No doubt you're expecting me to write about cobia, but this week, I'm taking a break from the topic.
I will say that the male cobia named Smiles that Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Charters caught and Alice, my girl cobia, are doing great up at the Department of Natural Resources' research facility in Charleston. From what I hear, Smiles is bringing Alice flowers every day and even proposed. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they make it to the altar.
While I was out there trying to catch those cobia, I fished in areas that I usually avoid, simply because there's too much boat traffic. I prefer to look for quiet, backwater places, and though I might not catch as many fish, and sometimes no fish at all, the peace and quiet more than make up for it.
Here's a small fact about me that might surprise you: I haven't killed a redfish for the table in nearly 10 years. They are a blast to catch, but there are other species out there I find way more appetizing.
For instance, a nice, medium-size sheepshead fillet puts redfish to shame. Trout are good, but only if you eat them the day you caught them, and they don't freeze well at all. The meat gets mushy, so I keep enough for a meal and release the rest.
Come to think about it, I don't freeze fish at all. I have found that if I release all the fish I don't plan to eat that day or within a two-day period, I can go back to that spot and catch enough for another meal any time I want.
The only down side to this is keeping that spot secret. Almost without exception, I avoid fishing on weekends like the plague unless I'm heading way offshore, where the chances of bumping into other boats isn't such a big deal.
Getting back to those days I was trying to catch cobia for breeding, I was floored by the number of fishing boats that came by me. Flat boats, center console boats and every manner of craft came by me, all bristling with enough fishing rods to open a tackle shop. Having grown up here when you were lucky to see just one other boat, it made me sad.
When people find out how long I've lived here, almost always the same question is asked: "How do you feel about all the changes you have seen here?"
There was a period in the mid-'70s when I was angry, as 100-year-old live oaks were coming down in the name of progress, but after I realized there was no turning back, I decided it was a lost cause.
I will say that as development goes, they did a fairly good job here, but now I'm wondering if the building will ever stop. There was a sense of community back in the earlier days, but now it seems to be all about "What can I get out of this place?"
The only way to salvage this amazing way of life is if people start saying "no" to those who threaten our land and our waters. I hear people talk about it all the time, but that's as far as it goes.
Talk isn't going to save our way of life. Only action can create awareness and possibly get back a precious sense of community that will make our lives here what we perceived as the reason for moving here, whether it was 30 years ago or three months ago.
Quite the tangent, huh? I'm not quite sure where that came from, but that's just the way my mind works. If I remember correctly, what I was planning on saying before heading off on that rant was that there are other fish in the sea besides redfish you should try catching.
Big jack crevelle are starting to come into the sounds and rivers, and pound for pound, they will scorch a reel. Look for their dorsal fins out of the water as groups swim in circles on the incoming tide. Pitch about anything in front of them and hold on.
Jacks are a sport fish, but another fish that's equally as strong (and delicious) is tripletail. Looking very much like a board floating along, tripletail hang behind buoys, behind pilings out in open water and along tide lines that have mats of grass and flotsam. A live shrimp or a mud minnow will almost always get their attention, and they can reach 20 pounds or more.
The secret to catching both of these fish is a good pair of polarized sunglasses and keeping a sharp eye as you ride along.
Finally, the Beaufort Sport Fishing and Diving Club's yearlong tournament is on. Sponsored by the Port Royal Landing Marina, this tournament is perfect for anglers of any age and gender. With 31 species that include everything from Mahi to the lowly toadfish and prizes for best youth angler, best female angler, best recreational boat, best charter boat, best overall angler and more, all I have to say is why not?
Better yet, fish may be brought in to weigh at the Port Royal Landing Marina by car or boat, so get in on this tournament. For rules and information, call Capt. Frank Gibson at 843-522-2122.
Personally, I am going for the toadfish prize!