Fishing provides different returns to all who participate. While some may choose to fill coolers, others claim experience with nature as their primary goal. There are trophy hunters who seek size and those who favor numbers. Some strive for perfection of a particular technique while others have a quest for records. No matter the reason, each person receives an individual value from their pursuit.
I like to search new waters, areas where fish have not seen the latest and greatest lures, tasted the hook set of another angler, or been handled and released by the masses. Waters that can provide these traits are scarce and fish that have yet to be introduced are uncommon. Granted, living on the coast provides plenty of challenge, and it is doubtful many fish are taken that have been taken before, their numbers are far too great.
Whenever I get the urge for something different, I head for the less-crowded, often-overlooked, but just as rewarding waters of the Savannah, Combahee, Ashepoo or Edisto rivers. While size and variety may be limited, there is little to diminish the satisfaction I gain from the challenge.
Another advantage to this type of fishing is the opportunity to introduce other anglers to these waters. It never ceases to amaze me that so many fishermen become victims of habit and fail to explore the new and different.
On one particular trip, my tag-along was a well known saltwater guide. He had a preconceived notion he could persuade me to join his troupe of guides and become one of the paid. When I told him I fished for the love of the sport and that doing so would seem too much like work, he resigned himself to the discovery and enjoyment of a sport too long taken for granted.
Like many others, his main focus was saltwater and his tackle was geared the same. With a little effort, a great deal of coaxing, and some degree of dedicated persuasion, I convinced him that all species did not require a gaff or landing net.
I believe the biggest treat he gained was the relaxed atmosphere. There were no schedules to keep, no commitment to time or place and, better yet, no guarantees. Which brought to mind a thought shared long ago by another with whom I had shared a boat: Are all fishermen optimists, or do only optimists fish?
We fished the Savannah and Edisto on Saturday and the Ashepoo and Combahee on Sunday. Our days were dictated only by the casual pace of the current. The occasional hook-up could be viewed at times as an interruption, but in reality they were more a celebration than any predetermined goal.
We had nothing to prove and our only competition was Mother Nature. There were times we became so preoccupied with the sights and sounds of the river we forgot to set the hook. To be truthful, we lost more fish than we caught.
It was a time to experiment, to cast new lures and try new flies, to witness the majestic flight of an eagle and marvel at the ingenuity of a back water dolphin working the shallows for a meal.
We camped on the bank, prepared fresh fish over the coals of a campfire and slept under stars too often blocked from view.
It has often been said that you can lose yourself on the banks of a river. This very well may be true. Every section of water you touch is the beginning of one tide and the ending of another.
NEW FISHING REGULATIONS
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources Freshwater Fisheries Section is making changes, effective July 1, to the state statutes regulating freshwater fishing. Some of the changes include: