Fishing stories have had happy endings around here lately

May 21, 2011 

Everyone knows fishermen love to tell stories, and I've heard some good ones -- and by that I mean ones that end with fish -- coming from area anglers lately.

Spottail bass are showing well and have started to move on the flats more regularly. Live baits are producing best, but topwater lures are taking fair shares. All-white Zara Spooks, Striper Swipers and Smithwicks are best.

Flounder have been hitting mud minnows from the creek mouths and are showing good numbers. Sheepshead are at the rocks, docks and bridges. They're hitting fiddlers and strips of clam, and some very nice catches have been viewed.

Croaker and whiting are hitting fresh-cut or live shrimp from the lagoons and slow-water edges of feeder creeks. Trout continue to evade the majority of anglers, but warmer waters are beginning to make a change.

Major rivers with deep drops along feeder creeks are the answer. Locating grass croppings away from the main bank has also been very productive. Low tide is better if trout is your primary target. Baits working are shrimp and minnows, as well as artificials in the morning and the first hour of both tides.

Cobia remain a prime species, and some truly magnificent battles stories and fish have emerged from their pursuit. Port Royal Sound has shown to be among the best spots, as large cobia are cruising the markers and structures. Checks have shown the majority to be large males. Baits are as varied as the boats and anglers in pursuit. Among the best choices are squid, eels, fresh-cut baits and a few standby artificials. Among my lure choices when I was a die-hard cobia fisherman were large Cisco Kids, Deep Diving Rebels and Heddon Plugs. Today these lures are hard to find, but color combinations remain the same -- try silver/black, green/brown and red/white. And once thought daring but now more commonplace are solid chartreuse or bright pink.

Fly fishermen who favor sight casting will find silver fleck deceivers a bonus.

Further out, winds and rough waters dominated, but for those making the trip there were a few nice returns. Dolphin and wahoo top the list, but large shark and Spanish mackerel have also joined the group.

Very little information is being reported on bottom fishing at this time. I did get two calls about a large boat hooking up with yellowfin, but this has not been verified.

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • The fourth annual El Toro/Cry-Babies Cobia Tournament is set for May 28. There will be a captains meeting Friday at 7 p.m. at El Toro's on U.S. 21, near the Marine Corps Air Station. Entry fee is $50 per boat, with a maximum of four anglers per boat. The total of all entry fees will be awarded with 70 percent for first place, 20 percent for second place and 10 percent for third place. For information, email Charlie Ledford at starlightcapt@yahoo.com.

  • Memorial Day weekend will kick off the fishing season at Fripp Island with the annual Memorial Day Kingfish Tournament on May 27-28. The tournament starts Friday night with registration from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by a captains meeting and a Lowcountry cookout by chef Doolittle. Fishing starts at sunrise May 28, and weigh-ins and live entertainment start at 4 p.m. Weigh-ins close at 6, with an awards ceremony to follow. A 90 percent payout of entries will be awarded for the two largest kingfish and the largest dolphin, wahoo, Spanish mackarel and cobia. For information, call the marina at 838-1517.

  • The Lowcountry Patriots Committee of the Friends of NRA will hold its annual local fundraising banquet and auction tonight. All proceeds go to the non-profit NRA Foundation to support youth firearms safety and education programs, hunter education, shooting range development and wildlife conservation efforts. Much of the funds stay here in the Lowcountry. Membership is free, and you don't have to be an NRA member. Call Jim or Terri Boone at 803-584-7363 or 803-300-1179 for more information.

    BE SAFE ON THE WATER

    National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27. The week gives boaters, sailors and anglers time to reflect on and improve their own safety on the water, which in turn motivates others to do the same. Be safe out there, and remember -- you can't walk back.

    LEAVE IT TO THE KIDS

    I canceled a fishing trip due to one of those, "I don't remember why," promises to attend a wedding with my wife. But, all was not lost, thanks to a fidgety 6-year-old seated behind us.

    My spirits were lifted sooner than the groom could say, "I do." Her mother was busy keeping her occupied, but the child was full of questions and whispered to her mother, "Why is the bride dressed in white?"

    Trying to keep it simple, the mother explained briefly.

    "White is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life," she said.

    This seemed to satisfy the child for a moment, but only for a moment.

    "So, why's the groom wearing black?," she asked.

    Everyone on the groom's side burst out laughing. The bride's side looked as if they had just been informed the reception was cash bar only.

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