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Handy directions for your next campfire

David was setting up camp for our annual fishing weekend and found a note attached to a complimentary stack of firewood. It appeared the previous user of our camp had a bit of difficulty and wanted to pass on a few safety pointers. The note read:

Building the best campfire -- First split small wood shavings for kindling. Make sure shavings are dry.

The remainder of the instructions were arranged in precise order:

Bandage left thumb; Chop other fragments into smaller fragments; Bandage left foot; Make structure of slivers (include those embedded in hand); Light match; Try again; Light match; Repeat "A Scout is cheerful" and light match; Apply match to slivers, add wood fragments and blow gently into base of fire; Apply burn ointment to nose; When fire is burning, collect more wood; Upon discovering that fire has gone out while searching for more wood, soak wood from can labeled "kerosene." Treat face and arms for second-degree burns; Re-label can to read "gasoline." When fire is burning well, add all remaining firewood; When thunderstorm has passed, repeat steps.

We don't know who left the note, but they went to the trouble of placing it in a zip-lock bag to share with others.

The members of the camp are many and varied, the only prerequisite for use is that the camp be left in a neat, clean and orderly fashion. David shared the finding with us that night around the campfire, and the members of the camp wish to express our profound gratitude to the author and hope all is well. The safety of others is always paramount whenever venturing outdoors.

FISHING TRENDS

Many species have become active since recent cooler temperatures have arrived. Some of the most active have been spottail bass, sheepshead, flounder and trout.

Most anglers agree that this is the best time of the year for catching bass. Call them what you will -- redfish, channel bass or spottail -- the species is well worth any effort you put forth and the rewards are countless. Best bets: Live shrimp under popping cork.

Trout may be a bit more difficult to locate, but once found, the area should generate some very nice catches. Stay close to the grass at this time of the year and use live shrimp, also under a cork, and some of the better artificials, including the DOA shrimp variety.

Sheepshead are hitting harder inshore than in recent weeks. The bridge and pier areas are showing outstanding results. Fiddlers remain at the top of the list but shrimp, mussels and clam strips have all been used successfully over the past 10 days. Stay close to the structure and be prepared for quick, strong strikes unlike the subtle nibbles most commonly associated with sheepshead.

Flounder are numerous and large and, for the most part, are stacked quite well over muddy shell rises along the main rivers. Trolling these areas will bring a fish to your hook, but stay as close to the bottom as possible with a bottom bumper -- any rig you employ that causes a disturbance in shallow waters at the deepest depth. Stay away from pyramid sinkers used with bottom rigs and try some of the latest weight designs -- cigars, flats, drag weights and barrels -- all of which are designed for bottom fishing. Be sure to use swivels and a strong leader.

Good luck and good fishing. Your time may be limited, but your fishing enjoyment will be more rewarding.

UPDATE FROM WALLY

The following is the latest from Capt. Wally Phinney:

"Had an excellent fishing trip yesterday (Oct. 13th). The seas were nice and I was able to go 40 miles offshore to depths of 110 feet. We were able to bring in 20 nice size red vermillion snapper (be-liners). Also some nice sea bass, 10 trigger fish and one porgy, lots of sharks.

"Another charter boat captain at another spot was catching red snapper between 15 and 20 lbs., which were released. We started at 80 ft. and all we caught was small black sea bass and only a few nice ones. I tried quite a few other places with little results.

"The North Hole is producing and there seems to be a good bit of pressure at the Hump. The reefs are starting to show some nice kings. I did manage to catch a few Spanish at the Gordon a few days past. Word is that big reds are being taken off Bay Point, which are being released (oversize).

"Summary -- Best fishing is at 110 ft. depths. I think we had over 100 lbs. of fish easy, 6 people fishing. Friday and Saturday looks promising..."

RIVER REPORT

A good many fishermen have requested an update on the ACE rivers -- Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto. In particular, they want to know what the bass are doing and if the trip is worth the effort. A number of calls and a few stops this past week provided some very good information on these requests.

The Combahee is very good at this point, with clear water and little flood regions. The best fishing has come from the main river at feeder creek points and deep vertical banks. Baits being used vary, with worms being the first choice in both natural and artificial. Louisiana pink worms and nightcrawlers are sharing the take with 6-inch black firetails and super floaters in blue and deep purple.

Crankbaits are the main calling for the Ashepoo, and choices are somewhat limited due to water clarity and swiftness. With present conditions, the Ashepoo is better fished with 1/4 crankbaits in silver/black combinations. Spinner baits are working well using single blade willow leaf varieties in solid black and copper combinations.

The Edisto is another story. There has been no consistent lure, natural bait or artificial, that has produced in the last few weeks. It appears most fish are in the transition stage and will take just about anything you toss that resembles a food source. The key is to fish slowly and deliberately along the back cuts and points in waters from 2 to 6 feet. Spinner baits are good, but topwater is better. Of the nine anglers I contacted, these baits are showing the best results -- but it is best to keep a variety of lures and combinations, as nothing is definite. The last word was "any topwater bait in solid white or silver has its advantages."

FAVORED RECIPE

I have been asked for my best fish recipe, one that is simple, sure to please and easily prepared. Of all the fish dishes I have prepared and served over the years, this is one of my all time favorites: Fish and Corn Chowder.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil; 1 medium onion, finely chopped; 1 small minced garlic clove; 3/4 cup instant mashed potatoes; 1/2 teaspoon salt; Dash ground red pepper (cayenne); 1 (15-oz.) can Cream Style Sweet Corn; 2 1/2 cups skim milk; 1lb. uncooked, firm-fleshed fish (Spotail Bass preferred); 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.

Directions

Remove skin and bones from fish and cut into 1-inch squares.

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven until hot. Add onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potato flakes, salt, ground red pepper, corn and milk. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot and thickened. Do not boil.

Add fish. Cook 4 to 6 minutes until fish turns opaque or flakes easily with fork. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with sourdough biscuits and fresh sweet lemon tea. Enjoy.

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