No matter the issue, the first order of business should be to get the facts.
Area fishermen can do exactly that when it comes to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's proposed changes to protect the cobia fishery.
The Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club and the Beaufort Sportfishing and Diving Club will hold a public meeting to discuss the potential changes at 6:30 p.m. on March 15 at the Palmetto Electric New River Community Room on U.S. 278 across from the USC Beaufort South Campus.
The meeting is designed as strictly informational and all interested and concerned fishermen are encouraged to attend; public hearings on the proposals will be held in April.
Dr. Michael Denson of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will present an up-to-date status of local stocks. His presentation will include DNA results that have been instrumental in relating migrations of cobia species and families.
Gregg Waugh, deputy director of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, will give a presentation centered around the latest recommendations proposed by the council, as well as an explanation on what precipitated these actions -- the congressionally re-authorized Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Due to time restrictions, this meeting is intended as primarily an informational resource. However, both speakers will be available to take questions after adjournment.
A flyer will be distributed for registering opinions with the appropriate committees.
Now is the time to get the straight scoop from those in the know -- get facts, not rumors.
ANOTHER NEW LAW: CIRCLE HOOKS
Circle hooks, designed to improve the survival rate of released fish, are required in state and federal water, effective March 3. According to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the requirement for non-stainless steel circle hooks will apply to all marine species in the snapper-grouper complex, a grouping of bottom fish species defined by the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. Species caught in state waters most affected by this new regulation include sheepshead, spadefish and black sea bass. The Department of Natural Resources has long recommended the use of circle hooks in saltwater because of their proven ability to increase the survival of many species of released fish.
MEETINGS AND EVENTS
The Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club will meet Tuesday at the Yacht Club of Hilton Head Island at Palmetto Bay Marina. Captain Dan "The Fishin' Coach" Utley will reveal the four lures you must have for spring redfish. Get up close and personal with triggerfish when Dave Harter explains how to find them, catch them, clean them and cook them. Learn about area whales and how to spot them and where to report them in near-shore waters. As always, lies and stories are accepted from the cash bar between 6:15 and 7 p.m. The program starts at 7 p.m.; no reservations are required and all guests are welcome. For information, contact Harter at 785-4106.
The Beaufort Sportfishing and Diving Club will meet Thursday at the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club located off Meridian Road on Lady's Island. The social begins at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting begins at 7 p.m. This month's meeting features well-known local Captain Jim Clark of the Stray Cat. Jim has appeared with George Poveromo on his national TV program and at numerous fishing club meetings on a national and local level. His topic will be cobia. As the saying goes, when the water temperature hits 70 and the jasmine bloom, there are cobia in the Broad River. He will present some of his nationally-televised cobia programs, along with discussing types of bait, rigging, tides, chumming, and other secret techniques for this wonderful species. Guests are welcome; for additional information call Captain Frank Gibson at 522-2020.
The Sea Rescue 8th Annual St. Patty's Day Golf Tournament is set for March 19 at the Ocean Creek Golf Course on Fripp Island. The event benefits the Beaufort Water Search and Rescue and Fripp Island Sea Rescue. Rescue units are made up of volunteers who serve the commercial and recreational boating community in water-related incidents and emergencies. Both organizations require boats, motors, trailers, accessories, electronics, maintenance and fuel to provide services to Beaufort County. This is the only fundraising event they do to support their emergency services and save taxpayers thousands of dollars. Donations by local sponsors and proceeds from the golf tournament will help continue emergency rescue services to the county. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or having a great day of golf, call tournament chairman Rich Combs at 838-3328, co-chairman Joe Morlino at 575-6595 or Ted Michaels at 838-5788. For more information, call Captain Ralph Goodison at 839-2530.
The 27th annual Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is set for March 25-27 at the state fairgrounds in Columbia. Doors will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on March 25, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 26, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 27. More than 300 exhibitors with products, samples, demonstrations and the latest outdoors technology will be on-site. Admission is $8 and parking is $2. Seniors 62 and over get in for $7, while children 10 and under are admitted free.