Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Orchard Inn - 2015 Summer Getaway

An Everyday Breakfast Display 
Sleeping gnome at The Orchard Inn
The heat of the summer of 2015 has been searing in the Lowcountry, and a recent trip to SW Florida showed me that it really wasn't much hotter in the Sunshine State. So when a window of opportunity opened in a busy summer schedule to getaway to the mountains for some seasonal relief, a tradition of visiting The Orchard Inn was renewed. A quick view of their FaceBook page showed that they had availability and a phone call to Innkeeper Marc Blazer was a matter of familiar routine since this was to be a return visit for a third time. As I wrote on my Google + online review, this Bed and Breakfast is earning repeat customers with their dedication to a comfortable setting and culinary craftsmanship, and others think so too.
Room No. 7 offers a mountain sunrise view

The lucky No. 7 room, located above the Inn and with a view of Warrior Mountain, served as my private retreat with a poster bed. Downstairs in the common room an afternoon snack was being served, consisting of fresh veggies, smoked salmon, prosciutto and cheese. The flower garden behind the Inn is in full bouquet during July and nature's visitors include butterflys and hummingbirds. The bird feeders serve to attract avian beauties like the bright yellow goldfinches, red-bellied woodpeckers, cardinals and tufted titmice too. The grape trellis is home to fresh tomatoes and more that are a part of the organic menu offered for breakfast, dinner and Sunday brunch at Newman's Restaurant.

Attention to Detail is a hallmark of their Grounds
Exploring the grounds of the Orchard Inn always reveals some new niche to enjoy, but summer in Saluda also means a chance to enjoy the Farmer's Market on Friday afternoons from 4:30 - 6. We were surprised to find a large crowd of shoppers picking up fresh beans, corn, squash and of course some wild mushrooms. Fresh grapes and blueberries make for immediate snacks, and all the merchandise is affordable and the overall feel at the market is very friendly. They appreciate their summer visitors in Saluda, which is part of the reason I dined on Sunburst Farms mountain trout for dinner at the Saluda Grade Cafe downtown. Almost all the buildings downtown are on the historic register and they offer a glimpse into the history of a railroad town that is still surviving today.

Flowers + Mountains = Smiles
Back at the Inn, it wasn't quite cool enough to sleep with the windows open, since a forecasted Northern breeze just could not defeat the hanging humidity in the area, but a small window unit sufficed to provide a comfortable air-conditioned room. It's quiet in the Inn otherwise, and a resting slumber is almost assured here. The following morning a full service breakfast sets the stage for a great day whether it be spent in the seclusion of the Inn or out exploring the many outdoor options found nearby in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

To view past blog entries from The Orchard Inn click on 2014 - 2013

To view past blog entries from Saluda click on Coon Dog Day or Pearson's Falls or Sky Top Orchard - Green River Games

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Edisto Billfish Tourney - Final Results

Youth angler Jackson Smith
 with a 20.4-pound wahoo caught on Day One

It might be the tail end of the summer season for planning a weekly rental, but the Marina at Edisto Beach is giving folks plenty of reasons to come visit their docks. The 2015 Edisto Billfish Tourney was held over the weekend, and windy conditions on Saturday may have helped to turn on what had been a slow billfish bite. Coming from behind to win, Sportin’ Life out of Charleston released a blue marlin and two sailfish to secure first place.
A total of 15 boats registered to fish the annual event with entrants coming from as far North as Georgetown and South from Hilton Head Island. Of course several local boats supported the cause, and there is a good chance that those same boats will be back for the wahoo tournament that marina manager Brian Bell is planning for the fall. The name of the boats that fished include Bad Becky, Crystal Blue, Daymaker, Dealer’s Choice, Dough Boy, Frayed Knot, Legal Holiday, Miss Fishin’, Miss Wy, My Three Sons, Rascal, Reel Hooker, Sportin’ Life, Sportsmann and Tina’s Trippin.

Day Three fishing on Saturday saw eight boats go offshore and Sportin’ Life had the hot hand and released the only blue marlin caught during the 2015 Edisto event. Since more release points are awarded for a blue marlin than a sailfish, they surged to the top of the leaderboard with one blue marlin and two sailfish released. Owners Manley and Graham Eubank of Charleston make regular appearances in the S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, and Captain Bobby Garmany also guided them to a second place finish at the MegaDock just two weeks earlier.

To view this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view the latest Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report click here.

To view past winner's of the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfish Series click 2015 - 2014 - 2013 -2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 7/28/2015

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
A Catch and Release Spotted Seatrout 
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond from Haddrell's Point West shares that August is almost upon us, meaning that the peak of Tarpon fishing is just around the corner. Reports of the Silver King off of Georgia are hot right now, and their migration upwards to the Lowcountry is well underway. Fishing slews between sandbars around front beach inlets is a good way to start, using a large live mullet or a big blue crab for bait. Good Luck fending off the sharks too! Moving inshore, there is still a regular heartbeat to the flounder bite, and they are creating a cardiac arrest for local anglers when they pounce on a live minnow and pin it to the bottom. Artificial enthusiasts may want to try a Zman Paddlerz on the bottom along rock piles and creek mouths when probing for flat fish. Redfish are still holding in their usual haunts like under docks and along rock piles. In front of the beaches, good schools of Spanish mackerel are available for those casting a #00 Clarkspoon, Scott's no fail option of choice. To view the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: The James Island King Mackerel tournament had some nice kings come to the scales in the 27 to 36-pound range. The Freayed Knot crew bonked a 60-pound HOO on the head over the weekend, to claim fist place wahoo at the Edisto Invitational. And bottom fishing continues to produce some groceries for the summer time fisherman, with sea bass and b-liners coming from 75 to 110-feet of water. Sailfish are being found under bait pods and should continue to be increasing in numbers.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 Gamekeepers / Summer - Planning a Dove Field

Dove Field Prep attracts lots of wildlife

Dove hunting can mean a great deal of things to those who seek time in a prepared field over the years in pursuit of a small grey bird. Retrieving dogs are in play, perhaps football updates on your smart phone, and some of the best opportunities of the year to give a shout out about someone making a good shot. Making these scenarios come to life requires a commitment of time, money and land management to first attract doves to your field, and then to keep them making annual return visits.
What makes a dove field attract doves like a magnet? Certainly location has a great deal to do with it, a generous food source is also necessary, but sometimes it takes smaller land management tweaks along the way to improve your dove field. Over time land managers recognize when the field needs some discing, mowing or burning in order to tune it up. It takes follow-up scouting with boots on the ground after each field manipulation to better understand what is effective for your field.
Summer 2015 Cover Image

Larger fields of 15-acres or more in agricultural production areas with peanuts, wheat and corn likely already attract doves, and the task is simply how to congregate them into a small enough area to hunt. These type areas are more likely to yield multiple hunts over the entire fall and winter dove hunting season, and can accommodate more hunters. Contacts with these farming operations are cultivated over time by discerning dove hunters.

Before and After dove hunting season begins
Smaller fields of 5-acres have a limited amount of food to offer, but they can also be hotspots that yield one or two very good hunts. An area as small as 3-acres, perhaps along a powerline right-of-way could be an option for small acreage landowners who would like to try and attract some doves, but this type area might only support one or two guns during a dove hunt. The point is that if you want to try and attract doves then let your conscience be your guide.

Like so many other habitat management objectives, a dove field needs a commitment of multiple years in order to derive consistent success. Remember that a well-managed dove field can provide benefits to all wildlife before, during and after the season. When you find out that you are making noteworthy wildlife observations in your dove field all year long, then that’s the true reward for all your efforts.

To join the Mossy Oak Gamekeeper club and receive a hat, Biologic seed samples and magazine subscription click here.

To view past blog entries from Gamekeepers magazine click Spring 2015 - Winter 2015 Fall 2014 - Summer 2014 - Spring 2014 - Winter 2013 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sustainable Seafood at Farlow's in Englewood, SW Florida

Owner Keith Farlow and Red Snapper
Triple threat seafood appetizer
An integral part of any visit to Southwest Florida includes consuming lots of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. There are many local restaurants in the Englewood section, just north north of Punta Gorda, but Farlow's on the Water brings a special accent to fresh fish offerings. The owner actually grew up St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and he brings a hands-on experience with seafood to the list of daily specials. Some restaurants offer two or three specials per night, but Farlow's offers about a dozen each night. And you can look them up on their website before making your supper plans, or you can wait to read them with excitement once seated.
Jamaican Jerk Cobia - fresh and local

There is a large indoor dining room, with a small bar, but the better seating is outside behind the restaurant. They have a trellis covering most of the seating, and then a tropical garden extends towards a private dock and wharf overlooking Ainger Creek. There are also tables with umbrellas set up there to provide more remote, and perhaps a more romantic dinner setting. All guests are invited to walk on the dock and enjoy the scenery, or perhaps make a souvenir photo.

Our supper started off with a three-tiered tray of house specialty appetizers including coconut shrimp, calamari and a crab-stuffed portabella mushroom. The calamari was tender and not chewy, and easily the best clam strips that I tasted while visiting SW Florida. The crab and mushroom combo was tasty, and we also ate garlic sauteed mussels with bread. Some members of our group enjoyed a specialty mango drink that came in an impossibly-tall pitcher that could only be handled properly by our waitress, which added an element of fun to the proceedings.
Friends gather for supper at Farlow's

After a tasty salad, I ordered a nightly special. The Jamaican Jerk Cobia was cooked to perfection, but not spicy at all. For side dishes I ordered sweet corn casserole and a baked sweet potato, and I also tasted some asparagus from a friend's plate. Other fish dishes served at our table included red snapper, mahi mahi, grouper, and the St. Croix Seafood Pie which looked like a mountain of seafood. There was little room left for dessert, but with Tropical Dining the focus should be on the tropical fish!

To view blog entries from SW Florida click on Offshore Fishing - Field Notes - Gulf Islands

To view past blog entries about sustainable seafood click Guy Harvey Magazine / Oysters - Pink House / Savannah - Boathouse On Breech Inlet / Isle Of Palms - Circa 1886 / Charleston - Wine on the Water / SC Aquarium - Fish Restaurant / Charleston - Fresh On The Menu

To view blog entries from the Southeastern Wildlife Expo's Wild Game Supper click The Drawing Room - Hall's Chop House

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Offshore Fishing in the Gulf off Manasota Key

A grownup Red Grouper from the Gulf of Mexico
Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands like Manasota Key can be found on the Southwest coast of Florida. Summer is considered the off season in SW Florida and great values and fun times can be found in this area between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers. Miles of mangroves and pristine waterways convey their commitment to conservation, and the saltwater fishing for grouper in the Gulf can be sizzling hot.
We used Sabiki rigs to catch live bait

Electing for a day of offshore fishing with Kingfisher Fleet, we left out of Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda for a two-hour cruise into the Gulf. Captain Rick Paolillo positioned our 35-foot vessel over live bottom, anchoring up so that our group of anglers could drop down a variety of baits looking for snapper and grouper. My rod received a mighty tug and was doubled over as angler and grouper entered in test of wills.

A long day on the water was followed up with a fresh fish supper at one of the many restaurants found on Manasota Key. The Lock and Key establishment welcomes anglers to bring their fresh catch with them so that the chef can prepare it either grilled, pan-seared, fried or blackened. The fellowship after a day spent on the water makes any angler thankful for the experience after encountering the productive bottom fishing found off of Southwest Florida.

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

To view past entries about SW Florida click on Field Notes - Sustainable SeafoodGulf Islands - 2009 Fishing - TIDE magazine
This is a keeper-size Lane Snapper

A Sunday evening beachfront Drum Circle
completed our sunrise until sunset agenda this day