010's is the launch of their EcoTour program which has been in a working discussion since forever. As a master naturalist and a pro birder, I was keen to take the EcoTour that is conducted via truck and via boat. After having absorbed a one-half day EcoTour with guide Bobby Jorden, we only scratched the surface of what wildlife treasures have been preserved at Grosse Savanne (or Big Pasture) - and I am now left with a desire to return one day and delve deeply into these bayous and wetlands even more! A newly created 484-acre freshwater impoundment has just begun to blossom with tis unique ecosystem set to flourish under the watchful eye of the land manager Doug Miller. A few facility improvements should be offered to accommodate visiting bird watchers, but the blueprints can easily be drawn up and produced, while the tapestry of nature that is the main draw for the EcoTour has developed in this place over a long period in time.
Wonderful shorebirds take flight, cause reflection

Attractive logo for the new EcoTour Division

For past blog entries about saltwater fishing at Grosse Savanne click here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grosse Savanne offers Louisiana Redfishing

Happy angler and his guide for Grosse Savanne
Ron Presly and his flat fish
The Gulf Coast offers many miles of marsh to chase redfish, but I was glad to visit one such destination that offered a refined plan of attack. The end of Big Pasture Road brings anglers to the main lodge at Grosse Savanne, with nine rooms that can sleep two each. With a max capacity of 18 for overnight accommodations, their is always a hands on type service here, starting with lodge manager Karl Zimmerman and continuing to the cooking staff. Outdoors enthusiasts will appreciate the sporting feel of the lodge, and they will also be glad to survey the marshy vistas that can be seen from the screened in porch. When it came tome to fish in the morning, we only had to ride about one mile to the dock where anglers load into an 18-foot john boat with their guide. Screaming down the bayous (or channels) and heading for the fishing grounds is great fun, but then it gets serious, as guides slow it down and begin to look for bird sign and nervous water. A private marsh retained by the lodge ensures that there is plenty of space for guests to spread out in, and really there are redfish everywhere in the marsh associated with Big Lake. Outdoor writer Ron Presly and I caught redfish and flounder dugin this October trip and were told that the trout bite would pick up during the successive cold fronts of fall.   Many large redfish came across the transom that day, but none were kept. Keeping a few fish is ok but Grosse Savanne is an Orvis-endorsed lodge and they stress a catch and release format. Since these redfish choose to stay in the marsh, they had become very bronze and were especially good to photograph. Lots of wading birds were seen in the marsh, and plenty of blue crabs were viewed in the water. Upon returning to the lodge for lunch, plenty of crawfish were spotted in my perfectly prepared etoufee - that was not too spicy - but just spicy enough where the tea that chased it was sweeter than usual. Yep, multiple sensations of pleasurable experiences await anglers at the 'Big Pasture.'

To view my blog about Grosse Savanne on Bass Pro Shops One Source click here.

To view past blog entries about fishing in Louisiana click here.
What's better than two spots on a redfish???

Saturday, October 12, 2013

SW Louisiana hosts Southeast Outdoor Press

Lookin' for redfish? This is a good place!
Let the Good Times Roll in Lake Charles
Thanks to Lake Charles for hosting the 2013 SouthEastern outdoor Press Association conference. This was the 49th year of SEOPA and a special 50th anniversary celebration is all set to go at the 2014 meeting. In fact, it was over a decade ago when Lake Charles first hosted a SEOPA conference. Since I joined as a member in 2006, I missed that first conference, and had never been to SouthWest Louisiana before. My visits to Louisiana before included a Houma duck hunt and a Lafitte saltwater fishing trip. This year I took advantage of a pre-conference trip to a saltwater fishing lodge with an eco-tour to immerse myself in the immense marshes and never-ending bayous in the area. Another day saw me in the Calcasieu Parish with a saltwater guide looking for trout. By the time the conference started at the Isle of Capri casino I was tanned and ready for a break from the salt and the sun. The conference agenda included many talks about how the world of publishing continues to see wholesale changes including Print ON Demand books. The world of news has changed from a top-down system where only a few highly placed newspaper editors determined the days news, to a new system where the public now talks about what they see as pertinent, thus establishing what is the new current events system. The Lake Charles CVB and the Louisiana seafood folks did a great job of serving up great cajun food, and I especially liked all the different ways I was served crawfish and shrimp. There was zydeco music and many references to alligators too. Thanks to the mayor for coming to address our crowd of writers and to all for sharing lots of warm hospitality down there in the bayou! Here's the Jan / Feb 2014 SEOPA newsletter, featuring my photography on the cover and more.

To view past blog entries from SEOPA click 2012, 2009.

Thanks to Hobie kayaks for attending SEOPA

Social media brand for the conference