Friday, February 26, 2016

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 2/26/2016

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Speckled Trout are reliable during winter transition times
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West shared that warmer weather is arriving with a few day's spiking into the 70's. Each high note in the up and down cycle of nature will signal redfish and trout to become more active. If anglers think they are anxious, try thinking like a bait-deprived gamefish that is ready to resume the Lowcountry smorgasbord that is creek life.

Reds are still in winter schools, with 50 to 100-fish not uncommon, so anglers must be patient and fish the angles. Meaning don't cast right into the middle of the school, fish to the sides of the school and put bait on the bottom and let them come and find it. Scott says to alternate between cut mullet, mud minnows and cracked blue crab in order to cover one's bases. Use a 3-ought circle hook and place the rod in a holder with the drag set lightly and try to let the fish set the hook themselves before you lift it back out.

It varies each year when the trout appear in full force, but sometime in March is a safe bet. Popping corks fished along grass banks and over oyster beds should be rigged with mud minnows or artificial shrimp. Scott usually prepares a 18 to 24-inch leader and a size 1-ought circle hook. When working the popping cork, keep the line taught so that when the cork does go under, the trout can do the work of setting the hook.

Sight fishing enthusiasts love this transitional time of year, with smaller and darker flies working best. It's no surprise that the Haddrell's Point Shallow Water Expo is taking place the weekend of Feb. 27 - 28 at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mount Pleasant. Visit with Bob Clouser to learn the truth about the invention of his closer minnow and listen to Mark Nichols to find out the most effective ways to use his shrimp that are dubbed Deadly On Anything - DOA Lures.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Annual Rabbit Hunt Reveals Nature Sightings

Jesse and Jimmy hit the woods
No cover is too thick to check for rabbits
With small game hunting seasons set to expire at the end of February, the pace of quail, squirrel and rabbit hunting has ramped up. In each of these hunt experiences, finding some of these critters with feathers and fur can sometimes be a trying endeavor. It’s hard to say why rabbits were hard to locate this year, but it might have something to do with wet weather, and the new normal of having coyotes in the Lowcountry. James High Jr. of Eutawville brought his four beagles and his hunting friend Jesse James to Colleton County recently, for what I will call our 15th annual rabbit hunt. “After the flooding rains in October, we haven’t found many rabbits to hunt,” said High. “If the hunt today is slow that wouldn’t be a surprise, since it’s been the same for us all season, and we are starting to look forward to next year.”

Moving beagles between briar patches
High is a seasoned beagle trainer and he brought one dog with a cold-nose in order to scent recent, but not fresh rabbit movement. Two trailing beagles are in the pack to take over if the cold-nose dog strikes up a wailing chorus, and High also had a puppy in the pack, getting some on the job training for future hunts. “When we drop the tailgate, we just hope to get the dogs on one good chase,” said High. We found out that without such a chase the beagles remain fresh when returning to the truck, even though we walked a country mile through the woods.

I think the 2016 hunt marks 15 years of hunting rabbits together
So while our hunt tradition was completed again this year, with the beagles busting through every briar patch we found, a couple of chance encounters with wildlife seemed to add flavor to this year’s outing. Lots of wet woods produced sighting of wood ducks and we pushed up and spotted some American woodcock too. Another non-game sighting this year was a group of five Southern flying squirrels, and what makes this particular sighting unusual is that these flying squirrels are largely nocturnal. This year revealed that this group of hunters remains ready to go rabbit hunting each year no matter the harvest rate, and that they appreciate how viewing other wildlife is always going to be a part of their sporting equation.

To view this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about hunting rabbits click on 2009 - 2010 - 2012 - 2013

To view more nature sightings on my blog click on Field Notes