The warmer weather brings all sorts of things in the Lowcountry, from the annoyance of no-see-ums to the relaxation of days spent on the beach.
And for area anglers, it means the fishing is picking up.
With the water averaging 73 degrees, fishing has improved noticeably over the past week. For inshore waters, gamefish are finding abundant baitfish, and action has been great this week.
For many, cobia is the only target, and they are being rewarded for their pursuits. Large fish have shown from Broad River, the outer buoys and structures. The largest catch I've heard of to date has topped the 73-pound mark.
Spottail bass are moving but are not easily brought to hook. The grass reaches are starting to show signs of activity, and waders are on the edge. Pier and bridge pilings are excellent choices for sheepshead. The use of circle hooks may have slowed the catch a bit, according to some, but sizes remain large and fish are plentiful.
Also, from the bridges, anglers are landing nice quantities of drum, whiting and croaker. At the deeper cuts of feeder creeks, flounder are holding well and movement is only slight with either tide. They are still in the area, only moving a few yards from the cut when the tides change. Trout are not as active as many would like, but some catches are still possible with a float and a hook tipped with menhaden.
Popular bait choices for most species have been, mud minnows, mullet, fiddlers, clams, mussels, menhaden and shrimp. Artificials have taken a second seat, but don't overlook soft plastic jerk baits when things slow down.
In deeper waters, the bite has improved for dolphin, as a good many grass islands have been seen on the surface. These natural bait sanctuaries are the ticket for hungry dolphins as they provide shade and a food supply, much like a floating cafeteria for fish.
A few Spanish have been caught but numbers are still less than expected for the period. Some short snapper runs and a few blues round out things for deep water anglers. Very little bottom fishing has been reported.
More and more anglers and hunters are turning to technology to beat the odds. The newer model smartphones not only give detailed map and GPS readings, but many offer applications that provide resources such as tide and weather reports as well as sunrise, sunset and moon phases. Don't get left behind in the cyber age; use technology to your advantage for hunting and fishing.
COBIA TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Team Roll-n, fishing with Captain Steve Roll from Seas So Shallow charters and angler Robbie Holmquist hauled in a fish weighing 59.14 pounds to win the Fillin' Station Cobia Tournament last weekend.
Matt Luce, fishing with Captain Patrick Mitchell, finished second at 56.8 pounds, and Top Gun charters with Captain Tom Thomas and Mill Rooks came in third at 50.12 pounds.
The tournament drew 120 anglers and 36 boats.
When I mentioned to my wife that I was planning another fishing trip Memorial Day, she let loose. As I tried to calm her down, I reminded her of a little medical fact I read in a medical journal in the hospital waiting room: Women are 35 percent more likely to go to a psychiatrist than men.
She replied without hesitation, "Why do you think they go? Their husbands drive them crazy."
Looks like instead of fishing, I'll be antique shopping somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway this Memorial Day weekend.
2011 Governors Cup Billfish Tournament Schedule
May 11-14: Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, 768-1280
May 25-28: 44th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, 546-1776
June 22-25: Carolina Billfish Classic, 345-0369
July 6-9: MEGADOCK Billfishing Tournament, 278-4920
July 27-30: Edisto Marina Billfish Tournament, 407-463-2082
For information, contact tournament coordinator Amy Dukes at 953-9365 or DukesA@dnr.sc.gov.