When I sat down to write this column there were so many things going on in and around fishing, it was like I had lockjaw or more specifically, mind-lock. Of the 12 months in a year, only two, May and October, seem to spur on this confusion.
Why May? After sitting around all winter just itching to get out on the ocean, May is when the fishing fires up like a brush fire that is out of control because of strong winds pushing it along at an incredible pace.
But when it comes to October, the options for catching are so intense I often find it nearly impossible to pick a target for a day’s foraging. Should I go shrimping or crabbing? Maybe hit the trout, redfish or flounder that are all biting like there is no tomorrow.
But wait, October is without a doubt the month when offshore fishing, whether bottom fishing or trolling in the Gulf Stream, is pretty much a guaranteed slam dunk. Decisions, decisions.
Since firm decisions don’t come easily to me, indecision has led me to try as many different foraging escapades as possible during the 31 “getting days” in October. Shrimp? Check. Flounder? Check. Redfish? Check.
I really can’t see how I am going to fit in all the rest of the foraging opportunities in the remaining days of the month. It’s those damn doctor appointments that are getting in the way of this prime time. I am sure that any of you who are over 65 can relate to that! If only my body was like my mind – which anyone who knows me well will tell you is the mind of a 16-year-old. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Just the other day I went to the monthly open house hosted by Paul Duffey at Southern Drawl Outfitters in Moss Creek Village. It was like old home week as I got to hang with much of the fishing community, including many old timer charter captains that I usually see only in passing on the water.
It used to be there was always some yearly event where we all got together and swapped fishing lies, but this was the first time in quite some time that so many of us were in one place at the same time.
Paul has done a fabulous job at Southern Drawl, especially when it comes to fly fishing. They have a great selection of everyday tackle and live bait, but when it comes to fly fishing, they are the bomb.
I was going to save offshore fishing for another column but I just have to tell you about my new ride and its maiden trip bottom fishing last weekend. My fishing partner Dan Cornell, with whom I have fished for nearly a decade, traded in his 60-foot Viking for the center console of all center consoles.
At 53 feet long with four 425hp engines this HCB Suenos is like a thoroughbred race horse. Better suited for the type of fishing we do here, running offshore at 50 mph is quite the sensation.
Equipped with Sea Keeper system to prevent the boat from rocking side to side and a 28-speaker sound system, even at top speed the sound system is so good it’s like having headphones on!
The bite was off the chart as we caught just about every kind of bottom fish. As you may or may not know, red snapper have been closed for harvest for years now due to declining stocks. But around these parts our red snapper stocks have never been in trouble. I’ll bet we caught and released 30 or 40 stud red snapper that day. We really wanted grouper, but the red snapper ate our live baits before a grouper even had a chance to give it a go.
Personally, I feel the data that led the National Marine Fisheries to close the red snapper was flawed. Much of that data came from Florida, where boats have to go just a handful of miles to catch snapper, while here there isn’t nearly the pressure on these fish since you have to go 30 to 60 miles to catch them.
Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that recently I received a letter from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, informing me that a woman (whose name I will not reveal) donated $25,000 to the Waddell Mariculture Center in my honor. She said she loves my columns as well as my love for the Lowcountry and that led to her donation.
Needless to say, I was ridiculously flattered but, more importantly, it is what keeps me writing week after week. God bless you all.
Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature. firstname.lastname@example.org