I don’t know about the rest of you, but whenever a New Year rolls around it takes me a good month or so to correctly date a check I might write.
At the same time, I am very superstitious and tend to judge whether the coming year will be good or not so good by things that happen with me in that first week or so.
Silly? You bet it is, but if indeed this proves to be true, then 2022 will be wonderful, because it has been great for me thus far – especially when it comes to fishing.
The first significant event occurred the day after the calendar flipped as my best bud, Dan Cornell, and I ran his 60-foot Viking sportfish boat to Ft. Pierce, Fla., for some upgrades before we take it to the Bahamas the first part of March. We left Hilton Head Island at dawn and expected to reach Ft. Pierce late that day.
I was in the salon reading when I heard Dan yelling for me to come up on the bridge. We were in 90 feet of water off the coast of South Georgia. As I reached the bridge, I saw this monstrous black shape rise completely out of the water. When it hit the water, it was like a torpedo had exploded just under the surface.
A moment later, another monster launched itself a few hundred yards from the first one, followed closely by yet another. It was a pod of right whales all breaching one after another.
If you are not familiar with right whales, they can reach lengths near 60 feet and weigh up to 70 tons.
Pulling back the throttles, we eased toward them. Though I have encountered right whales before, those being generally single whales with a calf in the spring of the year, never have I seen this many adult right whales together.
Talk about awesome! As we got right in the middle of several whales, I grabbed my camera. While I was on the starboard side, one would pop up on the port side, so I’d run over. Then another would pop up on the starboard side.
It was actually funny, had someone been videoing me running from one side of the bridge to the other as the whales seemed to be playing with me, surfacing on the opposite side where I was filming.
I got some fair videos as they dove with gigantic tails slapping the water, but captured just one still photo of a breach. Those whales made that long run worth all the other rather boring hours on a relatively lifeless winter ocean.
As for fishing, 2022 has started out with a bang for me. I suspect the warmer than usual temperatures of both the air and the water might have contributed to my success but whatever it is, I’ll take it.
Usually by this time of the year, flounder have moved offshore, but I have been tearing them up recently. Not only have I been catching flounder, but the ones I have been catching have been the largest in over a year.
On top of that, the redfish bite has been on fire, as have the sheepshead and black drum. At first I thought this great fishing might last but a day or two, but every day I wet a line I came home with vittles for the family.
I love eating flounder but, believe it or not, I began to tire of dining on their tender, sweet and flaky flesh. When I got to that point, I changed gears by calling Chris Kehrer at the Port Royal Foundation’s Maritime Center.
I don’t think I have ever mentioned that I am a huge supporter of this marvelous facility located half way to Beaufort on Lemon Island. My support for the Maritime Center isn’t financial since I am just shy of being a legitimate pauper, my support is in the form of fish – live fish.
If you have never checked out the Maritime Center then you are really missing out. Not only is there a huge aquarium with a number of species found in Port Royal Sound, they also have touch tanks and top-notch historical displays.
I have been catching fish for their displays for years now and since Chris pretty much handles a lot of the daily chores there, I twisted his arm (not!) to join me catching fish for their tanks during this hot bite. In two days, we added two huge flounder, some redfish, black drum, pinfish and monster mullet to their collection.
Transporting them was the hard part, as salt water in huge live wells sloshed in the back of my car. But it was worth the sacrifice.
I encourage you to stop by and see this place – it is awesome! Admission is free to the public, while being financed by donations.
If 2022 keeps rolling like it has thus far I am going to be in some kind of fat city!
Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature. firstname.lastname@example.org