I have often said that fishermen are a unique breed. Few anglers would deny this, and probably have a few oddities of their own.
However, some of my fishing partners seem a bit too unique.
I have one who thinks sardines, Vienna sausage, saltine crackers and aerosol cheese is a balanced meal. A couple of them consider launch time only after a buffet breakfast and another considers an early start anytime Jay Leno says good night. Two or three never bring the right tackle, while some will bring too much or none at all. One will bring every rod he owns and another swears one is enough. The best fishing partners stay for washdown, while some disappear when the landing is reached. I know an elder who will clean fish without hesitation, but also some who need to be shown over and over.
Despite all this, the majority will manage to catch a few fish on occasion and all are fair company when the bite is slow.
I don't mind much, considering I have a few shortcomings of my own -- and have been made aware of them on more than one occasion. Granted, I may not be the epitome of grace and style, but having my attempts at flyfishing viewed as silly is more than I can tolerate.
As most of the saltwater scene has become repetitive, an escape to the lighter side of fishing seems to be in order.
The majority of lagoons, plantation ponds and backwater reaches have been ignored much too long. While these areas may not provide much for heavy-tackle anglers, those of us who go lightweight on occasion find the change worthwhile.
Area rivers have much to offer this time of the year as well. The Savannah is providing generous yields of panfish for slack tide runs along the bank, and long-rodders have taken their fair share of bass from mid-current drifts and timber. All the while, anglers who favor the Ashepoo and Edisto have returned with full stringers of bream, crappie and catfish. The Combahee is a bit slow due to high water and fast currents.
For those fishing old rice field creeks and feeder streams, the days have been rewarding. A few good spots showing small stripers is the Wimbee cut, 17 bridge and the main river at the mouth of Sugar hill.
For light tackle in saltwater reaches, shrimp has proven the best bait. For river and backwater creeks, mud minnows and small spinners are favorites. If you happen upon a few stripers on the Combahee breaking the surface, jig feathers in white and green is the bait of choice.
Winter fishing means clearer waters and fish are more easily spooked. By using smaller lines and switching conventional gear for lighter spinning outfits, your time on the water will be more rewarding. One of the drawbacks is too much muscle. By using light circle hooks, the situation is back in balance and your catch-and-release ratio is greatly improved.
TACKLE TIP: PENN SQUIDDER
This reel has been around a few years and is still popular among many anglers, myself included.
The early drawbacks were the gear ratio and undersized handle made fishing a bit of a chore. With a bit of tinkering and the right parts, you can modify the Squidder to match or exceed many more expensive models used today.
My favorite modification is a 146 conversion kit and oversized handle. There is a 501 conversion kit available as well, which makes the reel ratio much smaller and you can change preloaded line spools to meet all your fishing demands easily.