OK, I'll admit that I am a 100 percent verified weather geek. While most of you, upon getting up in the morning, are sipping coffee and watching the news, I am looking at isobars.
So what's an isobar? They are those squiggly lines you see on a weather map. The closer together they are, the windier it is, the farther apart they are, the calmer it is. If nothing else, maybe you've now learned something from this geek.
Since the beginning of this year, I have been scratching my head -- my bald head -- because nothing seems to be fitting the normal weather patterns that I have come to expect. Just think about all the weird weather that has been plaguing the country this year. Even though we lucked out compared to places like the Northeast, I can tell you that this has been, hands down, one of the oddest years I can remember in my limited memory bank.
The water has stayed cooler longer than it should, and though most of my observations are water-oriented, I've noticed that even the plants are having a hard time deciding when to do their thing.
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A couple of "for instances" happened when I went down to the Ogeechee River to do some spring shad fishing, something I look forward to every February and March. In three trips there, I caught one puny shad -- I used to come home with at least a dozen every trip. I did notice a couple of things down there that were "off," and both were plants.
Usually the cypress trees would have budded out. In one particular area, massive wisteria vines (white ones, no less) should be in full bloom, but not this year. I stopped going down there because either the shad came early or they hadn't yet made it that far. Shad migrate from the ocean and travel hundreds of miles up rivers, such as the freshwater Ogeechee, to lay their eggs. Even now, I have no idea if they ever made it.
A bit closer to home, the May River water temperature should be in the mid-60s by now, but it stayed in the 50s for what seemed like weeks. Even now, it's taking its sweet time getting up where it should be.
Though I have heard of a few trout being caught (mostly way up estuaries), the trout have all but disappeared. I do know there were a couple of fish kills reported during that cold snap, when temperatures dropped into the teens, but there still should be enough around to catch a dinner's worth. None of the area tackle shops has live shrimp, so local resident Jimmy McIntire drove all the way to Savannah to pick up some.
After two straight days of fishing, he couldn't give away a shrimp. Not one trout. Amazing.
Even offshore, it's a strange new world. On a recent Wednesday, I headed to the Gulf Stream for wahoo. When I reached my tried and true spot, the water there was an icky green color and the water temperature was hovering around 69 degrees, which is way too cold for this time of the year.
We had trolled for maybe 15 minutes when one of the rods got hit -- of all things, it was a 20-pound bluefish. Hey, this isn't Nantucket, so what's going on? The only option was to go farther offshore and maybe find warm water.
It wasn't until we were nearly 80 miles out that we hit the Gulf Stream and 78-degree water. Trolling all day, we only picked up one mahi, but we did latch onto what I think was a tournament-winning wahoo that spooled 500 yards of line on its first run. That was one long day.
Another observation is the azaleas. Usually by the time of the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament, the azaleas are long gone. Not this year. The ones around my house just started blooming a few days ago.
So here is my theory: At some point during the winter, aliens came to our planet and stopped time. I know it sounds far-fetched, but it's the only explanation I can come up with. How long were they here doing whatever they were doing? I can't pin it down to the exact number of days, but it was somewhere around two to three weeks.
I'm not sure if we will ever get back on schedule, so I reckon all we can do is hope. Wait, what's that bright light outside my window?
OMG, it's ...
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.