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Latest fishing trends favor inshore anglers

My goal was to have an update for fishing prior to composing this week's column. But as things worked out, the rains Thursday but the kibosh on many of my resources. The latest reports are in favor of inshore anglers from this past weekend, which was -- for the most part -- a bit of well-warranted spring relief. Weather conditions are prone to change quickly during our seasonal transitions. With this comes confusion as to long sleeves or jackets, jeans or shorts, car top up or down, and a few "I can't seem to find a thing to wear" from the other side of the ring.

Hopefully, recent conditions will dictate attitudes towards upcoming trips and both of us will get a bit of relief. As it stands, inshore continues to be a viable game plan. Targeted species should include sheepshead, spottail bass, whiting and drum. The occasional surprise will surface if you are fishing the outer waters of near-shore reefs and structure. Water temperatures are averaging 61 degrees.

When I was young, idealistic, pimpled and naive, I was under the impression that all trips would produce fish. Now my sole aim is to maintain an air of dignity on my return to the docks. If I can return undetected, no excuses are necessary. If confronted, I reach for a distraction and change the subject. In short, it is a sobering, salutary experience, the only light at the end of the tunnel being that fishing will improve as we progress into the season.

But I mustn't complain; after all, I'm one of the lucky ones, able to fish at my leisure with the ability and pleasure to share my enthusiasm by writing about it.

THIRD BATTALION POND CLOSED

Richard A. Haynes of South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control recently answered some questions I had regarding the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island's Third Battalion Pond and why it was closed to fishing. The following is his response, which others also might find informative:

The Third Battalion Pond was created when the causeway was built between Horse Island and Parris Island. The causeway, built out of debris, is known as the Causeway Landfill and has been investigated as part of the environmental clean-up program at Parris Island. The investigation has been completed and the remedy is recommended in the proposed plan that is out on public notice. The proposed plan includes the entire remedy, one portion being posting of the pond.

The MCRD is unique in that it is a National Priorities List site and the Navy/Marines are the lead agency for cleanup. MCRD decided to post the pond as a conservative site specific decision and to protect the integrity of the landfill cap. The Navy/Marines decided to remove any uncertainty and ban fishing in the pond.

The fishing ban is based on very conservative assumptions, which indicate that eating large amounts of fish over a very long time might be unsafe. The assumptions include:

  • A single interview (one individual) served as the basis for the evaluation of the most sensitive population
  • Higher than normal consumption rates (as high as 1 meal/day)
  • Large meal size for children (same meal size as an adult)
  • Limited data set (18 fish)
  • Some fish outside legal slot size (i.e. not legal to catch)
  • The Navy/Marines are choosing to ban fishing because it is easier to patrol than allowing catch and release. The pond is part of the MCRD property, therefore DHEC feels this is the Commanding General's discretion to be more conservative than would typically be required as part of a cleanup decision. The Navy/Marines decided to put up the signs during the public comment period so that people who go to fish at 3rd Battalion Pond will be aware of the proposed action and the opportunity to submit comments.

    It should not be confused with a state fishing advisory. SCDHEC uses a different method to make a posting determination. SCDHEC will require the Navy/Marines to sample fish annually, and re-evaluate this remedy in the future.

    A public meeting to comment on the recent closing and future proposal is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Religious Ministries Center, Building 854, Boulevard de France, Parris Island, SC 29905.

    If you are concerned about the recent closure and want answers, you are encouraged to attend to make your views known. If you cannot attend, you can e-mail your comments to: Commanding General, MCRD, Attn: lisa.donohoe@usmc.mil and SC DHEC, Attn: haynesra@dhec.sc.gov

    MEETINGS, EVENTS, ETC.

  • S.C. Wildlife's 27th annual Outdoor Photo Contest -- Photographers of all skill levels are invited to participate in South Carolina Wildlife magazine's Outdoor Photography Competition and Print Exhibition, being held at the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, March 25-27, at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia. To request an entry brochure, write Tricia Way, South Carolina Wildlife, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202-0167, or call (803) 734-3972 or e-mail her at wayt@dnr.sc.gov.
  • A Fisherman's Guide to Seafood in our Lowcountry Restaurants: Friday, March 18, 11 a.m. -- David Harter, president of the Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club and tour guide for SCDNR's Waddell Mariculture Center, will give advice about what are the best seafoods to order for your palette, health and your wallet when dining in our local restaurants and buying fish at our seafood distributors. Donation $5 per person.
  • DNR Hunter Education Class -- Class will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 26 at the Rod & Gun Club on Parris Island. For more information, call Mac McKenna at 522-0797.
  • Fishing equipment for kids -- The Sierra Club has a partnership with Zebco to provide fishing rods and reels at no cost for the purpose of helping kids have fun outdoors. Suggestions are needed for locations to host an initial kick-off event and then house the equipment for families or groups to check out for daily use; The Sierra Club is looking for organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Island Rec Center, and the military bases in Beaufort that will encourage participation; and they want to find a local group that will provide instruction and adopt the program to help grow and sustain it for years to come. For more information or to express interest, contact Harry Gregory at 843-290-2907 or harrycgregory@gmail.com
  • Palmetto Wildlife Conservation Film Festival -- The festival concludes today at the Lady's Island Theater in Beaufort. There will be 12 screenings from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, each a two-hour series. Field trips to view wildlife are planned for Sunday.
  • Cobia fishery meeting -- The Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club and the Beaufort Sportfishing and Diving Club have arranged a public meeting Tuesday to discuss important changes to the cobia fishery proposed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Palmetto Electric community room on Highway 278 West, across from the USCB Bluffton campus.
  • Public hearings on alternative proposals will be held in April. Tuesday's meeting will address concerns for the industry. All fishermen are encouraged to attend.

    Dr. Michael Denson of the DNR will make a presentation of local stocks and will include DNA results relating to species and migration. Also, SAFMC deputy director Gregg Waugh will provide the latest recommendations proposed by the council, including an explanation that precipitated these actions, the congressionally re-authorized Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    This meeting is primarily an informational resource, but speakers will be available for questions after it has ended.

    A FAVORITE RECIPE

    By request, for Judy, Marion, Raymond, Chris, Bo-Didly and Little One:

    Strawberry Relish -- Great for grilled fish (or chicken)

    2 tb Balsamic vinegar, 2 tb Orange juice, 1 tb spicy mustard, 1 tb Honey, 1/2 ts Grated orange peel, 1/2 ts Red pepper flakes, 2 c Strawberries (sliced), 3 tb Raisins, 3 tb Walnuts, chopped (can substitute pecans).

    Combine first six ingredients and whisk to blend thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Serve this chutney-style accompaniment with your favorite fish or grilled chicken and your family and or guests will put a crown on your head. It is also great on sourdough biscuits.

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